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Poll: What percentage of your clients have asked you to lower your rates due to the economic crisis?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 14:50
SITE STAFF
Aug 6, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What percentage of your clients have asked you to lower your rates due to the economic crisis?".

This poll was originally submitted by Annalisa Distasi

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:50
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Clients won't ask me to decrease my rates , they tend to go with someone else's cheaper quote Aug 6, 2009

For instance, when I was asked to translate some birth certificates and the like, I quoted
X per standard line. The PM was like: I'll get back to you soon. I was sure she was not gonna call me again, but instead would pick a cheaper colleague. So I decided to lower my rate by 7 Cents per line. That got me the job.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Aug 6, 2009

Here's a better take on this from my point of view: how many of us actually have enough clients to count them in PERCENTAGES?
In my case I have 3 or 4 major clients (not agencies) and only a few others. The rest of the work comes sporadically through agencies trawling websites and the like, for example in July when many colleagues are on holiday.
I have one client who asked me to lower my rates in view of the current economic situation. Instead, I agreed to keep them static at the price agreed several years ago, which in fact amounts to a reduction IN REAL TERMS, since my overheads have risen. They accepted my logic.
Another client tried the same 2 years ago, and we eventually agreed on a similar deal - but with two basic rates - one for software strings, more time consuming and not easily workable with CAT, and another, 12.5 % lower, for "normal" texts. The rates are the same as I have been charging them for several years now so this is again a cut in real terms.
So, I suppose I could answer around 20% of my client base, but I insist, to me talking about my few clients in terms of percentages sounds absurdly pretentious, as well as indicative of what I see as the current overly "business oriented" approach to the profession...


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Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
One did, but I couldn't afford it Aug 6, 2009

In view of the economic crisis, I had to raise my rates about a year ago for all new clients.

At around that time, one of my main current clients (I had been working for them for many years) asked me to lower my rate. I explained to them that all my expenses had been going up and therefore, I couldn't afford to lower my rate. They understood it and kept on sending me work at my regular rate.


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 23:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Many ways of lowering rates Aug 6, 2009

The direct "attack" is probably the least likely, but there are several other subtler ways:

* not allowing you to put your prices UP in line with inflation. This is the equivalent of lowering your rates in real terms, as Neil points out.
* paying later (whether negotiated or not)
* taking their business elsewhere, then suggesting they will return, but on their terms

Fortunately there are still clients who know what a translation costs, and pay for that quality service....


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Andris Dinaburgskis  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 00:50
English to Latvian
+ ...
none asked Aug 6, 2009

Simply my rates are no more increasing

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
None, but... Aug 6, 2009

... I am collecting a pile of e-mails from clients - good, long-standing ones included - to the tune of "Unfortunately, as our client(s) haven't paid us, we won't be able to pay you on day X as agreed, but only on day Y" (= a couple of weeks later).

There seems to be a worldwide-spread notion that translators' bills - unlike everybody else's - don't have a due date.

A while ago I tried to raise my rates by 20% and offer a discount of 20% for prompt payment, but nobody fell for it.


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No Aug 6, 2009

I never been asked.
However outsourcers have this new tactic to squeeze you, so beware!

They say they have large volume job, therefore (as they say) ask discount rate.
The job, according to them, comes in batch basis.
You agree to take the job on that promise, and the first batch came, say somewhere in the neighborhood of few thousands word counts. Now you took it completed it, and delivered, then wait for next batch.
Lol, you never heard from them. The excuses they give are whole array of creative mind (telling the truth or not).

This happened couple of times, and the agency is well established with higher BB rating in ProZ.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Rates Aug 6, 2009

One agency didn't ask me: they INFORMED me that they were lowering my rate by 10%.

I, in turn, informed them that they were mistaken.


humbird wrote:

I never been asked.
However outsourcers have this new tactic to squeeze you, so beware!

They say they have large volume job, therefore (as they say) ask discount rate.



I don't give volume discounts. A short job is easy, since you only have to maintain terminological and stylistic consistency over the course of a page or two. A massive job requires you to spend much more time in quality assurance to ensure consistency over the course of tens of thousands of words.

