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Unreasonable rates
Thread poster: Hepburn

Hepburn  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:11
English to French
+ ...
Jun 10, 2005

A job offer has come out for a legal document to be translated with great skill and care, all at the generous rate of 0.03 EUR per word. Someone sent a quote. If agencies can get work done at such low rates, where are we going to end up?
Voluntary work OK, but not when it is a business deal.
This is what I wrote to the outsourcer or agency:

Quote title:Shameful offer


Message:
I see someone has sent a quote. If that person accepts to work for 0.03 EUR per source word of a legal document he/she is either mad or in great need or is a beginner with no guarantee of the quality you demand. Either way, you are then exploiting such misery.

Claudette Hepburn


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Burkhard Ziegler  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:11
Russian to German
+ ...
Several ideas on unreasonable rates - Proz.com should do something Jun 10, 2005

Dear collegues, dear Claudette,

Yes, many current offers at these rates are more a kick into the translator's ... than anything like an acceptable offer.

Just having talked about pricing and general commercial policy with several collegues I am very concerned that standard commercial rules don't apply with translators. And many translators agree, e. g. accepting international money tranfer costs to be charged to them. [If an outsourcer can't find a translator in his country and pay him by an inland wire transfer/cheque, and needs urgently to search somebody from abroad, the outsourcer shall pay for it.] Or on the other hand many translators agree to PO's by e mail which have a lower legal value than a signed PO (with seal or stamp) sent at least by fax. In other areas of business a seller would laugh at this...

Against this kind of dumping proz.com, an association of translation professionals (!!!) might consider
  • that the price proposal offered (entered) by the outsourcer should be at least as high as the minimum average rates entered by the translators
  • restrict bidding by e mail and accepting sending bids only via proz.com (maybe for less brownies) demanding maintaining the minimum rates
  • a serious outsourcer won't have problems entering a serious rate


BTW Esp. Henry Dotterer and Ralf Lemster, it's not my opinion (don't become angry against me), I heard from another translator: Some translators consider proz.com and other similar service providers as a method of forcing down translation rates.

What else can we do against this dumping? No more ideas exept the old ideals.

[Edited at 2005-06-10 12:42]


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Giuliana Buscaglione  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 23:11
Member (2001)
German to Italian
+ ...
PoZ.com is a venue, no association Jun 10, 2005

Hi Burkhard,


Yes, many current offers at these rates are more a kick into the translator's ... than anything like an acceptable offer.


Agreed, but I have to admit that I have never seen a job being re-posted and offered at a higher rate, i.e. someone has to have accepted that low rate. If outsourcers keep on offering those (and lower) rates the only reason has to be found in the fact that some service providers do accept those offers.


Against this kind of dumping proz.com, an association of translation professionals (!!!)


ProZ.com is a venue, no association: a "Directory of Professional Translation Services, Freelance Translators & Translation Agencies".

Quoting FAQ # 20:

At times, the suggestion has been made that site staff institute some form of technical mechanism to dictate minimums. Although ProZ.com has instituted certain mechanisms which may help to stabilize rates (see the FAQ on rates), ProZ.com has no intention of instituting a minimum rate mechanism in the near future, for the following reasons:

(1) Even if it were conceptually possible and advisable to set a minimum rate, we would not currently have a means of enforcing it.
(2) Whether attempting to set a minimum is legal or not is an open question, and not one on which we have had adequate advice (comments from lawyers are welcome: http://www.proz.com/support )
(3) Other sites have attempted to set minimum rates, with no apparent effect.

It is in the interest of translators, and ProZ.com, for rates charged to be consistent with the demands of our challenging profession. To that end, ProZ.com's staff has welcomed and encouraged legal communication and cooperation among translators. But we believe that control of rates does (and should!) reside in the hands of service providers.



Some translators consider proz.com and other similar service providers as a method of forcing down translation rates.


Nobody is forced to accept any rate. Also jobs posted on many mailing lists are offered at low rates. The only difference is that the price is not mentioned openly or not put prominently

What else can we do against this dumping? No more ideas exept the old ideals.


Simply set the minimum rate under which each one of us personally would never accept to work and systematically refuse what one considers unacceptable. We cannot decide globally and for all what it is unacceptable, but each one for himself/herself and stick to it.

Best,

Giuliana




[Edited at 2005-06-10 13:47]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:11
English to German
+ ...
Quoting ProZ.com's policy - again Jun 10, 2005

Hi Claudette, hi Burkhard,
As you're probably well aware, this issue has been discussed before, on numerous occasions. Please feel free to continue the discussion - I just don't observe any new arguments.

