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Poor payment because I'm newbie
Thread poster: Laura Mora

Laura Mora  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 13:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 30, 2005

Hi everyone

I want to share with you, what happened to me a few days ago.

I received a mail from an agency from Guatemala,inviting me to join their translation team. The message starts as follows:

"At XXX, we pride ourselves in providing
translators with a steady flow of assignments at competitive rates, which is why translators enjoy being
part of our team."

They asked me to send my CV and rates, so I did it. Later, they answer me the rates I've stated are much higher than what they normally work with. They say: "We work with rates of US$0.03-US$0.04. Would US$0.04 be something you would be willing to compromise to? Please let me know so we may move
on to the evaluation stage".

These are competitive rates as they said!! I don't think so. But I'm a newbie, and perhaps I should accept... Give
some advice please.

Have a nice day!


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paula13  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 13:14
Member (2005)
I thought they said their rates were competitive Aug 30, 2005

Laura Mora wrote:

"At XXX, we pride ourselves in providing
translators with a steady flow of assignments at competitive rates, which is why translators enjoy being
part of our team."



You may be new, but if you know what you're doing there's no reason why you should be working for nothing. If you really need the work then take it, but accepting those rates will probably come back to haunt you.


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 19:14
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Pride and Punishment Aug 30, 2005

Dear Newie:

Pricing rates are tricky even for the more experienced. It depends on many factors.

However, there must be some "bottom," based on your cost of living. It is true that places like India, Russia, and apparently South American pay less than more prosperous locations. However, that is not across the board.

I live in Israel. Many of the agencies want to pay starvation rates. However, I work with good one who pay proper rates.

Remember opportunity cost. If you as a freelancer are working on one project, you cannot handle another. .03-04 cents a word in my opinion is not worth it, unless it is a big project whose total bill justifies the deal.

I have discovered that if I insist on proper rates, the good agencies and companies pay it. Pride with an occasional punishment.

Good luck,

Stephen Rifkind
Hebrew/French/Russian to English
gaguzia@yahoo.com


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Kathinka van de Griendt  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:14
German to English
+ ...
Have a look at this and feel better! Aug 30, 2005

Hi Laura - this post helped me over that problem fast!!

Regards, Kathinka

http://www.proz.com/post/172392#172392


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:14
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Perhaps they're competitive in Guatemala? Aug 30, 2005

Laura Mora wrote:
"At XXX, we pride ourselves in providing translators with a steady flow of assignments at competitive rates, which is why translators enjoy being part of our team."

"We work with rates of US$0.03-US$0.04. Would US$0.04 be something you would be willing to compromise to? Please let me know so we may move on to the evaluation stage".


Perhaps their rates are competitive in Guatemala... or perhaps the blurb you received from their jobs office is the one they usually send to clients.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 19:14
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Don't take it personally! Aug 30, 2005

Competitive pricing means the same like "your best rates" = the absolute minimum you can work for.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:14
Flemish to English
+ ...
The other way around Aug 30, 2005

I have a friend who is a customer service agent at a big American corporation. She is used making and answering phone-calls. So, I asked her to call some agencies and made an average of their prices. That way, I have yardstick to base my prices on... If agencies charges an average of 0.15-020 cts per word for the normal (non-oriental) languages, then how much should you charge taking into account the cost of living and the fact that agencies earn about 20% on an average on your work.

[Edited at 2005-08-30 06:47]


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Robert Zawadzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:14
English to Polish
+ ...
$0,03-0,04 seems to be international robbery standard Aug 30, 2005

I am always afraid that agencies trying to rob translators offering such rates will decide to save even more and not pay them at all (you know, handling all these checks and bank transfers is tedious and expensive). On the other side I know there are people working for such rates. You must decide. Just bear in mind that raising your rate for an agency you already work for is damn difficult.

In the beginning I always tried to negotiate. Now it is two e-mail messages: I state my standard rate, they offer $0,03. I say: 'Sorry, no way'.

Some of them (not many) actually agreed to my conditions after that. So $0,03 may be just a test baloon.

