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Poll: Have clients asked you to charge an hourly rate in some cases?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 19:58
SITE STAFF
Mar 6

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have clients asked you to charge an hourly rate in some cases?".

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Mar 6

It looks like "clients" in this query refers to agencies.
I rarely work with agencies nowadays, and only occasionally collaborate with one or two, but I don't recall any ever asking me for an hourly rate. However, I do charge an hourly rate myself for some revision work, and used to do it more or less across the board for revisions, but a couple of years ago some institutions began insisting on an estimate before authorising the PO, which meant I had to use a per-word rate. After a while,
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It looks like "clients" in this query refers to agencies.
I rarely work with agencies nowadays, and only occasionally collaborate with one or two, but I don't recall any ever asking me for an hourly rate. However, I do charge an hourly rate myself for some revision work, and used to do it more or less across the board for revisions, but a couple of years ago some institutions began insisting on an estimate before authorising the PO, which meant I had to use a per-word rate. After a while, I discovered that when applying the hourly rate, I was actually losing out quite often, because I tended to round down the time spent in favour of the client. So, for example, I might spend 2.5 hours on a job and then just bill them for two hours, which at the end of the day ended up counter-productive from my perspective.
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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:58
Member (2008)
Italian to English
No Mar 6

Have clients asked you to charge an hourly rate in some cases?


No, never.


 

Yetta Jensen Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 04:58
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
Yes, but I don't Mar 6

Sometimes clients just put their hourly rate on a PO, but I tell them to change it, because they should know. My rate is already in their files.

 

Agneta Pallinder  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:58
Member (2014)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Other - they don't but I do Mar 6

I charge by the hour for revisions and proofreading, but also for some translations where it is not possible to achieve a reasonable word output per hour.

This could be Excel files with individual words or short phrases to go into a website. Or translations of parts here and there of a document that has been updated after it was originally translated - happens sometimes with company annual reports etc.


Teresa Borges
Vera Schoen
Philippe Etienne
Muriel Vasconcellos
Nancy Greenleese
Alexandra Speirs
Philip Lees
 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:58
Member
English to French
Yes, and I have Mar 6

Foreword:
One hour of my time is one hour of my time, and when it's spent, it's spent for ever. My time is my local time, not the time of low-cost-of-living countries. An hour is my gold standard, whether expressed in pages, words, target text, strings or beans.

THEREFORE, I charge an hourly rate that matches my average productivity when I am paid by the word (with or without CAT discount grids). So I don't care whether I am paid per word or by hour for an "ordinary" translati
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Foreword:
One hour of my time is one hour of my time, and when it's spent, it's spent for ever. My time is my local time, not the time of low-cost-of-living countries. An hour is my gold standard, whether expressed in pages, words, target text, strings or beans.

THEREFORE, I charge an hourly rate that matches my average productivity when I am paid by the word (with or without CAT discount grids). So I don't care whether I am paid per word or by hour for an "ordinary" translation (according to my own standards, which usually means outstanding from external eyes, of course): both final figures for invoicing would be close enough to confirm it.

Anyway.
This agency is not a small one, but it is smashing nevertheless: for every assignment they feel is not "ordinary", they ask me to charge by the hour. Because they know what they're doing, and they are well aware that I will spend more time than "ordinary work" charged by the word.

They're fair and square, and I like this attitude!

Proofreading/editing/etc. tasks are a no-brainer, I charge per hour.
Editing a good translation costs little, editing an appalling/poorly MTPEed translation costs much more.

Philippe
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Jared Tabor
Aline Amorim
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:58
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
Norm Mar 6

ProZ.com Staff wrote:
Have clients asked you to charge an hourly rate in some cases?


It is the norm for agency clients to ask for your hourly rate when they first onboard you, and is it in fact unusual not to expect you to invoice your hourly rate for certain types of jobs.

That said, the hourly rate thingy is often just an aid for calculating the final amount... in other words, the job is still quoted for, charged and invoiced as a whole, even though the PO and/or the invoice may specify X number of hours at X rate per hour.

In most cases, if I get a revision job and the client wants an itemized quote on a per-hour basis, I look at the text and count the words etc., and I then I calculate the final quoted amount. Then, I divide the quoted amount by the "hourly rate" that is known to that agency, and say "it'll take X number of hours, charged at the usual hourly rate of X per hour", even if I can do it in half the time. This does not mean that I charge an hourly rate -- no, I charge a set price for the job as a whole. I just happen to know that most agencies' accounting departments are inflexible and insist that revision be invoiced on a per-hour basis, so now everyone remains happy.

In fact, a lot of my clients specify both an hourly rate and a number of hours on the PO, when in fact they're paying just the final quoted amount, regardless of how long it takes. If it takes 6 hours instead of 5, and the PO says "5 hours", they'll pay for "5 hours", because the "hours" isn't really hours -- it's just a trick used to itemize the PO so as to keep the bean counters happy.

Some of my clients pay per the actual time it took for jobs that are very difficult to estimate the duration of (e.g. cultural commenting, reviewer evaluations, etc.), but they are not stingy with minimum fees and don't count the minutes on their fingers.

