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Rates, bidding, etc.
Thread poster: Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 07:12
German to English
+ ...
Nov 23, 2001

I will attempt a summary of what has been said in these forums (and elsewhere). The opinions expressed here reflect either an absolute or relative majority (or both) of views posted to the ProZ forums (and others):





  1. Rates of 4, 5, 6 cents a word are ridiculous - no matter where you live and work. And, yes, most support that statement. Of course, there are some who disagree - but if they don\'t want to make more money, it\'s their loss.



  2. Low rates, more often than not, translate to little or no quality. Again, this statement is supported by a majority of translators who have posted to these forums, other websites and mailing lists.



  3. Public bidding has been instrumental in the free-fall of rates.



  4. There is no discrimination against translators from developing countries; on the contrary, we in the West would love to see them as equal partners - in every respect of the word. This also entails better, professional, training for translators in developing countries, etc.



  5. Qualified translators should be more confident and assertive about their skills and expertise and charge accordingly. Never sell yourself short: if you believe in yourself, don\'t settle for less!



  6. Quality is not cheap! Who could disagree with that? This is true of all jobs and professions.



  7. Giving (commercially acceptable) discounts (eg, 10-15%) is acceptable.



  8. If bidding is to remain public, a minimum rate will have to be introduced.



  9. Find your own niche: specialize and improve your marketing (that includes maintaining a professional personal website and/or ProZ profile).



  10. You have nothing to fear but fear itself: there is no \"competition\". After all, that would mean comparing apples and oranges: \"cheapos\" are not concerned with quality, but with making a fast buck. In other words, we play in different leagues, so don\'t get overly concerned. In addition, the typical clients of \"cheapos\" are the types of client we don\'t want anyway. The legal profession has its \"ambulance chasers\", but are professional (and ethical) lawyers worried about them? No - otherwise, they would have taken it upon themselves (through the proper channels such as the ABA) to remove all those ambulance chasers from within their ranks - two different leagues; apples and oranges!



  11. Respect your profession! Do not soil it by engaging in price-dumping or other illicit activities. Clients will respect us only if we respect ourselves.





These conclusions are based on a majority of views expressed in these forums and other websites, mailing lists, etc. Item 9, for example, was \"inspired\" by Henry, the site owner (a view also expressed in ProZ\'s latest newsletter!). Of course, there are also several other views, but I have chosen to include only majority opinions.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-24 19:35 ]


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:12
Partial member (2003)
Spanish to English
Sorry Werner Nov 23, 2001

I don\'t mean to be rude, but in my opinion, your summary is as biased as all the comments that you\'ve made on this subject. You had a fixed opinion before you started and have ignored any other that doesn\'t fit in with your point of view. Only a survey of all the members of Proz could really tell what we all think about this matter.

Unfortunately, perhaps, bidding has gone global. But prices aren\'t global and it\'ll take a long time for this to happen, if it ever does.

There is NO WAY that many people, including myself, could charge what you think is fair in the countries where they work, because the agencies WON\'T pay that money. They CAN\'T pay that moeny, or they\'d never make a profit. They are NOT ripping us off. I\'ve visted their websites, I know what they charge their clients. And I also know that some companies have been with them for years, because I do all the translations for some of those companies via agencies, and they keep coming back for more (so obviously the quality is at least acceptable). If I tried to charge the rate you\'re suggesting, I\'d be out of a job tomorrow. And if I\'d \"had more confidence in my abilities\" or whatever, and asked for that price from the very beginning, I\'d still be teaching and earning far less than I do now with a lot less job satisfaction.


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 07:12
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I appreciate and welcome your input... Nov 23, 2001

... but these items do reflect a majority of the views posted here and elsewhere.



Just go through all the various discussion threads and you will see that, for example, a majority of translators wants to have a minimum rate, that 3 or 4 cents are considered peanuts, etc. Item 9, for instance, is based on a suggestion made by Henry. So, don\'t say that I ignored all other input if it is not true!!!



Sure, we have not done a full survey on this yet, but the opinions posted to the forums do make for a good representative sample for now. Maybe you, Nikki, should try to be less biased. In addition, the second half of your most recent comments reveals that you missed quite a few of the points raised earlier by me and others.



I said that if you work for a US agency, you should charge them the same rate that they pay their US-based translators. So, saying that the agencies cannot afford that is, with all due respect, rubbish - they pay that rate to their other translators. Why should they pay you a much lower rate just because you are located in Spain????



I never suggested the reverse: ie, a US translator charging a Spanish agency US rates. I do believe that in such a case, you would have to accept the usual rates of the Spanish agency, and if you, as a US-based translator, think that such rates are too low, then don\'t work for Spanish agencies. It\'s a free world: you decide! Take it or leave it (personally, I don\'t work for Spanish agencies because their rates are way too low for our standards). But, again, if you personally wanted to work for a US agency, you should charge them the exact same rate they pay to all their other translators!



