Is geography a quality factor?

There is a large number of language professionals working in the same language combinations (at least, in my language combinations!) spread all around the world. Greek translators who work and live all around the globe! All these professionals have set their fees based on certain factors, e.g. their academic background, their experience working in the field, their specialization. Most of the times, the above mentioned reasons influence the quality of the final translation. So, why is geography an issue?

I was a witness to a situation recently that made me wonder. As I keep trying to expand my clientele, I continuously send my CV to agencies around the world. One morning, I received a reply from one, saying that my rates are far too high for the life standard in Greece! I was flabbergasted! I politely thanked for the reply and did not bother to comment.

How can a project manager/ agency owner living on the other side of the planet claim that is aware of what kind of standard there is in Greece today? Why does this particular project manager/agency owner want to convince me to lower my rates and actually tell me what kind of a life style I should have? If I lived in a richer country that is not financially struggling, would I have the right to charge more due to location only? Would the quality of my work be better if I still lived in the UK even though I am working into my native tongue? Now let me think: When I was studying in the UK, I do not recall universities giving me a discount on the university fees because I was a Greek national! I remember that I had to work part-time throughout my studies in order to add a little income to the money my parents sent me in order to complete my studies, I can recall painful days and nights going by without me sleeping in order to meet the academic project work deadlines.

I have never met any translator that has become rich from his/her work and in fact, Greek translators choose to charge far lower rates than their European counterparts. Does a project manager/agency owner have the right to have an opinion on a translator’s life-style by making such comments? Was that person rude to me for no reason? Refusing collaboration due to a disagreement on rates is understandable but should such comments be expressed? Should I allow a person living in a different country tell me how I should live in mine and how much I should earn? Questions, questions, questions!

This Post Has 8 Comments
    1. Well, the point is that people should not make such comments to anyone. If they would like to work with someone, that is great. If they do not, there should be no room for such comments. They can keep their opinion to themselves. It is simply rude!

  1. Hi Konstantina! Many thanks for another great post! I’ve been thinking about the same issue lately. I’ve had quite a few clients (esp. at the beginning of my freelancing) who expected lower rates because I live in Russia. What can I say? I am not a translation guru with 30+ years of experience, so my rates are moderate (I think), but every time I do a little raize (which I try to do regularly) some agencies say that my new rate is way too high for somebody living in Russia.

    1. Olga,

      Thank you for your comment. I really do not understand how someone could possibly have an opinion about the standard of life in another country, unless that person lives in that country… how can I know how much money you should earn and what kind of a life-style you should have! It is a mystery!

  2. I was speechless reading the comment a potential client made on your rates! It was unprofessional and inappropriate to say the least.

    It got me thinking, could it be that due to the global attention the country has been receiving lately, for reasons that do not have to do with the translation business, s/he may have felt they could make a point on that grounds? I fully support your decision not to dignify the comment with an answer.

    Greetings from Athens.

    1. Diona,

      Thank you for your comment. Your reaction was the same with mine, when I read the reply! What is important, though, is not to fear such comments. If we start lowering the rates, there is going to be no reason in working!

      Greetings from Crete!

  3. Incredible – and yes, that was an insensitive comment, but wow – I wonder what my clients would say about me being a translator working in Africa! My rates are already quite low at the moment for various reasons, but I manage to get by and I would never say that you should judge the cost of a translation by where the person is living… good grief! That’s very insensitive.

    1. Thank you for your comment Sarai!

      I say, we should not care what they others think of. We know what we can do and what our work is worth! All we have to do it to keep up the good work!

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