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Payment rates in Europe: EUR or USD?
Thread poster: Martin Fernandez Cufre

Martin Fernandez Cufre  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 11:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 28, 2007

Hi there!

I'm writing because I have a question regarding payment. I have a client in Spain (I'm living in Argentina) who used to pay me USD 0.06 per word for EN>SP and SP>EN technical translations. This may sound low for translators but it was mutually convenient because here in Argentina USD is 3-to-1 to Argentinian Pesos. Some time after that I asked for a little raise and also to convert the rate to Euros, and moved to EUR 0.05 per word.

Well, now he is telling me that because the US Dollar is falling back hard in relation to the Euro, it is more and more difficult for him to sustain this and he is proposing me a new payment scheme. He says that now 0.05 EUR corresponds to 0.079 USD, which is not quite right but near (actually it is more like USD 0.075-7) and he proposes that the new scheme is: USD 0.06 for EN>SP translations and USD 0.07 for SP>EN translations.

Well, I'm not quite sure about his reasoning. From what I've seen in cost projections addressed to clients which he accidentally sent to me, he charges in EUR to his clients. And why should it be otherwise? I mean, a Spanish-based translation agency charging in US Dollars? This is starting to be an issue, since up to recently, the US Dollar was undoubtedly the "international currency" in most cases, but recently the Euro is growing more and more and from what I know, in Europe it is the standard currency even for international jobs, when the agency is based in Europe.

So why should my employer reduce the payment and swap to USD just because the USD is falling behind the Euro?!?! There's something that is not right for me in this reasoning. I mean, if he is based in Spain, in Europe, the standard currency is Euros, so why shoud this change just because the US Dollar falls behind? The only reason for this would be that he charges his customers in Dollars, but is this logical for a Spain-based agency??? Also, as I said, from what I saw in two mistakenly sent quotes, these prices were in Euros.

So, what do you think??? He has written to me about this and I'm really confused on this one. Also, taking into consideration that what he sends me are mostly highly techinical SP>EN translations (my native language is Spanish), which I can complete correctly but I'm not sure if EUR 0.05 would be considered a fair price in Europe for highly technical translations (is this so? please help). My client just mentions in his email that he does this also because 0.079 USD "is higher than the average translation price in Argentina". Of course it is higher (here an average price is around 0.08-0.12 ARS, which is more like USD 0.03-0.04), but although this is very convenient to me anyway, inflation here has been veeery high in the last months, so I could also claim that the cost of life here has increased a lot. And why should he choose a weaker (foreign) currency instead of the stronger European currency?

Thanks for any ideas!

Martin

[Editado a las 2007-11-28 08:02]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:56
Italian to English
+ ...
Sounds like he's trying it on to me Nov 28, 2007

I think you're right to be concerned - it sounds like he's just trying to take advantage of the weakening dollar to try and get a price cut out of you. If either you or he were based in the States, you might (only might) even consider it reasonable, but as you live in Argentina and he's in Spain I really don't see where the strength of the dollar should come into it.

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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:56
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Sounds very logical to me... Nov 28, 2007

Martin Fernandez Cufre wrote:


So why should my employer reduce the payment and swap to USD just because the USD is falling behind the Euro?!?! There's something that is not right for me in this reasoning. I mean, if he is based in Spain, in Europe, the standard currency is Euros, so why shoud this change just because the US Dollar falls behind? The only reason for this would be that he charges his customers in Dollars, but is this logical for a Spain-based agency??? [Editado a las 2007-11-28 08:02]


Dear Martin,

I think you might be missing out one point here: There is one very logical reason for him to charge his customers in Euro and pay you in Dollars (and a very obvious one, if I may say): You already named that reason: The Dollar is falling behind. If he agrees to pay you X Dollars, he will have to spend less Euros to buy these X Dollars every day the Dollar keeps falling behind...

Regards,
Erik

Edit: Try to get paid in a strong currency like the Euro, or at least in your local currency, so you avoid this kind of risk.

[Bearbeitet am 2007-11-28 08:34]


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:56
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
payment in dollars Nov 28, 2007

The only reason for this would be that he charges his customers in Dollars, but is this logical for a Spain-based agency??? [Editado a las 2007-11-28 08:02]



It's possible if the end client is based in the US, Far East etc.
For example, I work for a French translation company which translates manuals for a Japanese company which produces electronics. I believe the Japanese company pays them in USD (even though they must have worked out something with the current "minidollar").

Laura


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:56
German to English
+ ...
Payment rates in Europe: EUR or USD? Nov 28, 2007

Hello Martin,

There's nothing "logical" about this: it's just a negotiating tactic. The only reason why your customer is bringing different currencies into the discussion is to make you feel less secure in your negotiating position.