I am sorry, but I cannot simplify it any further.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-23 13:35 ]


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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 17:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
Do you think agencies will understand? Nov 23, 2001

Many colleagues think and , perhaps, hope against hope , that agencies will understand - or will get themselves educated- on the benefits of hiring a good translator at reasonably good rates.



I have seen lots of pieces directed at agencies in order to educate them on good translations and good translators.



My view is that they will never realize it.



Why should they realize it?



They get translators at 4 or 6 cents in most parts of the world and only in the US, Japan and in one or two other countries the going rate is perhaps higher.



So, translators in the above two or three countries, I suppose, do not have to worry.



For other countries the scenario is bad enough.



The lowest rates are for the most common languages like English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian,etc.



I would still shout at the top of my voice: Catch the bull by the horns.



Bidding - something should be done to devise some other way of presenting our talent and expertise.



Imagine a situation in which you invite 25,000 cows in one large shed.



Don\'t you think that they will be forced to sell their milk at a rate bordering the rate of water?



Hearing you don\'t hear ....understanding you do not understand.



First of all, one puts 25,000 cows under one shed and later one feels sorry or them while they break each other\'s heads.



Then don\'t blame the milkmen.



These are my opinions ......



What are yours?







[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-23 22:47 ]

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-24 22:24 ]


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Tatjana Aleksic, MA  Identity Verified
English to Serbo-Croat
+ ...
I agree with Nikki Nov 24, 2001

I am sorry to say this, but all you did throughout this forum was repeat your opinion, without ever listening to what others had to say and without accepting their arguments.



Let\'s begin with your Conclusion number 1. These rates ARE ridiculous, that part is OK, but you completely disreagard what I and some other colleagues had to say about the REASONS behind such ridiculously and humiliatingly low rates. The reasons many translators have to charge such low rates (and be happy with that)are many, including the overall economic situation in their countries (mine included). I see you have no idea (or you do, but choose to ignore it just as you ignore many other things)that an average monthly salary here in Serbia is about $ 100 US. I repeat, $ 100 US a month. I believe your per diem is higher than my per annum.

I am not only a freelance translator, but am also a University lecturer of English, and my full montly salary with all the \'benefits\'is exactly $ 110 US!!! Nobody can live on that money, here or anywhere else. Life is not much cheaper here than in Canada, where you live, and this salary does not mean that Sony and BMW will sell their TV sets and cars for peanuts just to help poor Serbs. Our children need clothes and books and we need holidays just like everybody else. But we can\'t afford them. If I had only that one job I could simply kill myself. It is precisely the money that I earn as a translator that allows me much more than a slice of bread a day and a huge debt for electricity. I lead a very normal life, normal for western standards, holidays included. But I cannot charge as much as you do, because: 1) clients here COULD NOT pay that money, simply because they do not have it; 2) western agencies DO NOT WANT to pay it because they consider us cheap.



You in your arrogance obviously think that it is simply your rate that proves you a better translator than all of us, poor cousins, who work for less, but that is simply not so. One may as well ask why you INSIST so much on labelling everybody who works for little money a bad translator. I agree with you that there are a lot of those who CLAIM to be translators, but it does not mean that their (or mine for that matter) rate says EVERYTHING about the quality of translation they/I produce. All this goes for your Conclusion 2 as well.



I agree that bidding lowers rates.



Conclusion 4: there IS discrimination against translators from developing countries, and we feel it every day believe me! I believe you and most colleagues would like to se us thrive just like you do, but don\'t be so sure agencies/clients would. It\'s capitalism out there everywhere and all it has ever wanted is the cheapest labour possible (and good quality at that, so we in \'developing\' countries seem ideal for the project: everybody around us earns much less, so we\'ll jump for joy if we get a fraction from what our colleagues in the West get, as that will still be much more.)

There is no lack of \'professional training\' and work here, but the lack of money and well-paid work.



The rest of your conclusions are OK and I agree with them. However, only in a perfect world would they be possible. Not here, not now.



Think well about your attitude again. I dislike \'ambulance-chasers\' myself, but I do not go around tagging them as such and offending them at public forums. My quality works for me and that is the only thing I strongly believe in.


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edlih_be
Local time: 13:12
Flemish to English
+ ...
I'm with Tatjana and Nikki..... Nov 24, 2001

Though I agree with quite a lot of what Werner has posted, I cannot agree with this price/quality relationship that he has developed.



Price has nothing to do with quality. If I decide to ask a higher rate for a job, it doesn\'t follow that the quality of translation that I provide will be higher also. The same goes for me asking a lower rate.



