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CAT tools and your rates
Thread poster: Rebecca Lyne

Rebecca Lyne
France
French to English
+ ...
Jul 20, 2008

Hi all,

In light of a recent thread on the merits (or lack thereof) of Trados and other CAT tools,
I would simply like to know if the more experienced freelancers simply refuse to lower their rates despite using a CAT tool.

Of course agencies think this is not only acceptable, but moreover, they expect it.

What is your strategy when it comes to this? Do you take the lower rate they request or refuse to lower your rates on principle whether you lose the project or not?

Thanks,
Rebecca


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:43
English to French
+ ...
Give them what they want Jul 20, 2008

If an agency really wants to have a CAT rate scheme, I give it to them - after raising my base rate to cover fuzzy rebates. This means that they get what they want, but I still get paid as much as I wanted. If they find my CAT rate scheme too high, they are free to look elsewhere.

As for established clients, I do sometimes give them smaller rebates, like free 100% matches when those 100% matches are based on a TM that was created/edited by me on one of their past projects. But I only do this if I really appreciate that client, that is, if they pay on time, pay attention to the questions I have and don't interfere with my work. In other words, just like any ol' business, if the client has a standing with me, I sometimes do give them perks that are, among other things, based on CAT tool matches. But I also make sure they understand that it's a one-time-only perk and that they can't take it for granted. If, for example, I really like the client and charge them a penny less per word than usual, I make it clear that this doesn't mean I am lowering my rate. It's only a gift.

All the best!


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exactly Jul 21, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
If an agency really wants to have a CAT rate scheme, I give it to them - after raising my base rate to cover fuzzy rebates. This means that they get what they want, but I still get paid as much as I wanted. If they find my CAT rate scheme too high, they are free to look elsewhere.


Exactly. Same approach here (also in the part I did not quote).


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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:43
English to Polish
+ ...
No discounts Jul 21, 2008

I don't accept any lowering rate, due to my use of CAT tool. A CAT tool is for MY benefit, for me to work faster, better and more comfotably. I paid for it, and therefore I don't see any reason to let any agency have benefits at my cost from my spending money and my investment. I didn't spend money on a CAT to now earn less, did I?

Anni

[Edited at 2008-07-21 06:31]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:43
Member
English to French
Alternative Jul 21, 2008

I have a discount scheme that I use for agency customers who request it.
As long as my hourly revenue is higher with a CAT tool and discounts than without any CAT tool (ie as long as a CAT tool also benefits me), I see no problem.

I certainly don't earn less with a CAT tool while accepting discounts. This means I don't review 100% matches for free and I do charge for repetitions. I don't lower my rate, I consent to discounts for sentences that will require far less time for me to process.

Let's say I do 12kwords in a day with a CAT tool, that work out at 350 euros including discounts. Without CAT tool, I would do 2500 words a day and earn 250 euros. With a CAT tool and no discounts accepted, I would do 1200 euros a day.
Or more likely 0 euro, because many agencies expect discounts on repetitions and fuzzies in technical translation (user manuals, software interface, etc.).
I am sure I would miss quite a lot of opportunities in my line of work if I weren't prepared to accept such discounts.

In the end, it is entirely a business decision. I have been living well off translating full time for the past 8 years (starting with Trados 3), so working at 95% with agencies implementing CAT discounts is also a viable alternative.

Enjoy the sun,
Philippe


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:43
Flemish to English
+ ...
A practical example. Jul 21, 2008

I concur with Anna.

A posting on this site:

Job: Company Financial Statements

"Offer is EUR 0.09/word for 1094 new words, and EUR 0.02/word for 1611 repetitions for a total of EUR 130.68" : loss for me :112,77 euros.
Profit for the agency: the difference between my rate and their direct customer rate + my loss.
Of course, I can reduce this loss by calculating before how much I will loose if I accept and raising my rate (which in this case is impossible) to get my target-figure or calculate by the hour whichever is higher...


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:43
Member
English to French
A brighter side to make me feel better Jul 21, 2008

Williamson wrote:
Job: Company Financial Statements

"Offer is EUR 0.09/word for 1094 new words, and EUR 0.02/word for 1611 repetitions for a total of EUR 130.68" : loss for me :112,77 euros.
Profit for the agency: the difference between my rate and their direct customer rate + my loss...

Let's assume I know the customer, I work for 0.09 euros and the job is in my scope of competence.