This approach is fine, when you have other source of income: building a relatively steady flow of work this way took 2 years.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:14
English to German
+ ...
Not necessarily 'robbery' Aug 30, 2005

Hi Robert,
I am always afraid that agencies trying to rob translators offering such rates will decide to save even more and not pay them at all (you know, handling all these checks and bank transfers is tedious and expensive).

Low rates offered by intermediaries don't necessarily mean that the intermediary in question is making lots of money (although there are certain cases where this is true) - more often, I would attribute such practices to extremely poor marketing on the part of such intermediaries.

Of course, that doesn't change your decision - why should you help subsidise poor business skills?

Best regards,
Ralf


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Adela Van Gils  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:14
German to Dutch
+ ...
Most agencies that offer you such a low prize, are slow or bad payers as well. Aug 30, 2005

Dear colleague,

Dont answer those offers if you dont need to. They are a pain in the neck.
Rather try to find other clients and get decently payed. That way you work less and earn the same.

It takes time, but there is work around.

Good luck.


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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:14
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
We have all had this fear but... Aug 30, 2005

Kathinka Lavelle wrote:
Hi Laura - this post helped me over that problem fast!!
Regards, Kathinka
http://www.proz.com/post/172392#172392[/quote]
Worthful link indeed, Kathinka!:-)
This one worked better for me:
http://www.proz.com/post/172392

"You have this fear, that if you don't accept this nasty job with
a tight deadline, that the client may not come back to you next
time - there may not be another job round the corner for the next
couple of weeks. [The other side of this is that by filling your
work schedule for the next week on a poorly paid job may prevent
you from taking a more lucrative project.]
You're almost ashamed to charge your full minimum charge for 10
word jobs - despite the knowledge that you still have to make an
invoice, chase the payment, store the files in case of queries
etc."

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nruddy  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 11:14
German to English
Agree with Ralf Aug 30, 2005

I don't think it's "robbery". While I think such prices are far too low, they are a reality in this part of the world. Guatemala is a very poor country and I can imagine that it would be difficult to get good rates from an agency there.

Last year I attended a pow-wow in Mexico City at which some members were trying to get everyone to agree to charge a minium of US 0.04 per source word (Spanish-English / English-Spanish). That means that some people are earning less.

My advice: try to get work in countries with better rates (North America, Europe, etc.).


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:14
French to German
+ ...
Guatemala?! Aug 30, 2005

Laura Mora wrote:
I received a mail from an agency from Guatemala, inviting me to join their translation team.


Would you really want to do business with Guatemala? How are you going to chase payments over there? How will you find out about peculiarities in local law? How are you going to tell whether this firm is solid?

And if you come to the conclusion that there is some risk involved for you, how is $0.03 - $0.04 going to pay for that risk? Did they promise upfront payment via Western Union or some such?

P.

[Edited at 2005-08-30 13:30]


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Kevin Kelly  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:14
Member (2005)
Russian to English
+ ...
Being a newbie has nothing to do with it. Aug 30, 2005

Laura, whether you've been working for one year or 40 years, if you offer a quality product with on-time delivery you deserve to be properly compensated. Do not let any outsourcer/agency intimidate you. However, an incompetent translator (newbie or not) will always be at the mercy of agencies, clients and outsourcers who care nothing about quality. (I am certainly NOT saying you are incompetent)

Take the good advice of your colleagues: in the long run, it is much easier to insist on decent rates and then lower them for good clients and good payers (if you wish) than to start at an excessively low rate and try to work upward.

My two cents worth!

Kevin

P.S. Be sure to check out Kathinka's link to Dinny's post. It's brilliant. This is from someone has been there.

[Edited at 2005-08-30 17:46]


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Laura Mora  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 13:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
All of you is right Aug 30, 2005

Thanks for your advices.
You are right, there is no reason to accept low rates.I found the average rates per country for my language pair, and I realized that Guatemala has a minimum rate of 0.08.
Why do I have to accept less than that? No way.

I read carefully your notes, and realized I love a lot what I studied and know my work is very qualified... I have a life to maintain. In the beginning I thought I was too proud for rejecting the offer, but now I'm sure of my decision.

In this moment, I'm crossing over my marketing time, and no project is in my desk, but "patience, Laura, slow but safe".

Thanks again.

P.S. The 6 stages are great!!


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