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Rates working with CAT tools for agencies
Thread poster: Mara Ballarini

Mara Ballarini  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 16:25
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
Nov 7, 2006

I haven't been using CAT tools (mainly trados) for long, so I don't really know how rates work when a job must be carried out with one of these tools.
I've been working for an agency for a few months now (and we have established a quite good relationship), when I started with them I didn't have trados and we agreed on a rate per word. After a while I finally started working with cat tools for them and one day I find out that I should charge them per target word when I don't have to use a cat tool, and per source word when I do, at the same rate as agreed at the beginning. And everything worked out fine.
Now, I've been doing a few 'bigger' jobs for them with a lot of repetitions / 75-100% matches, and it turns out that the rates change: the fixed standard rate up to 74% matches, 50% of that rate up to 99% matches, and 10% of that rate for 100% matches and repetitions.
Well, even if talking to them about rates is not an issue, because it's quite easy to talk to them - no problems - but before doing it, I just wanted to get familiar with the standards; I was just wondering if that's normal when you work for an agency (not the fact that they've been giving me info re. rates like that, but about the price to be charged).
Is there any standard or close to standard rules for fixing rates when working with cat tools? Of course I mean with agencies (especially if on a regular basis), because for private clients it's always a different matter.
THank you all in advance for any suggestions!)


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Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:25
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
In general, the rates they suggest are OK Nov 7, 2006

Hi,

The only way I work with agencies is by applying a 'Trados scheme'.

From my experience, the base rate for match levels 0-74% is standard.

I like the 50% of the base rate they suggested for the 75-99% bracket. It is hard to generalise, but many of my jobs (especially updates of previous products) include a high proportion of 98-99% matches where, e.g., only the formatting changes slightly. In cases like this, getting 50% of the base rate for deleting/adding/moving a tag is a decent deal.

The 10% of the base rate for 100% matches and repetitions is slightly below what I usually get (which is 15%), but the way I see it, the 50% for the broad 75-99% match bracket more than makes up for the 10% for 100's and reps.

Long thing short, if I was offered these rates, I would accept them.

Regards,
Maciek


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 08:25
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Watch your rate per hour Nov 7, 2006

With bigger jobs that have plenty of repetitions, this sounds fine.

I do a lot of small jobs using trados, and I don't give any reductions at all for most of them.

I've just received one with about 150 words and at least 50% is probably a 100% match (it's a notice about Christmas activities...)

But finding the TM, setting it up etc. also takes time.
I do a lot of work for this client, and send my TM for consistency to anyone who has to take over when I can't do the job. NO reductions, however, because the general administration of the small jobs also takes time, and Trados doesn't make you any faster here.

It's not supposed to reduce your total monthly pay!

Best of luck!


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:25
Partial member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Trados matrix Nov 7, 2006

the fixed standard rate up to 74% matches, 50% of that rate up to 99% matches, and 10% of that rate for 100% matches and repetitions.


I personally apply the following Trados matrix:

up to 84%: full rate
Matches between 75% and 84% usually need a lot of processing, so the time needed to read the fuzzy segment, compare it to the original and make changes is equivalent to the time needed for translating them from scratch.

84-99%: 50% of full rate


100% matches and repetitions: 30% of full rate. Basically I consider these segments as segments to be proofread, so I apply a proofreading rate. However, some agencies do not want to pay more than 20% for these matches, which could be acceptable in some cases. Paying 10% is, in my view, unacceptable, since you still have to read and check such segments.


Laura


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:25
German to English
+ ...
The so-called standard Nov 7, 2006

The Trados discount scheme is not a "standard". As an independent business, you are entitled to decide a fair price or discount and to set your rates accordingly, like any other business.

Marc


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Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
Trados discount? Nov 7, 2006

So, we are back to the old discussion about the pros and cons of using CAT and the question arising now is:
To make our work more easy, or get a better price, cause using CAT makes this two features rather incompatible.
Using CAT is making our work somehow easier (for me rather more difficult actually) but decreasing the prices we get.
So what to choose after all? This is the question.
Do agencies offer a lower price if using CAT, or do you make this discount?
If the agencies offer a lower price it is fair, cause you actually make it faster and copy TM and terms and they ask for Trados just for this purpose (lower prices).
So is the investment worth? Trados is very expensive.
Viewed from the translator side, using CAT should be more expensive, cause we invest money in buying the CAT and time in learning and using it.
So...?


