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Have translation agencies lowered the fees they charge end clients?
Thread poster: María Eugenia Wachtendorff

María Eugenia Wachtendorff  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 22:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 16, 2008

Dear Colleagues:

Not once this year have I got a job by bidding through Proz.com.

In most cases, I have bid for projects "restricted to...", i.e., within my areas of specialization. The most recent one came from an agency located in Egypt. It was a huge financial translation (700,000 words) and they were looking for several professionals who should be able to provide neutral Spanish.

The agency had a perfect "all 5" Blueboard record.

The answer I got was the now typical "Budget for this job is US$ 0.02 per word."

I worked for a bank for eight years and have been translating financial literature and documentation for 19 more years thereafter as a freelancer. I wonder if anybody with the knowledge, experience, expertise (Trados was a requirement) and professionalism required to do that job would even consider working for such a low fee.

Although this subject has been discussed many, many times before, I would like to hear the opinions of my peers. Is it not apparent that rates have gone drastically down since the site started having "corporate members"? Is it just my idea, or is Proz actually becoming a translation auction site?

Now, from an end-client viewpoint - and particularly a BANK - I can tell without hesitation that Proz must be losing prestige and all of us, without exception, are paying the toll for having a profile page here. Why? Because this Egyptian agency, for example, will have to "explain" the quality they will deliver, and they may put the blame on anyone they choose.

What do you think?






[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-07-16 21:10]


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:31
French to Spanish
+ ...
I had a dream. Jul 16, 2008

Let's all be an agency.
Hire each other.
Minimum rate: USD 0.08
Done!


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Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:31
Member (2002)
English to German
No, they haven't, at least as far as I know Jul 16, 2008

I don't quite follow.

I agree that the quality of this agency has to be bad, if they provide their services for 0.02$ per word.

Since they are just one of many members of ProZ, why would this reflect on the image of all other parties?

Regarding your other question: No, I cannot see that the fees went down considerably, the amount of work did though. But that's not really surprising considering the current recession...

I hope that you'll soon have more luck with your offers again.


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 04:31
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
They haven't - it's just that the market is changing Jul 16, 2008

That's the way I see it:



[Edited at 2008-07-17 05:08]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never Jul 16, 2008

Not once in my life have I gotten a job by bidding through Proz.com. It all comes from other sources. But it comes.

I think the whole situation you mention stinks. I feel sorry for those who have to depend on it, though fortunately some people have been able to take good advantage of the "agency" route. They're not all slobs.

But I think we're better off without pimps; after all, even though our profession is old, it's not that old.


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Deschant
Local time: 02:31
Reply Jul 16, 2008

In response to your original question ("Have translation agencies lowered the fees they charge end clients?"), I would say that there are still agencies which charge high-end prices to their end clients. In the past few weeks, I have been sending out my CV to various agencies, and in investigating their profiles I found out that some of them charge prices as high as 0.25€ -0.30€ per source word (these are the prices they publish on their websites, anyway). All of them were agencies operating in certain Western European countries though.

In regard to Proz's Job Section, I must say that, in the last year, I have noted a certain decline in the quality of EN > ES offers. Either the price is too low (at least for me) or, if quotes are requested, it is made more or less clear that they will go for cheap prices and not for quality ("Please give us your most competitive rates" and so on). And since the beginning of the year I haven't had any substantial EN > ES job, only short translations commissioned by regular clients for whom I do IT > ES or DE > ES mostly. Frankly, I'm glad I have other language pairs, as EN > ES seems to be more and more competitive and less and less profitable each day.

My 2 cents (no pun intended),
Eva


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María Eugenia Wachtendorff  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 22:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The amount of work has actually increased - in Chile, at least Jul 16, 2008

I am not complaining about that. I have more than enough work - I even have two official (freelance) partners now

But I used to get good, well-paid specialized jobs through Proz, and that is what I am worried about. Of course, I continue to work for several solid, prestigious agencies from the good old times when they used to value quality.

I think maybe the market has grown too much and new agencies - with odd philosophies - are appearing.

The recession is being fought hard from all flanks, and that means more work for us, guys. Don't accept that as a reason for low fees!


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 22:31
My experience Jul 16, 2008

María Eugenia Wachtendorff wrote:
Dear Colleagues:

Not once this year have I got a job by bidding through Proz.com.


