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Thread poster: Gerardo Comino

Gerardo Comino  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:47
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 14, 2005

Hi,

It is very common to see in these fora that there are "jobs posted at a very low rate" Should we join in a team here in Proz and talk to the moderators not to allow this offers to be published?

I would also recommend to advise those agencies that we would not accept such a low rate anymore.

I understand that we should, in this case, establish a minimun rate... let´s talk about it then and let´s set the minimum rate... what do you thik?


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:47
English to German
+ ...
ProZ.com policy Dec 14, 2005

Hi Gerardo,
Should we join in a team here in Proz and talk to the moderators not to allow this offers to be published?

Are you aware of the related site policy?


21. 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.



II understand that we should, in this case, establish a minimun rate... let´s talk about it then and let´s set the minimum rate... what do you thik?

Personally, I would strongly reject the notion of someone else setting a minimum rate on my behalf.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:47
Dutch to English
+ ...
Contrary to EU Law........at least Dec 14, 2005

Nice idea but ....... (there is always a but)

Apart from the issues raised by Ralf, such an arrangement would conceivably be anti-competitive and in conflict with Article 81(1) of the EC Treaty.

Although the article in question refers to undertakings, ECJ case law has held that certain groups of natural persons fall under this definition (e.g. artists). I have little doubt (based on the case law I've studied for my course) that if the ECJ were ever asked to consider, we, as translators, would get caught in the net as well.

Article 81(1)(a) states that directly or indirectly fixing purchasing or selling prices or any other trading conditions are "prohibited as incompatible with the common market".

Setting a minimum price falls under this sub-section.

Much as I'd also like the rates often offered via the site to be raised, we can't do anything concrete other than decide individually not to sell our talent and expertise for pittance.

The minute the effort is seen to be concerted, we are deemed by law to be colluding.

Unfortunately (for us) what is pittance to someone living in the EU may be a fair amount to someone living in a developing country and it would be an unfair generalisation to state that translations performed in those countries are not necessarily of the same standard.

Debs

[Edited at 2005-12-14 13:52]


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Graciela Guzman  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 21:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
Contrary to law Dec 14, 2005

Hi Debora,
It's not a fair rate in developing countries either. Translators in those countries pay the same you do for software, dictionaries, reference books, cartridges, etc. Life is not cheap here either.
Those rates are unacceptable for us too.
As regards the quality of our work I think that yours is a dangerous generalization.
My two cents!


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:47
Dutch to English
+ ...
Please read carefully before jumping the gun........ Dec 14, 2005

Graciela Guzman wrote:

Hi Debora,
It's not a fair rate in developing countries either. Translators in those countries pay the same you do for software, dictionaries, reference books, cartridges, etc. Life is not cheap here either.
Those rates are unacceptable for us too.
As regards the quality of our work I think that yours is a dangerous generalization.
My two cents!



1. I clearly stated "it would be an UNFAIR GENERALISATION to state that translations performed in those countries are not necessarily of the same standard" - so I, in fact, stated the exact opposite of what you have obviously misunderstood.

2. "Unfortunately (for us) what is pittance to someone living in the EU MAY be a fair amount to someone living in a developing country" - so again, I didn't state what you assumed. And yes, whilst tools of the trade may cost the equivalent, other living expenses may be considerably lower - and I would assume they are somewhat as I could never maintain my standard of living on the rates you quote on your profile page, where I live. But's that my choice - I live and choose to live in the EU.

Clear now?
D.

PS: And irrespective of whether the rates are unacceptable to you, we cannot be seen as a site for the reasons as stated above (in the EU at least) to start manipulating competition. That was the main thrust of my response. Please read more carefully in future before jumping to unfounded conclusions.

[Edited at 2005-12-14 14:18]


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 02:47
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Mmmm... but what's the issue about? Dec 14, 2005

I don't see how the low raters could affect my rates... After all, the assumption is that they are providing low quality, therefore my position is not endangered in any way - my rates reflect my quality , don't they?

If, on the other hand, they offer comparable quality, then it does not mean that their rates are too low. It means that MY rates are too high...

By the way, I wonder if all those who demand minimum rates would also support imposed minimum prices on their computer equipment, based on the local labor rates, and not not cheap labor somewhere in Asia? I doubt it...

You know, that is globalization - it has benefits, but has its disadvantages, too.


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:47
Member (2005)
French to German
+ ...
Effective mechanisms must be in place already Dec 14, 2005

Gerardo Comino wrote:
It is very common to see in these fora that there are "jobs posted at a very low rate"


On the other hand, a majority of translators seem to work for higher rates. If there were nothing wrong with offers of $0.02, we wouldn't see any higher offers on the market. We do, however, and that makes me suspect that there must be some mechanism in place that makes low-paying agencies fail.

That said, I'm not too fond of the job board myself. I've almost never seen job offers there that make me really keen on bidding for them. The board seems to target mainly agencies that just aren't my cup of tea. These agencies do seem to find translators that prefer them, however.

P.


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Laure Trads  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:47
Member (2004)
English to French
But ProZ is a commercial venture... Dec 14, 2005

... and has a strong impact on the translation community. As far as I know, it is the largest single job offer place for translators. By allowing job offers to be posted at such low rates, ProZ is therefore facilitating the existence of these low rates. It may be that these low rate jobs would not find takers so easily if they were not posted on ProZ.

The reason why slightly/ridiculously low rates are affecting a lot of translators is because they are finding takers, therefore some clients feel more and more allowed to ask lower rates. There is a general downward trend of translation rates because these offers exist and are finding takers, amongst other places on ProZ.

