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Agency that previously paid per-word rate now says it will discount rates for Trados matches
Thread poster: xxxBr Spain
xxxBr Spain
Local time: 09:37
Spanish to English
Jun 27, 2008

An agency I freelance for, which has until now paid a flat per-word rate regardless of Trados matches, just informed me that starting next week it will discount freelancers' rates according to Trados repetitions, matches, etc. I am new at this and work almost entirely for this agency, and am in a panic. Obviously I'll have to step up my efforts to get direct clients, but this agency pays better than any in town and I have been happy with it so far.

This is the new scheme:

High matches (100%) - 15% of rate per new word

Repetitions - unpaid

Middle matches (95% - 99%) - 33% of rate per new word

Low matches (85% - 94%) - 66% of rate per new word

Low Matches (75% - 84%) - full rate as new word

Low Matches (50% - 74%) - full rate as new word

If you would be so kind as to answer some of these questions, I would be very appreciative.

1) How does this rate system compare with those of other agencies? Is it fair? Is this the industry norm?

2) How many of your direct clients demand discounts on matches? None of my direct clients so far have ever mentioned discounts or even Trados for that matter, which makes me suspicious of the agency's claim that the change is in response to client demands.

3) If a direct client demands discounts on Trados matches, what do you say?

4) Do I have any bargaining power to refuse or adjust this agency's new rates? I am highly regarded and receive masses of work, but am not sure that counts for much.

5) Rates in my country are lower than in neighboring countries but no agency I have ever contacted by email, in the UK for instance, has ever responded. Can you suggest ways to break through that barrier? Would phone calls to agencies in the UK bring any joy?

Any tips you can provide would be very helpful.

Thank you.


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Alan R King
Local time: 09:37
Basque to English
+ ...
Fight it if you can Jun 27, 2008

Hi. I work in a part of the Spanish market, more or less (mostly southern Basque Country). I have had a fair number of clients in recent years, mostly agencies, translator colleagues or governmental bodies. I nearly always charge a flat per-word rate or, in some instances, a per-character rate, based on the target language text; occasionally, when so requested, ditto but based on the source text.

Where I am and in my line of work at least, what you describe is not the industry norm at all and if a client tried to introduce it I would resist it to my utmost ability. In my own case, I would refuse those terms and let the client decide whether they are willing to negotiate or take their work elsewhere.

I too believe that I do very good quality work and work to good professional standards (reliability, punctuality and all that), and like to think and hope that at least some of my clients appreciate that and weigh it up in the balance before they would think of dumping me, but I'm also willing to take a stand, and a risk, on issues of this type. Having a wide and diversified enough client base and a bit of money saved up in the bank make it much easier to adopt that attitude, I admit.

Good luck, and don't let yourself be bullied (for all our sakes!).

Cheers,

Alan


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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:37
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not so strange, but not "standard" either Jun 27, 2008

Br Spain wrote:
....

This is the new scheme:

High matches (100%) - 15% of rate per new word

Repetitions - unpaid

Middle matches (95% - 99%) - 33% of rate per new word

Low matches (85% - 94%) - 66% of rate per new word

Low Matches (75% - 84%) - full rate as new word

Low Matches (50% - 74%) - full rate as new word



You may find lots of "creative" rate schemes out there. Of course, starting by Repetitions - unpaid, the agency demonstrates to have little consideration to quality.

... just because you have to proofread them too.

... and I prefer not to read the rest; these schemes make me ill.



1) How does this rate system compare with those of other agencies? Is it fair? Is this the industry norm?


Not a norm at all. Not so fair either.

But the cure to this is:

- Take a typical job
- Analyze the text
- Evaluate the cost
- Adjust (=RISE) your rate to compensate.

In many cases you'll see that we are talking about a small amount, but hey: you are not a "Hermanita de la caridad", are you?


2) How many of your direct clients demand discounts on matches? None of my direct clients so far have ever mentioned discounts or even Trados for that matter, which makes me suspicious of the agency's claim that the change is in response to client demands.


As little as possible, the same way they do not get discounts because I use Word or Excel. Those are just working tools as Trados is, and they are used for the benefit of job quality. NOthing else.


3) If a direct client demands discounts on Trados matches, what do you say?


