Poll: Should translators/interpreters share rate information with each other to maintain market strength?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 23:30
SITE STAFF
Sep 16, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Should translators/interpreters share rate information with each other to maintain market strength?".

This poll was originally submitted by daveswall. View the poll results »



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Sam21
Qatar
Local time: 09:30
Arabic to English
+ ...
Absolutely Sep 16, 2010

I believe most professionals tend to move higher, once they face the reality that they have spent too much earning less from their own career. No translator would ask for less only to be equal to the one sitting next to him. It is the opposite, I think.

People generally tend to move higher, not the other way round, and sometimes a small chit-chat with a colleague would be enough to change his rate demands for ever!

With small conversations moving to general debate, we would come finally to a (kind of) market condition where rates are stabilized within a certain range.


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Carmen Cuervo-Arango  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:30
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Lowering rates Sep 16, 2010

Sam21 wrote:
People generally tend to move higher, not the other way round.


I agree with Sam21 but there is still a situation in which translators might be accepting (wrongfully, in my opinion) lower rates. Almost every month I get a long term high volume co-operation offer in which I am asked to lower my rates (even by half). When I say I am not willing to lower my rates they insist that I have to see that the lower rate will be compensated by a huge amount of orders that will make me earn more money. Many translators might be accepting these conditions, for agencies and companies keep offering that "deal". But it doesn't work for us, unless we are beginning to work as translators and/or we do not have enough orders: if you are usually busy translating all day long, you will still be translating the same hours but for less money. Can you imagine saying to an employee: "I am going to pay you half your wage, but don't worry at all, you will be working many more hours and therefore this is going to be very positive for you!"

We have to think about it. Most of the times, a better paying client arrives shortly after... and you wouldn't be able to take that better job if you had accepted the previous one. Let's not lower our rates and let's work to educate clients and make them respect our profession!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Sep 16, 2010

Yes, but only if you can TRUST each other. I have no problem with sharing information with friends or honest brokers. However, if I think someone might one day try to undercut me, jump over my head or try to nick my clients, I either tell them nothing or blatantly lie about my rates...

I also feel that some freelancers who claim to charge rates of 15 cents/word for Spanish to English translation must be being, at least, economical with the truth, perhaps in order to mislead possible competitors... but maybe I'm just being too cynical.

BTW Carmen's point is very true... I totally agree.

[Edited at 2010-09-16 11:00 GMT]


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:30
Member (2006)
German to English
I have answered with "no" Sep 16, 2010

because I dont go around telling anyone how much I earn or want to earn, you wouldnt do that in a normal company either. I find it a good thing to show your rates here at ProZ for referencing purposes, but at the end of the day, you have your minimum for accepting jobs and, irrelevant of as how much work you have on, I would not go below. Probably easier said than done, but even when I take on large-scale projects, using the "excuse" that there is much more work to justify lowering the rate is pretty poor (life!!) but then I would prefer to take on less and have less stress.
And I believe it does not matter how low you go with your rates, there is definately someone who will do it for less. So do less for better rates and provide a higher quality.


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 08:30
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Other Sep 16, 2010

Not directly, perhaps, but like it is here at ProZ where you can see an average of the rates among translators.

Perhaps there should be much more focus on this aspect?
Could this feature be promoted more to make more translators aware of it and actively use it when negotiating rates?

I often hear things like: it's the common tendency because of the economic crisis, and everybody has had to cut their rates considerably!

Well, in my language pair this is a load of c****, but I might be more willing to accept this as the universal truth if I did not have a network or somewhere to go to verify or reject this statement.

That's my take on it.


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 08:30
English to French
+ ...
Yes Sep 16, 2010

I do not see the point in being secretive about rates: anyone can ask for a quote pretending (s)he is a potential customer!

IMHO, it is up to the translator to adjust to his/her market – the price of basic services and products is not the same on all continents, or in different countries of the same continent. Neither are taxes, social security or needs (I can do without aircon but could not live through winter without heating). The same amount of money allows a very different standard of living according to where you are!

Our prices must take all of this into account. On each Euro I earn (excl. VAT), about 52% go to income tax (on average – the more you earn, the higher your taxes), 30% of what is left go to social security… True, some costs are tax deductible (computer and phone for instance, as well as ProZ and other congresses, but they do not feed me).
In the end, with the same rates, my net income (the one I live on) is lower than it would be if I were based in a country where the cost of living (+ taxes, social security) is not as expensive as it is here.