Maybe there could be an agreement between the various translation job offer sites to not publish these insulting offers.

Laure

[Edited at 2005-12-14 15:08]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:47
English to German
+ ...
Are rates *really* going down? Dec 14, 2005

Hi Laure,
By allowing job offers to be posted at such low rates, ProZ is therefore facilitating the existence of these low rates.

ProZ.com is indeed strong, but it is not "the market".

It may be that these low rate jobs would not find takers so easily if they were not posted on ProZ.

Can you substantiate that?

The reason why slightly/ridiculously low rates are affecting a lot of translators is because they are finding takers, therefore some clients feel more and more allowed to ask lower rates. There is a general downward trend of translation rates because these offers exist and are finding takers, amongst other places on ProZ.

What evidence of falling prices do you have?
It's interesting to see that many translators talk about "downward rates", but give a different picture when asked about their own rates.

Maybe there could be an agreement between the various translation job offer sites to not publish these insulting offers.

Insulting to whom? Nobody forces you to accept them - of course, you should make sure you're not in a situation that forces you to chase such offers.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:47
Dutch to English
+ ...
Price Fixing (whether at the lower or upper end) is generally illegal Dec 14, 2005

English2French wrote:

"Maybe there could be an agreement between the various translation job offer sites to not publish these insulting offers."
________________________________________________________

No there couldn't, purely because such an agreement (whether an agreement in the normal sense, an implemented decision or a concerted practice) would contravene the competition or anti-trust laws of most legal systems.

The posting I made in reference to Article 81 of the EC Treaty is but one example.

Regards
D

[Edited at 2005-12-14 15:22]


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Laure Trads  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:47
Member (2004)
English to French
Hi Ralf Dec 14, 2005

Ralf Lemster wrote:
ProZ.com is indeed strong, but it is not "the market".
Ralf


I did not say it was "the market", I said that it is the "largest single job offer place for translators" that I know, which is bound to have a strong influence. "Everyone's talking about it"

Ralf Lemster wrote:
It may be that these low rate jobs would not find takers so easily if they were not posted on ProZ.

Can you substantiate that?
Ralf


If clients don't find Web sites to publish their low rate jobs, then they won't find any takers.

Ralf Lemster wrote:
What evidence of falling prices do you have?
Ralf


I don't have hard copy evidence, I only have my own experience and what I hear and read. Some of my best clients, who have been with me for nearly 10 years, have asked me to lower my rates, just because of "the market". I refused: these clients hardly ever call me now. I have rung some of them to ask them why they don't use my services any more, if they have had complaints about my work. The replies were: "No, no complaints.", sometimes adding "but competition charges less".
Recently, at a translators' meeting, a translator specialised in IT was saying: "IT rates have gone down, I now earn half of what I was earning 10 years ago".
I also regularly read similar stories.

Ralf Lemster wrote:
Insulting to whom? Nobody forces you to accept them - of course, you should make sure you're not in a situation that forces you to chase such offers.
Ralf


Insulting for a profession which is supposed to be highly qualified. Is €0.02 eur/word a fair rate for people who are supposed to have good qualifications/experience? It's annoying to see translation services sold for peanuts (and yet I love peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, etc.)

Laure

[Edited at 2005-12-14 15:44]


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Laure Trads  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:47
Member (2004)
English to French
Fair enough Dec 14, 2005

Deborah do Carmo wrote:

English2French wrote:

"Maybe there could be an agreement between the various translation job offer sites to not publish these insulting offers."
________________________________________________________

No there couldn't, purely because such an agreement (whether an agreement in the normal sense, an implemented decision or a concerted practice) would contravene the competition or anti-trust laws of most legal systems.

The posting I made in reference to Article 81 of the EC Treaty is but one example.

Regards
D

[Edited at 2005-12-14 15:22]


So maybe just on ProZ then, as a brave stance faced with the other sites that would accept to publish such low rate job offers.
Laure


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:47
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not wishing to belabour the point but ......... Dec 14, 2005

English2French wrote:

So maybe just on ProZ then, as a brave stance faced with the other sites that would accept to publish such low rate job offers.
Laure


No, because any competing site with evidence of such an anti-competitive stance (in the legal sense) would conceivably be able to take the matter to the Competition Board/Authority holding jurisdiction - especially since there may be an argument that the ProZ has (or is on its way to having) SMP (significant market power), as you've already pointed out in so many words.

The site also doesn't stand alone in a vacumn - it would be easy to argue it is an association (of sorts) of professional translators.

For that reason, although the policy adopted by ProZ on this point may not be overly popular, it is legally a sound one.

Our individual response should be simply not to buckle to the pressure. Ignore such offers. I've personally been lucky enough to maintain and/or increase my rates this year but I suppose that also depends, to a degree, on how specialised your work is.

Regards
D


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Gerardo Comino  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:47
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Let´s imagine then... Dec 14, 2005

Let´s imagine that:

If you want to be a Proz Member your rate must be over X...


We all know (or should know) that the system doesn´t allow members to bid under their rates...

Could it be a good idea?


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Laure Trads  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:47
Member (2004)
English to French
I'm reading the article you mentioned... Dec 14, 2005

Deborah do Carmo wrote:

any competing site with evidence of such an anti-competitive stance (in the legal sense) would conceivably be able to take the matter to the Competition Board/Authority holding jurisdiction


Sorry to abuse your patience (I can feel that you are getting impatient, you don't have to reply, I am just trying to understand).

In the article you mentioned, I could not find who it was addressed to. Does it apply to ProZ? It seems to me that ProZ could be compared to a newspaper with an ad section. Surely the newspaper is free to publish whatever ads it wants to?

Laure


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