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Trados rates (again...)
Thread poster: Huw Watkins

Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:10
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Jan 7, 2008

Sorry to bring this topic up again. I'm sure it's been done to overkill.

Here's my issue: I have been offered a large project from a regular agency and here is the Trados analysis:

Match Types Segments Words Percent Placeables
XTranslated 0 0 0 0
Repetitions 8,238 21,757 31 11
100% 8 8 0 0
95% - 99% 0 0 0 0
85% - 94% 0 0 0 0
75% - 84% 1 3 0 0
50% - 74% 0 0 0 0
No Match 8,092 48,415 69 35
Total 16,339 70,183 100 46


From other forums I am to understand that the repititions refer to new repititions and 100% matches refer to matches from an existing memory correct?

Do the repititions refer to entire segments? In other words, once I have translated the 48,415 no match words the 21,757 + 8 words will be automatically inserted by Trados with no translation work required on my part whatsoever?

The agency has asked me to provide a discount of 90% on repititions. Obviously this is a large percentage of the overall word count (31%). Before I even consider discounts I firstly need to be sure I'm not getting lumbered with hidden work I'm not getting paid for. What are your experiences of this?

I'm also not too happy about offering any discounts whatsoever for a number of reasons:

1) I don't like people dictating my rates to me above and beyond the market pricing forces.
2) Dealing with Trados can sometimes be time-consuming, importing & exporting memories, moving from one segment to another, TM management, and lots of other hidden work - emailing and negotiating, posting forums, answering proz questions, handling multiterm termbases, learning how to use the different CAT software and all these other aspects of our jobs that are time consuming and are not paid for.
3) I am also expected to deliver a fully proof read file. Now I may have allowed for that in my rates (to some extent...), however something niggles me about offering further discounts as I also work with other agencies that pay for proofing services carried out by a second translator (a much more efficient and professional way of delivering a good quality translation to the client in my opinion). My rates don't change for that though.
4) I have overheads relating to the price of the software etc etc etc.
5) I am subjected to unfavourable exchange rates as I am based in the UK and a lot of my work is paid in Euros and I am often governed by the Eurozone market pricing.
6) I doubt whether these discounts are passed on to the end client, so why should I accept them? I obviously can't be sure of this.

How do you guys handle these situations? Are discounts justified and if so, what discounts are fair? How do you politely refuse discounts and still get assigned the work without writing long, winging emails like this forum post for example? Am I just being unrealistic or greedy (tell me that when I am suffering from sleep deprivation...)?

Thanks in advance,
Huw


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Eva Blanar  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 10:10
English to Hungarian
+ ...
I would split the price in two: translation + proofreading Jan 7, 2008

I believe it is a shame that CATs bring more profits to agencies than to translators and the advantage from discounts only allows a more aggressive pricing for agencies in market competition - to the detriment of our interests, because, in a second round, this scheme exercises a downward pressure on the prices of "no-match jobs", too.

The other important thing is that full proofreading became somehow an equivalent of "editing" (you cannot get away with a simple spellcheck), that is, you've got to check the text flow, readability etc. And you are absolutely right: a fresh eye is needed for that.

Therefore, if you want to take that job (because it's nice, it's a challenge, it's a good client, whatever), I'd suggest a split in the pricing: you can safely accept the 90% discount for repetitions (lots of agencies don't pay for repetitions at all - that's even more a shame), but for the proofreading, I'd charge normal proofreading rates, for the whole of the text. Well then, perhaps a bit lower than usual. But that's about the size of it.

If they have questionmarks, you can tell them that your intention is to engage a subcontractor for that job (the "fresh eye" problem) and if they have further, petty-minded doubts, I would not work for them.


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Christiane Lalonde  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:10
Member
English to French
Rate for repetitions Jan 7, 2008

90% discount for repetitions is not acceptable. 75% is the most you should agree to.
After all, who made the software investment?


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:10
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
A more constructive approach Jan 7, 2008

Huw Watkins wrote:
Do the repititions refer to entire segments?

