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Poll: Do you accept to reduce your fees to gain more projects?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 22:31
SITE STAFF
Mar 1, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you accept to reduce your fees to gain more projects?".

This poll was originally submitted by Morano El-Kholy. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Mar 1, 2014

Not usually. My rates are average for my language pair and low considering the quality of my work (though I say it myself). If I ever reduce my fees it is usually for another reason - for example to show my appreciation for customer loyalty, or a very flexible deadline, or quick payment.

In fact, I don't need any more work at the moment and am actually having to farm some out to colleagues...

[Edited at 2014-03-01 08:18 GMT]


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:31
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Rarely Mar 1, 2014

Like Neil. But I'd be dishonest if I said I never do it.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Reasons to be cheerful Mar 1, 2014

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

Like Neil. But I'd be dishonest if I said I never do it.


So would I - I've done it in the past, especially when I wanted the job because I liked the subject matter, or the client, or because the author was paying out of his own pocket rather than corporate funds. But nowadays I'm lucky enough to have enough work coming in regularly, so I don't have to lower my rates to attract more business. I'm already "cheap and cheerful"!


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 14:31
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Yes Mar 1, 2014

Occasionally to rarely

As part of an on-going relationship of mutual cooperation.
In the last project, I agreed to drop my rate by a penny. In return, they gave me work for 4 months - Yes, 4 whole months!!! - and were very flexible on what and when I could bill them.

And, I have another 3-month project scheduled to start in May from the same customer, God bless 'em.

Give-and-take is a two-way street! If customers just want to take, I will not give.

Added last sentence

[Edited at 2014-03-02 02:28 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:31
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Occasionally to rarely Mar 1, 2014

Like Julian, I might be willing to negotiate a new price with a customer depending on several factors, namely our relationship, the amount of work they give me...

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Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:31
Member (2012)
French to English
Yes Mar 1, 2014

I have worked for ridiculously low rates, to gain experience. If I get the feeling I'm being exploited, I'm out, though. I would rather work for nothing for a place like Global Voices than be ripped off by an unscrupulous outsourcer.

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Gallagy
Ireland
Local time: 06:31
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
Other Mar 1, 2014

If I really like the subject matter AND the client. But I usually keep to my rates and payment terms.

Slightly off-topic, I was asked to sign up to a new client a few days ago with "within 90 days maximum" payment terms and this with "end of month invoicing"...so in theory it could take almost 4 months to get paid! Outrageous really...so, it's no dice though I do like the subject area....


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Keeping translation and financial costs apart Mar 1, 2014

My "fees" comprise both translation and financial costs.

While I don't change my actual translation costs, I give clients full disclosure on the embedded financial costs, so that they can make an educated choice.

I reckon that, as a professional translator, I will always be an amateur in the money lending business. Therefore, just as the client had a choice between my translation services and any other, including amateurs, I think they are entitled to choose between my lame financial services and any other they have access to.

What are the possibly embedded financial costs?
  • PayPal deducts 10% in fees and explicitly lower-than-market exchange rates.
  • Interest rate in my country is now approaching 11%/month. If the client wants to pay later than COD, that's equivalent to having me lend them this amount for that term. I shouldn't be funding their operating capital interest-free.

Whenever I am asked for an estimate, I give them options so they can compare.

For instance, let's take a job where the translation cost alone is $1,000.
  • For COD payment via bank transfer (international costs me ~$20 in fees, I'll cover that): The entire bill is $1,000 - no financial cost other than their own bank's wire transfer sending fees.
  • Payment via PayPal in 60 days from delivery: translation: ($1,000) + PayPal charges ($100) + interest (2 mos. x 10% = $200). Total is $1,300.

It's the client's choice. If their bank transfer fees + 2 mos. interest on a loan in their country cost less than 30%, it is foolish to use a translator for financial services... about as foolish as hiring a bank to do the translation work.


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Sadek_A  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 07:31
English to Arabic
+ ...
Confusing Mar 1, 2014

I got to say that I've always failed to see the logic in awarding more projects for (only) lower rates.

Let's say I spend 30 minutes on average translating 1 page from a client.
Logically, I will be spending 2 hours on 4 pages, 20 hrs on 40 pgs, 200 hrs on 400 pgs, and so on.

So, I can't actually see that I've saved anything in the process, such as time or effort, that necessitates me granting the client a discount or a lower rate.

When the translation firm gives discount to their client, they give it because they are actually being paid an immediate commission without having to work on anything except for the PM.

On the other hand, the translator gets paid for his/her own toil. Hours and hours of work, back pain, dry and itchy eyes, resources (hardware, software, dictionaries, reference books, etc.).

One more thing, if the same client is outsourcing that large volume to several translators, will the client be paying less?

To sum up, my point is that WE, THE TRANSLATORS, ARE NOT WHOLESALERS.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:31
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Rare, but it does happen Mar 1, 2014

neilmac wrote:
I've done it in the past, especially when I wanted the job because I liked the subject matter, or the client, or because the author was paying out of his own pocket rather than corporate funds.


Mainly for the first reason, but I do like to charge private individuals the absolute minimum, generally in exchange for later delivery and earlier payment.

Conversely to what some say, the more words company clients talk about, the less likely they are to get any sort of negotiation on day one. A rate that might be just adequate for a slow afternoon isn't going to be the rate I want to be working for all month. Of course, if I'm still working hard on this enjoyable, enormous project a couple of months later, and getting paid on time etc., then I might well renegotiate so that we both benefit from increasing TM leverage, content familiarity, etc.


