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Translation rates too low?
Thread poster: Narci73

Narci73  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:39
English to Romanian
+ ...
Jan 11

Hi,

I have been in contact with a company that said they are an European organisation with headquarters in India. After they had asked a lot of questions about my experience/background and my rates, they sent an email saying that their best rates are USD 0.03/word. Not even 0.03 EUR per word which would still be low as I am currently getting a lot more.

I was just wondering if there are people out there taking projects under these rates, or am I too fussy? I live in UK, so to me, these rates are simply ridiculous. I was bluntly honest to the company when I answered their email, I feel kind of bad...

[Edited at 2017-01-11 11:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-01-11 11:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-01-11 11:35 GMT]


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Francisco Vare
Poland
Local time: 10:39
Polish to Spanish
+ ...
Nothing new Jan 11

This is nothing new, and there are indeed people who accept these rates.

Last week I was offered 1 PLN (around 0.2287 EUR) per page!!! on a 127-page project. The worst of all is there was a guy who accepted the offer...


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:39
Member
Italian to English
Don't feel bad Jan 11

Narci73 wrote:
I was just wondering if there are people out there taking projects under these rates


Yes, there are, unfortunately, for whatever reason. If everyone stopped accepting them, these companies would no longer offer these rates.

Narci73 wrote:
or am I too fussy?


In a word, no.

Narci73 wrote:
I was bluntly honest to the company when I answered their email, I feel kind of bad...


Don't feel bad. But there are many companies out there like this one, so you have to decide what strategy you want to adopt in future. Are you going to tell each of them how you feel, or move each mail into the waste basket and move on?

Keep looking for agencies that pay your rates, and don't succumb to those who don't. It takes time, but it's worth the effort, for obvious reasons.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:39
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You are possibly catering to different markets Jan 11

That's how I put it when I get these offers.

Maybe their best rates are OK for a translator established and living in India. If they can find a competent high-quality translator in your language pair there, let them use his/her services. If they can't, it will be necessary to find these services outside their country.

Build a 2x2 matrix with the retail prices for bananas/cherries in Brazil/Poland, and the differences will be obvious.

Regarding BEST rates, my translation rate is constant, however the financial costs may vary significantly.
For instance, to receive payment in Brazil, it costs me 10% of the total via PayPal, a fixed USD 30 fee to process a bank transfer.
Delayed payment? Brazilian monthly interest rates are numerically close to annual interest rates in North America and Western Europe. On the other hand, interest rates in Argentina are still higher than in Brazil.

Too many people haven't learned yet to cope with globalization to their benefit.


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Narci73  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:39
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jan 11

Thanks Fiona. It sounds like a good advice, just dumping them in the bin. Would save me time and honestly, I wind up myself when replying to them

Is there any way (on ProZ forums maybe, or the blue board) to warn other translators of such companies. Sorry, I am browsing the ProZ forums now but I haven't found a 'black list' yet. I'll keep looking.


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Narci73  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:39
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Too right Jan 11

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

That's how I put it when I get these offers.

Maybe their best rates are OK for a translator established and living in India. If they can find a competent high-quality translator in your language pair there, let them use his/her services. If they can't, it will be necessary to find these services outside their country.

Build a 2x2 matrix with the retail prices for bananas/cherries in Brazil/Poland, and the differences will be obvious.

Regarding BEST rates, my translation rate is constant, however the financial costs may vary significantly.
For instance, to receive payment in Brazil, it costs me 10% of the total via PayPal, a fixed USD 30 fee to process a bank transfer.
Delayed payment? Brazilian monthly interest rates are numerically close to annual interest rates in North America and Western Europe. On the other hand, interest rates in Argentina are still higher than in Brazil.

Too many people haven't learned yet to cope with globalization to their benefit.



You're so right Jose, and as a matter of fact I did suggested them the exactly same thing. I am sure these rates sound great in certain parts of the world, they just need to adjust their expectations.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:39
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Don't use company names Jan 11

You're not allowed to name (and shame) specific companies in this forum.

Personally, I don't think it's smart to publish your own rate this way but I think you're allowed to do that.

Cheers,
Gerard


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Narci73  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:39
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sorry... Jan 11

Gerard de Noord wrote:

You're not allowed to name (and shame) specific companies in this forum.

Personally, I don't think it's smart to publish your own rate this way but I think you're allowed to do that.

Cheers,
Gerard


I am sorry, but why? Why not naming and shaming them? If other translators see it, they would spare some time sending info back in forth to these people only to find out the best rates are a joke.

If there is a policy however which forbids such posting, I will edit/remove my post


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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:39
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
There is a policy against posting specific names Jan 11

Narci73 wrote:

Gerard de Noord wrote:

You're not allowed to name (and shame) specific companies in this forum.


I am sorry, but why? Why not naming and shaming them? If other translators see it, they would spare some time sending info back in forth to these people only to find out the best rates are a joke.

If there is a policy however which forbids such posting, I will edit/remove my post


There is indeed a rule about that. ProZ forum rules do not allow us to name specific companies, both when we want to complain about them and when we want to recommend or promote them.

The reason for this is because it would be unfair to allow that practice without policing it intensively. I like the rule, to be honest, because I think it helps keep a more professional and neutral atmosphere in the forums. I have come across other forums where translators do name and shame companies, and have sometimes found them to be inaccurate or unfair with no way for anyone to correct that -- and potentially being very damaging to companies that may not deserve it.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:39
German to English
economic realities Jan 11

Wikipedia lists the latest Romanian gross median wage as €649 per month. If we assume that a freelancer's sales need to be 50% higher to end up with the same net earnings and benefits, then that brings us to just under €1000 per month. At 20 working days per month, that means an average of 1666 words per day in order to hit €1000 at €0.03. (At the current exchange rate, the USD-EUR difference is negligible.)