Neither have I. But I just can't help bidding for jobs I am really interested in. It becomes a habbit making a try on my behalf. "Man proposes, God disposes"


In most cases, I have bid for projects "restricted to...", i.e., within my areas of specialization. The most recent one came from an agency located in Egypt. It was a huge financial translation (700,000 words) and they were looking for several professionals who should be able to provide neutral Spanish.


I am a certified tourist guide in Germany. I have travelled broadly in Europe, have lived in different kinds of hotels, but the agencies never give me a chance to localize those hotels into Chinese.


The agency had a perfect "all 5" Blueboard record.


"5" has nothing to do with the price, it is a moral thing. Low price does not automatically mean low moral.


The answer I got was the now typical "Budget for this job is US$ 0.02 per word."

I worked for a bank for eight years and have been translating financial literature and documentation for 19 more years thereafter as a freelancer. I wonder if anybody with the knowledge, experience, expertise (Trados was a requirement) and professionalism required to do that job would even consider working for such a low fee.


In my home country, some agencies pay their translators only 0,00x USD per word though the documents are highly technical, demanding solid expertise in the area. I don't really care that my price goes down. The globalisation makes the world more fair. Asi me gusta mejor!


Although this subject has been discussed many, many times before, I would like to hear the opinions of my peers. Is it not apparent that rates have gone drastically down since the site started having "corporate members"? Is it just my idea, or is Proz actually becoming a translation auction site?

Now, from an end-client viewpoint - and particularly a BANK - I can tell without hesitation that Proz must be losing prestige and all of us, without exception, are paying the toll for having a profile page here. Why? Because this Egyptian agency, for example, will have to "explain" the quality they will deliver, and they may put the blame on anyone they choose.


Only agencies looking for cheap translators post jobs. If they are willing to pay more, they contact you.

Best,
Bin




[Edited at 2008-07-16 20:27]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:31
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Pimps? Jul 16, 2008

Henry Hinds wrote:
... fortunately some people have been able to take good advantage of the "agency" route. They're not all slobs.

But I think we're better off without pimps; after all, even though our profession is old, it's not that old.


Oh, I'm not to sure about that... sometimes when I get a really "ripe" marketing text I have to check the color of my porch light

Seriously, though, I think it's a little unfair to call the agencies pimps, though I do have worse names for some of the bad ones. Most of the ones I deal with are real partners who save me a good deal of grief and time.

I can only speak for my limited experience in one language pair, but there I haven't seen any downward pressure on prices. As a result of recent cost of living increases, I have raised our rates significantly, and it doesn't seem to have had any effect on agencies agreeing to the terms. I really doubt they would agree to pay us more while at the same time dropping rates for end customers.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:31
English to French
+ ...
Interesting debate Jul 16, 2008

From this interesting debate, what I see emerge is that too many translators are giving the power to set rates to others and they don't care enough themselves. For example, how many of us have a ProZ profile but no website? That is, for many of us, our only storefront IS ProZ, a place where we have little or no influence on how things are done (including the rate, which is still "offered" by outsourcers and not by translators).

This mentality is dangerous. You can already feel its effects. It's not a question of not working for agencies (I have several great agency clients myself and I don't regret working with them) or not using ProZ (this site has its uses, and is in some cases inestimable - but not for getting satisfactory contracts in my case) - it's a matter of properly setting up shop so that people can find you.

I do have a website, and it is in no way associated with my ProZ profile. If it were, people would find ProZ easily through my own website - do I want that? Hell no! I worked hard enough to be able to command the rates I charge and to get the respect I deserve - I will not lead my potential clients to a bunch of translators who charge a penny a word and submit poor quality work (with all due respect to those who care). I find that too many of us don't realize that we need to break away from places like ProZ and the other, unnamable ones, and have our own shops online.

Too many of us think the only way to get work is through sites like this one and don't see the immense amount of sources of work that is totally unrelated to online directories. One thing you can do is start changing your perspective of what you do. Don't consider yourself as a mere translator - admit that you are a businessperson. Would you set up shop across the street from your main competitor, whose business model is selling the worst quality at the cheapest price? That would be plain stupid!

[Edited at 2008-07-16 21:11]


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Partial member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Interesting indeed Jul 16, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

From this interesting debate, what I see emerge is that too many translators are giving the power to set rates to others and they don't care enough themselves. For example, how many of us have a ProZ profile but no website? That is, for many of us, our only storefront IS ProZ, a place where we have little or no influence on how things are done (including the rate, which is still "offered" by outsourcers and not by translators).