My offer is simple:

a) With customers that appreciate good jobs and just request for a rate:

- 100% matches : 25% of rate, for proofreading.
- Rest of partial or idontknowwhatmatches: 100% of rate.

b) With customers that have a "standard" scale and prefer to reach an agreement so that they do not have to make different counts for different translators:

- Estimate a new rate as I told above.


4) Do I have any bargaining power to refuse or adjust this agency's new rates? I am highly regarded and receive masses of work, but am not sure that counts for much.


One of my best friends, and an excellent salesperson would say: everyone likes discounts... so don't forget to add the amout you will discount to your offer before you make your offer!!!!!


Best,

Ruth @ MW


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:37
English to Dutch
+ ...
Some answers Jun 27, 2008

Lots of questions! I understand your position, but you need to understand that there is no single answer.
From my point if view, these are some answers:

1) There is no industry norm. This scheme is not unlike others I've seen, so if you're willing to accept discounts, this is not bad.

2) My direct clients don't literally ask for discounts on matches, but do sometimes hint that the previous work I've done could and should be used to their advantage. Most direct clients are not aware of the existence of CAT tools anyway, but if they're giving a lot of work to the same agency, I'm not surprised they want some kind of discount.

3) I tell them it's negotiable, but they are going to have to pay the full price for proofreading and quality checks

4) Yes, but this very much depends on whether they do or do not know how much you depend on them....

5) E-mail marketing takes a lot of patience. They may respond in years to come. Meanwhile, it might be a good idea to
a) review the content of your messages and CV, to see if you can make a better impression (not saying you haven't done it right so far, but there's always something to improve)
b) improve your profile here
c) register in online databases - many agencies have these on their websites
For info on applying to agencies, you may want to read this forum posting: www.proz.com/topic/71730

Good luck!


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:37
English to German
+ ...
Your decision - entirely Jun 27, 2008

Hi "Br",
I am new at this and work almost entirely for this agency, and am in a panic.

Don't panic - emotions are never useful in a business environment.
What is (hopefully) clear to you by now is that you will need to broaden your client base.


1) How does this rate system compare with those of other agencies? Is it fair? Is this the industry norm?

There's no such thing as a norm here. Overall, the scale looks reasonable, except for the non-payment of repetitions: that's nonsense.

Essentially, whether or not such a weighting makes sense depends on the output per unit of time. Note that a per-word rate is simply a mechanism to agree upon for the purpose of quantifying payment: it does not have any value per se. What's decisive is how much you earn per hour/day/month etc. Extending this principle, a weighting related to a particular bracket of matches needs to be related to the amount of time spent on average with this kind of match: for instance, a 33% weighting for a 95-99% match implies that working with these segments takes you one-third of the time it would take to translate a no-match sentence with the same number of words.

Bear in mind that the amount of time required depends on various factors, including the document structure and - importantly - the quality of any TM provided.


4) Do I have any bargaining power to refuse or adjust this agency's new rates?

Only you can answer this. You're running an independent business: this is one of the decisions that come with running a business.

I am highly regarded and receive masses of work, but am not sure that counts for much.

But of course it does! The problem being that these "masses of work" originate from a single client...

Best regards,
Ralf


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 08:37
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Unacceptable Jun 27, 2008

I would characterize the first two points on that scale as ridiculous as they do not consider the time and effort of proofing for context. It is ridiculous to deal with any text for less than what would be an acceptable proofreading rate. If the client insists on this scale and you are unable to stand your ground and obtain a reasonable minimum rate, then I would make it very clear that the "translate to fuzzy" function will be used and the devil may care. Even then you'll be spending time reading unpaid text when you proofread the final result (as I hope you do). Not acceptable, really.

The rest is not so bad and is in line with scales used by many agencies. It's up to you whether to accept that or not.

What would I do? I would propose to set the rate for 100% matches and repetitions to 33% as well, which is what I consider to be more or less the base proofreading rate for a "good" text. (Chances are if the TM has stuff from a number of translators in it, there will be a lot of garbage as 100% matches, but that's a whole different can of worms.) If the agency won't accept that, then walk away. Most of the agencies I deal with are very reasonable, and in every instance I recall where I have objected to something in a compensation scale, we have been able to reach an agreement acceptable to all parties.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:37
English to French
+ ...
Standard Trados rate scheme Jun 27, 2008

The rate scheme you mention, Br Spain, is quite standard if we are talking about agencies. It is actually quite sound, because they start taking rebates only starting at 85%, whereas many agencies start rebates at 75% (not fair in my opinion, because at 75%, you often have to rewrite the entire segment).

