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Do you sometimes charge more than your hourly rate for a 1-hr job?
Thread poster: Nesrin

Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:34
English to Arabic
+ ...
Jan 16, 2008

Last week I took on a - for me - unusual job, which consisted in conducting two 15-minute phone calls with job candidates to assess their non-native language proficiency, and then writing a short assessment report (~ 15 lines) on each candidate.

I estimated that the phone calls themselves would take 30 minutes, preparing questions for the conversation would take around 10 minutes, and filling out the 2 assessment sheets would take around 20 minutes, so all in all it would take me an hour to complete the job. So I told the client I would charge my hourly rate (this is currently 40% of my 1000-word rate).

Anyway, in the end it took me a bit longer than that, but that's not the point.. My husband (who sometimes acts as my manager ) told me that I was foolish to only charge an hourly rate for such a job, that I should have charged at least three times as much for that type of consultative job. Is that true? Are there certain types of jobs where you feel you have to charge more than your hourly rate, even though it really just took you an hour to complete??

(BTW the candidates called me, I didn't call them, so phone charges aren't an issue here)

[Edited at 2008-01-16 10:22]


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:34
English to Russian
+ ...
it´s a matter of negotiation Jan 16, 2008

If you offer higher rate and your client is ready to pay it, it is Ok.
It´s a result of successful negotiations on rate and shows you have good selling skills. Nothing more.

In addition, such result could be some kind of implicit indication that your present hourly rate is "slightly" below the market level.

[Edited at 2008-01-16 10:40]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:34
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
But is it RIGHT to charge more? Jan 16, 2008

Thanks Sergei,

I'm sure you're right, it's all a matter of negotiation, but that's not really my question. Is it sometimes only right to charge more than your usual hourly rate because of the specific nature of a project (even if it wasn't really THAT much more of an effort than a 1 hour proofreading job for example)?
Do you think my client thought: "Wow, who would have thought she would only charge us an hourly rate for that job!"?


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:34
English to Dutch
+ ...
I agree with your husband Jan 16, 2008

Nesrin wrote:

Do you think my client thought: "Wow, who would have thought she would only charge us an hourly rate for that job!"?


I wouldn't be surprised.... Three times as much is a bit overdone, maybe, but twice as much would have been reasonable, I think. The thing is, in a case like this, you are not being paid for your time as such, but for your specific expertise.
So I think your husband is right.... Unless you already charge an outrageous hourly rate, but for some reason I don't think so


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:34
French to English
Look at it as a DIFFERENT hourly rate for a different service Jan 16, 2008

Basically

You were offering a service which is quite specialised (certainly NOT something I'd want to get involved in!) and should be priced accordingly. Supply and demand and all that.

It took an hour, and it'll cost 'em 60 quid (or whatever).

Anyway, the chances are that if your estimated time was exactly 60 minutes, you actually took longer than that, by the time you'd braced yourself with a cuppa before the phone calls, closed down the work you were doing before this job, sharpened a fresh pencil for note taking, created a new folder for the documents, opened a new Word document for each of the people, emailed the results, took back ups, add in the time spent discussing the job beforehand...... I could go on. In my experience, if I've timed the actual work time at one hour, the job probably took nearer two if you include absolutely everything


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:34
Partial member (2003)
Spanish to English
Charge two hours Jan 16, 2008

I've interviewed people before to test their level of English as part of a job application process, but not on the phone and not since I became a translator. I remember that it was a very stressful experience, as I had to take many notes and tick several boxes to make sure I was judging them fairly and not in any way being biased by their personality, etc.

Anyway, if I had been in your position, I think I would have assumed it would take me longer than 30 minutes to assess each person, write the report, etc. and would probably have quoted them my hourly rate per person, even if it only took me 45 minutes each, and had no qualms about doing so (because the hourly rate is based on the provision of a different and less-stressful service). This is the UK, after all. Solicitors charge around £100 per hour... and this includes just replying to an email...

[Edited at 2008-01-16 12:32]


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ivo abdman
Indonesia
Local time: 13:34
English to Indonesian
+ ...
you have good trade strategy respons Jan 16, 2008

Do not regret, you are on the right track on trade strategy reason. Especially they are new types of job for you, regard as practices for you. Just do the best, they will give you good judgment and considering you for other next job. The job are not difficult for you isn't it ?.