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:25
English to French
+ ...
Repetitions free - everything else full price Nov 7, 2006

This scheme often comes down to other popular schemes at the bottom-line.

I just want to add that I bought Trados to allow me to work faster and make the terminology more consistent - which are things that already profit to the client. I also bought it a little because it opened possibilities for work - some clients don't work with you if you don't have Trados or something compatible with it. Period.

I paid for my Trados and I think that ideally, the client should pay extra for the use of Trados. I already comply with their CAT tool requirement AND they reap all the other benefits. Why should I then go around offering rebates? Makes no sense! Oh, and I hope you know that agencies charge full price for all words to the client. This then means I paid $800 to allow them to have a bigger profit margin. What???

So, my scheme is free repetitions and everything else at full price. 100% matches are also at full price, unless there are more 100% matches than anything else. If that is the case, I charge my per word proofreading rate for those - I will never accept a job wherein I blindly apply matches. I will not sign my name under a job that was based on somebody else's work, unless I have checked their work. If the client wants me to blindly apply 100% matches, I suggest they find someone else for the contract.

Important: stick by your principles! If we all did, the market would be much healthier.

[Edited at 2006-11-07 17:45]


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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:25
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Up your rates Nov 7, 2006

Hi Mara,
Imo you’re too low there.

Yours
100% standard rate for 0- 74% matches,
50% of that rate for 75-99% matches,
10% of that rate for 100% matches and repetitions.

10% is zilch, nada.

Here are mine, you shouldn’t have any problem getting a good agency to accept them.

CAT rates
(Percentage of standard rate)
Exact match (100%) + Repetitions -> 30%
Fuzzy match (75-99%) -> 60%
No Match (0%-74%) -> 100 %


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Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:25
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Not all agencies are the same Nov 7, 2006

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

Oh, and I hope you know that agencies charge full price for all words to the client. This then means I paid $800 to allow them to have a bigger profit margin. What???



While it's good to know there are agencies that work this way, I know of at least a handful who don't charge full price for all words to the client, but follow some kind of a Trados scheme.

Regards,
Maciek


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:25
English to French
+ ...
True, but.. Nov 7, 2006

Maciek Drobka wrote:

I know of at least a handful who don't charge full price for all words to the client, but follow some kind of a Trados scheme.



What you're saying, Maciek, is partially true. However, those agencies are rare. Also, I have noticed that the few who offer CAT scheme pricing to their clients also tend to pay lower rates to translators - this is probably due to the fact that they also generally have clients to whom price matters more than quality, hence the CAT scheme they offer to their clients. Although this may not be true in all cases, it is sadly something I encountered all too often when I investigated this by pretending to be a client.

I guess that once again, we need to take in consideration two species of clients: the price-conscious ones and the quality-conscious ones.



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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:25
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
In terms stated here I would have to increase my prices, because I bought a new computer Nov 7, 2006

which allows me to work better and on more projects, so I should expect my client to pay for that, right?
Taking another example: if you were a taxi-driver, would you increase your price because you bought a new car? Would the market give this to you? Remember, I do not speak about a special car for special ocassions, but just a car.
Another example: you are a craftsman and buy a new drill machine. Your customer demands this from you, as only with this drill machine you are able to make holes in the concrete your customer uses. So you have to chose: either to invest and keep this customer or not invest and lose him. Do you increase your price then? NO! Maybe you use another price schema, but you certainly cannot increase the prices.

The same is with Trados - this is an investition in your own business. The argument Trados would be expensive is not valid in such terms. Okay, when you buy it, it is a bigger expense at once. But you do not use it once - you use it for a certain period of time. If you take this into account, Trados is cheaper than smoking.
If Trados (CAT) does not make your work easier, so you are doing something wrong I think. CAT is intended to make our work easier and it does, provided it is used properly and for texts, which are suitable for it. If you translate technical stuff, the probability is high, that CAT will help you. But when translating literature CAT might even make you more trouble.