The price one asks is related to how hard one is willing to work for one\'s pennies.

If one person is not willing to get out of bed for $0.04 and another person is, then fair play to the person who is. I don\'t think people should look down their noses at translators who work for low rates. Quite a few posters have been guilty of this. Just as certain translators have the right ask high rates, other translators have an equal right to ask lower rates.





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Marcus Malabad  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:12
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
To Tatjana and Nikki Nov 24, 2001

Just curious, have you ever tried charging Western agencies \"Western\" rates and persisted in doing so? When you submit a bid to an agency which you know is from the US or Germany, for example, have you ever quoted a Western rate from the outset? What was their reaction? Were you ever told: \"we can\'t accept your bid because we know many of your compatriots will work for less\".



I\'m asking because I know many agencies who are conscientious and pay all their translators one rate, regardless of home country. Nonetheless, to support your views, indeed, the majority turn to developing countries for cheap labor.



I, for example, have lost countless Ru>En jobs because our colleagues living in Russia work for the proverbial 4-7 cents (as opposed to my \'astronomical\' 13-14). While it\'s annoying, I understand that these 4 cents are the going rate in Russia. Having lived in Russia, I also understand that the US$200-300 that could be earned from a typical translation project could feed a family of 4 for a month.



So I agree with you, Tatjana: cheap rates do not necessarily mean bad quality. When it comes to developing countries, it simply means the difference between eating and starving.



On the other hand, I\'ve also noticed that many translators from Eastern Europe charge Western (especially US) agencies low rates because they do not know what the going rates are in the West, and if they do know, do not quote a higher rate for fear of not getting the job. The tendency is to go down and rarely have I noticed someone bold enough to break the mold and go up.



That\'s why I go back to my original question, Tatjana and Nikki: have you ever tried quoting a higher rate and were successful in getting the job?









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Tatjana Aleksic, MA  Identity Verified
English to Serbo-Croat
+ ...
Oh, yes, I have! Nov 24, 2001

And the summary of all their replies was that they \'have found somebody who\'d do it much cheaper, thank you.\' Much cheaper than $ 0.08, which was my lowest bid ever put to a western agency! I wanted to cry out loud!



Nobody is born clever, so when I started being active in translation forums, like ProZ, the first thing I did was to make a thourough rate survey, which exists to some extent in Aquarius (which became a \'members only\' club and offers litterally nothing for \'small\' languages, like Serbian, and the indication that ProZ could become something like that does not make me very happy, but that\'s another thing) and learned that some kind of an average rate for Serbian varies between Euro 0.10-0.14. Of course, with all my experience and expertise, I naively immediately started bidding at around Euro 0.12, only to be litterally called an almost-idiot by a potential \'client\', who said that he\'d found a whole army of translators to do the same job for 0.05!!!!!



What most irritates me is when in bidding for a job (seen a lot of it on ProZ), the poster puts his bid at, for example $ 0.10, while the \'conscientious\' translators even offer to do it for $ 0.02!!! I am not making things up, there was an identical case on this site where I also put my bid appalled at the practice.



Yes, I\'ve tried, but obviously nobody wants me to drive a BMW


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 07:12
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Bravo, Marcus, that's it! Nov 24, 2001

Marcus is absolutely correct: the problem is not what you guys do in your countries, but what you do when you interact with agencies and clients outside your countries.



THIS has been my point all along: you guys charge your local rates even when dealing with a US or other Western agency, and that is wrong.



Believe me, I fully understand that you charge only 4 cents a word, because in your country 4 cents will take you a lot further than in the US or elsewhere. But when you approach a US agency, for example, you should, and rightly so, demand to be paid the same as any other (US-based) translator that works for that agency. If that agency usually pays, say, 10 cents to their American translators, then you MUST be paid 10 cents, too, no matter where you live.



Marcus is right when he says that most of you are probably not even aware of these going rates. Well, then educate yourselves before getting into bed with Western agencies!



As for quality and price: my conclusion was a legitimate one, because the majority of those that have posted to these forums and elsewhere have agreed that low rates usually mean low quality. That does not mean that I have ignored any dissenting opinion, but since that dissenting opinion was a clear minority, there was no reason for me to include it in my conclusions, which represent a MAJORITY OPINION.


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Tatjana Aleksic, MA  Identity Verified
English to Serbo-Croat
+ ...
Show me your bank-account and I'll tell you exactly what kind of person you are! Nov 24, 2001

Is the summary of everything you\'ve written in this forum since posting the first comment.



Only by simply counting all the replies to your posting could you see that the MAJORITY was dissenting from your arrogant view.