Repeating sales will be better for you. When you are overflowed by other jobs just contact me to reduce your sales


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The Misha
Local time: 01:34
Russian to English
+ ...
There is no RIGHT or WRONG here Jan 16, 2008

You work for yourself, you set your own rates, so it's up to you to change them amend them or make exceptions as you see fit. If you set your rates too low, you miss on extra revenue and the other guy eats your caviar, if your rates are too high, then you don't get the job. This is pure economics, and it makes no sense to think of it in terms of moral categories

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Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 01:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hi Nesrin, Jan 16, 2008

I generally make my "minimum charge" decision for new clients based on how busy I am at the time and the likelihood of more work from them.
There is nothing wrong with charging a minimum 2 hour fee, it's actually quite common, particularly with interpretation-related work. There was a thread about it a few months ago, I seem to recall. Three hours may be a bit much, but again, it depends on the complexity of the work, and how busy you are.
BTW, I started charging a 2 hour minimum after MY husband gave me a lecture about undercharging and undervaluing my services.


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Maria Ramon  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:34
Dutch to English
+ ...
Different work....different rates...... Jan 17, 2008

I believe it all depends on the kind of work you have to do.

Most people tie themselves down to an "hourly rate" for any kind of translation; I don't think that is right; some translations are very easy and undemanding and charging a normal hourly rate is OK.

Now, if you have to do something totally different, like in this case, I would have given a lump sum rate for the whole job, defining the time needed, (then if for any reason more time was needed or may be expected to be needed, you can state that too, that way there are no misunderstandings) because different aspects came into play.

Do you see what I am saying?
X amount for the whole job, to be done in x amount of time.
If more time would be involved, an extra Y will be charged.
Or, if some other action, like an extra translation or so, would be needed, then an extra Z would be charged.

Just the way I see it, because it is business, like any other business; besides it is also an expert business, or specialty, so people should expect to pay for the expertise.
BTW, are you aware what lawyers charge, and plastic surgeons?, to name a couple of specialties....


Maria


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 07:34
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Minimum rate Jan 17, 2008

I have always stated that I will not charge for less than 100 words of translation, and I think that having a minimum rate for hours is also a good policy. It's the "For less than which I will not get out of bed" philosophy, which sounds very cavalier, but makes a lot of sense!

Each translation project, however big or small, involves setting up software, opening files, doing the accounting, billing etc, and the peripheral activities are a larger and larger proportional part of the work the smaller the job is.

The same applies to hourly rates for other activities. If you're teaching, a one-off class requires proportionally much more preparation than a series of classes. In my language teaching, I never offer a discount unless a client asks for a minimum of ten hours of classes.

I do also work as a specialized language assessor (never described myself as such, but now I recognise what my work as an oral examiner has made me!), and likewise, I would expect to be paid more for a single assessment job than per job for a series of assessments. I am trained in this area, and have many years of experience in it, so the question of it being "difficult" doesn't come into it - it's one of my areas of expertise, and I charge accordingly.


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N.M. Eklund  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:34
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
About rates in general Jan 17, 2008

Maria is right....

This thread reminds me of an interview with a plastic surgeon I saw on TV. When asked about his pricing and profit on botox injections (around 200 euros), he said:
'60% of the cost is to pay for the material, and 40% to pay for 10 years of studies'.

Botox injections take 2 minutes of his time.
Obviously he doesn't charge the same hourly rate for an injection as for a nose job.
Both fall under his skill-set, and though an injection is not particularly stressful or fatiguing for him, you pay for his expertise.

Same thing for us....don't lump all your services in the same basket.

Maybe once you've got a better idea of the work involved in being a 'specialized language assessor', you can propose a fix price per person to analyze (instead of by hour).
Something along the same lines is how notaries (in the US) fix a $30 price per stamp on a document.


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:34
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all! Jan 17, 2008

You live, you learn, I guess. So what if the agency is laughing behind my back now, next time I hope I'll know what to do.

My husband has often brought up examples of surgeons, plumbers and other professions, but I always answer back that "I'm competing with other translators out there, so I don't care if a plumber charges more than me, I am bound by what's happening on the translation market".
If I show him your replies, his reaction will be: "Why do you only believe it when it comes from someone else?"
So I guess I'll keep this discussion a secret and pretend it was his good arguments that convinced me.


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:34
English to Russian
+ ...
To my mind Jan 19, 2008

you make a very serious mistake.

And it's natural for everybody not very familiar with how the market works.

You are NOT BOUND by what's happening on the translation market.
Actually you CREATE it. And me, and all other colleagues.

The market is not something given to us by someone supreme.
When I say 'market', I mean the average market level of prices.

By definition the translation market is a sum of all deals concluded between translators and their clients divided by the number of translators.

It is not the instruction of how high the prices shall be.
It is the REFLECTION of what has happened in real life.

The market is not primary, it's secondary.


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