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Shameful rate offered by an Agency - What to do?
Thread poster: Melina Carbajales

Melina Carbajales  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:52
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 25, 2009

Hi colleagues!

I know that this is recurrent topic (and it is really sad) but I swear I cannot get used to it....

Some time ago, I made a very long and difficult translation test for an agency specialised in video games and subtitles. After almost a month of asking them for feedback they came back to me saying that the results of my translation tests (because, in fact, they were two: one for subtitles and the other for video games) were "muy satisfactorios"...

After such wonderful news.... this "Sir" representing the Agency added that the they pay USD 0.02 per word for translation and USD1.00 per minute for subtitling. YES! USD0,02 & USD1.00!!!!!!!

I cannot explain how I felt when I read such disgusting information!! I am aware that this crisis is affecting our business but I consider this a lack of respect for our work!

The point is that I do not know what to respond and how to proceed! ... I feel deeply sunk in anger!!

What do you recommend? I would really appreciate your answers...

Thanks a bunch!

Melina.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:52
English to German
+ ...
Don't proceed Feb 25, 2009

Melina,
It is a recurrent issue indeed - and there's no need to get used to it. Politely and firmly decline, and don't waste any further time with them. Use that time to target sensible outsourcers instead.

I feel deeply sunk in anger!!
Emotions don't help in running a business.

Best regards,
Ralf


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 23:52
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
You didn't clarify rates before getting involved with a test? Feb 25, 2009

Is this the first time you have been surprised this way, or is this a recurring problem? I assume on top of everything else you probably took the test without charging for your time. No comment on that one - that issue has been discussed extensively too, and your time is your own to waste if you want to. But you might avoid some disappointment by finding out in advance whether the company involved is willing to meet your rate expectations at all. Otherwise these scenarios remind me all too much of the telemarketers who will waste your time with "surveys" then call up weeks later trying to sell you something. Ignore those losers.

Ralf wrote:
Emotions don't help in running a business.


I disagree strongly, Ralf. They can help to run it right into the ground


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 23:52
Dutch to English
+ ...
Advice for future tests Feb 25, 2009

If you are willing to do unpaid test translations, then at least agree the rate for future paid work beforehand.

As for getting upset over this offer, get over it. It is counter-productive and a total waste of valuable time and energy.

Decline, with or without giving reasons, and move on.



[Edited at 2009-02-25 07:57 GMT]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:52
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Gives a new meaning... Feb 25, 2009

...to the expression "my two cents".

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:52
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Perhaps you should get a different career Feb 25, 2009

Melina Carbajales wrote:
* I swear I cannot get used to it...
* I cannot explain how I felt ...
* I am aware that this crisis is affecting our business but I consider this a lack of respect for our work!
* I feel deeply sunk in anger!!


Clearly you are not happy as a translator.


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Andrea Brumma
Spain
Local time: 00:52
English to German
+ ...
Move on - there are many good agencies out there Feb 25, 2009

Hi Melina,

I understand your anger. Tell this agency that you are a professional translator who delivers high quality translations, that their rate is far too low and that you will be delighted to work for them for your standard rate of X. Of course they won't accept, so just try to forget about this issue. From now on, always mention your standard rates for translation and proofreading and ask the agency to confirm that they agree to your rates BEFORE doing the test translation. You can also ask for the test to be paid – they will take it more seriously then. I understand that some agencies prefer to “test” their translators, but have come across many very professional agencies with a very good and effective QA in “real life” who never asked me for a test. They answer questions rapidly, use professional proofreaders and send the proofed file to the translator for approval. I suppose they judge from the CV and (very important) *professional communication*. It is a risk, but tests can be a risk, too – it is possible that they have been done by somebody else or that they have been proofread by a third person.
By the way, often you can judge from the country where the agency is located whether to expect rather high or rather low rates (although this cannot be generalized).
Try to move on, although it is difficult (I am raging about 2 issues at the moment, too…)
By the way, yesterday I came across an agency offering video game translations that has been banned from proz and is now posting on another site - always check all blacklists you can find. I declined collaboration because I didn't want to take the risk.

Best regards,
Andrea


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Annelise Meyer  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:52
English to French
+ ...
My 2 cents for free :o/.... Feb 25, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:

But you might avoid some disappointment by finding out in advance whether the company involved is willing to meet your rate expectations at all. Otherwise these scenarios remind me all too much of the telemarketers who will waste your time with "surveys" then call up weeks later trying to sell you something. Ignore those losers.