Yes
How do you guys handle these situations?

Negotiate. All that has happened so far is that the customer has opened negotiations with an offer. You may feel the customer is dictating to you, but not at all -- it is merely normal commercial hard-nosed negotiations, and you should respond likewise. Put on your thickest skin.

A key issue is what your customers expects you to do with all those repetition ( and it is worth pinning the customer down very precisely on this).
The customer may say that these repetitions and matches have been agreed in advance,and are therefore to be used unchanged. If so, you may have to swallow any quality reservations, and simply accept them (= very little extra work).

If the customer expects you to review these repetitions and matches (well worth doing for quality reasons), then I would agree with those who say you should only grant a 75% or even 50% discount - to be negotiated.

The main thing to work out, though, is whether the total amount you expect to earn from this job fits within with your ' comfort zone' -- the minimum amount of money you expect to earn per day. (Rate per word is pretty well irrelevant).

Given that there are 48,415 words, plus 823 (8238 x 10%) this is the equivalent of translating about 49238 new words - lets call it 50,000. How long will that take? 3 weeks? 4 weeks? Less? More?

How much will the whole job bring in? £2,500 ? £5,000 ?

With that approach, the whole issue really resolves into a very simple lomg division issue -- allowing for the discount, is it as lucrative as other work you might obtain (allowing also for overheads, something which is again standard commercial practice). Proof-reading I would say is a separate and chargeable issue.

I was once offered a job with a high proportion of mandatory repetitions (and equally steep discounts). Using the approach above, the job was at an appallingly low rate per word, but a very good rate per hour -- so was actually very lucrative. I was happy, the agency was happy, the customer was happy. A win-win-win situation, and that too is worth something.


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Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:10
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hard-nosed negotiations Jan 7, 2008

Wonderful feedback guys thank you!

Well I stood firm and initially refused the discounts quoting a justification or two. Then I kinda lost my bottle a bit and sent another email stating that if he thought I was being unreasonable, then maybe we could come to some arrangement - perhaps a bad move...

I actually have a good relationship with this client and bizarrely he has now provided me with the figure he is actually quoting to the end client. True figure or not, it was a move that I simply didn't expect from him at all. I guess negotiational skills are not my forté...

Anyway I will certainly look at your suggestion about calculating the hours required to complete the project and take it from there.

I am implementing a time and motion study of my work this year too so I should be getting a very accurate idea of where my time is spent and my hourly rates etc.

Thanks again for your suggestions!


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Alyona Douglas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:10
Member (2007)
English to Russian
Seems to be a lie Jan 7, 2008

Huw Watkins wrote:

I actually have a good relationship with this client and bizarrely he has now provided me with the figure he is actually quoting to the end client. True figure or not, it was a move that I simply didn't expect from him at all.


Translation agencies will NEVER pay a translator the same amount as they quote their clients. I work in a translation agency and know the process - our margin is usually 100%. In rare cases it's 80-90%. So don't believe what this agency says!


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Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:10
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agreed Alla Jan 7, 2008

No, the price the client gave me as their price to the end client was higher than I quoted even without discounts.

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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:10
French to English
+ ...
Euro Jan 7, 2008

In actual fact, we in the UK are suffering unfavourable exchange rates only with respect to the dollar (assuming you mostly invoice in euros, pounds or dollars). The euro is worth more pounds than it was a few months ago, whereas the dollar is worth much less.

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Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:10
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Exchange rates and others Jan 7, 2008

That is a very good point. The Euro has been strengthening against the pound indeed.

I generally don't touch the US market at all for that very reason.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 11:10
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
I do repetitions for 0% but compensate Jan 8, 2008

That means I export unknown segments, translate these, proofread and run translate to fuzzy on the whole project without any further editing. If you set penalties on tags and formatting, you get only real repetitions that way. So once the segment it translated once and proofread, you do not have to check it again.
In large project updates sometimes only a few percent of the material is new, and the customer pays only for the new translations. So I do not look at all at the old stuff. Only if I happen to see something odd I would inform the customer. I return uncleaned files, which will used for dtp, so I do not see the final text.
When paying only for the new material the customer takes of course a risk. Trados may apply a translation that was not intended for this context. But that is not my concern if I'm not paid for it, sorry.