[Modifié le 2010-09-16 11:49 GMT]

[Modifié le 2010-09-17 04:21 GMT]


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:30
Member (2008)
English to Italian
other Sep 16, 2010

Sharing rates is ok, I do not think it is useful to mantain market strength every translator may accept different rates.
and in our experience, as the others have already said, some translators tend to lower rates, due to cost of living, due to a promise for a steady workflow, and so on.

what matters at the end is quality, and unfortunately this is not always appreciated, some clients prefer a poor quality translation for a low price, the in-house proofreader will fix it.
wrong in my opinion, but that's the way it works.


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Alexandre Khalimov  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:30
Russian to English
+ ...
perilous waters Sep 16, 2010

I answered "yes" to the poll question, because anything that can help raise the status of our profession is a good thing, in my opinion.
However, one must remember the fine line that separates rate-sharing and rate-fixing.
AIIC stepped on this rake some time ago and was successfully taken to task by US Federal Trade Commission.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:30
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Actually... Sep 16, 2010

Carmen Cuervo-Arango wrote:

I agree with Sam21 but there is still a situation in which translators might be accepting (wrongfully, in my opinion) lower rates. Almost every month I get a long term high volume co-operation offer in which I am asked to lower my rates (even by half). When I say I am not willing to lower my rates they insist that I have to see that the lower rate will be compensated by a huge amount of orders that will make me earn more money. Many translators might be accepting these conditions, for agencies and companies keep offering that "deal". But it doesn't work for us, unless we are beginning to work as translators and/or we do not have enough orders: if you are usually busy translating all day long, you will still be translating the same hours but for less money.


Beginners will accept lower rates, and I can't blame them. It's hard enough trying to build up a track record. But it doesn't take them more than 6 months to figure out the hitch (getting overbooked with lower-paying jobs and having to say no to higher rates).

Maybe the difference with more experience is, hitting a level when you can formulate it in terms of what clients you can "afford".


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Christina Green  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:30
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Price fixing? Sep 16, 2010

Alexandre Khalimov wrote:

I answered "yes" to the poll question, because anything that can help raise the status of our profession is a good thing, in my opinion.
However, one must remember the fine line that separates rate-sharing and rate-fixing.
AIIC stepped on this rake some time ago and was successfully taken to task by US Federal Trade Commission.


Alexandre, you are absolutely right on this one!!! In our country, it could be construed as price fixing which it is a federal offense.
I learned that anything that gives the appearance of impropriety needs to be revisited with caution.

BTW, I don't believe that sharing rates will keep our profession stronger.
In the end, many other issues arise when it comes to making a group stronger, and although rates are an important part, there are many more issues to be considered (qualifications, marketing, customer service, etc.)


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Hans G. Liepert  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 08:30
English to German
+ ...
Price sharing impossible? Sep 17, 2010

Christina Green wrote:

In our country, it could be construed as price fixing which it is a federal offense.
I learned that anything that gives the appearance of impropriety needs to be revisited with caution.


I'm not a lawyer and don't know much about price sharing or price fixing, but there are abundant examples in the USA, that price sharing is possible.
You know the price of every newspaper, of every flight, of every gallon of fuel at every gas station. Most of these prices are not even negotiable. Some of these prices are connected tightly. The gas price of the different oil companies tends to go up and down simultaneously in defined areas.
And how can you fix a price, if thousands of colleagues all over the world are eagerly waiting to undercut you?

But again, a paranoic judge might see it differently.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:30
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thereby hangs a long and tragic tale Sep 17, 2010

My experience was with TAALS and ATA. We got in deep trouble!!

While indeed rates tended to rise steadily during those years in the 1970s when they were published, the bitter experience with the FTC in the 1980s has never been forgotten. The very thought of going there strikes terror in my heart.

Christina Green wrote:

Alexandre Khalimov wrote:

I answered "yes" to the poll question, because anything that can help raise the status of our profession is a good thing, in my opinion.
However, one must remember the fine line that separates rate-sharing and rate-fixing.
AIIC stepped on this rake some time ago and was successfully taken to task by US Federal Trade Commission.


Alexandre, you are absolutely right on this one!!! In our country, it could be construed as price fixing which it is a federal offense.
I learned that anything that gives the appearance of impropriety needs to be revisited with caution.



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