*I accept the job:
Time spent: 3 hours (if it is not too easy), which makes up an hourly rate of 43 euros.
My current hourly rate to agencies: 40 euros.
Gain for me: 10 euros (8%)
What the agency makes on top of my fee: not interested. This doesn't pay my bills.

*I don't accept it, but I have something else in the pipeline that pays more in terms of time spent working:
Sensible move

*I don't accept it and I don't have anything else in the pipeline:
I don't rely on my translation income to pay for my kids' schooling. I can afford to look for hourly rates higher than 43 euros.

Williamson, congratulations for sticking to the no-discount approach.
I am afraid I cannot reasonably manage that.

Philippe


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:43
Flemish to English
+ ...
Backup activity.... Jul 21, 2008

A friend of mine is freelance is an I.T.specialist (at €500 per day). Whether he cuts and pastes the same piece of programming twice or a hundred times, this is his daily rate which he gets from companies.
*-*-*-
With IT he gained and paid a large house. In that house are training-rooms which he rents at a reasonable price.
Training earns more than translation (on an average).
So, if I alternate translation with giving training, I can afford to say "no".
*-*-*-*-

If I am not mistaken, this year I have wished a freelancer good luck in finding the right translators and am hesitant to work together with an agency who accepts my minimum rate, but insists on Trados-reductions. But ok, fine, as long as I earn the same rate as my friend, so that I don't have to hear his complacent : "You see, IT earns more" on the phone every time he calls.
There is a market-niche where the customer does not know and does ask for CAT-tools. I will not tell them that CATs exist.

Trados-reduction: invention of the former Trados marketing-machine whose head became responsible for marketing of this site. No other CAT-tools producer ever mentioned such a scheme.

What an agency earns should matter, because that is your margin for negotiating with them. If they pay your 0.07 eurocent, but ask the customer 0.14 as it happened to me in the past, then you realise that their profit is 50%+ the reductions they squeeze out of you from the use of Trados.
*-*-*-*-
On a personal note : I have gotten a paper from a notary. To write that paper with a standard template the notary asks €2016.
Time to write it : about two hours. Do you think the notary offers me a reduction because a word occurred 10 times in the same print-out of the same template?
If a lawyer repeats the same legal formula 10 times will he reduce his fee?
With regard to the linguistic professions: if a conference interpreter outsourced by an agency interprets the same word 50 times a day, does he give a discount on his/her fee of minium €500 for a day? However, the same agency might insist on discounts for trados.



[Edited at 2008-07-21 15:19]


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
It's a business decision Jul 21, 2008

As I mentioned just a few hours ago on the other thread, I'm often asked for discounts, and I've recently started biting the hands that feed me by saying "no", or by stating only that I will review this on a case-by-case basis.

In the last few years, I have started to work much more often on legal and financial texts, some marketing/website, etc., but do almost no technical translations.

As a result, this means that I don't see any real increase in the speed of my translations because (apparently) the repetition rate is relatively low in these fields, the fuzzy matches are of little or no help (and often a burden), and in most cases I therefore realize no concrete hourly income benefit from using the CAT tool.

I see no problem with passing on a bit of a benefit to good clients - if it is truly there - as mentioned by Viktoria.

But in most cases, it is simply not there, and I feel that my time is better spent either doing other work for better-paying clients, or even just taking a few well-deserved hours off waiting for such work to come in.

I suppose such is the benefit of gaining experience and contacts.


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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:43
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
Definitely a business descision Jul 21, 2008

I have stopped offering repetition / match discounts - I am just not interested in that type of client.

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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:43
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Profit? Jul 21, 2008

Williamson wrote:

What an agency earns should matter, because that is your margin for negotiating with them. If they pay your 0.07 eurocent, but ask the customer 0.14 as it happened to me in the past, then you realise that their profit is 50%+ the reductions they squeeze out of you from the use of Trados.



If they charge their customer 0.14 and pay you 0.07, they may or may not have a profit, but if they do it is certainly not 50%: in addition to you, they also have to pay rent, telephone, employees, etc. (overhead), set aside funds to offset unrecoverable credits, and so on. In short, act as all normal companies do.

Thinking that the agency's profit is just the difference between what they charge their customers and what they pay to their suppliers is oversimple and misleading.

[Edited at 2008-07-21 16:28]


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