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Rate between languages in developed countries for agency in developing countries
Thread poster: Chie. I

Chie. I  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 19:02
Partial member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Mar 10, 2013

Hi, thank you in advance for your opinions and advice.


I was asked to submit rates for an agency for translation between languages.

The agency is located in developing countries and the price of living is approx.half of what we are
having in developed countries.

The language pair I applied for is between two developed countries and does not
involve languages in developing country.

What rate can it be applied for these language pairs? Is it better I apply the price of
the country the agency is located and ask for more if the project has more budget?

Looking forward to have your opinions,
Thank you.


 

Charles Milton Ling
Local time: 12:02
English to German
+ ...
It depends on how much you want the job Mar 10, 2013

I have to charge rates that enable to live in the developed country I live in. Of course, it is very commendable if you charge your deficit to foreign aid (and I am not being cynical).

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:02
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You have to live locally to accept low local rates Mar 10, 2013

Charles Milton Ling wrote:
Of course, it is very commendable if you charge your deficit to foreign aid (and I am not being cynical).

I'm all for aid projects, but aid must be for specific purposes where it can do good for the community. I really don't think that aiding a commercial agency by cutting your rates is a good idea.

@ OP: How can you quote rates you can't live on? You have to quote rates that take into account the cost of living where you live - anything else would be ridiculous. If they can't pay your rates, let them find someone else. Remember, you're in business to make a living, a profit.


 

Maria Popova  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 13:02
Member (2011)
German to Bulgarian
+ ...
low rates are equal low standard Mar 10, 2013

Low rates are equal low living standard everywhere. Countries where low rates apply are usually countries where people "got used" to live on low standard. It's more a mental image of what you "deserve" for your work then something you can live on. In Eastern European countries for instance people usually have to pay much higher price for food, medical service, education and so on as in most developed countries in Europe. I would advise you to set your usual rates for this client too.





[Edited at 2013-03-10 10:04 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-03-10 10:05 GMT]


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 11:02
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Flexible rates (within reason) Mar 10, 2013

If you’re interested in working with developing countries you have to be flexible with your rates and adapt them within reason, of course. Like Sheila, I'm all for aid projects and I have worked as a volunteer for some humanitarian organizations (and I intend to keep on doing that) but I try to choose them very carefully and obviously any for-profit company is excluded.

 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:02
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Almost volunteer work Mar 10, 2013

You are working to enable you and your family to live decently... in your country. There's no doubt that, in order for you to accomplish this, you must quote your normal rate, a rate that can and will support you.

Assisting an agency by lowering your rates to their country's "normal" rate is not aiding an undeveloped country, but is helping the agency to increase its profit margin. I'm all for aiding less developed countries, e. g. doing translations without any charge to enable that organization to build a hospital or school, or anything that will actually help the people in that country.

Just a couple of days ago an agency contacted me for an assignment. I quoted my standard rate, and the next thing I "heard" from them was in a job post here on ProZ.com. I'm quite sure that this agency has found someone who charges them half of my rate, perhaps even less.

I don't critize people who, in their country, can afford to live on low to extremely low rates, but... who will come to my aid when my rates don't feed me?icon_wink.gif We're all working to make some progress or to at least be able to afford living comfortably off the fruits of our labor.icon_smile.gif


 

Chie. I  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 19:02
Partial member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! I will apply reasonable rate for the work. Mar 10, 2013

Thank you for you comments and opinions!

I was encouraged to hear your suggestions.

I must admit that I had sense of guilt in charging twice as much as what they pay in local translator.
I also work for agency in my country so at that time I figured I may have to work for half the price and try to get more work from domestic agencies with fair price.

It is a somewhat a nightmare to think I'm going to have to compete half-rate local translators in their country who grow in numbers in future.

The agency seem large enough and reliable and contact person is friendly enough so I believe he/she will be considerate enough about this.


>Thayenga
Your opinion is reasonable and convincing! thank you, I will take to your opinion.

>Teresa
"Within reason" sounds very convincing to me. Thank you for your opinion!
This made the problem clear and now I can set my policy.

>Maria
It is a kind of eye-opener.
Come to think of it, they have one European branch office
in Chek Republic.

>Sheila,
I share your opinion about difference between NPOs and profit making enterprises. I almost mixed these up but now this is clear to me.
Thank you very much for your suggestion.
I have contract with other (domestic ) agencies with normal rates,
so for this one part of work(around 1/5 in volume)
I thought may need to take small rates, but of course this can make some worries so I had better apply fairer rate.


>Charles
Thank you. you made the point very clear in the first place!


Thank you again for all, you are very helpful!!


 

Andrea Teltemann  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:02
Member (2009)
French to German
+ ...
Ask for rates according to your country's price of living Mar 10, 2013

You might think of it this way: The agencies get money from their clients, who sometimes (i.e. in the case of translations from languages of developed countries to languages of developed countries) can and should pay adequate rates, as they do their business in developed countries.

 

Chie. I  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 19:02
Partial member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree to your opinion:) Mar 10, 2013

>Andrea
Thank you very much for your helpful suggestion.
This way of thinking saves me all the trouble!
I really hope this will be the case of majority.

Thank you!


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:02
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Clients in developed countries are always looking for ways to cut costs Mar 10, 2013

... just like everyone else. Sometimes it is reasonable, but not always.

