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Different Countries Different Economies...How to Charge?
Thread poster: Fan Gao

Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 02:19
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Apr 29, 2006

Hi,

I'm sure you've all been in situations where you've been offered projects from different countries ranging from 1st World to 3rd World.

How do you charge?

Do you have a set percentage you discount for poorer countries?

Do poorer countries take advantage of the fact they are poor by offering lower rates?

Should we charge the same for poorer countries...for example Asian countries as we are putting in the same amount of work on their projects or should we lower our rates to take into account their poorer economy?

Thanks,

Mark and Fan


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 12:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
The company, not the country Apr 29, 2006

I do jobs for clients in both developed and developing countries.

In the case of the developing countries, most of my clients are either subsidiaries of 'first-world' companies, or are sufficiently wealthy to pay a first-world price.

Consequently, I consider adapting my rates downwards only for genuinely poor clients in developing countries. But even then only if I am reasonably sure they are not trying to get a job done 'on the cheap' for a bigger/richer client lurking in the shadows.

Having said that, I also negotiate reduced rates (or even 'no fee' deals) for some clients in the developed world, and even for rich clients in the developing world, if other circumstances over-ride the purely economic considerations.

MediaMatrix


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Cristina Golab  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's up to you Apr 29, 2006

I think it is up to you if you want to lower your rates for a client in a developing country.
I have standard rates in dollars and euros. In my case, I live in Europe and this is my source of income, so lowering my rates is not really convenient for my finances


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:19
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Different rates for different countries Apr 29, 2006

Chinese Concept wrote:
Do you have a set percentage you discount for poorer countries?


I used to charge about 1/3 of my rate for ZA clients because translation isn't big in ZA, but now that the ZA currency is so strong against the euro and dollar, my local rate is only about 1/2 my foreign rate (since both are the same as 5 years ago).

But think of this: India is a relatively poor country, but many translation agencies operate from India because of the better economic climate. These agencies have international clients. How will you charge the Indian agency... high or low?


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xxxEmmanuelleAn  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:19
English to French
+ ...
Limits Apr 29, 2006

I guess you have to charge them la bit lower but to a certain limit. Recently a serious translation agency from India offered to pay the equivalent of 25 euro per day for liaison interpreting in my language pairs!!! Unbelievable!I thought that was a joke.

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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 02:19
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your feedback Apr 30, 2006

Hi and thank you for your replies. You all raise some very valid points.

Yes India is a developing country just as China is and I'm sure alot of the agencies here are doing projects for international clients and developed countries and charging the full western rate!

I guess it comes down to an individual decision and a case by case basis.

I liked the point about living in Europe and then getting offered very low rates. I imagine that must be very frustrating to get offered projects but then you have to turn them down because the money simply wouldn't be enough for even general day to day expenses.

Thanks again,

Mark and Fan


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Jari Vesterinen
Finland
Local time: 18:19
English to Finnish
+ ...
Beware of Subcontinental Fees!! Apr 30, 2006

I want to get on my soap box and put in my two cents about this issue.

I have done a translation for a company that came with an up-front offer of seriously discounted rates. I had the time, and the job didn't seem too bad. Except for when I received it, the word count was absolutely low-ball, and the rate was, as it turned out, too ridiculously low that I basically did the work for about 35% of my regular fees. The job was actually for an European company, and I was clearly ripped off.

There are so many translation job brokers working from India that are paying really poor rates, yet they skim off the profit from either a European or an American company. My suggestion is that you stay clear from these unless you are really desperate for a job. You do the work for a fraction of what the company gets for it.

There is a worrysome tendency that I have seen in these Subcontinental companies. They peddle the prices so low that they can cause the prices to plummet in the market, and the end result is often a poor quality translation for the customer and big payoff for themselves. There is no way to limit this unscrupulous business practice, and it is up to those of us who are trying to make a living in translation to pressure these companies to pay the market rate. Do not accept jobs that promises 40,000 words at $0.05 per word. Demand more, and eventually there may be a point where they relent and pay what the market demand is.

Thanks to proz.com for their Blue Board!! This is the best forum I have found on the internet where the interpreters can share their experiences about working for certain companies. Interestingly enough, the company I am referring to has never been on the board. I learned recently that these companies change names regularly to cover their trail, so simply CAVEAT EMPTOR (Buyer beware)--and please, do not contribute to this bad business practice by working at a ridiculous rate.


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xxxEmmanuelleAn  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:19
English to French
+ ...
Thanks Apr 30, 2006

Thank for the info Jari!

