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Do you think asking for your best possible rate is rude?
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:50
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 1, 2009

An agency sent me an e-mail and among other things (do I use CAT tools?, do I work full time?, etc.), they asked me:

"VERY IMPORTANT [their emphasis]: Please provide your best possible rate per word (into English)."

Now, why don't they just ask me what my rate is (or what my rates are)? If I want to work with them, why wouldn't I offer them a good rate without them needing to ask? And doesn't your rate fluctuate based on a number of different factors? Shouldn't they be asking for my best possible range of rates?

Or perhaps I am misinterpreting their request. In other words, is there any other possible meaning to this request other than "we want it cheap"?

If they mean "cheap", why don't they just come out and say it: "we are looking for translators who charge less than xx" and then I can just delete the message and not waste my time responding. If they do not necessarily mean "cheap", then they are scaring away a lot of potentially good translators.

The message sounds like a threat to me - you better be cheap or you can't work for us. If I can make my normal agency rate x 2 from a direct client, why would I want to work for them for my normal rate / 2 ?



[Edited at 2009-07-01 23:00 GMT]


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conejo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:50
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
It's a negotiation game on their part Jul 1, 2009

I get these types of emails a lot too. Usually the impression that I get when I receive such an email is: "This project has a low budget, so we can only offer a cheap rate. So if your rate is too high, we won't select you."

It almost seems like they are trying to psych you out... they say 'give us a low rate!!', which causes you to second-guess your rate system, and possibly provide a rate that is lower than you normally would.

I usually ask them, how much are you offering? And usually they will tell me, it is only XX amount. And if it is too low, I will say, I'm sorry but the lowest rate I can accept is YY.

Usually you can get them to tell you what they are offering.

And in terms of a track record, when I did get them to tell me what they were offering, usually it was a rate that was $0.02-0.04 cheaper than what I would normally work for. So yes, it means they can only offer cheap rates.

Sometimes, they will use the "Give us your best possible rate" tactic, then if you come back with a rate that is too high, they will say something like "This is a really big project. Taking that into consideration, what is your best rate?" Again... another tactic trying to get it cheaper. I have seen this a lot of times.

[Edited at 2009-07-01 22:58 GMT]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
French to English
My interpretation Jul 1, 2009

First, at least they are asking what you charge, not telling you what they want to pay.
This is a good thing.

But in my admitedly limited experience of these kind of offers, it usually seems to mean that they don't intend to get involved in much negotiation. You punt your rate, if they like it, you're in, if they don't, you're out.

That said, I see no reason not to give a range, as long as you explain briefly what the range covers.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:50
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Games Jul 1, 2009

conejo wrote:
It's a negotiation game on their part


I guess I am just tired of all the games. I just want to translate.


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Rebekka Groß  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
English to German
yes and no Jul 1, 2009

conejo wrote:

I get these types of emails a lot too. Usually the impression that I get when I receive such an email is: "This project has a low budget, so we can only offer a cheap rate. So if your rate is too high, we won't select you."


I don't get this type of e-mails but have noticed this on ProZ.com job offers. Usually, I just quote my usual rate and if I don't get chosen I don't lose any sleep over it.

Charlie Bavington wrote:

First, at least they are asking what you charge, not telling you what they want to pay.
This is a good thing.


I disagree. It would be a lot easier (and more honest) if they just said: We can pay x for this job. That way they'd only get quotes from people prepared to work for their rate saving everyone a lot of work (us putting a quote together, them wading through applications that are "too expensive")


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RichardDeegan
Local time: 07:50
Spanish to English
Turned me off Jul 1, 2009

I got one from an agency I used to get a lot of steady work from, but the "best possible rate" just turned me off.
I once spent time entering all that data on their database, so I guess they don't like what was entered, or else why send this mail?
Plenty of fish in the sea (until gov't bans carbon and the plankton dies off).


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Mayturgeon  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:50
Member
English to French
+ ...
real huge turn off Jul 2, 2009

RichardDeegan wrote:

I got one from an agency I used to get a lot of steady work from, but the "best possible rate" just turned me off.
I once spent time entering all that data on their database, so I guess they don't like what was entered, or else why send this mail?
Plenty of fish in the sea (until gov't bans carbon and the plankton dies off).


I could not agree more!


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 13:50
English to Croatian
+ ...
Euphemism Jul 2, 2009

I see " provide your best possible rate" as an euphemism for " provide your slave rate"

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What "best rate" means Jul 2, 2009

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
Now, why don't they just ask me what my rate is (or what my rates are)? If I want to work with them, why wouldn't I offer them a good rate without them needing to ask? ... Or perhaps I am misinterpreting their request. In other words, is there any other possible meaning to this request other than "we want it cheap"? ... If they mean "cheap", why don't they just come out and say it.


I have found that different cultures find different styles of negotiation acceptable or unacceptable. Some expect to negotiate, whereas others find negotiation rude. Some expect you to put in a high offer to begin with, and then work your way down to a mean, whereas others regard this as a waste of time. Perhaps "best rate" is an attempt to do away with negotiation without being rude.