Giving rebates is a market demand and not necessarily Trados patent. In fact I have been using Transit before I started with Trados and the rebates were already there.
There might be a lot of different schemas for rebates - this is all the question of mathematics. Providing a translation with repetitions and 100% matches unpaid but with 100% paid for the rest might be as good as giving a rebate with 30/60/100, which is IMHO considered to be quite fair. Sometimes you get more, when you charge 50% for up to 99% and then only 10% for reps and 100%, as Maciek stated above. With the time you will get the necessary sense to what is good or not good for you.
And AFAIK most agencies do the same - they pass the rebate to the customer. The market is higly competitive - I´m speaking about the european market and especially the german market - and prices tend to be falling, not increasing. To keep customers or to gainn new you must be attractive, and this means not only high quality or wide range of services covered, but it also means you must be price competitive. And this is achievable today only with CAT.
I agreee, that beeing paid in full would be the best possible option, but unfortunately the current market situation in my language pair does not allow me to act so. So I prefer to calculate a decent rate and show the customer, that he get´s rebate for this and that, instead of taking lower rate and demanding the full pay. This is also a psychologic effect - a lot of people buy glady expensive goods (high rate = high quality) on reduced price (= rebate). This sells better IMHO, than a lower rate (low rate = poor quality) without rebate.

Best
Jerzy


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:25
English to German
+ ...
Misconception Nov 7, 2006

Hi all,
Looking at per-word rates and weightings only is a misconception - your real measure of profitability is the income per unit of time. The key is to know how much time you save (compared to a 100% new translation) when working with a TM - obviously, the quality of the data in the TM is a crucial factor in this context.

The trick is to pass on some of the efficiency gain, but not all of it: for example, if on average you're saving 80% of time on matches of 95% or higher (which would indicate a 20% weighting), but you're applying a weighting of 30%, this is a premium - not a discount.

Best regards,
Ralf


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:25
English to French
+ ...
There's a difference between investing and keeping the same rates and investing while lowering rates Nov 8, 2006

Here are some reactions to Jerzy's post:

Jerzy Czopik wrote:

In terms stated here I would have to increase my prices because I bought a new computer



I did not say we should charge more to our customers because we bought Trados (or any other CAT tool). I said that I don't see why I should be the one to invest into a means for the client to make more money and then get paid less than without the CAT tool. Investing into something that will help retain clients is one thing. But investing in order to make less money while the client makes more money, that makes no business sense at all. It's like giving away my profits to the client and thanking him/her for it!



Taking another example: if you were a taxi-driver, would you increase your price because you bought a new car?



Taxis are regulated in my neck of the woods. Not only are they not allowed raising their rates, they are not allowed lowering them either. Bad example.



Another example: you are a craftsman and buy a new drill machine. Your customer demands this from you, as only with this drill machine you are able to make holes in the concrete your customer uses. So you have to chose: either to invest and keep this customer or not invest and lose him.



This is a better example. However, it doesn't precisely describe the CAT scheme situation. With CAT schemes, clients are demanding that we use Trados AND they are demanding we charge less at the same time. Now, if your craftsman bought the drill machine without raising the prices and later on, his customer demanded he lower his prices by an average of 20 or 30%, I am sure he would not agree.



The same is with Trados - this is an investition in your own business. The argument Trados would be expensive is not valid in such terms. Okay, when you buy it, it is a bigger expense at once. But you do not use it once - you use it for a certain period of time. If you take this into account, Trados is cheaper than smoking.



Alright, the investment itself - let's say $800 - eventually produces a return. But by the time you get there, how much money do you lose with fuzzy matches (especially the ones you have to work on more than on no matches because the TM supplied by the client is rubbish)? There are two sides to this coin.



If Trados (CAT) does not make your work easier, so you are doing something wrong I think. CAT is intended to make our work easier and it does



This is true, but the gain in productivity is not always proportional with the rebate you give to the client for fuzzies and 100%s - once again, with 90% fuzzies you have to fiddle with, I don't see how you get a return on your investment.

Also, take into consideration that 100% matches are not based on your competency, they are rather based on the client's TM, which is beyond your own control. When you have to wrestle with 100% matches that are garbage, the rebate you give for them becomes pointless and is a loss. This is why I give away repetitions for free but don't give deals on 100% matches.



Providing a translation with repetitions and 100% matches unpaid but with 100% paid for the rest might be as good as giving a rebate with 30/60/100, which is IMHO considered to be quite fair.