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Rebecca Garber  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:31
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Occasionally Mar 1, 2014

There are many factors:

Have I had a dry spell and I'm bored?
Is this a really interesting project?
Do I like the client? the subject matter?
Is this for a graduate student?

I did recently have a conversation with one of the PMs I work with, who saw only the pennies per word difference and not the percentage pay cut. When I asked her if she would be willing to work for 20% less, she responded "no, absolutely not." She has since been a great supporter of fair pay for translators, and only asks me for a 5% discount if she thinks that the work is interesting enough and has enough repetition to actually pay off for me.


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Sadek_A  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 07:31
English to Arabic
+ ...
I Like This Counter-Attack :) Mar 1, 2014

Rebecca Garber wrote:

When I asked her if she would be willing to work for 20% less, she responded "no, absolutely not."


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
Long live logic! Mar 1, 2014

Sadek_A wrote:

I got to say that I've always failed to see the logic in awarding more projects for (only) lower rates.

Let's say I spend 30 minutes on average translating 1 page from a client.
Logically, I will be spending 2 hours on 4 pages, 20 hrs on 40 pgs, 200 hrs on 400 pgs, and so on.

So, I can't actually see that I've saved anything in the process, such as time or effort, that necessitates me granting the client a discount or a lower rate.

When the translation firm gives discount to their client, they give it because they are actually being paid an immediate commission without having to work on anything except for the PM.

On the other hand, the translator gets paid for his/her own toil. Hours and hours of work, back pain, dry and itchy eyes, resources (hardware, software, dictionaries, reference books, etc.).

One more thing, if the same client is outsourcing that large volume to several translators, will the client be paying less?

To sum up, my point is that WE, THE TRANSLATORS, ARE NOT WHOLESALERS.


Well summed up, Sadek, well said.

A friend and a colleague of mine wrote a very good article in his blog: http://bit.ly/ME5FsJ
And another: http://bit.ly/ME5uO5

Corinne McKay wrote a thorough treatment on how to set rates here: http://thoughtsontranslation.com/2013/10/29/what-is-the-right-rate-for-your-translation-services/

I trend towards pricing per project, not per word, if possible. For example, a client who sends me a large project every year (an employee handbook) asked me this year to honor her client's request to translate only the new texts (the update to last year's handbook). Consequently, she asked me how much I would charge for the project. So I factored in my usual per-word rate plus the time required to sift through the manual for the updates. Not only did my client accept my price, she increased it by $60 (US dollars) because the other translators were charging similarly.

I used my TM for earlier handbooks and finished the project comfortably in time and for a good profit.


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Sadek_A  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 07:31
English to Arabic
+ ...
Dear Firms! You give a discount, you pay for the discount! Mar 1, 2014

Mario Chavez wrote:

A friend and a colleague of mine wrote a very good article in his blog: http://bit.ly/ME5FsJ
And another: http://bit.ly/ME5uO5

Corinne McKay wrote a thorough treatment on how to set rates here: http://thoughtsontranslation.com/2013/10/29/what-is-the-right-rate-for-your-translation-services/

I trend towards pricing per project, not per word, if possible. For example, a client who sends me a large project every year (an employee handbook) asked me this year to honor her client's request to translate only the new texts (the update to last year's handbook). Consequently, she asked me how much I would charge for the project. So I factored in my usual per-word rate plus the time required to sift through the manual for the updates. Not only did my client accept my price, she increased it by $60 (US dollars) because the other translators were charging similarly.

I used my TM for earlier handbooks and finished the project comfortably in time and for a good profit.



Thank you, Mario.

The practice of wholesale translation is actually becoming a headache. Firms tend to feed the translators the discounts given to the end-client, and sometimes more than such discounts.

The inherent problem with long-term/lower-rates duo is that there are an endless number of implications that might render the cooperation fruitless.

For example, you might get the first file, or even group of files, in a plain text format without tables, special formatting, etc. And, you would think.......THIS IS A VERY GOOD BARGAIN

Then, THE CLIENT STARTS SENDING YOU MATERIALS THAT ARE:

- Poorly handwritten.
- Of high-profile formatting.
- Ill-written.
- Full of acronyms and abbreviations (like, everywhere you look there are acronyms bouncing into your face!).
The list goes on and on and on............. ):

You have already accepted the long-term/lower-rates duo unconditionally! NO BACKSIES. Otherwise, you will risk losing the client altogether.

And, even if the translator is smart enough to negotiate certain rules for that potential long-term/lower-rates duo, s/he will still get ambushed at some point. FIRMS ARE MORE CUNNING THAN YOU THINK!

I once had this firm client who wanted me to work exclusively with him. I refused. Then he offered me long-term cooperation, I agreed (unconditionally ):). Most of the time, he would send me acronym-loaded medical translations. If not medical, it would be military or pedagogy. Rates were slightly below average, but not so low. I kept doing business with him just to fill any spare time of mine; however, I wasn't enjoying the experience because I was taking less than what I should. At some point, he started sending me only review&editing jobs, which were paying even lesser. Apparently, he wanted to trick me into performing the same amount of work under a different title and a lesser pay. I bade farewell to him!

Nowadays, some firms would give you machine-translated texts and tell you that you will be doing editing, review, proofreading or whatever they call it in their hel*ish scheme. Next thing, you find yourself doing translation for the allegedly-proofreading rate.

Shameful acts, and even more shameful if one accepts them!

[Edited at 2014-03-01 21:01 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-03-01 21:10 GMT]


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