The economy where I live is gasping because labour costs are high, and a mentality has developed that it pays to outsource all kinds of labour-intensive work to developing countries where labour is 'cheaper'.

In fact it may mean that others are paying the price, and it does NOT always help the developing countries. While environment protection is mandatory and costly here, the environment is ruined in some parts of the world where the work is carried out. People in some areas can no longer fish in their rivers or drink the water, so if they earn more from industrial work for developed countries, they may not be better off. They have to buy drinking water in bottles and pay for food from other areas where the rivers and farming land are not polluted, instead of spending their higher wages on schools and health care. I could go on...

Industrial products have to be transported round the globe, burning fossil fuel and adding to global warming.

This attitude is being transferred to translation too, and through the Internet and travel, people in developing countries are beginning to produce translations that serve their purpose, even if they are not always up to native speaker standard.

Clients and their customers are getting the idea that translation is a cheap commodity, something you either get free from Google Translate, or that can be done at 'developing country' rates. They do not always expect high quality.

I still think it is possible to make a reasonable living from quality translation, but it is also necessary to fight for rates we can live on, and keep telling clients what we do. Machines that deliver cheap, high quality translation are not just around the corner. So-called 'artificial intelligence' is just that. It is not real intelligence, any more than artificial flowers are able to grow and form seeds and fruit. Computers still work on refined algorithms and calculations, and although they may reach the right answer many times, they are are still calculating the odds, like the weather forecast, and not really understanding the source text like a human.

If translators in developing countries can really produce quality work, they take expensive educations, travel, and pay for good dictionaries, CATs and resources. Their costs are at least as high as ours in the developed countries.

Added to that, they do not alway have welfare and pension schemes as we do in Europe, so they need to save up for themselves. They need to charge high rates, no matter what the average standard of living is like where they live.

Clients must get used to paying professional rates for professional work, just as they do when they engage engineers, lawyers and others whose work is not being taken over by machines. Translators often work with the same texts as these other professionals, after all.

We need to keep rates up so that colleagues in developing countries can raise theirs.


 

Andrea Teltemann  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:02
Member (2009)
French to German
+ ...
@ Christine Andersen: Very well put! Mar 10, 2013

I think you are right – it’s not only a question of the translator’s cost of living.

Btw: I recently was asked by an Indian agency to do an English-German translation for a big Danish company. It was quite a difficult technical manual. I am wondering why the Danish client assigned an agency in India who in turn was looking for a German translator to do the job. (I finally was not assigned the job though, maybe as my price was too high.)


 

Narcis Lozano Drago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:02
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You should charge MORE than your standard rate Mar 10, 2013

- Compared with an agency in your country, this agency has LOWER costs: cheaper office rent, much lower salaries for PMs, lower taxes, etc. That should be enough profit margin for them, and will allow them to charge less to their client than an agency in your country, even if your rate is the same or even higher.

- If you provide your services for your standard price (and much worse, for less), your current clients will be less competitive, and this will decrease the chances that they get more projects for them and for you.

- Debt collection is already a nightmare if your client is in your country. Much worse if your client is in another developed country. If it is in a developing country, you can kiss your money goodbye. Although there are honest agencies in these countries, many others know this situation and take advantage of it. This risk alone already justifies charging more and having stricter payment terms.

Charging even a penny less than your standard rate simply does not make any sense whatsoever. You have to charge more; otherwise, you are shooting yourself (and your clients) in the foot. I certainly do charge more.

Narcís


 

nrichy (X)
France
Local time: 12:02
French to Dutch
+ ...
Well Mar 10, 2013

Charging more than current Spanish prices is of course always a good idea.

 

Narcis Lozano Drago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:02
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Well, well Mar 10, 2013

nrichy wrote:

Charging more than current Spanish prices is of course always a good idea.


And not offering quality work for lousy rates (regardless the language pair and
country), probably a better one.

Narcís


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:02
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My opinion Mar 10, 2013

IZY16 wrote:
The agency is located in a developing countriy. ... The language pair I applied for is between two developed countries and does not involve languages in the developing country.


My opinion is different from most people in this thread, it seems.

Firstly, you have no way of knowing where the client is located, regardless of where the agency is located. The languages may be English and Japanese, but the client may be from anywhere. Similarly, if one or both of the languages are languages spoken in a poor country, that would not necessarily indicate that the client is from that country.

Secondly, my experience is that agencies from rich countries typically pay translators higher rates, regardless of who the client is or where the translator is located (I almost feel sorry for end-clients from poor countries who choose agencies in rich countries). The same applies to agencies from poor countries -- they tend to pay lower rates, even if their end-clients are clearly from rich countries that should be able to afford higher rates.

The only thing that may make a poor country agency pay more for translation is if translators in the language combination are really hard to find. But there are many Japanese/English translators, so you're out of luck there.

My opinion is that if you choose to work for agencies from poor countries, then you can try to bargain with them (since such countries often have haggling cultures), but you should realise that ultimately you're likely going to have to work for much less than you would have worked for elsewhere.

There may be good reasons for accepting jobs from poor country agencies. For example, it helps spread the risk. And, when such agencies get large contracts from rich country end-clients, the work can sometimes be simple, easy, and thus profitable even at a lower rate.

One can argue forever about cost of living here and there, but my experience is that rich country agencies pay much more and poor country agencies pay much less, and that's that.

Samuel

[Edited at 2013-03-10 21:22 GMT]


 
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