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The Cost of Undervaluing Our Worth: A Freelancer's Response to Angry Filipino Client

Published: at 11:52 PM

It was just another typical day as a freelance developer when I received an email inquiry about my services. The sender, Rodel (not his real name), was a fellow Filipino interested in having me build a website for his small business.

In my initial response, I politely provided my hourly rate of Php 3,400 or $60 USD and asked for more details on the project scope to provide a more accurate quote. Given my experience level and expertise, I felt this was a fair and competitive rate.

What I did not expect was the scathing response I received. Rodel’s reply was filled with profanity and insults, calling me “greedy,” “heartless,” and “walang puso sa kapwa Pilipino” (without compassion for fellow Filipinos).

He went on a rant about how I must be rich and pampered to charge such “ridiculous” fees to struggling entrepreneurs like himself. How could I live with myself charging those rates when most Filipinos earn minimum wage? I was accused of prioritizing lucrative contracts from foreign clients over helping my own countrymen. Rodel said I embodied the worst aspects of privilege and capitalism, purposefully pricing out regular Filipinos from affording my services.

The email concluded with Rodel saying he hoped I reflected on my actions and had a change of heart. But until then, he wanted nothing to do with me or my “overpriced services” that were clearly not intended for average Filipinos anyway.

I sat stunned for a few minutes after reading his scathing message. While I’m no stranger to negotiation, I had never received such a vitriolic response over my rates. Though reluctant to reply at first, I ultimately felt compelled to address Rodel’s accusations.

In my response, I explained as diplomatically as possible that my rates are based on my expertise, experience, business costs, and reasonable compensation for my work. While I understand his frustration over perceived unaffordability, insulting my character was uncalled for.

I reiterated that I am willing to work within clients’ budgets when feasible, but I will not tolerate abusive behavior or unfair assumptions about my motivations. I aim to build customized solutions for each client based on their unique needs and limitations. However, berating me over my pricing is counterproductive for both parties.

Addressing Rodel’s point about prioritizing foreign clients, I explained that the majority of my clients are actually fellow Filipinos. As a freelancer though, I must market myself globally without prejudice. My rates reflect the value I know I can provide, not the client’s nationality. I work just as diligently for local clients as international ones.

I expressed regret that Rodel felt my pricing was unfair. I hoped he would find a developer within his budget who could meet his needs. However, I stood firm that my rates reasonably reflect the time, effort, and expertise I devote to each project.

As Filipinos, we must resist undervaluing our skills simply because of where we were born. Our talents and time deserve fair compensation aligned with market rates, even when servicing local clients. Undercharging would only reinforce negative perceptions of Filipino skills and talents globally. I know firsthand the value we provide to international clients who readily pay our worth. Local clients deserve the same quality of service, even if project budgets differ.

In closing, I expressed hope that Rodel could understand my perspective and that we could move forward civilly. Skilled Filipino developers like myself want to support local businesses too, but not at the expense of our livelihoods. My rates reflect the investment I’ve made in my career and aim to charge all clients fairly based on the value I can provide, foreigner or not.

Unfortunately, I received no reply and considered the matter closed. While unpleasant, this encounter reminded me that many local clients have misconceptions about freelancer rates. Compassion goes a long way. I will continue striving for fair and transparent pricing, prioritizing open communication to align client budgets with quality of work.

My goal remains to uplift and provide quality services to fellow Filipinos through freelancing. But I understand this requires finding equilibrium between charging fairly for my expertise and adjusting to serve clients with limited means. There are always opportunities to do good work, even on small scales or at discounted rates for community causes. As Filipinos, supporting and elevating each other can slowly transform the perception of our worth and skills.