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Poll: Do you alter your rates depending on the client's country of residence?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:17
SITE STAFF
Aug 6, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you alter your rates depending on the client's country of residence?".

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:17
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No! Aug 6, 2015

As I said before: What I charge for a job depends on several factors: complexity, volume, urgency, source language of the text and other practical circumstances, but not on the client’s country of residence!

http://www.proz.com/forum/poll_discussion/263170-poll_do_you_alter_your_rates_depending_on_the_clients_country_of_residence.html


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Platon Danilov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 07:17
Member (2014)
English to Russian
+ ...
Yes Aug 6, 2015

Unfortunately, clients in Russia and Ukraine cannot afford the same cost as those in EU or US. That is why I generally don't look for local clients.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes Aug 6, 2015

Not being a charity or wanting to buck the laws of economics, I simply charge as much as I think I can get away with, so customers in rich countries generally pay more.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:17
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No - but ... Aug 6, 2015

I said 'No', but then I remembered that I've done some work for a friend who runs a translation agency in a Latin American country. It was articles for publication in a scientific journal, and my friend said she wanted [her country] to "look good." The time frame wasn't urgent, so I was able to work on it while still taking on work from regular clients. The articles were well written and I enjoyed learning something new. I told her I would do it again from time to time.

I did something similar once for a cooperative of coffee-growers in Brazil who were competing for an environmental award.

I don't make it a regular practice, as I would be shooting myself in the foot, financially speaking.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:17
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Other Aug 6, 2015

It is complicated, and I vary my rates for several reasons, such as subject area, old or new clients, and basically knowing that if I want the job at all, then I have to ask for a rate the client will pay.

I used to vary rates according to country more than I do now, simply because the whole setup in UK is different from Denmark, and those are my two main markets. There was no way most UK agencies would pay the same rates as Scandinavian ones. But with UK English as my target language, I can't ignore the UK market and I needed the work.

At the moment, with currency fluctuations and other factors in my favour, I can raise my rates for new clients at least, to the level Scandinavian clients pay.

I have also been working mostly for Scandinavian clients the last couple of years, and have been busy enough to turn down lower-paid work.

Living in Scandinavia and paying the world's highest taxes, I have to earn a little for myself as well as the tax authorities. It is not always a healthy economy, but that is the way it works.

I try to educate clients, and explain to them that they can pass on their costs to the end client, but you also have to charge rates that are realistic on the market you are working in.

I have seen several end clients who used to work with Danish agencies go over to 'cheaper' UK agencies, especially after one large agency went out of business. Who could blame clients who were looking for an English translator?
It was bitter, however, when I had been getting a good Danish agency rate, to take a reduction of 20 or 30 per cent for the same end client... But the Danish economy was under pressure, and clients had to save where they could. At least I could use my own TMs and knowledge of their products and work effectively! I could also spend the money in the UK, where the purchasing power was more reasonable.

When Sterling was weak and one formerly good agency (started by a Dane!) became a notorious bottom feeder, I dropped them, and raised my rates with others.

I generally ask for a rate that is average for my languages from clients in the Eurozone, but I know I will get it from some countries, probably not from others. If I am seriously interested in the job, I go a little lower for some clients, but not others.

If I bid too low when clients are expecting the higher rates, then they may be afraid I will not deliver a professional translation...

So although my rates are more uniform now, I vary them according to several factors, one being the client's country of residence.


[Edited at 2015-08-06 09:24 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The problem is in MY country of residence Aug 6, 2015

I believe my clients - especially the recurring ones - are entitled to some assurance on how much they'll be spending for translation work. I mean, I hope they plan their business in advance, taking for granted that my prices haven't changed since our last job together. This benefits me, as they'll hire timely to play the translating role in whatever they are up to, and not as a last-minute emergency, "We need this entire bundle translated for day after tomorrow."

I try my best to avoid what some companies do in Brazil, like what I published on Facebook when a supermarket increased by 80% in a one-month time span the price of what could have been the two halves of one very same fish!

So I do my best to keep my rates stable over time. My domestic rate in BRL for text translation has reamined unchanged since July 1994. I managed to transfer to my clients all my productivity gains from advances in IT, however now, 21 years later, I'm on the verge of having exhausted these gains.

Since 2006, my domestic/international income ratio has been swinging. In 2006, 5% of my income came from overseas. In 2014, it was 80%. Now the pendulum is moving back, to a lower figure. I try to keep the NET domestic/international rates constant as much as I can, but the currency exchange market does its best to thwart my efforts.

My international rate is stated in USD, as most of my foreign clients are in the USA. In Jan. 2009, the USD plummeted, lost 25% of its value relative to the BRL. I stood tight, lost money in all int'l jobs until Jan 2010, when I advised all my clients, and increased my rates in USD by 20%.

In 2012, the dollar recouped, however interest rates here in Brazil were 10%/month. I checked on the cost of receiving money from overseas: 10% if via PayPal, fixed USD 30 then for a wire transfer. So I didn't lower my USD rates to the previous level, but began giving discounts for faster payment and avoiding PayPal. In fact, a client of mine could save almost 17% paying COD via wire, comparing to 30 days via PayPal. That's not much in Brazil, however it means a lot in the USA.

Now Brazil is in trouble. Heavy corruption in the high government echelons has been made public. Many of our high politicians and government officials are - and hopefully will continue to be - gradually making their way to jail. As a result of the unpredictable outcome, the USD is now 75% higher than the yardstick I used to make the conversion. It may go up further, or suddenly drop, nobody knows.