Of course I charge more per word if the repetitions are not paid for or paid only partly. The aim is to get paid as much as in the case all is paid without analysis and breakdown.
Because the work is the same, and the customer should pay for our time.

Cheers
Heinrich


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redred  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 16:10
English to Chinese
+ ...
repetition=deducte labor money Jan 8, 2008

Huw Watkins wrote:


6) I doubt whether these discounts are passed on to the end client, so why should I accept them? I obviously can't be sure of this.



I doubt that an end client whether know CATs, he/she may be an outsider of translation, they need completion of translation only, the generated profit then goes to the agency with regard to the repetition.


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Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:10
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good point Heinrich Jan 8, 2008

"When paying only for the new material the customer takes of course a risk. Trados may apply a translation that was not intended for this context. But that is not my concern if I'm not paid for it, sorry."

Yes good interesting point there. I find it hard not to correct context when I see it is clearly wrong. However a stricter approach would be productive in terms of client education. This is a goodwill industry on the whole, however clear working practices are a more professional approach and I think clients probably appreciate that more in the end.

"Of course I charge more per word if the repetitions are not paid for or paid only partly. The aim is to get paid as much as in the case all is paid without analysis and breakdown.
Because the work is the same, and the customer should pay for our time."

Agreed - what can I say? I like the idea of calculating an hourly rate as suggested by Peter to get a good idea of hopw much we are getting paid. I've decided to implement a (basic - initially) time and movement study of my activties this year. That way I can determine if its more cost effective for me to do my own accounts or to contract an accountant to name but one example.

One other point. It may sound greedy and possibly a bit childish, but I kinda miss the days when the repetitions were our 'little bonus'. How many of you got a pay rise and a christmas bonus this year? Still we do enter this industry in full knowledge that we are self employed so...


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Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:10
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
End client knowledge Jan 8, 2008

[/quote]

I doubt that an end client whether know CATs, he/she may be an outsider of translation, they need completion of translation only, the generated profit then goes to the agency with regard to the repetition. [/quote]

So do, some don't in my experience. The information is freely available on the net regarding CATs. A procurement manager may have a little look at ways of cutting their costs, who knows? Especially if translation is a large overhead for them.


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Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:10
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
One other thing that came to mind Jan 8, 2008

I don't know about you guys, but I seem to be getting plagued by pdf to word conversions these days.

The formatting is a nightmare in a lot of cases, the documents can be extremely 'heavy' and therefore slow to work with. Not to mention the fact that some parts get converted to an image.

Do a Trados analysis and it's hardly a fair reflection on the work involved in handling those types of documents, or even the word count in some cases. It has just occured to me that I have been pricing this particular job without even seeing the text. I have done lots of jobs for this particular end client (so also have my own TM), so I'm not too worried about the language register. Goodness only knows what the formatting is like...

Heinrick's post reminds me to write a little post script as a condition of my quote...

Thanks again!


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:10
French to English
re: PDF Jan 8, 2008

Huw Watkins wrote:

I don't know about you guys, but I seem to be getting plagued by pdf to word conversions these days.


Yes, I seem to be getting more and more offers where the original source document I see is in PDF format.

If it's an agency (which it usually is), I ask them to convert it, and they usually do.

If it's a direct client, I do a dirty conversion (i.e. copy from Acrobat into Word) for the word count aspect of the quote (not forgetting to try to delete all the repeated headers/footers, table of contents etc. in interests of fairness). I then add an fairly exhorbitant sum for proper formatting.

If they think they have to pay 50 quid for you to format a 3 page document, it's astonishing how previously unavailable Word versions of documents can suddenly materialise....


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