You can discuss the logic all you like, but it won't make much difference to your negotiating position. Other colleagues will tell you that if you are competent and are offering a valuable service, you are well placed to negotiate, but even this is not the deciding factor in itself. The crucial factor which determines whether you are able to charge realistic prices or not is whether you can afford to risk losing the customer, and that in turn depends upon whether you have enough work from other sources.

Of course, if you are competent and are offering a good service, you are more likely to have other sources of work, so the quality of your service is relevant - but only indirectly.

The currency debate as your customer is presenting it is just plain silly. There is a currency issue, and it is this: when choosing a currency in which to peg a price for future jobs, should the customer or the supplier assume the risk of currency fluctuations in the short to medium term? (These fluctuations can go either way, of course - "assuming the risk" is not purely negative; and in the medium to long term, you will renegotiate your price anyway if changes are substantial.) There may also be issues with bank charges. But the currency in which payment is made is essentially secondary. Some parties clearly see discussion of the currency as a means of continuing negotiation over the price once it has already been set. Believe it or not, one veeery large multinational TA said to me not long ago: "Your price is OK, but would you please replace the pound with the euro sign". Don't get dragged off track by this kind of nonsense. Decide firstly what you are going to charge, then agree the currency in which it is to be paid.

To answer another question you ask, 0.05 EUR is a derisory rate in Europe. In any currency. Double it and you have a rate that is in the ballpark without being particularly generous.

Your customer is not your employer, and what he charges his clients should really not affect your considerations. What counts is the price you are willing to accept for your services.

The "cost of living" argument is something of a red herring. Some people have this strange perception of developing countries as a form of paradise where the prices are only a fraction of what they are in the so-called advanced industrial nations. Closer examination shows that the real difference is not the cost, but the standard of living: essentially, there are more poorer people in the developing countries. A great many goods and services are cheaper, but also of inferior quality. In particular, when you factor in such things that people in the more developed countries take for granted, such as high-quality health care, education, housing, etc., the cost differential narrows considerably. The argument that "Your costs of living are lower" is essentially that because you live in a country that is poorer overall, you should charge less. Too bad: globalization is here, you are selling a global service on the global market, why not charge a global price. By all means use your location to charge a more *competitive* price if you wish, but let that be your decision. There's no need to halve your rates just because you're Argentinian.

I doubt that any of this will impress your customer, but that doesn't matter. What you need is better customers, and more of them. Get out there and find them, then you can drop this one.

Marc


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Martin Fernandez Cufre  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 11:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 28, 2007

Thanks to all for your answers.

efreitag:
Well, originally he was paying me in Dollars, and then I rearranged a price slightly higher and in Euros. That is, the "amount" decreased from 0.06 to 0.05 but now in Euros, and in Dollars it was a slightly higher value than the previous one: from USD 0.06 I moved to USD 0.068 approx (EUR 0.05), but that changed when the Euro began growing stronger and now it's around USD 0.075 for EUR 0.05. This is one of the arguments he presents, as well as stating that this is above the value for translations here in Argentina. Local translations are in the range of approx ARS (Argentinian Pesos) 0.10, which is equivalent to around USD 0.03 internationally. I think he is using this argument to try and lower his expenses. He tells me also that it is becoming harder for him to deal with the expenses, considering tax costs, paying his translators, etc. I think this is nonsense. He is based in Spain and from what I saw, the fees he charges to his clients are in Euros, so why should the dollar have anything to do with this? He's not spending "more Dollars" to pay for the Euros I ask... it's just a matter of perspective, he's just paying me in Euros, that's all!

Marc P:
Thank you very very much for your thoughtful reply. As for the choice of currency, I asked to swap to Euros because I was foreseeing what eventually happened: the Euro grows more and more strong against the Dollar. It is very helpful that you inform me that 0.05 EUR is a derisory rate in Europe. Considering that I'm working with highly technical translations, both SP>EN and EN>SP, I don't think it's fair that he keeps such a low rate and also changes back to USD. I think I'll try to express this to him politely, I don't think that many translators can deliver quality technical work for such low rates.

As for the "cost of living", I understand what you say, clearly. There is a slight lower "overall cost" for things here, in relation to local services, and it really is convenient to me to have a rate which locally is equivalent to ARS 0.22 approximately. It may not be a large difference in reference to things which have a high value independent of the location, such as technology devices or similar (last week I bought a laptop at USD 1339 here, which in the US is USD 750, and USD 1300 is equivalent here to ARS 4100 approx, and considering that an average wage here is of approx ARS 1500-1800, that value means that a laptop costs the same "work value" as what USD 4100 would mean for an American). Anyway, it's not correct to lower so much the prices just because of being in a low-value-currency country.