So it's getting every time tougher in Brazil to give my clients the assurance that next week I'll be translating at the same rates - in either BRL or USD - as I'm doing today. I couldn't care less about my clients' country of residence, as I'm sure that it's far more predictable than mine.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Aug 6, 2015

It doesn't really apply to me, as all my clients are in the same country as me, i.e. Spain. However, I might consider varying my rates in line with the cost of living if my clients happened to be in another, more prosperous country.

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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:17
Danish to English
+ ...
No Aug 6, 2015

If clients prefer a native Danish speaker living in Denmark, then they should be prepared to pay fees that correspond with living costs and a reasonably high level of income for academically trained professionals in Denmark.

My living costs don't change just because a potential client is based somewhere else...


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:17
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Aug 6, 2015

I charge companies in other countries much higher rates in order to cover the cost of currency conversion + bank transfer fees + risk of non payment.

[Edited at 2015-08-06 12:55 GMT]


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Henry Schroeder  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:17
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
No, but... Aug 6, 2015

I generally charge the rare American or Russian client more because there are greater problems with payment, higher bank fees, less certainty, etc.

[Edited at 2015-08-06 13:42 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-08-06 13:42 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
This keeps happening Gitte :) Aug 6, 2015

Gitte Hovedskov, MCIL wrote:
My living costs don't change just because a potential client is based somewhere else...

That's what I'd have written.

Like Muriel, I may from time to time decide I'm willing to do a job for less than my normal rate. I also work pro bono at times. But those are very much exceptions and don't have any bearing on my normal commercial rate.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exchange rate, laws of economics, bank fees Aug 6, 2015

My colleague Mr. Lamensdorf does it again: a well-written and well-reasoned piece of what he does under his circumstances.

Sure it is romantic and idealistic to just charge the same fees to a client, regardless of her country of residence. But that's kind of naive, really.

Although I started doing translations while in college, they were pro bono and I was residing in Argentina. I did not start my professional career until I arrived in New York City in 1990 (well, I got started in 1992).

Since 96% of my clientele has been U.S.-based in the 24+ years I've been practicing, I felt no need to strategize according to the U.S. dollar, wire transfer fees and such. The one time I had to make preparations with my local bank was for a job I did for Amazon last year. My silly bank didn't find the wire transfer from Amazon and I thought the e-tailing giant was late in payment. Finally, I found the payment (they did pay on time). Wire transfer fees? Well, I have a business checking account so I didn't pay a dime.

Actually, the more experienced we become, we have to change our rates based on a number of economical and market factors. I don't care whether you are of a socialist, communist or capitalist persuasion, or something in between, market realities are what they are.


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:17
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Again, it depends where you live Aug 6, 2015

Most people in the US and Europe would likely answer "no", whereas most people in the sourthern hemisphere would surely say "yes".

In my country, they would never pay 50% of the price the agencies/clients pay in the US or in Europe, and the latter think my rates are reasonable or even low, as they rarely ever try to renegotiate or challenge them when I first quote for them. Yet, if I mention these rates in Brazil, the agencies won't even reply my e-mail.

You actually need only two prices in our case (SH): One for the developed countries and one (minimum acceptable) for your own country. And, of course, you'll try as hard as you can to fill your agenda with the former and take jobs from the latter only if you have spare time. Sad reality.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 10:47
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Some thoughts Aug 6, 2015

I can understand that translators in developed countries with high cost of living will have less flexibility with rates, which they have probably already pegged at average living costs for their countries and therefore cannot go below them without suffering a drop in their standard of living.

The only fear is that this can work against them as translation jobs may shift to locations that are cheaper and favour translators located in these cheap locations, and who therefore have greater flexibility with rates. Translators here can maintain a high quality of life even while charging less rates than their counterparts in developed regions of the world. Such translators would have the luxury of charging the high rates commanded by their developed country counterparts when they can, and also adjusting it downwards to accommodate clients who have lower budgets, without suffering a drop in their standard of living. Eventually, they would drive their developed region counterparts out of business, as clients would prefer them owing to the cost factor.

I personally know of agencies that have relocated to cheaper locations to take advantage of this price variation - some have come to India, others have shifted to cheaper locations in Europe such as Czech Republic or Latvia, and some have moved to China.

If translators too start to relocate to these cheap locations, then those translators who are unable or unwilling to move out of the developed regions might get into serious trouble. This is happening with software professionals - earlier the movement was from developing countries like India to Silicon Valley in the US, now with a number of tech companies having opened shop in India there is a marked trend of techies from all over the world relocating to India, especially to places like Bangalore and Pune.

Should this begin to happen with translation, we might see the end of freelance translating as we know it in the developed, costly parts of the world. A sobering thought indeed for those who would be affected. The translators there are being squeezed by a pincer movement from MT on the one hand and cheaper human competitors from developing countries on the other.

The techies in the US were able to pressurize the US government to bring in laws to prevent such job relocation. Freelance translators are an unorganized lot and are not in sufficient numbers to matter electorally and therefore may not be able to trigger off state intervention in their favour. And in any case, multi-national corporations have grown too big to be controlled by governments, even governments of the developed world, and will pretty much do what is in their interest, and getting cheap, quality services is certainly one of their key interests.

[Edited at 2015-08-07 02:08 GMT]


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