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Off topic: state one's rates
Thread poster: Anabel Martínez

Anabel Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:19
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 28, 2005

Hi everyone,

Recently I was offered a project by a company who offers really low rates (I could say ridiculous) for all of his translations. I admit that I have been working with this company, when I began translating and I didn't know such rates were ridiculous and I didn't think I could say no to an agency. But, this time, when I was offered this translation, I thought of the fight against low rates and decided I was not going to accept it.

My question comes next: I told this agency that my rates had now changed, I gave them the details, and I believe they were offended and even a bit angry. Is this normal? I mean, surely they know they are paying an amount a professional shouldn't accept, don't they? And, what am I supposed to do in this case? I mean, of course they told me they couldn't pay me the rates I establish (not so high, many other agencies pay them)and I know they're not going to call me anymore, but I wonder if I did something wrong in all this situation.

Well, at least now I've just relieved myself of the burden in my mind

Cheers,

Anabel


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 00:19
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Don't feel guilty and don't regret Apr 28, 2005

Dear Anabel,

I believe we all have our right to choose our rates and clients. If you are not satisfied with this client on this (rates) or that reason, it's OK, it's your right, business is business.

If they are angry about it -- it's theirs problem, not yours. I mean if you weren't harsh, and your translations were OK, and the communication was good, why they are angry? You are not obliged to work for anyone if you don't want to.

Take it easy. Or, better, forget about it.


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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:19
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
They were probably just frustrated Apr 28, 2005

Actually, provided you where as clear and polite as in your message on the forum, their reaction can only confirm you did the right thing.
If they could easily find good translators at that rate, they would not have reacted angrily - this is just a sign of frustration by somebody loosing a golden goose...

[Edited at 2005-04-28 12:06]


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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 23:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
similar experience Apr 28, 2005

I stopped working with a few agencies because the rates they offer have not kept pace with my rates. In almost every case, the agencies wished me luck and completely understood that it was a business decision (and I still do occasional work for them, if they have a special project for which they can offer me my current rates). However, one agency had a rather harsh reaction. I had recently had some negative experiences with this agency (such as misrepresented projects and late payments), and I turned down the next job that I was offered. I told the PM I could no longer afford to work for their low rates, especially if I had to wait 90 days to get paid. Within a few minutes the owner had called me to read me the riot act and deny any payment problems. I was certainly taken aback at the time, but I have been thankful many times since that I no longer work for this agency.

As Kirill said, just forget about it. You’re no doubt better off without them.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:19
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Do a professional job and expect professional rates Apr 28, 2005

Translation is a serious business, and it calls for serious, professional training, which is not cheap.

Then translators need resources - good dictionaries, quality newspapers and professional literature to keep up with the language and developments in their speciality.

A CAT tool and a course in how to use it is getting to be a big advantage, and maybe a necessity.

Travel, computer, Internet links - these are not luxuries for a translator, because you should go and listen to your language as well as reading it.

Apart from all that, a good translation takes time, so think what you are earning per hour, and for a day's work.

Not all clients understand what is involved, and, admittedly, not all jobs are extremely difficult either. All the same, there are jobs when the translator carries an enormous responsibility, because small technical errors from a linguistic point of view (the number of zeros in a dose of medicine, a missing 'not' in a long sentence, a letter typed wrongly that gives a whole new meaning ....) there may be disastrous results later on.

Other professionals expect to get paid, so why shouldn't we?


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 19:19
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
You did the right thing Apr 28, 2005

Congratulations Anabel

I'm sure you took the right decision, and it's not an easy one.

I agree with Luca, their attitude shows frustration. Maybe they are afraid of this sort of refusal becoming common and maybe you're not the first one, and to the first one they answered "Never mind, we'll find other translators willing to be paid that amount" and then you refused. Imagine!

What you did is useful not only to you but to all those who fight for decent rates.

Thanks

Claudia


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Cristóbal del Río Faura  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
Well done! Apr 28, 2005

Claudia Iglesias wrote:

What you did is useful not only to you but to all those who fight for decent rates.



Exactly


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 17:19
English to Russian
+ ...
You did the best thing you could do, you've earned better money Apr 28, 2005

How about this offer from a Platinum member? I hope 1. those 2 bids were just "opinions"... 2. this will make you feel much better when it comes to "feeling uneasy" when someone values you at a fraction of a cost.

http://www.proz.com/job/76818


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cello  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Well done! Apr 28, 2005

Anabel Martínez wrote:

I told this agency that my rates had now changed, I gave them the details, and I believe they were offended and even a bit angry. Is this normal? I mean, surely they know they are paying an amount a professional shouldn't accept, don't they?


Of course they were angry and offended. They'd lost a "chollo" (a bargain, for you non Sp speakers), hadn't they? They'd probably also promised their client that the job would be done in record time and after speaking to you would have to find someone esle who would do a good job for the same low price... Normal, it shouldn't be, but it is probably quite common.
Congratulations for standing your ground and don't dwell on what you should have done or if you did the right thing. The bottom line is that you have to feel that you are being fairly paid for the service you provide. Translating is more interesting than mopping floors, but that doesn't mean that we should have to earn less because we are doing something we enjoy... This whole subject just makes me see red!


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Anabel Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:19
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
prices go hand in hand with working conditions Apr 28, 2005

cello wrote:

They'd probably also promised their client that the job would be done in record time and after speaking to you would have to find someone esle who would do a good job for the same low price...