I think that you make a point when you say that I'm offering a global service, and even though it is interesting for both parts to make a mutually profitable agreement, it is not fair to lower that (already low, at international values) value bringing into the argument the fall of the USD behind the EUR.

Your explanation of the negotiating position is very clear also, thanks very much.

Could anyone else confirm that EUR 0.05 is a very low rate for technical EN>SP and SP>EN translations?

Thanks!!!

Martin


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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 07:56
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
I think you answered your own question at the very beginning! Nov 28, 2007

Martin Fernandez Cufre wrote:
I have a client in Spain (I'm living in Argentina) who used to pay me USD 0.06 per word for EN>SP and SP>EN technical translations. This may sound low for translators but it was mutually convenient because here in Argentina USD is 3-to-1 to Argentinian Pesos.


Given that .05EUR would be approximately .073USD, and that's not that much higher than .06USD, then yes, that would be a low rate according to your own initial post!


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Martin Fernandez Cufre  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 11:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
heheh Nov 28, 2007

Heheh Marcelo, it was just the expression of something I wasn't really sure about. I supposed that maybe 0.06 USD would be a low rate, but I wasn't sure. And then I asked again because apparently what is "low" for a rate depends a lot on the translator and what he's used to have been paid in the past.
Cheers,
Martin


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 10:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Globalization --> Selling quality services, not being exploited Nov 28, 2007

Marc P wrote;
... Globalization is here, you are selling a global service on the global market, why not charge a global price. By all means use your location to charge a more *competitive* price if you wish, but let that be your decision. There's no need to halve your rates just because you're Argentinian.


That should be the centre-piece of the translator's position in any negotiation with any international client. And the same goes for not only for nationals of those less-developed countries but also for expatriates from the developed world who choose to live and work in less-developed countries. An example: although I now live in Chile, I charge my European clients exactly the same rates as I was charging when I lived a stone's throw away from Brussels. They are not paying me to cover the cost of my life-style, my choice of residence ... or even to feed my dog. They are buying services backed up by 30 years of experience accumulated in their own European marketplace, services they know they can rely upon; they can afford to pay European prices, they can afford my rates - and they pay them! They also like the 'extras' I offer - at no extra charge - like overnight delivery of 6000 words.


Martin wrote:
Could anyone else confirm that EUR 0.05 is a very low rate for technical EN>SP and SP>EN translations?


Absolutely! Marc has already suggested the 'going rate' is closer to twice that, at least within the European market. And especially if you have already demonstrated your ability to translate their highly specialized technical documents to their complete satisfaction. Some European clients will pay four times that rate if they are assured of getting consistent top-quality service.

If your work is good and you provide impeccable services, then you are being exploited, there's no two ways about it!

MediaMatrix


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 16:56
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
None of mine / our concerns Nov 28, 2007

... but it could be that the agency is getting squeezed on its own by the client "... given the recent FX changes, you will understand that EUR price of ".... blah blah blah. After all it is just one and the same food chain. And the agency want to keep its 15, 20- 50%? - of the pizza.

In this case, it would help if the agency AND the client read what Marc has written;)

And ... why bother with clients doing EN>SP for US? European colleagues here would not mind a good hard working colleague from Argentina.On the condition of course you start charging 0,10/eff word. But I do not think you see any problem here.

[Urejeno ob 2007-11-28 11:24]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:56
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Offer the client your own logic, and two options Nov 28, 2007

Martin Fernandez Cufre wrote:
Some time after that I asked for a little raise and also to convert the rate to Euros, and moved to EUR 0.05 per word.


Of course, it makes sense for you to use euro because the peso-dollar rate has been quite steady whereas the peso is getting weaker and weaker against the euro.

Tell the client that you'd gladly switch back to dollar, but that he should increase the rate by 20% per annum because that is what the Argentinian inflation rate is (well, roughly).

Alternatively he can keep the rate steady, but pay in euro, and the weakening of the peso will make up for the inflation. The advantage of the secondf option to the client is that he doesn't have to raise his rate.

But... I agree that this talk about currencies is silly. You choose euro, therefore the client should pay in euro.


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 17:56
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Client's intentions are evidnent Nov 28, 2007

Martin Fernandez Cufre wrote:
My client just mentions in his email that he does this also because 0.079 USD "is higher than the average translation price in Argentina".

What would your client's reaction be if you mention your plans to move to Switzerland where the average translation price would be much higher than in Argentina?
And why should he choose a weaker (foreign) currency instead of the stronger European currency?


To get a higher profit margin. As simple as that.

You can opt for any rates Martin, but your client has been paying you a half of what you should have been paid, in the first place.