Of course there are going to be a lot of people out there willing to work at around €0.03 per word and of course agencies that regularly work with the Romanian language are going to invest time and money in finding out which of them are competent and reliable. I honestly can't see anything to get upset about there. That's business.

On the other hand, in spite of all the talk of globalization, its reach is usually very limited. Most people have no inclination to invest a lot of time and money and take on a substantial amount of risk to find one or more good Romanian translators, so it is not difficult to find situations where your work is worth a lot more than €0.03. You know that, because you have already secured a group of GBP 0.05 to 0.06 clients for yourself and the rates listed in your profile are substantially higher than that.

All you have to do is to tell them that it makes no sense for you to work for them, because you have a reliable supply of clients that pay you roughly twice as much. By the same token, it makes no sense for them to work with you if they have a reliable supply of translators that charge roughly half your rate. But maybe they're bluffing or mistaken and will come back to you.

Our clients do not exist to pay our bills and we do not exist to fix their lack of funds.


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Narci73  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:39
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
policy against naming Jan 11

Ok, I will try to edit it, although not sure if it is possible for the title. If not, I will try to delete the thread.

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Narci73  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:39
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
On point Jan 11

Michael Wetzel wrote:

Wikipedia lists the latest Romanian gross median wage as €649 per month. If we assume that a freelancer's sales need to be 50% higher to end up with the same net earnings and benefits, then that brings us to just under €1000 per month. At 20 working days per month, that means an average of 1666 words per day in order to hit €1000 at €0.03. (At the current exchange rate, the USD-EUR difference is negligible.)

Of course there are going to be a lot of people out there willing to work at around €0.03 per word and of course agencies that regularly work with the Romanian language are going to invest time and money in finding out which of them are competent and reliable. I honestly can't see anything to get upset about there. That's business.

On the other hand, in spite of all the talk of globalization, its reach is usually very limited. Most people have no inclination to invest a lot of time and money and take on a substantial amount of risk to find one or more good Romanian translators, so it is not difficult to find situations where your work is worth a lot more than €0.03. You know that, because you have already secured a group of GBP 0.05 to 0.06 clients for yourself and the rates listed in your profile are substantially higher than that.

All you have to do is to tell them that it makes no sense for you to work for them, because you have a reliable supply of clients that pay you roughly twice as much. By the same token, it makes no sense for them to work with you if they have a reliable supply of translators that charge roughly half your rate. But maybe they're bluffing or mistaken and will come back to you.

Our clients do not exist to pay our bills and we do not exist to fix their lack of funds.



I have to agree with you Michel. Unfortunately having left Romania some 11 years ago, I guess I forgot how harsh life is there and truth be said, it does sound like a fair salary for a translator over there. So I guess I am a bit fussy about it... Thanks


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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 10:39
Member (2016)
English to German
Nothing to be ashamed for Jan 11

I think that offering a low rate is, in itself, nothing to be ashamed for. Either the market in the language pair and specialty field is so weak that translators (have to) work for low rates, or it isn't, which means that the offer will not be taken, at least not by a professional in the field.

What I find most annoying are agencies and outsourcers who beat around the bush for hours before finally coughing up the rate they are willing to pay. What do they think, that they can trick me into working for unacceptable rates just by dragging everything to no end? The simple answer is to state your rates up front and ask the agency to confirm them before long winded "application forms", tests and whatnot commence. In most cases, the bottom fishers will not communicate further after this, which saves time for everyone involved, so that we can focus on the serious bidders.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:39
German to English
Fair rates Jan 11

I don't know exactly what you wrote to them or how upset their proposal made you feel, so I have no idea about whether you were being "fussy" or simply reasonable.

I responded to your post because I have a general problem with the concept of "fair" rates. There are certain situations where someone's (justifiable) ignorance or dependency is being exploited, and I do think that things can become "unfair" under those conditions, for example, if someone is the only state-certified translator for miles around or if a friend or acquaintance or referral comes to me and doesn't necessarily understand that my prices are rather high.

But USD 0.03 per word seems to probably more or less correspond to the average cost of an hour of labor in Romania, so I don't really see how it can be "unfair" for someone to go looking for translators willing to work at that rate. It is unfortunate and it is highly annoying for translators who are based in more expensive countries or feel entitled to a higher standing of living, but it is not "unfair." Fairness is always a question of context. Although, even then, I don't think it is usually a particularly important or interesting question.

A good translator in Romania with ambition and a basic understanding of economics (I got mine mostly from playing Monopoly) should make just as much as a translator in my language pair, because there are lots of Romanian translations being sold for high prices every day (in many contexts, Romanian suddenly becomes an exotic [premium] language).
The difference between working with languages like German and languages like Romanian is that a lack of skill or qualifications or ambition or commitment or business sense is punished much more harshly among the latter.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:39
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Indian rates Jan 11

Narci73 wrote:
I have been in contact with a company that said they are an European organisation with headquarters in India.


In other words, they pay Indian rates, which is USD 0.03-0.06. Next time you communicate with an Indian agency, you would know to ask about their rates, if USD 0.03-0.06 is not profitable for you.

I was just wondering if there are people out there taking projects under these rates...


Yes, because for some translators, it's not the per-word rate that matters, but how much money you make. If you are able to work faster, and if the type of work is the type of work that you can do faster, and if you have spare time that you would otherwise have spent on "marketing", then, if you feel that you can make a reasonable amount of money per day or per week (not per word), then USD 0.03-0.06 could be acceptable.


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