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Poll: Are you going to raise your rates in 2014?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 04:14
SITE STAFF
Dec 5, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Are you going to raise your rates in 2014?".

This poll was originally submitted by Christine Andersen. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Dec 5, 2013

Probably not. Spain is still in the grip of the economic crisis, despite what the politicians may say, and at least some of my clients are still struggling, particularly the market research companies.

Again the obsession with raising rates. Odd, when the very notion goes against the message this email I received this morning from one agency, urging translators to update their profiles on their "vendor portal". Basically they're telling us that if we want more work, we need to LOWER our rates. Here's a snippet:

"Finally, please understand that our translation industry is evolving with much greater demands for tighter schedules and better pricing. Of course, this is expected with no sacrifice in quality. Many facets of the translation business have become extremely low-cost and we lose a fair share of business because our prices are not low enough. Therefore, please consider carefully that our mainstream business opportunities are in lower rate bandwidths than you may be indicating in your profile. As with any service or product in this country, lower rates will result in higher volumes of work – given that the other parameters of quality and reliability are maintained."

I think if I did decide to raise my rates, the reaction from of my clients would be "get real".

[Edited at 2013-12-05 11:02 GMT]


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 21:14
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Will try to as much as possible Dec 5, 2013

Or, find

- more customers who pay better rates
- more customers who have lots of easy work at current rates
- or, ideally, these two options combined

Each of the above would bring in more income and/or give me more free time to enjoy.

@neilmac
The text you kindly quoted us is basically what I call the "sweatshop algorithm" for enslaving translator serfs to a never-ending downward spiral of modern economic exploitation. Am I beginning to sound like Karl Marx?

"lower rates will result in higher volumes of work – given that the other parameters of quality and reliability are maintained."

Er, translated, this means: "Work more for less!" Have a nice day, y'all.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Of course Dec 5, 2013

My private jet uses a lot of fuel

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DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:14
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not per se Dec 5, 2013

I don't do it like that. e.g. 1 January = rates up.
I make my negotiations when I give my quote for jobs or sign contracts with new clients.
I have different rates for my different language combinations and fields of specialisation, and the markets are different.
I do what I can to raise my rates where I think the market can bear it.
My rates have slow slight upward trend, but nowhere near enough to cover the rocketing cost of living.

Like Neil, I am in THE crisis country and things are rough here.
I wouldn't consider to raise my rates for some clients right now there is no way the market could bear it, and I consider and sometimes do compromises on them for the trusted clients I have, on a per case basis. Quid pro quo.
The agencies and partners I work with are also my colleagues.
It is a benefit for for us all, and society more generally, that they and I stay in business


[Edited at 2013-12-05 09:00 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-12-05 09:03 GMT]


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Andrea Jarmuschewski  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:14
French to German
+ ...
Yes, for older clients Dec 5, 2013

I've got some clients for whom I had not changed my rate since 2008. For two of them, I added 1 eurocent per word in September. One of them continues to give me as much work as before, while the other has considerably slowed down, but that had started even before I upped my rates.

I have announced that my rates will change from Jan 2014 to three other long time clients (maybe since 2009) and I don't think that will be a problem. Two of them are in Switzerland, one in Germany.

This year, quite a few new clients have found me and have accepted a considerably higher rate, so the trend is going upwards


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 13:14
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Only the lowest rates Dec 5, 2013

This poll has been edited... but never mind.

And no, I am not going to ask for more from my Danish clients, who pay good rates, and we negotiate from time to time.

However, I can see that over the years big end clients are moving steadily away from Danish agencies to cheaper ones abroad.

These clients work across the EU or globally, and they get their translation done where it is most practical - and cheapest. I have accepted that agencies in other countries pay less than Danish ones, because wages and salaries are higher and the whole structure here is more expensive than in many other parts of the world.

Nevertheless I have worked for agencies in Spain who pay very reasonable rates, and a Baltic agency who paid on a level with top Danish ones (perhaps because they could pass the bill on to the Danish client). If they can pay 'Scandinavian' rates, I take my hat off to them!

I woke up one morning and thought about the fact that some of my clients elsewhere pay a lot better than others, and decided that I am going to ask for a pay rise from those at the bottom.

I have seen one really good agency go bankrupt in 2010, and I would hate other good clients to go the same way.

The trouble is that there is practically no correlation between rates and quality. I simply cannot persuade myself to lower my standards when the rate goes down. If I have to rush the proofreading, it might have an effect, but it also gets me into bad habits, so I concentrate in the time available.

The cheapskates are in fact delivering my best quality at discount prices and undercutting the others!

OK, I have no dependent children and no debts, and will be able to live on my pension, so I can afford to be picky. But for the first fifty years of my life, first my parents struggled to make ends meet, and then my husband and I did. I can see that young people are struggling more, rather than less than we old hippies had to. I know how it feels when you don't want to upset a client.

However, it is getting to the point where some colleagues cannot affort not to raise their rates. Like the legal interpreters in the UK, we need to make a stand while there still are good agencies to work for.

Then others can say look, if you can pay those Scandinavians 0.12 Euros or more per word, why should I work for half that or less?

We are going to have to work on the end clients too, but I am appealing to everyone to resist the downward pressure on rates and raise the ones that are too low to live on.


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Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 13:14
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
Yes Dec 5, 2013

I believe the situation is different from nation to nation.

But I totally agree with Christine. She and I live in a country where living costs are high and some of the rates offered by agencies are just not enough to sustain us and keep our busines running in Denmark.