Marc P wrote:
The "cost of living" argument is something of a red herring. Some people have this strange perception of developing countries as a form of paradise where the prices are only a fraction of what they are in the so-called advanced industrial nations. Closer examination shows that the real difference is not the cost, but the standard of living: essentially, there are more poorer people in the developing countries. A great many goods and services are cheaper, but also of inferior quality. In particular, when you factor in such things that people in the more developed countries take for granted, such as high-quality health care, education, housing, etc., the cost differential narrows considerably.

An even closer examination will often reveal that to buy services or goods of the same quality level as in the more developed countries, we (I'm based in the country which is generally regarded as "cheap") have to actually pay more - due to import taxes or shortage of the said high quality services or goods.

Cheers,
Oleg


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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
It depends... (not new) Nov 28, 2007

Martin Fernandez Cufre wrote:

... from USD 0.06 I moved to USD 0.068 approx (EUR 0.05), but that changed when the Euro began growing stronger and now it's around USD 0.075 for EUR 0.05. This is one of the arguments he presents, as well as stating that this is above the value for translations here in Argentina. Local translations are in the range of approx ARS (Argentinian Pesos) 0.10, which is equivalent to around USD 0.03 internationally. I think he is using this argument to try and lower his expenses. He tells me also that it is becoming harder for him to deal with the expenses, considering tax costs, paying his translators, etc.


Hello Martin,

I understand that your agreement with the agency was done so that you got the price that suits your needs (otherwise you'll have a big problem very soon ). If this is covered no matter the agency pays in Euro or USD, I don't see the point here. You said it: you moved to Euro because you thought it was going to be "better for you" because of USD falling. What makes you think that the Agency is responsible for that? You both are business (individual or not), so you both defend your own interests.

I don't know how ARS evolve, but if their evolution is closer to that one of USD, it's easy to understand that the people in the agency know that they can keep you satisfied paying for something as close to your target as possible, while keeping or improving their profits.


Considering that I'm working with highly technical translations, both SP>EN and EN>SP, I don't think it's fair that he keeps such a low rate and also changes back to USD. I think I'll try to express this to him politely, I don't think that many translators can deliver quality technical work for such low rates.


I think, that THIS is the only point that matters is: are you asking for and getting what you need?. If not, just drop that customer: this is not a customer but a parasite. Period.



As for the "cost of living"...


This is nothing your customer will benefit from, unless you offer lower rates due to that. You must not just (only) set your rates according to the market levels. You must first analyze what you need to earn (i.e. start here: http://www.proz.com/?sp=rate_calc ...and don't lie to the calculator: this would make no sense)


Could anyone else confirm that EUR 0.05 is a very low rate for technical EN>SP and SP>EN translations?


a) You are a ProZ.com member: did you ever had a look at the community rates? JUST GO DO IT... NOW

b) Yes or not, keep in mind that this all also depends on you: your profile says your average rate is 0.08 USD/word. What are you doing working a 37% below that rate... for a "highly technical job"? This does not seem reasonable at all. I really think you need to analyze your rates, set appropriate ones, stick to them and see which sort of customers you need/don't need...

Suerte!

Ruth

[Edited at 2007-11-28 14:29]


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
Market rate vs. your needs and real life. Nov 28, 2007

megane_wang wrote:

You must not just (only) set your rates according to the market levels. You must first analyze what you need to earn (i.e. start here: http://www.proz.com/?sp=rate_calc ...and don't lie to the calculator: this would make no sense)



Your rate should be based mostly on the market rate.

What your needs are might help you decide how much lower you would be willing to go below the market rate. But in no way should it be the basis for your rates. The minimum you need to survive is just one of the factors you should consider when accepting a rate.

At most, the calculator can help you appreciate this, but in no way should it determine the rate you charge.

Translation is a BUSINESS, and translators are trained PROFESSIONALS.

Yuo should not really let other businesses take advantage of you.


It is just like going to a lawyer or a doctor. If the office is in a very nice area, he will probably charge more because he has more expenses, but just a bit more than one in a poorer area. The fee in the middle will be the market rate. (of course, you will have the professional who works pro bono, but that is not the case here).

The fact that you are a retired billionaire translating for pleasure and have no needs, or that you live with your parents and have no expenses and just need the money for going to the movies once a month, or that you have 10 children and decided to send them to the most expensive private school available, or that your needs include going on a two week cruise twice a year, or that you can comfortably live with $100 a month, is nobody else's business !!!!

Does anyone have anything against earning more than they need, or making "too much money"? (Does this concept even exist?)



[Edited at 2007-11-28 18:17]


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Nov 28, 2007



[Edited at 2007-11-29 00:54]


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