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Javier Herrera
Spanish
Different calibres Apr 30, 2006

Your rates depend on your quality.
This is not country A or country B, this is the internet. Since everyone has access to work with everyone else, translators in rich country who offera poor quality may loose their clients and offer competitive rates. On the other hand those living in poor countries who offer top quality can afford to charge the rates they want, because their clients will pay.
I know there are thousands of exceptions to this rule and don't want to hurt the feelings of those who offer good quality and whose rates are on the low side, but the more good translators there are who charge good rates, the easier it will be for everyone else to follow suit.
J.


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 02:19
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hypothetical question..... Apr 30, 2006

We haven't started this yet but would we be critisised for accepting low rates from poor countries when we live in a poor country ourselves?

USD 0.05 even down to USD 0.03 goes a long way in China.

Mark


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:19
Member (2005)
French to German
+ ...
And the point would be...? Apr 30, 2006

Chinese Concept wrote:
would we be critisised for accepting low rates from poor countries when we live in a poor country ourselves?


Well, I wouldn't want to call that criticising. It's more about plain common sense.

You've got only so much time per week that you can devote to translating. You can only spend that time once.

Accepting low rates from cheap customers when you could equally well get your book filled with higher paying jobs from better paying customers would be kind of … stupid, don't you think?

P.


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Javier Herrera
Spanish
Is it ethical to you? Apr 30, 2006

This is a free market, no one can tell you what to do? In addition, whatever you do, there's always somebody who will critisise you. So, do what you want.

The point is, do you want to charge low rates when there are strong ethical reasons to make better money? These are:

- First and foremost, your own interest: four cents may be a handsome amount in a certain country, but ten is the same amount times two-and-a-half across the Universe. Why should you give away that six-cent difference? Give it to whom?

- The interest of your country: the historic reasons why some countries are poor are probably very unfair. You now have a chance to restore some of the injustice by bringing some money to your country through an honest job.

- The interest of your fellow translators. We translators always need each other's help, dumping the market is actually more of a hindrance.

- You've got the upper hand. Your languages may be first and second in the world, but I've got the feeling that their combination is very rare.

HTH,

J.


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 02:19
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The point would be..... May 1, 2006

...to win contracts by undercutting our competitors.

We're not going to do that though.

We believe, like Javier has said, that it should be about the service offered, the quality of the work, the turnaround time and establishing good communication and relationships with clients. Geography is irrelevant.

It can be a dilemma though sometimes when negotiating for a contract. Agencies and individual companies think that because we live in China and the cost of living is low that we should accept low rates.

Recently an Indian agency offered us USD 0.02 per source English word.....we turned down the job.

Chinese agencies tell us that we should be working in China not just physically but also "cost wise!" I very much doubt that they would charge a western company USD 0.02 per source English word.

There should be room in this business for everyone. We don't want to be greedy we just want to be paid fairly and reasonably for the quality of work and service we provide.

I'd be interested to hear the experiences and comments from other translators in the English/Chinese language pair, both based in the East and in the West.

Mark


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laura e. asturias / TransWiz
Guatemala
Local time: 09:19
English to Spanish
I agree with Javier May 1, 2006

Hi, I'm Laura Asturias, from Guatemala.

Javier's remarks make a lot of sense to me. It's a matter of ethics, first and foremost looking after your own interest; that is, if translation is something you do to make a living!
If I do good work, I see no sense in charging less than I deserve.

As to "the interest of your country," that's true too. Back in 1997, a few months after I started working as a free-lance translator for several international organizations based in the North, I set aside a portion of my earnings to single-handedly produce the only feminist e-magazine sent out by e-mail from Central America, which also has a website (nothing fancy, but it's there: www.la-tertulia.net). It was a much needed project not just in Guatemala and Central America, but in the whole Latin American region, since back then only about five other similar initiatives existed (and now there are even less...). This e-zine has helped many Latin American women and women's organization with their work, as well as some men's organizations.

So yes, .03/.04 cents can go a long way in China (or in many other developing countries for that matter), but I see no sense in helping first-world nations benefit further from sound existing expertise in the global South!!

It's good and wise to keep in touch with translators from all over the world so we can join and help dignify our profession with fair rates.

Have a good day.
Laura


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Parpalhol  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:19
English to French
+ ...
That depends on your income goal, May 1, 2006

and naturally, on the cost of living in your country. This cost of living does not include only the price of bread or chicken, but also the amount of the costs involved by your own professional activity.

We, European translators, have to pay taxes on our income. These taxes amount about 40% of our income in the exemple of France. You have to add Internet, IT...costs and that explains the high rates we are using.

If you determine all these costs, your income goal and the time you want to spend in translating (do not forget your average speed of translation), you will get a rate that is suited to you !

Have a nice day!

Jean-Michel


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