Henry has formulated and posted the site's policy:

Why doesn't ProZ.com set a minimum rate for translation?

At times, the suggestion has been made that site staff institute some form of technical mechanism to dictate minimums. Although ProZ.com has instituted certain mechanisms which may help to stabilize rates (see the FAQ on rates), ProZ.com has no intention of instituting a minimum rate mechanism in the near future, for the following reasons:

(1) Even if it were conceptually possible and advisable to set a minimum rate, we would not currently have a means of enforcing it.
(2) Whether attempting to set a minimum is legal or not is an open question, and not one on which we have had adequate advice (comments from lawyers are welcome: http://www.proz.com/support )
(3) Other sites have attempted to set minimum rates, with no apparent effect.

It is in the interest of translators, and ProZ.com, for rates charged to be consistent with the demands of our challenging profession. To that end, ProZ.com's staff has welcomed and encouraged legal communication and cooperation among translators. But we believe that control of rates does (and should!) reside in the hands of service providers.


I will alert Henry to this thread - maybe he has some additional comments.

In response to Burkhard's observation regarding commercial terms etc., it's up to every independent service provider to decide what's acceptable and what is not. Trying to impose standard rules is not only an illusion (given the plethora of jurisdictions involved), but would also constitute an attempt to curtail freelancers' freedom to take business decisions.

Against this kind of dumping proz.com, an association of translation professionals (!!!)

ProZ.com is a venue, not an assocation.

a serious outsourcer won't have problems entering a serious rate

Of course not. Don't forget that there are two parties to each transaction. I sometimes post jobs myself - usually without price indication, and I'm constantly shocked at the rock-bottom prices translators are prepared to quote voluntarily.

BTW Esp. Henry Dotterer and Ralf Lemster, it's not my opinion (don't become angry against me), I heard from another translator: Some translators consider proz.com and other similar service providers as a method of forcing down translation rates.

I have heard this one on numerous occasions - yet so far nobody has managed to substantiate this suggestion. You shouldn't take the price indications on some posted jobs as the price - in fact, I have established contact with two clients through ProZ.com, and I certainly cannot afford to work at low prices.

What else can we do against this dumping? No more ideas exept the old ideals.

No ideals needed - just don't accept any proposal that doesn't make business sense to you.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:11
English to German
+ ...
Ooops... Jun 10, 2005

...talk about parallel thinking...


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 18:11
SITE FOUNDER
It comes down to the translator Jun 10, 2005

I don't have much to add to what Giuliana and Ralf wrote.

Burkhard Ziegler wrote:

BTW Esp. Henry Dotterer and Ralf Lemster, it's not my opinion (don't become angry against me), I heard from another translator: Some translators consider proz.com and other similar service providers as a method of forcing down translation rates.


Part of our mission at ProZ.com is to help translators increase their income. The reverse is not true.

What else can we do against this dumping? No more ideas exept the old ideals.


If by "dumping" you mean outsourcers looking for low rates, I think the best solution is for translators to:

(1) identify the rates they require to support the lifestyle they desire (with holidays, insurance, retirement, etc.)
(2) decline work paying rates below those

The wish/hope/demand that ProZ.com or any venue should or even *is able* to do the above, on the translator's behalf, is unrealistic. The best we at ProZ.com can do, it seems to me, is to continue to encourage the above. (Ideas on how to better do this are welcome.)


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Hepburn  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:11
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Misread job offer and so: apologies Jun 10, 2005

I went back to that job offer and reading it carefully noted this: MERCI DE NOTER QU'IL S'AGIT D'UN TRAVAIL DE REVISION ET NON DE TRADUCTION

So my comments do not apply any longer and I will write to the outsourcer and apologize for my mistake and for over reacting.

In any case, I prefer it that way. And I feel better now.
My apologies for having incensed some colleagues too:-(

[Edited at 2005-06-10 13:34]


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 18:11
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
Good news Claudette! Jun 10, 2005

I can empathise with your embarassment, and commend you for correcting yourself so publicly as well as for apologising privately to the outsourcer.

This seems a reasonable agency rate for proofreading (and don't forget, prices are always negotiable until the contract is made), and that IS good news! One more anecdote to relate to those who claim that ProZ.com is instrumental in price-dumping

Nancy


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Rina LS  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 23:11
Member
English to Serbian
+ ...
RE: Unreasonable rates Jun 10, 2005

Dear Claudette,

I have to inform you that this practice is so ususal concerning offers to Serbian translators. Now, you can understand how much we are disappointed, confused and in a very bad position.
Most of agencies thought that my rates are sometimes very high and accepted to pay for Serbian translation 0.04 EUR/sw. It is something that Serbian translators have to deal with every day, I guess. As far as I know, some (read> most of )Greek agencies pay 0.03 EUR/sw.
Isn't it disparaging for translators???