Perhaps "best rate" means the rate that requires no additional negotiation.


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:50
Member
English to Turkish
Red flag for me Jul 2, 2009

I can't say I find it rude, but... cheeky maybe? In any case, it sounds unprofessional to me, a bit like small town street vendor or oriental market sort of negotiating style. (< side rant >While we are at it, I hate the word 'vendor', too. Why is it so difficult to say 'language professional' if you need a term that will cover all tasks possible in our business? We're not vending anything!< / side rant >) If I see the term 'best rate' in a job ad, I skip automatically - it's a big bright red flag for me: they're looking for the cheapest. End of story. If I receive an inquiry asking for my best rate, I tell them the rate from the POV of my best business interests (none replied back so far).

[Edited at 2009-07-02 00:33 GMT]


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:50
French to English
+ ...
Resources other than labour; are the clients happy? Jul 2, 2009

Firstly, a couple of considerations with sweatshop prices and "underdeveloped" countries:
- A good translator needs to earn enough money to (a) pay their mortgage, (b) buy food, (c) buy technical dictionaries, literature in the given language(s), IT equipment and other resiurces, and (d) frequently travel to relevant countries. The cost of (a) and (b) may depend on the country in questuion, but (c) and (d) generally don't, or at least, not by a very long margin. (The cost of (c) may even be more due to higher import costs and duties...)
- Many of the people contracting translation work in poorer countries are not the "poor unfortunates"-- they're the international businesses who may well be able to afford to pay international prices. A feature of less developed countries is often a massive imbalance between rich and poor, rather than people running branches of international companies being on the breadline...
- In some "underdeveloped" countries, taxes can be comparatively higher for legitimate businesses, to make up for the predominance of "grey market" businesses.

So from the very start, the notion that "poorer countries" can charge lower prices and retain the same quality isn't necessarily true.

Now, beyond that a question that intrigues me is: are the customers actually happy? Does the company paying 30 dollars per 1000 words actually perceive that they're getting a comparable quality translation to one from the guy in Vancouver charging 100 dollars? Are they getting one that's good enough for their purposes? Is it even that the guy in Vancouver is making his translation "too good"?

Like many of you I'm sure, I've sometimes been asked to "proofread" translations performed at the lower end of the market, and in general, the samples I've seen have been truly truly dreadful, as you might expect. So I'm intrigued-- is it just that there's actually a market for *paid* truly truly dreadful translations (bearing in mind that you can get that for free with a machine translation system)?


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
French to English
Nobody likes to waste time, true Jul 2, 2009

Rebekka Gross wrote:
Charlie Bavington wrote:

First, at least they are asking what you charge, not telling you what they want to pay.
This is a good thing.


I disagree. It would be a lot easier (and more honest) if they just said: We can pay x for this job. That way they'd only get quotes from people prepared to work for their rate saving everyone a lot of work (us putting a quote together, them wading through applications that are "too expensive")


There is a substantal school of thought, with which I agree, that as the ones selling the service, we should ideally be the ones setting the rates. It doesn't always work that way, for sure, especially for non-specialist work at the cheaper end of the market. But I always find it gets things off on the right foot if you are asked for, not told, your rates.

And one assumes that those asking are aware of the consequences, in terms of having to filter out the unsuitable applicants, so I'm not going to lose any sleep over their workload. It doesn't take long to knock up a reply from my side. And lastly, sometimes these are general queries, not always about specific jobs, so it is possible that "x" does not actually exist in any fixed way (to say nothing of the cases when x may actually be quite high, and they are just seeing what kind of mark-up they are likely to achieve).

But live and let live, and all that


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Andrew Levine  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:50
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Wow, some people are really sensitive! Jul 2, 2009

I can't imagine getting offended at someone cold-contacting me for a job and asking "What is your best rate?" Happens all the time, and to me, it says "We want to give you money; how much do you want us to give you?" And while I might not like that particular job, or they might not like the rate, who can object to that sentiment? It's worth the 90 seconds it takes to read the offer and respond. I got two of my biggest repeat clients that way.

It's much better like that than when they come out and say "Our rate for this project is $0.03 per word, now please fill out our nine-page questionnaire and this 300-word unpaid test."


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 13:50
English to Croatian
+ ...
Not necessarily Jul 2, 2009

Charlie Bavington wrote:
But I always find it gets things off on the right foot if you are asked for, not told, your rates.


When it comes to psychological effects, I will always prefer clients who tell me their fixed rate is $0.05 to those who want to make me lower my rate down to $0.05.


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Christina Courtright  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
my rate - take it or leave it Jul 2, 2009

I got the same mail too, and felt peeved, but luckily the questions were few & short, so I just answered them, including a statement of the rate I charge agencies. And then I filed it away in an email folder. It's annoying, yes, but it won't be the last of these.

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