The conclusions were yours, not drawn from the discussion, and they do not differ a trifle from your attitude in the first posting, so, if you refuse to listen to what other people say, why bother? Keep considering yourself a better translator than everybody else just because your rates are much higher and leave the rest of us to rot in the mud.



By analogy, 70 percent of mankind is eagerly expected in Hell, just because they have poor bank-account credentials to present at the gates of Heaven.



Enjoy your wealth and your arrogance. As far as I am concerned this subject is closed.



BTW,Western agencies rarely go around asking US from HERE to do a job for them, they usually subcontract an agency from a \'cheap\' country, but they don\'t say it. You have to discover the scheme. Or, the other scenario is that they do not ask you for rates at all. They just say: \'A job of xxxx words. Price $ 0.04 per word source. Deadline xxx. Please confirm if you can take it.\'





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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:12
Partial member (2003)
Spanish to English
Price/quality Nov 24, 2001

Well, it\'s obvious that we all don\'t read messages carefully and come to wrong conclusions. Dear Marcus, Werner and anybody else, I can\'t speak for everyone, but I personally haven\'t bid or made an application to anywhere but Spain. As I said to Werner in a personal e-mail exchange, if I did so I wouldn\'t charge Spanish rates (I\'m not stupid - we\'d all like to make more money if we could!!). What has offended me, and obviously others, is the assumption that those of us that work for \"peanuts\" produce rubbish.

By all means, if you think the solution is to set a minimum rate for bids, go ahead. Fine by me. But obviously those people that come here offering jobs at those \"ridiculous\" rates won\'t bother coming here anymore. And at the end of the day, it means that someone that could have got a job via Proz, won\'t. Which means perhaps they won\'t come here anymore either. And so, perhaps this\'ll turn into some kind of elitist club for those of us that can afford it.

I hope not.


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 07:12
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree, Nikkie Nov 24, 2001

Yes, setting a minimum rate does have some advantages, but, as always, they come at a price.



As you say, some outsourcers may leave the site and post their jobs elsewhere.



This is why we need to tread carefully: the minimum rate should be reasonable (e.g., 7 or 8 cents); this way, we might scare off only those outsourcers that we don\'t want to work for anyway (eg, \"payment offenders\", \"cheapskates\", etc.), while hanging on to the rest.



My feeling is that no one benefits from having these outsourcers here: you work your butt off, and then they don\'t pay (or not for a very long time).



Aquarius has a minimum rate of EUR 0.07, and it works for them (of course, they are not doing as well as ProZ, because only paid members are allowed to even look at the job offers, but their system of having a minimum rate does work).



I believe that someone here has recently suggested a minimum of 10 cents; I think we can all agree that this would be way too high for a minimum rate, but, yes, 8 (or even 7) cents a word should do the trick.


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 07:12
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
"Can't see the forest for all the trees" Nov 24, 2001

Quote:


On 2001-11-24 10:21, atanja wrote:

... your arrogant view.



... because your rates are much higher and leave the rest of us to rot in the mud.



... Enjoy your wealth and your arrogance.




\"Someone can\'t see the forest for all the trees\" - I rest my case.



\"Arrogance ... arrogant views\"? What was that story about that pot calling the kettle black ....? Tut, tut! Please keep this discussion on-topic and refrain from personal attacks whenever you don\'t like somebody else\'s views.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-24 20:22 ]


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 07:12
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Double standards?? Nov 24, 2001

Tatjana, I have seen your website and your rates would make other European translators blush: US$/EUR 0.12, 0.13 per word??? Are you sure you are one of the translators \"in the mud\", as you put it?



Also, why are you, apparently, defending 4-cent translators and why are you so deadset against those simple conclusions drawn from a majority of messages (including the site owner) posted to this forum and several others? After all, you are the most vulnerable: you live in Yugoslavia and, still, you charge rates that would be standard in the US! So, if the \"4-centers\" were to take over your local market, you\'d be the first one out, given your (for Yugoslavia - and Europe, for that matter) extremely high rates.



I admire you, honestly, for charging these rates in your region. Kudos. And more of you should!!!! This has been the main point of this discussion (at least as far as I am concerned).

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-24 16:13 ]


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Tatjana Aleksic, MA  Identity Verified
English to Serbo-Croat
+ ...
I defend everybody's right to be respected for what they do Nov 24, 2001

instead of being labelled \'ambulance-chasers\', repetitively, over and over again, by you guys who can charge as much as $ 0.20 in cold blood and even get it. There are many colleagues in poor countries who probably work for even lower rates than the infamous and much discussed $ 0.04. Where would such inconsiderate categorisation place them?



And I do not feel that I have insulted anybody. I have stood up against insulting and inconsiderate attitude shown in this thread.


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