Actually I had done several translations in record time, from English to Spanish and Spanish to English, from the same price as the Spanish to Catalan ones... No rewards for spending like 14 hours on Saturday and Sunday because they gave me translations a Friday evening for Monday at 9 in the morming... I felt undervalued, not only underpaid, and I still felt so when they prefer losing a translator... My reasoning was, I'm worth the normal rates I'm asking, but they rejecting it makes it sound like I'm not, i don't know if any of you has felt that kind of doubt...


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:19
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Times have changed Apr 28, 2005

Anabel:

When I started translating in 1993, I initially set my rates at .07/.08 per word. Many, many agencies absolutely refused to pay me anything less than .10 - .12 per word. This was twelve years ago! Times have changed! Even at a .01 increase per year, we should now be earning .23 - .25 per word.

The cost of everything else (housing, cars, insurance, food, utilites) has gone up, but we are still being paid the same (and even less).


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Anabel Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:19
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Apr 29, 2005

Dear colleagues,

I would like to thanks everyone for their support in my decision, I believe if newbies were more aware of what they are doing when they (I was also a newbie, and I've got still many things to learn) accept low rates, things would be very different.

I must confess that, before I rejected that project, I did an extensive search on the net and specially here on proz.com to assure myself that I wasn't overreacting and those rates were utterly unacceptable. So I'd like to thank all of you who help others in knowing the market a bit more. Information is power, and had I known these rates were terrible when I began translating for that company, maybe things would have been different. But now they lost a grown-up translator

Greetings to everyone out there,

Anabel


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Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:19
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No translators = No agency Apr 29, 2005

Let me tell you what happened to an agency here in Peru last month. This agency not only pays extremely low rates (low even for local market) but it had a backlog of several months in payments. Since our legal system is not too good, and most translators were freelancers, this agency simply didn't pay, or paid after several months and in small parts.

One day, somebody sent an anonymous e-mail to every translator in the city, detailing this case and denouncing them. This e-mail was sent not only to fellow translators, but also to the translation faculties and their authorities, the College of Translators and some high-profile clients of this firm.

You wouldn't believe what happened. The agency immediately sent an e-mail denying the charges, but a lot of wronged translators sent an answer saying "yes, it's true, I'm xxxx xxxxx and they owe me $xxxx since xxx".

For its life, this agency couldn't find a translator eager to work for them in several weeks, and lost a lot of money. Finally, they got money from somewhere, paid all their debts, and now are trying to resurface. The few translators working for them do it with payment in advance only, or with date-delayed checks.


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Joseph Samir
Egypt
Local time: 00:19
English to Arabic
+ ...
Do translators have on their foreheads : Slaves .. Please do/pay whatever you wish ! Apr 29, 2005

Hi Anabel

A little bit long reply , but I am sure it will calm down your confused feelings , you will find some answers to your questions and you ,as well as others, might help me find some answers too ..

I once had the same bad experience and even worse .. I did a small assignment for them as a start and I accepted their low rate clarifying to their PM that this is only because it is our first project together .. Job was completed perfectly , delivered on time + extra suggestions for the output , accodingly their PM said : "Many thanks for your work, this seems to be very good .... If we have any other assignments you will definitely be first on the list. "

The sum was small and while checking methods of paying me , he sent me the second assignment with the same low rate so I sent him this email :
"Hi Mr. .... ,
Files downloaded without any errors .. Yet I have two comments please :
1) About the rate : I would like to use my rates this time please .. I charge (so and so) and that means a total sum of (...) USD not (...) USD ..
2) I would like also to finish about the first assignment before handling the 2nd one ..
I am waiting for your comments ..
Thanks ,
Joseph "


And that was his reply to me where all seems good at first and then !!!! :
"Hi Joseph,
I cannot pay this rate. If you don't want this I can pass it on. If I don't hear from you in one hour I will pass it on. In order to send you the money via courier this will cost our company (....) USD . If you do this assignment I will give you the full $(.....) for both assignments instead of extra cost of the postage incured by your need to have it sent insured.
I am a bit miffed that you would even ask for more money. Its $(....) or forget it. I have many translators begging to do this assignment for $(....) (half the rate he offered me). If you EVER ask for more money again you will not work for us again.
If I do not hear from you in one hour, or you are looking to be difficult I will reassign this job.
Many Thanks
... "


Neither me nor even my friends could figure out the reason for his sudden illogical outburst ..

After this email , I really got angry and I send asking him why asking for my rates has offended him , also I told him that I don't beg anyone and I am not a traditional translator who translate for living , I am a professional attracting my clients by my honesty and professionalism .. Also , I commented on his tone telling him that it has offended me too much and not to use such a tone EVER with me again ..

Finally , here is the part that you might need to hear about , Anabel , his reply of why this has offended him :

"Hi Joseph,
The reason this has offended me is that I have three excellent translators I normally use for Arabic sometimes they get $... US per word (which is an average rate) and other times they get $... per word (a very low rate "the one he offered me"), but it all evens out .
These are honest people who are very consistent, honest and polite. I felt sorry for you and decided to give you a chance against my better judgement and those desperate, insinuating, grotesquely offensive and childish emails. I will send your money - of that you can be sure.
I would prefer that you do not email us again."


Can you believe this reply !!!

And Guess what !!! I was never paid .. I Thank God for it was a small sum ..

I thought that knowing my horrible experience will mitigate the bitterness of yours , Anabel .. At least you got your moneyand you weren't insulted nor humiliated

You know what !! I am really asking this question after each bad experience : " Do translators have on their foreheads : Slaves .. Please do whatever you wish !! "

Anabel, I applaud and respect your decision , you are lucky that it ended that way , huh !?

Sincerely ,
Joseph

PS
Happy Easter to all Orthodox colleagues


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