Advice needed on service fee calculation
Thread poster: Inga Petkelyte

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:33
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
May 9, 2010

Dear all,

I am a freelance translator specializing in legal documents.

Last week, I concluded a tranlation of 21 pages or 5.388 words, that's an American contract of Purchase of Shares, Releases and several extracts from bank accounts and personal funds statements, 3 pages of the latter very similar in contents but slightly different in formating; all extracts in detailed tables. On the other hand, several pages were really easy, not much tet, only payment statements.

I charged 20 eur/page and gave a 15% discount after the first 5 pages. I didn't charge anything for those tables though it's quite time consuming, as you all know, plus various font-size changes.

In sum, the client paid over 300 euros for the work done.

And here I am not knowing if I did right or not, gee it seems a lot for a document...

I'm sorry if my concern seems a bit strange; I am selling a good sevice but I don't want to be a robber !

Normally, my clients are companies or public institutions, so somehow charging yhem is easier.Tthis client is a private person. I was recommended by court and the document is for the court.

Any advice, constructive or bittericon_smile.gif, will be accepted.

Thank you !


 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:33
Italian to English
Advice May 9, 2010

Dear Inga

It shouldn't really make any difference who your client is; the value is determined by the quality of your work (and what was required to become proficient in it).
The accepted wisdom is that rates for private clients are higher than for agencies because there is no middle-man but, of course, that tends to mean business clients, for whom translation costs are a tiny percentage of the total outlay.
Every language pair has a different market of course and I am no expert on yours but you most certainly have not overcharged. I would say that your charge in this case is very much at the lower end of the acceptable rate for agencies, especially for work in the legal sector, which is a valuable and scarce commodity. There are translators here who command rates of 2 or 3 times as much.
There are, of course, translators who work for lower rates and some members of this site get very angry when they hear about them or about agencies offering such rates, because they regard it as demeaning our professional status, so be prepared for some criticism!

[Edited at 2010-05-09 19:38 GMT]


 

Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:33
Member (2008)
English to French
...if it makes you feel better May 10, 2010

Inga Petkelyte wrote:

In sum, the client paid over 300 euros for the work done.

And here I am not knowing if I did right or not, gee it seems a lot for a document...

I'm sorry if my concern seems a bit strange; I am selling a good sevice but I don't want to be a robber !


At my base fee for direct clients (ie. with final proof, formatting, etc.) this project would have cost them more than 750euro and my fees have never raised eyebrows (amongst direct clients, agencies will try to negotiate whether you work for 0.01$ or 1.00$icon_smile.gif)

Also some food for thought, correct me if I'm wrong but Portuguese to Lithuanian and Russian to Portuguese are rare language pairs... most agencies would piggyback the translation over English and their cost would be twice as much. I would concentrate on those pairs - English to Portuguese is a saturated pair and you'll always be competing on rate (0.055euro/word is low no matter how big a 300euro payment seems - how much time did you spend on your project - what was your hourly?)

So if you are concerned you overcharged the client, don't beicon_smile.gif If you did good work I'll sure they'll be back (and if I were in your shoes I would tack on a 20-25% increase - if you quote per project don't mention it, just apply, if you quote per word or per page mention that "I always offer a new client the first translation at cost to showcase my skills however going forward, my fee per word/page is ___". You might be pleasantly surprised at how quickly your offer is picked upicon_smile.gif )


 

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:33
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
:) :) :) May 10, 2010

Dear Russel, Dear Arianne,

Sincerest thanks for your time, care and kindness ! You did make my dayicon_smile.gif

Indeed, I am a bit confused about giving rates: I have been asked for my fees several times by Portuguese clients, either by translation agencies or once by a law firm; in all cases, these rates (20-25 eur/pg) were considered as “beyond reasonable”, using the expression in one reply. The others, in opposite, find these fees at the low end, just exactly as you said. At the same time, clients from Central Europe never discuss such rates and accept them promptly. And let’s not forget that the Portuguese purchase power is higher than in C.Europe. Honestly, I find such reactions from the Portuguese a bit strange…

Arianne, your advice about “conditional quoting”icon_smile.gif is very valuable – I will certainly use it in the future. This translation was from English to Portuguese and rather demanding on terminology, e.g., pledge, lien, charge, encumbrance, security interest, etc., with fancyicon_smile.gif sentences in 17-18 lines. I did spend some time on it.

I wonder – is it acceptable in translators’ communities to ask your fellows what rates they practice ? Money matters is a sensitive topic; so far, I haven’t dared.

Once again, thank you both, your replies are so much reassuring and did make me feel much better. Thank you a lot !

Inga


 

Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:33
Member (2008)
English to French
Have you looked at the Proz rates graph May 10, 2010

I can't see the Portuguese chart myself - only the one in my language pair - but try clicking on this link when you are logged on:

http://www.proz.com/?sp=rates_view

This might give you an idea of what others chargeicon_smile.gif

The curve more or less represents (at least in my pair) :

left of the peak : underpaid work that should be left to google translate and bottom feeding agencies
peak : what (reputable) agencies are willing to pay
right of the peak : what end clients are willing to pay

The curve is actually the stated target rate of translators but it still seems to correspond to the above-described reality... not sure which is the cause and which is the effecticon_wink.gif

Good luck!


 


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