If anything, clients should pay more per word for high-volume jobs, but I'm very nice and only charge them my standard rate.

[Edited at 2009-08-06 15:53 GMT]


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:50
Portuguese to English
+ ...
0% Aug 6, 2009

No one has said anything about lowering rates, but I know if I tried to raise mine right about now that it wouldn't be well-received!

As for translation companies having to pay late because a client of theirs hasn't paid yet, I know a lot of translators feel this is no excuse and they should be paid anyway. Well, OK, if the company actually has the money to pay you, fine. But there are cases where the company is struggling, too (and they have bills to pay, too, just like us), and, as my mother used to say, "You can't get blood out of a stone." In cases like this, I work with them and make arrangements that will suit us both, which can be splitting the payment into installments or my just being patient a bit longer, depending on the situation. In any case, they appreciate it and I have always ended up being paid.


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:50
Spanish to English
I voted none Aug 6, 2009

Because the one client who did ask me to lower my rates had already annoyed me to such an extent that I had decided never to work for them again and put a notice in Blue Board to such effect. However two months later they phoned me asking if I would lower my rates.

Several of my other clients have in fact decided to pay me more.


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Anthony Baldwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:50
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
hard to answer Aug 6, 2009

Some of the clients I had before this time last year have just disappeared off the face of the Earth.
I have added numerous new clients over the past year, but am offering them rates from 2006, rather than the rates I was charging in 07/08 (which were higher), in order to be competitive and get their business.
Of the remaining older clients, about 30% of them have asked for some leeway or discounts, which, in many cases, regretfully, I have conceded.
What irks me is that, while they ask for discounts, and I'm making less money, the electric company, landlord, grocery market, etc., won't grant me any discounts....My expenses are just rising, while my income has gone south.
Not fair at all.
But, if I try to maintain higher rates, I get significantly less work.


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:50
French to English
none, but I am getting less work from many established clients Aug 6, 2009

I have picked up quite a few new clients to make up for it, and at my regular rates. I might consider a discount for certain CAT-ready materials for established clients, but I flat-out refuse to give new clients better rates than old ones. I know it works for the cable and phone companies, but we hate those guys. I seem to need a wider client base now to get enough work, maybe they are all prioritizing cheaper translators but still have some work left over for me. If the economy does ever pick up, I will probably be in a good position - at least I can hope so.

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:50
English to French
+ ...
None Aug 7, 2009

None of my clients asked for a rate decrease, and I wouldn't have gone along with it anyway. The Canadian dollar fluctuates rather wildly, so, if anything, I will expect to be paid more, not less.

One client asked to go from a 30-day payment term to a 45-day payment term, and they didn't beat around the bush either. They did mention the crisis and their main reason for the request was that their clients were becoming somewhat slower payers. I accepted as this client only sporadically gives me work and they are always very small jobs. The invoiced amounts are so small that getting paid two weeks later hardly makes a few pennies difference in my pocket. Besides, these are otherwise very nice, friendly and responsive people--they are in China, but they also pay better rates than many of my other clients closer to home.

I tend to agree with what some have mentioned here: if an agency really wants to pay less, it is simpler and easier to just find cheaper translators instead of making a substantial effort to negotiate rates. What I worry about right now is a decrease in quality, not rates.

[Edited at 2009-08-07 04:32 GMT]


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:50
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
%%% Aug 7, 2009

Hi Neil,

You wrote:
Here's a better take on this from my point of view: how many of us actually have enough clients to count them in PERCENTAGES?
In my case I have 3 or 4 major clients (not agencies) and only a few others. The rest of the work comes sporadically through agencies trawling websites and the like, for example in July when many colleagues are on holiday.


I have only one or two direct clients, with ~95% of my workload coming from agencies. In the course of a year, I probably work with 20 to 30 different agencies, if not more. I would say I can count them in percentages.

Of course, the Pareto principle applies - 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, i.e. 80% of my income is generated by my top 5 or 6 clients. They are what matters - and they haven't asked me to lower my rates. If they had, they wouldn't stay in the Top 5 for long.

What might have prompted your question, IMHO, is the way this poll is worded. Response options should include % ranges, not "strictly 100%" or "strictly 50%".


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