In one community I'm very active in, there's a particular member who always gives me a good laugh (unintentionally). He repeatedly claims that the rates professional writers charge are "highway robbery," essentially because he feels articles are easy and / or quick to write. Originally I figured he was probably just burned by a lousy writer in the past, or jealous because he can't command those higher rates himself (and by "high" rates I'm only talking about $50-75 per article, which in fact is relatively low in the grand scheme of professional writing).
I used to just think he was a nut about writers, but I saw him react to someone else's post in a completely unrelated area the same way. Someone posted about very successful earnings they had for the month, and this guy went on and on whining about how it wasn't right to post about such things. At that point there was no doubt. Jealousy was definitely playing a role (all he seems to be able to talk about is that people should charge the bare minimum, and never make money a motivation--apparently in anything, but especially in business).
Now, as far as I'm concerned, the guy's just ridiculous. It does, however, bring up an interesting topic that I'd like your thoughts on.
First, has anyone ever used a phrase like "highway robbery" to describe your freelance writing rates? And if so, how did you react?
Personally, I very rarely get a complaint about rates. I make it a point to publish them publicly, so people who don't have the budget for them simply don't contact me (I don't aggravate them by making them waste time asking for a quote that's out of their budget).
On those rare occasions where someone does have a problem with the rates, I generally either ignore them (if they're not a client, and just contacting me to be antagonistic about it), or if it's a client I have no problem referring them to someone else.
I have a somewhat strict policy - if my schedule is relatively full (and it often is), then I don't offer lower rates. If there are enough people willing to pay my standard rates, then those are the projects I take on. If it's a slower time of the year, I might compromise with them in some way (not generally just offering a discount, but rather tailoring what I'm offering to fit their budget - the lower budget might be quoted with fewer edits, with the client providing some of the research material, perhaps a shorter piece, etc.). The first reaction, though, is always to refer them elsewhere to someone who might be able to give them exactly what they want for their exact budget.
While it means losing a few clients here and there, in fact most of the people I refer elsewhere end up coming back to me for projects down the road (why it's vital to only refer people you trust - your referrals can say a lot about you).
In other words, when someone feels like my rates are "highway robbery" or anything along those lines, I let them know they're welcome to look elsewhere, and they're welcome to come back if they ever need something in the future where my rates fit within their budget.
So how do you handle complaints about your rates or requests to work for significantly less than your standard rates?