I also have agencies pleading with me: "the budget is tight" or "the end client does not want to pay more", or "this will not take you long" etc., but I have decided that from 2014 I am going to ask the rates necessary for my own survival and I am not a discount store.

The agencies will have to turn to their own clients and teach them that translators must be paid a fair price like any other professional.


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Heather McCrae  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:14
Member (2012)
German to English
whenever Dec 5, 2013

I find a new client, I try to up my rates.
With older clients, I try from time to time and see what they say


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:14
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not this year Dec 5, 2013

I raised them last year, and my clients are just beginning to get used to the idea.

By the way, a potential client wrote me today asking if I would lower my rate for a longer job. To me, that's an idiocy that I can't get my brain around. I take the same amount of time for x number of words
regardless of the length of the document. PLUS, if I'm working on a long document at a lower rate, it ties me down so I can't accept long jobs from better-paying clients. This has already happened to me several times.

I hope this complaint isn't too far off-topic - it's fresh in my mind.


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Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 13:14
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
For my biggest, most annoying client, a raise for me is overdue Dec 5, 2013

I understand that you don't want to upset your local clients from those corners of Europe that are still struggling or to needlessly bother clients that are already paying fair rates.

I think this needs to be specified a bit - I would like to know how many of us are working for those big guys, agencies with offices all over the world, complicated project management systems, bitchy invoicing systems, PMs who seem to be in a permanent rush yet will "offer" peanuts/ask for reduction of our usual rates with an ever annoying regularity... you know, those big, perfect lion-agencies of translation doom...

Those are the guys that really need to wake up. They need to slow down and think.

I remember when I started to work for one of those agencies I was very exited at first. After all, it's one of those "important" agencies with "important" clients, no? After a week I realized I was going to be sucked into a merciless machinery of rush jobs, underpay, sweat and tears, if I just "went with the flow". I started to negotiate rates and deadlines - and behold: it works. Especially with rush jobs, PMs simply don't have the time to ask many translators if they are available for the job. Now imagine what happens if several translators decide they won't go with the flow.

Probably many young translators will go through similar experiences with these Rip-Off agencies. Newbies have to understand: PMs are under a lot of pressure to keep costs down and deadlines short. They will always ask you if you can lower your rate and deliver until yesterday. That doesn't mean they can't pay more or give you more time. Unfortunately, too many of us accept conditions sheepishly, afraid that the job might go to someone else. And that is a direct result of the permanent "We are all in a big crisis" brainwashing mantra we have been listening to during the last few years. It aims at people's existential fears. It transmits "If you don't accept peanuts, you will be going down." But by cowering in fear and submitting to those conditions we actually become a part of the problem - if one translator works for peanuts, more translators will be asked to work for peanuts. After a while, every translator is expected to work for peanuts.

We need to stop blaming agencies for what they offer. We just need to stop accepting those offers. Let 2014 be the year of change!

Please try to be a part of the solution: Ask for better conditions than the conditions offered to you. Whenever you have a bit more work than you can handle, whenever you have good week or a good month - pick out your pickiest, less respectful clients and poke them a bit.

Best wishes for 2014 to all of you!


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
@Anna Dec 5, 2013

Times like this we need a "Like" button!

Due to inflation, every year people don't raise their rates they are effectively lowering their rates and so doing the profession a disservice.

I fully understand why people do this. I've done it too in the past. But in my experience, holding/lowering your rates just opens you up to further abuse.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Odd indeed Dec 5, 2013

neilmac wrote:

Probably not. Spain is still in the grip of the economic crisis, despite what the politicians may say, and at least some of my clients are still struggling, particularly the market research companies.

Again the obsession with raising rates. Odd, when the very notion goes against the message this email I received this morning from one agency, urging translators to update their profiles on their "vendor portal". Basically they're telling us that if we want more work, we need to LOWER our rates. Here's a snippet:

"Finally, please understand that our translation industry is evolving with much greater demands for tighter schedules and better pricing. Of course, this is expected with no sacrifice in quality. Many facets of the translation business have become extremely low-cost and we lose a fair share of business because our prices are not low enough. Therefore, please consider carefully that our mainstream business opportunities are in lower rate bandwidths than you may be indicating in your profile. As with any service or product in this country, lower rates will result in higher volumes of work – given that the other parameters of quality and reliability are maintained."

I think if I did decide to raise my rates, the reaction from of my clients would be "get real".

[Edited at 2013-12-05 11:02 GMT]


The use of “bandwidth” in lower rate bandwidths is rather odd, especially for a translation agency.

That I never get these emails is even odder.



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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 13:14
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Suggesting this poll was a follow-up from a discussion I started earlier Dec 5, 2013

I started this in the Money Matters forum after an exchange of mails with various people last week.

http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/260570-new_year_resolution_raise_your_lowest_agency_rate.html

I was just tired of big clients who earn millions in any currency suddenly going over to discount translation agencies and dropping the ones who pay viable rates.

Translating from Scandinavian languages is sometimes a small world, and occasionally jobs come round to the same translator from different agencies. So why should I suddenly do basically the same job as a couple of years ago, for the same end client, but at two thirds of the rate?

Well, I have ranted enough this week, and I have actually recieved two well-paid job offers today, so I had better do some work!


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Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:14
German to English
Yes, definitely Dec 5, 2013

I am now turning away more jobs than ever because of the strong increase in demand. Obvious conclusion is that I'm not charging enough! So I'll give it a go and see who goes and who stays.

Steve K.


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