I am regularly asked to give rebates on different types of matches - but I always refuse. I keep the Trados rebates for clients that have a standing with me, as an added value. The only thing I am willing to do is to provide 100% matches and repetitions free, but even at that, only if the base rate is pretty good. And with 100% matches, if I have to proof/edit them, I charge for them. However, I would never give any kind of rebate to direct clients. That an agency uses CAT tools to leverage older translations and that they are production-oriented is understandable (even though I don't necessarily agree with this, for reasons that don't belong to this thread), I don't see what kind of direct client would be interested in production rather than in quality. The whole point of having direct clients is to avoid all the necessary evils of working with agencies (unattractive payment terms, CAT rate schemes, being told how to work when, really, you are the expert and you know better, etc.). If you have direct clients that function more or less like an agency, then what's the point of working with direct clients?

No direct client has ever asked me to use CAT rate schemes, although some of them have asked for term databases and such, but always paid for and not looking to reduce rates. Some direct clients are also aware of CAT tools, and although they don't use them and don't necessarily require them, they do ask if you use them - I think they just feel safer when you use a CAT tool, because somehow they think your translation will be of better quality if you do (whyever do they think that the software makes the translation?). Of course, some direct clients prefer you to use a CAT tool because of the file format - InDesign documents cannot be translated directly in InDesign unless you simply overwrite sentences, which is a very unsafe method. But even at that, they are usually only trying to make sure the translation will be done properly, and it is not about rates.

If an agency or direct client absolutely needs a CAT rate scheme, you can offer them one that is similar to the one you posted, but with a better base rate, which will come down to the same thing for you. In your specific case, you can also tell the agency that you were just about to introduce a raise, but since you value them, you will accept to either not raise your rate just yet and you will not apply a CAT rate scheme, or you will accept the CAT rate scheme but with your new, higher base rate. Don't be shy. Explain to them that this is your revenue you are talking about and that you have reasons to charge more, not less. Tell them you have always appreciated working with them, and you would love to stay with them, but that if the rate is unsatisfactory for your finances, you will be forced to go with your higher paying clients. You can also give them hints, saying you are busy (in demand, therefore, can command higher rates), you have more experience, you are specialised in such and such field which translates into higher quality translations for them, etc. Really, if you think of it, they are the ones that need you, not the other way around. And if they don't realize this, then you're better off looking for better clients. There are lots. You just need to track them down.

[Edited at 2008-06-27 17:01]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 09:37
English to Hungarian
+ ...
2 comments Jun 27, 2008

1) This seems fairly reasonable, with the exception of repetitions being unpaid. I'd expect (demand, even) 20% at least. If they feel that there is no work to do with repetitions, that's fine. Let them delete repeated segments from the document before I get it and then put the translations in after I'm done with my bit.
What is the difference between repetitions and 100% matches anyway?

2) Where are said TMs from? I have only every used my own TMs, and I'd be very unhappy if I had to accept discounts based on someon else's work... If there are errors in my translation, I want them to be my own, which means I'd double check everything in the TM which would take ages. And then comes the whole can of worms that is style and sentence structure etc.
But if I'm the only one who worked on the project, sure. Discounts like this relflect the time/energy spent on the work so I have no real problem with them.
Getting paid in full 50 times for work I only really did once would be nice in a way, but not exactly fair IMHO.


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Partial member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
It's refreshing to read things like that Jun 27, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

I am regularly asked to give rebates on different types of matches - but I always refuse. I keep the Trados rebates for clients that have a standing with me, as an added value. The only thing I am willing to do is to provide 100% matches and repetitions free, but even at that, only if the base rate is pretty good. And with 100% matches, if I have to proof/edit them, I charge for them.

If an agency or direct client absolutely needs a CAT rate scheme, you can offer them one that is similar to the one you posted, but with a better base rate, which will come down to the same thing for you. In your specific case, you can also tell the agency that you were just about to introduce a raise, but since you value them, you will accept to either not raise your rate just yet and you will not apply a CAT rate scheme, or you will accept the CAT rate scheme but with your new, higher base rate. Don't be shy. Explain to them that this is your revenue you are talking about and that you have reasons to charge more, not less. Tell them you have always appreciated working with them, and you would love to stay with them, but that if the rate is unsatisfactory for your finances, you will be forced to go with your higher paying clients. You can also give them hints, saying you are busy (in demand, therefore, can command higher rates), you have more experience, you are specialised in such and such field which translates into higher quality translations for them, etc. Really, if you think of it, they are the ones that need you, not the other way around. And if they don't realize this, then you're better off looking for better clients. There are lots. You just need to track them down.


and in the previous posts.

