Word rates in euros and US dollars: do they seem to be identical?
Thread poster: Astrid Elke Witte

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:19
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Feb 3, 2010

I am not initiating a discussion about the word rates themselves which are paid by agencies, but about a phenomenon that I still do not find quite logical.

Do you work for agencies in both Europe and the USA? If so, does it seem to be the case, in your experience - or in your language pair - that the number of cents per word is identical, regardless of whether you are being paid in euros or dollars?

If so, do you have any opinion on why the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro is not taken into account?

Also, if this is the case, do you think that you have experienced any abuse of this phenomenon? Abuse, for example, would be an agency in Europe wanting to pay a translator in their own country in US dollars.


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 09:19
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
All kinds of different rates Feb 4, 2010

I don't really see any pattern to this effect in my language pair En-Da.
;o)


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:19
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My situation Feb 4, 2010

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
Do you work for agencies in both Europe and the USA? If so, does it seem to be the case, in your experience - or in your language pair - that the number of cents per word is identical, regardless of whether you are being paid in euros or dollars?


I have different per-word rates for USD and EUR, which means that I get paid about the same amount of money per American word as I get per European word. But my minimum fee and my per hour fee is the same in both currencies (as USD clients tend to baulk at the EUR rate). This makes it easy for me. It is the price that one has to pay for working with American clients, I think.


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:19
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
I do not really have a USD rate Feb 4, 2010

Mostly because American clients just expect me to charge about 1/4 of what I would normally ask. Just a few days ago an American agency (with a very good BB record) got in touch with me however once I sent them my rates (converted from pounds), they did not even bother replying. In fact, I have not worked for anybody from that part of the world for almost four years now although that might have somthing to do with refusing to bow to the Paypal monopoly and its lack of respect for the clients.

Ines


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:19
English to German
+ ...
Come on. Feb 4, 2010

You are kidding me, right? Nobody can tell me that any person with an IQ above room temperature would charge, say, 20 cents equally in US cents, Euro cents, Canadian cents or New Zealand cents.

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:19
French to German
+ ...
On the low side... Feb 4, 2010

Hi all,
I never forget to make the USD to EUR conversion and therefore have no US customers. Some of them (for reasons unknown to me) have the same figures - e.g. 0.08 - but this is an optical illusion. What in turn is not an optical illusion is the fact that EU/UK based potential customers begin to think in USD, that is begin to "offer" rates which are lower than what one could reasonably expect for the kind of text to be translated.
This is one of my concerns as per today.

[Edited at 2010-02-04 17:08 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:19
English to German
+ ...
Off topic (sorry for that): @Laurent Feb 4, 2010

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

Hi all,
I never forget to make the USD to EUR conversion and therefore have no US-based customers. Some of them (for reasons unknown to me) have the same figures - e.g. 0.08 - but this is an optical illusion. What in turn is not an optical illusion is the fact that EU-/UK-based potential customers begin to think in USD, that is begin to "offer" rates which are lower than what one could reasonably except. This is one of my concerns.

[Edited at 2010-02-04 16:52 GMT]


There is no such thing as lower rates in the US. You will always get what you ask for - that's the American way. If - for whatever sheepish reasons - you just accept what anyone tells you, you will be dealt, like cards, what we refer to as "Spanish rates".


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:19
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Get what you ask for - but only if it is low enough? Feb 4, 2010

Hi Nicole,

Maybe they do not negotiate or do any bargaining. But they only give you what you ask for if it is suitably low enough, right?


Astrid


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Nadejda Vega Cespedes  Identity Verified

Local time: 09:19
Spanish to Russian
+ ...
They are what you make them Feb 4, 2010

Do you mean rates that agencies get to pay to freelancers? Those are (or at least should be) established by the latter, so it's not like you can look at the outside world and suddenly discover that the numbers are the same. It is up to you to take the exchange rate into account.

Some vendors, including freelance translators, do indeed choose to charge the same numbers in USD and in euros as a way to adapt their prices to the target markets (which is exactly why a very strong euro is bad news for the eurozone). This works better for brick-and-mortar businesses though, since such structure is way too easy to abuse online.

The reason behind all that is that human beings are emotional rather than rational creatures and deal with perceived rather than objective reality. Just browse around here on the forums. You *must* charge at least 10 cents per word, or else you are a bottom feeder and we despise you! What cents? Oh well, please don't change the topic. Make sure your rate is in double digits, will you? Or we'll think you secretly use Google Translate.

Exchange rates are only one of a range of factors we often fail to account for. Other issues are both more subtle and more consequential. For example, the value of the same payment received today vs 30 (let alone 60 or 90) days later is very much not the same.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:19
English to German
+ ...
It takes particular negotiation skills Feb 4, 2010

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Hi Nicole,

Maybe they do not negotiate or do any bargaining. But they only give you what you ask for if it is suitably low enough, right?


Astrid



You have to sell yourself and don't expect anything such as "industry rates". That's a very German habit. At times colleagues seem to forget that we are dealing with 50 different states - each of which has its own laws and its own rates - spanning an entire continent. Yet all I hear is: American rates. That's like measuring European rates on Eastern European ones (no offense..).


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:19
French to German
+ ...
OT - sorry 2 @ Nicole Feb 4, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:

There is no such thing as lower rates in the US. You will always get what you ask for - that's the American way. If - for whatever sheepish reasons - you just accept what anyone tells you, you will be dealt, like cards, what we refer to as "Spanish rates".

OK Nicole, point taken - it took time to sink in (I remember a similar hint of yours some months ago)

[Edited at 2010-02-04 17:47 GMT]


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xxxAguas de Mar
Different markets, different rates Feb 4, 2010

Let's say I live in the US and I charge 10 US cents per word. If I converted this rate into euros for a European client, I would be charging 7 euro cents per word, which seems to me to be an extremely competitive rate (some people might consider it extremely low, though).

However, if I live in Europe and I charge 10 euro cents per word, and want to charge the same rate in US to a US client, my rate would be 14 cents US, and that would put me on a"higher bracket", meaning that in the US there might be very good translators charging 2 to 4 cents less than what I expect to charge. This explains why many European translators have few US clients, refuse to work for average US rates, and/or believe US clients are out to get them.

Mind you, a few years ago the situation was exactly the opposite due to a stronger US dollar.

The truth is that we are dealing with two different markets (not to mention all the submarkets that exist depending on the language pairs and specializations), with different average rates, and that IMHO it is not a wise move to try to apply the rate of one market to the other.

[Edited at 2010-02-04 18:04 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:19
English to German
+ ...
Interesting point, Aguas de Marco. Feb 4, 2010

I have noticed that my rates (calculated by the currency converter) are too high for the German market. Why? They have tons of German native speakers themselves who will work for lower rates. Here in the US, the right specialization combined with the relative sparsity of a particular language pair, plus the incredible advantage of living in the same country will push you into the higher bracket automatically.

So, you are right. You can not apply rates by the calculator.


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Word rates in euros and US dollars: do they seem to be identical?

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