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Poll: Do you reveal your rates to colleagues?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 04:57
SITE STAFF
Feb 20, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you reveal your rates to colleagues?".

This poll was originally submitted by Susana Magnani. View the poll results »



 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:57
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other - no, until very recently Feb 20, 2014

I did have the R-conversation with two other colleagues for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago. And it turned out that we were all charging the same rate.

 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 14:57
Turkish to English
+ ...
Other Feb 20, 2014

I have never been asked about my rates by a colleague, although my basic pricing structure is shown on my website, so this information is in the public domain, anyway.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Same here Feb 20, 2014

Tim Drayton wrote:

... my basic pricing structure is shown on my website, so this information is in the public domain, anyway.


 

DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:57
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Other ... and sort of Feb 20, 2014

Like others here, my rates are public, theoretically to save time avoiding low ball offers.
Not sure, how effective that actually is though.
I don't think I've ever had a theoretical discussion about rates with any colleague, but if I bid on a project together with a colleague or work for a colleague, then yes, obviously I would tell them what my rates are for the project.

[Edited at 2014-02-20 13:39 GMT]


 

Susana Magnani  Identity Verified
Argentina
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Seems to be taboo... Feb 20, 2014

Hello from Argentina, and thanks for your feedback!

Maybe it's a question of idiosincracy, or whether you actually interact with other colleagues on a regular basis, but around here the R-word, as Muriel suggests, seems to be taboo.

My own answer: it depends on the colleague. I have a couple of dear translator friends, even a cousin, with whom I discuss the matter openly, of course.

However, I've noticed that matters are different with other colleagues. Even though they are not direct competition in any way, they tend to be secretive about their rates, and I can only surmise that this may be due to the fact that some of them may be accepting very low rates which, of course, ruins the market for everybody else.

Case in point: I belong to a FB group which blacklists unscrupulous agencies based on concrete and proven past experiences (namely, trash rates). Most of the colleagues on that group express outrage at what some of these companies will try to pull off. However, when the time comes to discuss concrete individual rate practices, everybody seems to shut off and keep that info to themselves. Most of the participants are from Argentina, so I was just wondering if this is just something that happens around here (keeping hush about the rates, I mean) or if it was more widespread.

My rates used to be public, but about two years ago, I hid them from my public profile.

Anyway, got to get to some documents now.

Thanks again for your feedback.

Have a great day, everyone!


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 12:57
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Feb 20, 2014

Can’t remember ever being asked. But some years ago when I was recommended to a client by another Prozian I did ask her what were her rates for the project and they were quite similar…

 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:57
Member (2006)
German to English
Why not? Feb 20, 2014

I have also never been asked because it is something you just do not ask for the fun of it.

It is on my ProZ site anyway


 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Feb 20, 2014

Because I'm married to my colleague and we discuss our rates almost daily. We've been approached by a lot of new translators asking about rates. I personally don't have any problem talking about how much we charge.

If I could find a quiet part of Argentina, I would love to move back. Gaby (my wife) is from Buenos Aires and I lived there for a couple of years as well. That exchange rate is tempting, but there is too much craziness going on there right now.


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
A classy explanation Feb 20, 2014

Susana Magnani wrote:

Hello from Argentina, and thanks for your feedback!

Maybe it's a question of idiosincracy, or whether you actually interact with other colleagues on a regular basis, but around here the R-word, as Muriel suggests, seems to be taboo.

My own answer: it depends on the colleague. I have a couple of dear translator friends, even a cousin, with whom I discuss the matter openly, of course.

However, I've noticed that matters are different with other colleagues. Even though they are not direct competition in any way, they tend to be secretive about their rates, and I can only surmise that this may be due to the fact that some of them may be accepting very low rates which, of course, ruins the market for everybody else.

Case in point: I belong to a FB group which blacklists unscrupulous agencies based on concrete and proven past experiences (namely, trash rates). Most of the colleagues on that group express outrage at what some of these companies will try to pull off. However, when the time comes to discuss concrete individual rate practices, everybody seems to shut off and keep that info to themselves. Most of the participants are from Argentina, so I was just wondering if this is just something that happens around here (keeping hush about the rates, I mean) or if it was more widespread.

My rates used to be public, but about two years ago, I hid them from my public profile.

Anyway, got to get to some documents now.

Thanks again for your feedback.

Have a great day, everyone!




Susana, thank you for taking the time to own up to the poll question and explain your rationale behind it.

Yes, different idiosincrasies for rates discussions are found in Argentina, Chile, the United States, Serbia, Russia, etc. The discussion of rates or fees charged by professionals in any given field is influenced by culture and subculture, as well as subtexts.

First, I don't like the idea of posting my rates on my website or any public place for the simple reason that not all of my clients are the same. Some are direct clients, some are translation agencies, some are specific organizations with a particular fee policy.

Another reason not to post rates publicly is to avoid misunderstandings with up-and-coming translators or bilingual professionals (what I'd call idóneos or advenedizos, according to the situation). I consider my fees and rates confidential, same as certain information I have on my résume.

The underlying question would be, to me, what's the reason to have a discussion over rates in the first place?


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Moving back... tempting, but no Feb 20, 2014

Triston & Gaby wrote:

Because I'm married to my colleague and we discuss our rates almost daily. We've been approached by a lot of new translators asking about rates. I personally don't have any problem talking about how much we charge.