Unfortunately, when reading this forum or job offers here and there, one gets the impression that CAT-rebates nowadays are nearly standard. I always refuse to give any rebates, too, although I used Wordfast on a regular basis since several years now. I have purchased the software and learnt to work with it, which cost me money and time, so why should I earn less, after all? Fortunately, none of my regular agencies is even aware of the fact that I work with a CAT-tool or bothers about it. That means that I am working only with my own TMs which is fine for me. I don't charge 100% for repetitions, of course, but I never did, anyway.

When I get requests from new agencies, I always specify straightaway that there will be no rebates. Some never get back. If they wanted them by all means, I would be obliged to recalculate my regular rate - which I never did until now, and probably I would not even know how to do it; maybe one third more?? - in order to earn still the same amount per hour or whatever. Otherwise, it turns out to be a loss.

I find Victoria's advice very wise - don't give in and insist! By no means, if ever possible, should you continue to work for the same base rate, but raise it in order to get at least what you had before! Otherwise, the only one that gains will be the agency.

Glood luck!


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Jason Kim
South Korea
Local time: 17:07
Member (2007)
English to Korean
English to Spanish for overseas clients Jun 28, 2008

I think the Trados rebates offered by your client is not bad. If this client provides you with most of your work now, it might be time for you to look for new clients in your country and abroad while you still have lots of work in hand.
If you are a native Spanish speaker, you may want to find new domestic clients for Spanish to English jobs and overseas clients for English to Spanish jobs. When you are busy, you may find it very difficult to spare time to sell yourself but it is also a lot easier to find new, better clients when you are not hungry. Good luck to you.

[Edited at 2008-06-28 10:47]


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ydepre
Local time: 00:37
English to French
Other agency rates Jun 29, 2008

There is another agency that pays as follows for high matches -- the topic is highly specialized:
$0.015/word for repetitions
$0.022/word for 95-99% matches

I'd like to have your opinion on it.


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 05:37
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
"Editing" price Jun 29, 2008

ydepre wrote:
There is another agency that pays as follows for high matches -- the topic is highly specialized:
$0.015/word for repetitions
$0.022/word for 95-99% matches
I'd like to have your opinion on it.

If you read this thread and other related ones (see, for instance, http://www.proz.com/topic/108520 - or, if you can read Spanish, http://www.proz.com/topic/106667 ) you will find a tendency to consider repetitions and 100% matches as an "editing task". So... I guess that you must think about these prices on the light of such considerations.

[Edited at 2008-06-29 19:06]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:37
Italian to English
+ ...
Further comment on repetitions Jun 30, 2008

Not charging for repetitions is completely unacceptable, for at least two reasons:

1) it takes time to process them. Even if the matches are absolutely perfect and require no editing, just running them through the CAT takes time - time that you can't spend doing something else.

2) repetitions don't take account of formatting. At least in WordFast (can't comment on other CATs), the format applied to the whole segment is whatever the first format is, so a perfect TM match that looks like this in the original
bold italics
will look like this in the processed translation
bold italics

you need to format that - and that takes time, too.

So my advice would be to never accept a zero rate for repetitions and 100% matches.

[Edited at 2008-06-30 09:54]


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:37
Partial member (2003)
Spanish to English
Appalled Jun 30, 2008

I haven't been using Wordfast for very long (about 6 months or so), but I was shocked to see the list they gave you, and even more so to read that people find this even halfway acceptable or standard... Besides the formatting you have to do, I have seen many 100% matches that are just not 100% at all. I agree with Viktoria that a lot of 75% matches (or even higher) need to be completely rewritten. It is often easier and must faster for me just to type the translation in than read what is suggested and type round it. I have resisted giving any discounts whenever possible, otherwise I have accepted 50% of the rate for 100% matches and repetitions, and the full rate for anything else.

I also have a question about these different rates. How long does it take people to work out what to charge? Isn't it excessively complicated and time consuming? Do you reflect this on the invoice, and if so, how?


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