Hi everyone,

I usually don't contribute to this kind of forum on rates, because I don't feel I could add anything more of interest to it: in general, I quite agree that rates offered are often way too low, but then I politely refuse any such offer and I just try to focus on the interesting ones.
But still I wanted to answer to your remark, Kevin: I find it quite allright for an agency to offer a low rate, because it is a right and then someone else might accept to work for it, this is not my business (in all meanings).
But what I really find annoying is when they ask you your rates beforehand. Then you take the test. You passe it. And that is when they tell you that the only problem is your rates are too high. This I really find an annoying way of proceeding, and this also happened to me several times...

Have a nice day
Annelise

[Modifié le 2009-02-25 08:36 GMT]


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
You are perhaps a little too eager Feb 25, 2009

Melina

You mentioned in your message that 'after almost a month of asking them for feedback' the agency contacted you with an offer. By constantly asking for a response, you have probably awakened the predatory instincts in somebody at the agency.

Anyone looking at your personal page on Proz would also get the message that you are very eager to please. I quote: 'I am always open to help other people when necessary and love learning from my colleagues and superiors every day'. Mmmm.

Youthful and humble enthusiasm is an admirable characteristic in a first-time job applicant, but much less admirable in a freelance contractor. You are operating a business, not looking for a junior job opening.

I suggest that you try to look less hungry, and emphasis the considerable training and experience that you already have.

In any case, forget this agency for the simple reason that you will never survive on their rates.

Remember, there are plenty of clients and agencies who pay well for a quality service.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2009-02-25 08:48 GMT]


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Martha Schwan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:52
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Hello Feb 25, 2009

Hi fellow translators:

I had one experience last year that an agency offered $0.01 Cents of Euro per word translated. Since they had 2000 words to be translated, I would receive $20 Euros for the entire job.

I surely declined the offer!!

The next day, I saw a job posting from that agency right here at Proz, but I do not have a clue what they were paying.

Martha Schwan


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:52
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Don't do tests before agreeing the rate Feb 25, 2009

In my opinion you have lost part of your precious time, but now that you are classified as "muy satisfactoria", simply report the rates you will accept. If they don't want to pay a "muy satisfactorio" work, you can send them fry asparagus "muy satisfactoriamente".

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Jenni Jelse  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 00:52
Member (2007)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Agreeing on rates first Feb 25, 2009

I was contacted by an agency to do a test - they already had my cv which included my rates. They seemed like a good one with interesting work, so I accepted to do the test, in my own time of course. But first I sent them an email asking them to confirm that my rates were OK for future work and that they would pay invoices within 30 days. No reply. About a month later I sent another email, still no reply. Needless to say the test was never done. At least I didn't waste more than a few minutes on them in total.

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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:52
English to German
+ ...
Emotions DO help running a business Feb 25, 2009

Ralf said:
Emotions don't help in running a business.


Kevin said:
I disagree strongly, Ralf. They can help to run it right into the ground

I disagree with both of you. Business is about product and/or services AND emotions (or call it psychology). Trading at the stock exchange is a good example: Basically, it's all about "greediness" and "fear"! Do you remember the Internet bubble? It's just one example.

Back to Melina: "Anger" as opposed to "relaxation" or "satisfaction" is a clear indicator that something is going wrong, that perhaps she is heading for the wrong direction. In my opinion Melina should not target the gaming industry which has always paid low or very low rates (among other things). @Melina: Just think who the target group of games is? Do they have much money to spend?

My 20 cents
Aniello


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Melina Carbajales  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:52
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for all your answers Feb 25, 2009

Hi again!

Thank you very much for your answers!

1. First of all, Samuel, I want to clarify that I am really happy as a translator! I love what I do and my anger has nothing to do with the career. Thanks for your opinion, anyway...

2. Talking about feelings is difficult... it is very personal, so, it will depend on each person if they help to run a business or not.

3. To be honest, I have never heard of a colleague being paid for doing a test... and it never happened to me. Of course, it would be perfectly ok but don't think it that common.

4. Regarding agreeing the rates first, they were included in the CV I sent on my first contact but it is clear that they completely ignore them...

5. Maybe you are right, John... I need to put more enphasis on my experience and training!

6. Andrea, your answer is really helpful, thanks a lot!

Well, colleagues, thanks again for your time and from now on, I will put more attention to the fact of being clear with my rates from the very beginning.

Really hope this rate-related problem changes soon!

Have a nice day!)


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:52
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Will not change spontaneously Feb 25, 2009

Melina Carbajales wrote:
Really hope this rate-related problem changes soon!


I sincerely think that the "rate problem" will not change spontaneously. It's us translators, as a group, who must make sure reasonable rates are considered normal. We can only do so by educating end customers in the difference between professional work and the rest.

It takes effort, commitment, training, and being sure of one's abilities when a prospect comes around.


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