This mentality is dangerous. You can already feel its effects. It's not a question of not working for agencies (I have several great agency clients myself and I don't regret working with them) or not using ProZ (this site has its uses, and is in some cases inestimable - but not for getting satisfactory contracts in my case) - it's a matter of properly setting up shop so that people can find you.


I, too, got only a handful of (satisfactory) jobs through this website. I'm not even any more a full paying member.
Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
I do have a website, and it is in no way associated with my ProZ profile. If it were, people would find ProZ easily through my own website - do I want that? Hell no! I worked hard enough to be able to command the rates I charge and to get the respect I deserve - I will not lead my potential clients to a bunch of translators who charge a penny a word and submit poor quality work (with all due respect to those who care). I find that too many of us don't realize that we need to break away from places like ProZ and the other, unnamable ones, and have our own shops online.

Too many of us think the only way to get work is through sites like this one and don't see the immense amount of sources of work that is totally unrelated to online directories.



I don't have an own website, but only because I am too lazy. But you are right, never rely on this site only to get jobs! Otherwise, since several years, I would have been sleeping under a bridge:-)

For me ProZ is somehow invaluable (not for the jobs I get, however), but nobody should think that ProZ is THE translation market at real market prices and the hub of the world of translations.

Anyway, I for me am not able to confirm that agencies have lowered their prices to end customers (and consequently pay less their translators).

Best regards and good luck


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 21:31
SITE FOUNDER
Right Jul 16, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
Too many of us think the only way to get work is through sites like this one and don't see the immense amount of sources of work that is totally unrelated to online directories.

True. "Portals" like this should be only one channel. Having one's own site is smart. Other ways of marketing are important, too.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:31
English to French
+ ...
Slightly off topic: Websites - easier than you'd think Jul 16, 2008

Christel, I totally hear you when you say you're too lazy to put up a website. However, this reminds me of people past their forties who are scared to death at the prospect of learning to use a personal computer. Most of them tend to think that it is really very complicated when in fact it's not, and therefore they never sit down to try to learn at least the basics. This is a pity because they could learn just like everybody else - yet they never do. What a waste!

Creating a website from scratch is one thing. You need solid HTML knowledge, and preferably more than that. It also takes time because you need to have a vision of a design (menu at the top? at the left? two columns? three columns? colour scheme?). But using a template, perhaps even a free one, you can create a website reasonably quickly, and it doesn't take as much effort as it seems. The only thing you really need to worry about is the content, but if you just want a website with the basic info (services, résumé, a bit of information on how to assess a translation project, your track record and some links to resources), it is fairly easy to write.

Take a look at www.oswd.org to find free templates - you can use and modify them any way you want as long as you keep a link to the designer's website.

Also see this short video showing you what you can do with a simple template - make sure you read the text also, it is very useful for those who are not familiar with template editing. http://www.webbriefcase.com.au/2008-01/customize-website-template/

In any case, as long as you write solid content for yout site, paying someone to create your website comes down to more or less the same thing as a few years of ProZ membership. Not a bad investment for the potential return it will yield! Just make sure you start as soon as possible - it takes time before a website can start climbing up the search engine indexing ladder...


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:31
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It doesn't work that way Jul 17, 2008

On the whole, I believe that translation agencies don't ever charge lower rates to their end clients. What I believe is that they may pay lower rates to translators in order to keep their profit levels.

But that a given agency offers those low rates for translating doesn't mean that everybody else may be doing it. In my experience, there are regions or, more specifically, countries where rates are lower. I, personally, refuse any work offered by agencies from certain countries because they are not at the same level of others regarding rates. Such agencies from those certain countries don't even offer a rate, but always ask about one's rates first. When they hear the rates, that's the end of it.

Agencies offer acceptable rates or low rates, but I have never been asked to lower my agreed rates. What is more, I have been able to increase my rates over time. To me this means that even when the market seems to sink, there are still out there many decent agencies who charge reasonable rates to their and clients while offer the translators acceptable rates.

But then it comes the debate about what is reasonable or acceptable. Recently, I read about a translator who offered to lower the current rates to clients during the economic recession. This is insolit. Would you do or have ever done the same?


[Edited at 2008-07-17 01:01]

[Edited at 2008-07-17 01:02]


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 22:31
English to Spanish
Honestly? Jul 17, 2008

I agree with Elías.

I think that (most) agencies are not lowering their rates; they (some, not all) are just taking advantage of the endless pit of translators and "translators" willing to work for miserable rates that they have found in order to increase their bottom-line.

Thing is, as Eva pointed out, that pit is gradually becoming bottomless in the EN > ES pair.

Greetings


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