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Is it justified to charge clients according to their geographic locations?
Thread poster: xxxwonita

xxxwonita
China
Local time: 10:50
Apr 18, 2009

I find it fine that an agency pays me half of the price it charges its clients. In the German translation market, the agency sells German to Chinese translation at Euro 0. 20 to 0.25 per word. It makes me ill, when I am offered € 0.05 for a job. On the Chinese translation market, the end client pays no more than USD 0.07 for a good translation. How much can I expect to charge for a job coming from China, even if it comes from a direct client?

It is not the word price that bothers me, but the mentality behind.

P.S. Sorry, I wanted to make a new post, but unfortunately edited my original. I will just leave it this way. Apologize again, if you can't follow this thread.

[Edited at 2009-04-18 20:08 GMT]


 

patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 09:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Me too! Apr 18, 2009

Hi Bin,

I have the same system. My Mexican clients pay significantly less than North American or European clients. And I refuse to work for American or European clients at Mexican rates. My services are to be used in the country that hires me, so I think that's appropriate.

And I have the same experience as you locally. Prices don't vary in the shops but I always get charged much more than my Mexican husband would for services like domestic repairs etc. People take one look at my face and add 100%. I've learned to stay in the background when it comes to negotiating. Perhaps it shouldn't bother me so much now as a significant percentage of my income is, in fact, in euros or dollars, but there are many more non-Mexicans whose income is solely in Mexican pesos and they are ripped off constantly if they're not careful.

So it does feel like we have double standards, doesn't it?

icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2009-04-18 18:15 GMT]


 

Emma Hradecka  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 16:50
English to Czech
+ ...
Cost of living Apr 18, 2009

I personally believe that it's fair to take into account the cost of living in the country where you actually live and charge accordingly. So if I live in the Czech Republic I charge the Czech prices (not necessarily the lower end of Czech prices, of course) and if you live more to the west (UK, US etc.) you charge their prices. To me it seems really fair but I must say that I am a fresh translation studies graduate and have only started establishing myself, so I'll be happy to hear more opinions.

 

Taija Hyvönen
Finland
Local time: 17:50
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Well... Apr 18, 2009

... if it's a Chinese agency ordering a translation into Finnish from a Finnish translator living in Finland, for a client based in Finland, I see no reason for a third-world discounticon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2009-04-18 17:01 GMT]


 

Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:50
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sorry don't agree Apr 18, 2009

Sorry but I feel your approach is flawed, you should do as Emma says and charge according to the country you live in, not where your clients are from.

After all what if you are doing a job for a huge super powerful Chinese company and a job for a very small tiny European company, you mean to say you think it is fair to charge the Chinese less than the European company. You may not know, but there are in fact more chinese millonaires than millonaires in europe and america.

Surely if you want to be that "fair" when charging clients you shoud look at what each individual client can afford to pay. Personally I think this is completely unworkable from a practical point of view. So I charge all my clients the same regardless of where they come from, and I charge according to where I live, currently Spain. But that is just my view, other people may see it differently.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:50
German to Serbian
+ ...
Just one example Apr 18, 2009

Not so long ago, I was offered a job by a client from Germany at 0.04 EUR per word. Subject-matter: medical engineering and surgery / clinical studies. To add to this dream bargain, they also told me they work exclusively with Trados and declared the Trados discounts would be compulsory ( repetitions, matches, etc ).

I think this case is very indicative. I was completely stunned at the price, especially considering the highly- sensitive subject matter, and they kept saying how sorry they were and how the end client was not paying much ( as if I were born yesterday so they can sell me this fictional story?). I never explicitly commented on their price, but they kept saying how sorry they were, which tells me they actually know they are doing something wrong ( why apologizing so much otherwise? )

I just couldn't believe that a translation agency from what is considered to be an economically developed country goes around the Net begging for a cheap translation. I don't think that's right. Which certified medical translator would do this at the price they offered?


 

xxxwonita
China
Local time: 10:50
TOPIC STARTER
@ Alex Apr 18, 2009

Alex Lago wrote:

Sorry but I feel your approach is flawed, you should do as Emma says and charge according to the country you live in, not where your clients are from.



For your information: Proz.com has a special membership fee for Chinese Prozians, which is less than half of what you pay.


 

Jurate Janaviciute  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
English to Lithuanian
it is unfair, no matter how you put it Apr 18, 2009

On one hand, I think it is still called discrimination, regardles of whether we discriminate person by person or bundle them according to their place of living. And I guess that Chinese companies get unfair advantage by picturing themselves as low-cost of living country companies - they earn their living not from low-paid Chinese people, but from multinational corporations.

On the other hand, I find it very challenging and time consuming to stick to my price in this business. It feels as if I would be selling a herd of camels on the market in Bagdad - the price I state is hardly ever noticed and does not prevent from week-long attempts to bargain. I can hardly think of any other modern world business, where it would be so difficult to set the price and have clients respect it.

I came up with a solution for myself though, while I was writing this. Maybe investing in my negotiation skills would be worth while?