We completely agree on this one. In fact, it is because I consider these two totally different schemes to produce more or less the same financial results that I use the former, which has proved to be more efficient for my situation (less headache for quoting and invoicing with approximately the same revenue)



Sometimes you get more, when you charge 50% for up to 99% and then only 10% for reps and 100%, as Maciek stated above.



This is probably true. CAT schemes probably do need to be adapted to subject matter and document type and format.



And AFAIK most agencies do the same - they pass the rebate to the customer.



I don't agree here. I've done my own math and investigating on this and most agencies don't take the repetition ratios in consideration when quoting. Maybe we don't work with agencies on the same market. However, I do find that agencies who quote full rates for all words regardless of repetition are right in doing so - this is common busines sense. And I don't find it immoral either - the client wants to get the material translated and s/he expects the cost to be proportional with the quantity.



The market is higly competitive - I´m speaking about the european market and especially the german market - and prices tend to be falling, not increasing. To keep customers or to gainn new you must be attractive, and this means not only high quality or wide range of services covered, but it also means you must be price competitive. And this is achievable today only with CAT.



I strongly disagree here. No wonder rates are decreasing significantly when people try to outlower competitors' rates constantly. This tendency will never stop if people keep thinking this way.

Finally, here is my reaction to what Ralf posted. I fully agree that in the end, it comes down to an hourly rate. The reason why I defend my position on CAT so strongly is that I make less money/hour using CAT than before I started using CAT. Not only that, but I keep getting constant requests from clients to also give away 100% matches free AND charge less for fuzzies. Kind of if they were saying to me: "Here! Don't have your cake and don't eat it too." And as if that wasn't enough, they also ask politely to lower my standard rate altogether - and I am not charging high rates. I am just struggling to keep my rates in line with the industry average.

I just got a 13,000-word document to translate which contains 10,000 words worth of 100% matches. The TM is bad. Even the fuzzies are corrupted and in many cases, I have to go and start researching a segment that was already translated before - this is important for the fuzzies, as I am the one who will edit them, and they have to be of high standard since that's what I'm paid for. Those fuzzies require as much work as no matches. If the client wanted a rebate on those, I would straight out refuse, because at that point, it would come down to volunteer work. I charge proofreading rates to check the 100% matches - although they often require more than just proofreading. At that point, I am not being productive anymore even though I use CAT. However, I get paid as if I was super productive. How is that fair?

I am seriously thinking of charging hourly rates for all translation work because I am sincerely fed up with not being paid for all my time. And I am a fast translator...

[Edited at 2006-11-08 03:48]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:25
English to German
+ ...
Chasing the wrong clients? Nov 8, 2006

Viktoria,

And as if that wasn't enough, they also ask politely to lower my standard rate altogether - and I am not charging high rates. I am just struggling to keep my rates in line with the industry average.

Sounds to me like you might want to reconsider which clients to target.

I just got a 13,000-word document to translate which contains 10,000 words worth of 100% matches. The TM is bad. Even the fuzzies are corrupted and in many cases, I have to go and start researching a segment that was already translated before - this is important for the fuzzies, as I am the one who will edit them, and they have to be of high standard since that's what I'm paid for. Those fuzzies require as much work as no matches.

Hence my comment regarding the TM quality.

If the client wanted a rebate on those, I would straight out refuse, because at that point, it would come down to volunteer work. I charge proofreading rates to check the 100% matches - although they often require more than just proofreading. At that point, I am not being productive anymore even though I use CAT. However, I get paid as if I was super productive. How is that fair?

This is not about fairness - just set your prices accordingly, and don't quote a final price and/or final weightings before you had a chance of reviewing the material.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Mara Ballarini  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 16:25
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you! I've got a clearer idea now Nov 8, 2006

Thanks to everyone for all your precious comments!
well, I guess it could always be different according to each job and all its variables (eg: country, TM's quality, etc)
But thanks to you I've got an idea of the market now, so I can go and talk to this agency with a clearer view. As I said, I have a quite good relationship with them, so I think I'll accept these rates for this job, since it was a peculiar one, but I'll certainly try and negotiate for the future, because I agree that even 100% matches require time (to sign a job you want to carefully proofread it first), as well as importing TMs sometimes and so on.
I certainly agree that it's very important to stick to our principles, for our and the market's benefit.
Thanks again!
And have good day!

Mara


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