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One argument against low rates
Thread poster: Mats Wiman

Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:29
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

May 7, 2003

Dear all,

Today I have had to answer a client\'s demand for lowering our rate and I have tried my best to convince X\'s boss that it might not be the best thing for the agency to do (I have not received an answer yet).

I hope my try could be of general interest:

\"Dear X,

If you\'ll have to stop ringing because of our rate, that is

a decision to be taken each time you decide to ask a

translator for help.

We would regret if you did because we also enjoy our


To translate MARKETING texts is an endeavour one

shouldn\'t take lightly.

In fact, a not so good or bad translation by a young

unexperienced translator (to be had at a lower rate)

can be one of the worst decisions one can make.

If the reader discerns that the translation is \'cheap\'

s/he might very well tick the whole thing off along

this line of thinking:

\"If they don\'t even bother to pay for a proper

translation, what can we expect from them in other

fields of activity? Let\'s accept the other offer instead!\"

Is it smart to save € 23 when you\'re investing some

€23000 in a market offensive?

These are not arguments that need apply in your case.

They do have a general applicability though. I can

vouch for that as exporting and importing manager

for 30 years.

Best regards

Mats J C Wiman

Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe

( moderator, deu>swe)

Träsk 201

SE-872 97 Skog


Tel:+46-612-54112 Fax:+46-612-54181 Mobile:+46-70-5769797

[ This Message was edited by: MatsWiman on 2003-05-07 07:44]

[ This Message was edited by: MatsWiman on 2003-05-07 07:45]

[ This Message was edited by: MatsWiman on 2003-05-07 15:55]

[ This Message was edited by: MatsWiman on 2003-05-07 15:56]

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xxxCHENOUMI  Identity Verified
English to French
+ ...
Negotiation is the key, but... May 7, 2003

As a matter of principle, I very seldom lower my rates.

I got once a response from a client saying that she understands why I stuck to my rate. Others simply say they can\'t afford it, but they will put my name on their database.

Occasionally, I might do so, provided the work is over 10,000 words or there\'s clear evidence that the relationship with that particular client will evolve into a steady one.

My motto is \"Quality has a price!\"

You may also tell them that you would willingly do so, but the equation you are confronted with is of added value. Therefore you cannot substract:

- from your experience;

- from the knowledge acquired over the years;

- from your increasing number of CAT and human tools, etc...

Another fact worth mentioning is that translation agencies and/or outsourcers are more and more demanding, how can they expect us not to be? Furthermore, I humbly think that it is not even a question of being demanding, this is a matter of marketing good values.

I will tell this anecdote. Not too long ago, I was contacted by an agency. The Language manager told me that his company\'s budget did not allow them to go higher than planned. My response was: \"Too bad, I usually do not work for lower prices.\"

Guess what?

>> He later proposed a compromised rate to me. Which I agreed to, only because they were so desperate and it was an urgent job*!...

[ This Message was edited by: CHENOUMI on 2003-05-07 19:33]

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Celine Gras  Identity Verified

Local time: 06:29
English to French
+ ...
Reply of a young translator May 7, 2003


On 2003-05-07 06:40, MatsWiman wrote:

In fact, a not so good or bad translation by a young

unexperienced translator (to be had at a lower rate)

can be one of the worst decisions one can make.

Hello Mats,

I totally agree with your point and try to stick to those guidelines myself.

But what I cannot agree with is your reference to \"young unexperienced translator\". I\'d like to know if you started translating an already old and experienced translator ? In what you wrote it seems that you assimilate poor quality translation to youth and unexperience. Let me tell you that I got my DESS (which is the highest degree you can get here in France in translation) in medical translation only 2 years ago and that I started as a freelancer a few months ago, but that does not make me a bad translator !! That only makes me someone who might ask a little more questions to my clients (which in my opinion is not a bad thing), who sometimes has some difficulty to quote on a job, not knowing exactly how much I can & want to charge, or who might have accepted 1 or 2 unproper assignements because I was unable to ask the good questions before accepting the job. But I always gives the best quality I can, maybe overchecking everything to be sure my translation is just as close to perfection as possible, working extra hours to establish myself as a good and reliable translator.

So please, make a distinction between young but nevertheless good translators and translators that have spent many years or not in this business but whose priority is not quality but money or anything it can be.

And just to make it clear, I\'ve accepted low rates (never under 0,07€/word) in my first 2 assignements, but the quality of my work has enabled be very quickly to increase my rates, as clients literally flooded my email box with job offers. From the feedback I\'ve had soo far, they\'ve always been happy with my work, and I\'ve had other assignements by clients I already worked for.

Ok, so now I\'m back to work, as clients have decided to trust me, and I\'ll do all I can to make them happy they did !


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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:29
English to Portuguese
+ ...
quite right too May 7, 2003

Hello Céline,

I quite agree with you. But please be reassured that a young translator usually gets older and more experienced while a bad translator very rarely gets better with age

Also, I am sure Mats isn\'t against younger translators.

All the best and keep the good work.


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:29
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

Sorry! Young is not = bad May 8, 2003

Also \'cheaper\' is not necessary = bad.

My point is only that it is often foolish to save on translation cost, because the total saving is minimal and the bad effects of a bad translation can be colossal.

Intelligent agencies/clients employ \'cheaper\', younger translations but only after testing them thoroughly.

The importing thing is to look for ánd employ QUALITY.



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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:29
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Low rates and investing in the profession May 8, 2003

IMHO, those who keep low rates are those who have not invested in this profession, for example, no training, no credentials, no experience either. Easy come, easy go. (Please note that I am not referring to translators who live in developing countries.) And these cheap translators are those whom I call \"dangerous translators\" who probably, even if they cared about the quality of their translation, there isn\'t much that they can do about it without any proper training. Often, people think that it is enough to speak a foreign language in order to be a translator. I do not know about other languages, but I have seen some translations into my native language done by people who could not even spell right two words in a row (and there isn\'t any spell checker for Albanian language either,) forget the grammar structure etc.

Any solutions? I do not know any

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Ledja  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:29
Member (2008)
English to Albanian
+ ... Apr 15, 2006


There is an albanian spellcheck programme that you can download for free from the above website, but it does not check for grammar errors and you'll probably find it does not recognise a word in all forms (noun cases, verb conjugation in different tenses) and it does not include all of our rich vocabulary to date. What I find helpful in it though, is that it comes in handy with the insertion of the two letters that are not in the keyboard.
However, I doubt it would help much the kind of translators you were talking about, Monika. It pains me to see the language being twisted in phrases so unnatural, because the translators don't have a clue, or the passion to look beyond word-to-word translation.

[Edited at 2006-04-15 13:26]

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