 

patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 09:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
I do take into account the cost of living where I live... Apr 18, 2009

and so my prices to the Mexican market are probably mid-range but for North American and European I can afford to be a bit more competitive in comparison to other translators who live in those areas.

It obviously depends on whether you live in a country with a high or low cost-of-living.


It's apples and pears, swings and roundabouts.

[Edited at 2009-04-18 18:25 GMT]


 

Emma Hradecka  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 16:50
English to Czech
+ ...
Sure, but... Apr 18, 2009

Concerning this particular case...
Lingua 5B wrote:


Not so long ago, I was offered a job by a client from Germany at 0.04 EUR per word. Subject-matter: medical engineering and surgery / clinical studies. To add to this dream bargain, they also told me they work exclusively with Trados and declared the Trados discounts would be compulsory ( repetitions, matches, etc ).

I think this case is very indicative. I was completely stunned at the price, especially considering the highly- sensitive subject matter, and they kept saying how sorry they were and how the end client was not paying much ...


I definitely agree that you simply refuse such a ridiculous assigment (let them find someone else willing to do it for the price and then get the worst of it).

But still, if for example (and this is only an example as I don't know the current prices in the US) it was normal to charge 0.15 USD/word for the combination English-Czech, I don't have any problems charging e.g. 0.12 USD - it is a posh price compared to those in the CR. I don't think I would be giving the client a message that I'm less competent than the native Czech translators living in the US.


 

James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:50
Russian to English
+ ...
Can't think of a title but one is required . . . Apr 18, 2009

Another thing to consider is that the translation industry is multinational. When we get an assignment from an outsourcer, we usually have no idea what country the outsourcer's client is in. Could be anywhere in the world.

This topic has been discussed before, and the general opinion expressed in those other discussions has been that we shouldn't drop our rate based on where we or our customers live and do business.

I live in a relatively high-cost area, so I simply can't afford to work for peanuts.


 

xxxwonita
China
Local time: 10:50
TOPIC STARTER
In case of inadequate workload Apr 18, 2009

James McVay wrote:
I live in a relatively high-cost area, so I simply can't afford to work for peanuts.


If I have enough good-paid jobs, I wouldn't consider taking peanut-jobs either.

When I happen to have time and no assignment, I am ready to take a low-rate job from China, but would refuse one from Europe. I simply don't nourish parasites.


 

Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
This is simply unethical in my opinion Apr 18, 2009

Lingua 5B wrote:


Not so long ago, I was offered a job by a client from Germany at 0.04 EUR per word. Subject-matter: medical engineering and surgery / clinical studies. To add to this dream bargain, they also told me they work exclusively with Trados and declared the Trados discounts would be compulsory ( repetitions, matches, etc ).

just couldn't believe that a translation agency from what is considered to be an economically developed country goes around the Net begging for a cheap translation. I don't think that's right. Which certified medical translator would do this at the price they offered?

[/quote]

Neither would I support such a behaviour (i.e. work at such lousy rates) knowing perfectly that the bargain will be sold to the end client at triple or quadruple price.

This said, I obviously do differentiate my rates according to the customer's country. Well, we don't always know it, but I can hardly believe that let's say, a German or Swiss agency is moved by noble feelings and sells the translation at a quarter of their normal price because their end lives in a low-cost country.

I have set a personal minimum, though, which is at the high end of Italian rates, and cannot afford to work for less. So my flexibility goes only in one directionicon_smile.gif


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
If you outprice your product... Apr 18, 2009

Bin Tiede wrote:
How much can I expect to charge for a job coming from China, even if it comes from a direct client?


Different clients can afford different prices, and the prices can differ for many reasons. Location of the client is one thing that can influence the price a client is willing to pay. It is therefore perfectly all right for a service provider who wants to sell his product in that region to lower his price. If he asks too high a price, his product will not sell in that region, even if his price is regarded as highly competitive in another region. I suggest you decide if you want clients from China, and if so, adjust your rate to make it competitive for that region. Nothing wrong with that.


 

xxxLionel_M
Local time: 16:50
English to French
+ ...
I’m just wondering how to address the problem. Apr 18, 2009

First of all, I would like to point out that if you live in Paris, in Rome, In London….you will do much less with one euro compared to your colleague living in a small town far from metropolis.
Should I figure out what to do with one dollar at Beverly Hills or in China ?

The point is another one: can I accept to be paid $0.03 by a Chinese or an Indian agency, making $ 10 per hour while my baby sitter asks me € 15 (about $18) ???

The answer is obvious: better if I take care about my child by myself and stop working ! At least I don’t loose money !!!

So it has no sense to accept "discount price” because in these countries someone asks less, especially because I’m not sure there are so many “expert mother tongue” able to do these translations living over there; If I need an expert German mechanical engineer, tell me how may translators I will find in China or in India ?
At the same time, it won’t be so difficult to find a Chinese MD living in Paris able to translate a French medical report into Chinese: but would he/she accept $0.03 per word living in Paris ?


 
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