Keep on this topic. Something must be done.

Regards,

Rina


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Aleksandr Okunev
Local time: 01:11
English to Russian
Two practical points Jun 10, 2005

Claudette Hepburn wrote: ... he/she is either mad or in great need or is a beginner with no guarantee of the quality you demand. Either way, you are then exploiting such misery.

Fully agree.

1.) It has been suggested many times that agency membership at Proz should not be free. When I give away kittens I pay for the ad, why do agencies not have to pay, just to show the are serious?

2.) Such cases might be given publicity. The biggest issue is that the end client is nearly always unaware of all teh implications of getting a text translated, there are many stories with "retype this into..." phrase. Who knows, maybe if client education is pursued, we could have more direct clients here rather than agencies.

my 2 copecks
Stay well
Alex


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:11
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The price is the price Jun 10, 2005

We are all free to complain. I prefer to just leave it and get on with my business. I do not agree that a "low price" is "exploitation". It takes two to tango. Guess how much the translator would have made if Proz didn't exist. That's right, nothing.

That said, an outsourcer offering "low prices" probably isn't worth working for if you are a professional. In my session I gave at the Oxford Proz Conference I referred to the relationship between a low-paying outsourcer and a low-paid translator as "a crappy little deal". But there is absolutely nothing illegal or unethical about it. So, let's not worry about it that much, eh?


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:11
German to English
+ ...
Unreasonable rates Jun 11, 2005

How low does a rate have to be before it is "unreasonable"?

0.6 to 0.8 euros is not exactly generous, either, but some colleagues are offering such rates.

Marc


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Karolina Ojrzynska-Stasiak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:11
Member
English to Polish
+ ...
Costs of living differ, even in neighbouring countries... Jun 11, 2005

...why shouldn't the rates?


0.6 to 0.8 euros is not exactly generous, either, but some colleagues are offering such rates.

Marc[/quote]

I agree the rate Marc mentions may not be too attractive for somebody having to pay his/her bills in Germany or the UK, however for somebody living a bit more to the east, like me they are attractive enough, as they mean earning 2 or 3 times the country average...

All I want to say is that we should not compare the rates globally, but rather consider particular language pairs.


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:11
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
Proz is about competing on quality Jun 11, 2005

Karolina Ojrzynska-Stasiak wrote:
All I want to say is that we should not compare the rates globally, but rather consider particular language pairs.


Karolina this, I believe, is the main source of debate about unreasonable rates at Proz and no doubt at other translators' venues.

With the internet and various other technological developments we are now being _forced_ to compare rates globally. Whether I like it or not people all over the world are offering translation services in my language pairs, strangely oblivious to my high cost of living in the UK...how inconsiderate of them!

Joking aside, I have long stopped participating in this debate (which occurs on a regular basis) and started concentrating on marketing myself in a way which does not allow my services to be compared with those offered by most translators who charge less than me. As a result, I have never done business with a Russian or Indian agency or client and have almost stopped translating into Russian because few people are willing to pay 6/7/8 pence per word when they can get the same text translated 7 times for that money...

There is nothing we as translators can do about the lower cost of living in other countries. As Henry says, there is nothing Proz can do to enforce any kind of minimum rate even if it was prepared to do it.

The perceived downward trend in rates is not a market-wide trend - it is only occuring in certain segments of the market, where price competition is excessive and the services offered are almost homogenous (in terms of quality and specialisation), translators from other segments are happily commanding high rates and regular increases in those rates above inflation.

While Proz is (as I understand - please correct if necessary) a venue for any and all translators it does have "a bias towards quality" (c) and encouragement of the much-emphasized specialisation; the idea being that if we all only do what we do really well we can all command higher rates since there will be less of us competing against each other in those fields.

As far as I can see Proz does not encourage competition on price, it encourages competition on quality, everything to the contrary said so far (and previously) is in my view unfounded.

[Edited at 2005-06-11 18:45]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 18:11
SITE FOUNDER
Exactly, Konstantin Jun 11, 2005

You are exactly right. If you ask the general translator population whether rates are falling overall, many will say yes. But when you ask, "Are *your* rates falling?", the answer is usually no. "But that is because I am selective," many say. Just as the Internet has given outsourcers access to more translators, it has given translators access to more customers. If you are a specialist, you can now reach more of the customers who really need your unique skills, and are willing and able to pay for them.

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