What's more, we live in a strange world -- some PMs are more limited by how many hours they are allowed to pay for, but less so the amount of money they're allowed to pay per hour. It has happened to me more than once: the PM says the job will take 5 hours, I say the job will take 8 hours instead of 5 (i.e. 60% longer), the PM says "sorry, we can only pay for 5 hours", I say "okay, but then my hourly rate is [60% higher]", and the PM say "okay, confirmed!".



[Edited at 2020-03-06 10:44 GMT]


Kaisa I
 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:58
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, and I have Mar 6

And these are direct clients, not agencies. It happens fairly often. In one case, part of my contract with them includes a line for hourly work.

Kaisa I
 

Gibril Koroma  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:58
Member (2017)
French to English
+ ...


Posted via
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No, but I would Mar 6

I have never been asked by clients to charge an hourly rate for translations but I get that request for interpretation all the time, which is normal.

 

Mónica Algazi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 23:58
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
For revision and proofreading Mar 6

Yes, and I myself charge an hourly rate for revision/proofreading.

 

conejo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:58
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Hourly rates do not make sense for written work Mar 7

If you spend X number of hours interpreting on-site, then yes an hourly rate would be normal. Sometimes agencies ask you for hourly rates regardless of the type of work. But my comments here refer to anything that is written work (translation or editing).

For written work, hourly rates do not make sense. Clients have a budget that they cannot exceed. Let's use the example of editing, for which clients may ask you to use an hourly rate. They will say, for this job, we will let you ch
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If you spend X number of hours interpreting on-site, then yes an hourly rate would be normal. Sometimes agencies ask you for hourly rates regardless of the type of work. But my comments here refer to anything that is written work (translation or editing).

For written work, hourly rates do not make sense. Clients have a budget that they cannot exceed. Let's use the example of editing, for which clients may ask you to use an hourly rate. They will say, for this job, we will let you charge $X.00 per hour. However, they have a number of hours that they expect, based on a certain number of hours (a certain number of words per hour). And usually they will not let you exceed the number of hours. The "hourly rate" is based on the number of hours they are expecting, not how much time it actually takes. You can't invoice for more than their budget (which may or may not be announced in advance), and the translation quality may be very bad, or it may take longer than they expect. This means you end up eating the cost, and always getting paid less money than the actual number of hours you spent.

For this reason, based on my experience, hourly rates do not make sense for translators/editors because you are almost never allowed to charge for the actual number of hours you spent. You're only allowed to charge for however many hours are in the budget.

It is important to understand that the number of hours is not based on reality. The client has a budget of $X.00 per hour x Y number of hours=fixed budget. For that reason it is just better to quote # of source words or characters X a certain rate, which equals a fixed number. That way there are no misconceptions for how much you're getting paid, and you don't operate under the fake idea that you will actually get paid for the real number of hours you worked.



[Edited at 2020-03-07 04:23 GMT]
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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:58
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, but not for translation Mar 7

Several clients have asked me that for revision, proofreading, editing, formatting, and in some cases, it's mandatory, like for transcription and interpreting jobs. For these cases, I have an hourly rate I charge them.
In the very rare cases when a client wants an hourly rate for translation, I refuse it, because it's an obvious means to try to pay less.

[Edited at 2020-03-07 14:43 GMT]


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Shirtlosers Mar 8

While per-word rates can be counted on per-hour base too (some 350 words/hour depending on the language pair), it reminds me a funny story about a prospect houseowner who wants a company to build--in a week--a unique house of 2400+ square meters with six bedrooms, five living room, four dining rooms, three balconies and bathrooms, two kitchens, all furnished, air conditioning, solar panels on glass roof, a pool near a garden, a huge garage, and large terrace with beautiful views over the sea--bu... See more
While per-word rates can be counted on per-hour base too (some 350 words/hour depending on the language pair), it reminds me a funny story about a prospect houseowner who wants a company to build--in a week--a unique house of 2400+ square meters with six bedrooms, five living room, four dining rooms, three balconies and bathrooms, two kitchens, all furnished, air conditioning, solar panels on glass roof, a pool near a garden, a huge garage, and large terrace with beautiful views over the sea--but counting only bedroom space with repetition 'discounts' at an average price, including lots of freebies...

The naive, who believes that translation consists of mere wordcount/hours only, deserves the pity pittance and 'discounts' after 90+ days.


First, many translators voice their final rates beforehand, whereas smart biz owners name a price range, specifying it after the job is done.
Second, even if a client has the budget, it doesn't mean he wouldn't like to pay more. Ever heard of up-sales or cross-sales? Communication?
Third, if one cannot explain the value/reasons of his price, then it's but cheap. A businessperson who can't tell profits and incomes from gains should get none.
Fourth, the notorious take-it-or-leave-it is not the best approach for real/end customers prefer having option A, option B, option C, and D.
Fifth, as well as translation, all info/offers should be also uniquely tailored and customized--no one price fits all.
. . .

Some translators suggest that greedy brazen agencies cheat on them badly, yet it's not true: the intermediaries just take advantage of the naive and needy--reread the accepted terms. Or rewrite them.
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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:58
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Hourly rate Mar 9

For revision, I offer clients a choice: USD 25.00/hour or USD 0.03 per English word.

 


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Poll: Have clients asked you to charge an hourly rate in some cases?

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