If I could find a quiet part of Argentina, I would love to move back. Gaby (my wife) is from Buenos Aires and I lived there for a couple of years as well. That exchange rate is tempting, but there is too much craziness going on there right now.


I did the expat thing for 2 years, Triston, back in 2005-2007. It worked wonders for me for the following reasons:

a) The exchange rate was favorable for me, who earned in US dollars but consumed in Argentine pesos
b) The rental situation was exceptionally favorable for me, since I was able to convince the owner of an apartment to rent it to me for 2 full years, paid in advance, without the need for garantías de propiedad
c) The annual inflation rate was less than 10-12% at the time
d) Argentine customs was operating fairly, not arbitrarily as it does today
e) There were no bans or restrictions on imports
f) There were no monetary controls restricting the purchase of foreign currency

Since only (a) from the list above is present as a condition today, moving back makes no business or common sense to me.


 

Magdalena Altieri
Argentina
Member (2010)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
More a professional than a private matter, I guess... Feb 20, 2014

Su, it's such a pleasure to find and to answer a poll posted by you, a dear friend and colleague!! From my own personal experience and opinion, I have never had problems with any colleague to whom I may have asked their rates. Some of them who work for the "internal" market admit they charge too low rates, but they prefer this way, in order to have bigger volumes of work (dealing with Argentinean agencies).
It may seem a very personal question but I have no problems neither asking nor replying about that. After all, it's more a professional matter than a private one...icon_wink.gif

For the expats topic... I have returned to Arg after seven years of living an expat life in Europe, and it's just now, two years after we took the decision of coming back, that I'm starting to enjoy all the benefits of living in this wonderful, sometimes contradictory, sometimes painful, but after all, so beloved country!


 

Susana Magnani  Identity Verified
Argentina
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why the discussion? Feb 20, 2014

Hi Mario, and thank you for taking the time to answer so thoroughly.

Rates are a big issue here, especially because of the exchange rate. People seem to think that even if you charge a low dollar (or euro, for that matter) rate, you're ok because the exchange rate is so favourable.

Nothing further from the truth. Your work is worth what it is worth no matter where you are, but some of the younger translators just feel that they should charge less because they still lack the experience. It seems hard to explain to them that Association rates, for example, are just orientative and they should be the bottom of the scale. Any value you bring to your translations, be it because of your experience or your specialization or your DTP skills should be above that.

Anyway, since it was such a hush-hush subject around here, I was just curious to see what happened elsewhere.

As for living in Argentina (Gaby & Mario), I lived in Canada for 23 years, and I decided to relocate here 3 years ago. Mind you, I don't live in Buenos Aires, but in Rosario, and to be honest, I'm loving it. True, some things are just crazy, but the all the rest is worth it.
Moving to an even quieter area of the country is a possibility in the future. Right now, I'm just getting to know my city all over again.

Thank you both for your feedback!


 

Susana Magnani  Identity Verified
Argentina
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hey Maggie! Feb 20, 2014

Magdalena Altieri wrote:

Su, it's such a pleasure to find and to answer a poll posted by you, a dear friend and colleague!! From my own personal experience and opinion, I have never had problems with any colleague to whom I may have asked their rates. Some of them who work for the "internal" market admit they charge too low rates, but they prefer this way, in order to have bigger volumes of work (dealing with Argentinean agencies).
It may seem a very personal question but I have no problems neither asking nor replying about that. After all, it's more a professional matter than a private one...icon_wink.gif

For the expats topic... I have returned to Arg after seven years of living an expat life in Europe, and it's just now, two years after we took the decision of coming back, that I'm starting to enjoy all the benefits of living in this wonderful, sometimes contradictory, sometimes painful, but after all, so beloved country!


So happy to "see" you here! We were both typing our answers at the same time, I think. Too funny!
Hugs to you and yours!


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Discussion on rates Feb 20, 2014

Dear Susana,

Most translators in Argentina or wherever there is a Colegio de traductores that sets guidelines for charging fees are stumped to learn that translators working in the United States who are members of the ATA (American Translators Association) approach the subject of rates with delicacy.

First of all, the ATA is a non-profit organization that is banned by U.S. law to discuss, publish or give guidelines about rates or fees.

Second, the United States operates under a form of capitalism that fosters free markets, “as is” employment and arbitration of commercial matters. In short, professionals of all stripes, including translators, are free to charge whatever the market will take for a service. So, there are lawyers who charge $50/hour and lawyers who charge $1500/hour. Where's the difference? In different markets, niches, specializations and years of experience (more than how many diplomas one has).

Third, because countries like Argentina operate under a less-than-free market philosophy, most translators there are used to having an organization or the government dictate what fees or rates are reasonable, not the market. So, translators there are unaccustomed to work with market forces as in other places on the planet. So, anybody that deviates from the authoritative guidelines (say, the rates established by the colegio de traductores) is considered abusive, exploitative and unfair, even if that somebody is operating according to the needs and demands of the marketplace.

Different geographies support different rate schemes because of different costs of living. To a German translator working in India, maybe a rate worth a few euro cents is worth it, but not to a German translator working from Bonn or Switzerland.

I would posit that any discussion about rates and fees should be nuanced and diplomatic, leaving aside ideologies (political or otherwise) and infusing a great deal of mutual respect.


 
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