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Lower rates because test is not perfect
Thread poster: Marion Rooijmans

Marion Rooijmans
Netherlands
Local time: 00:46
English to Dutch
+ ...
Dec 27, 2007

Hi all,

A week or two ago, I was contacted by an agency from Moscow. They found me through proz.com and proposed me to cooperate with them. They have a high BB record, although most translators say the rates of this company are low.

The agency asked me to provide some information, including my rates. I gave them my standard rates, which I think are not too high. A minute after I sent them an email with my rates, I received an email with a test translation. I'm sure they hadn't even looked at the information I provided yet.

I translated the test and returned it the same day. After a day or ten, I received an email from the agency. They said the following:

'We have processed your test carefully and found that it contains only a few terminology, style, and grammar issues so we can propose you to start our cooperation right now. But we can do it we have to discuss the rates. I have already mentioned that your translation isn't perfect as we expected and we have to use another editors\proofreaders in order to increase the quality. It's time and money consuming. So we can propose you to revise your rates policy and propose us something below your current rates. From our side we promise that as soon as the number of issues with your translation will decreased and we can reduce the editor's time (i.e. money) we will increase your rates.'

Is this fair? Should I lower my rates because my test translation wasn't perfect? I've only been working as a freelancer for just over a year now and I am still quite young, so I do not have that much experience. But the past year has been very busy and my clients have been happy with my work. Most of them pay me my standard rates, there's only one that pays a bit less and I often have to turn jobs down because I am too busy with jobs from agencies that pay more.

Still, I think it's a good idea to keep my client base growing and this agency seems really professional. I suspect they just say there were 'issues' with my test translation to get me to accept lower rates. I haven't received my test translation with their comments, so I do not know what these issues are.

Should I lower my rates or should I keep them as they are and maybe lose out on this cooperation?

Thanks for any comments.


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:46
English to Dutch
+ ...
No way Dec 27, 2007

Don't even think about lowering your rates. You're a good translator, and you have reasonable rates, so they can take it or leave it.
Tell them there is no such thing as a perfect translation, so either your work is adequate (in which case they'll just have to pay your rates) or it isn't (in which case they shouldn't work with you at all).
If they don't back off then and pay you your rates, then at least you'll have maintained your self-esteem.

Best of luck,
Jan Willem


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 00:46
French to English
+ ...
Put it on your roses. Dec 27, 2007

Marion Rooijmans wrote:

I haven't received my test translation with their comments, so I do not know what these issues are.



If this was a serious business proposition, you would have received your translation back with their comments.

This is not a serious business proposition. I'm probably not allowed to say what it really is but it's more suitable for putting on your roses

Terry.


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:46
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Two suggestions Dec 27, 2007

1) Be wary of Russian agencies in general (this is just from experience, including my colleagues').
2) Definitely have them return your reviewed test with all the corrections before you agree to any rate reductions!


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Sara Mullin  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:46
Member (2007)
English to French
+ ...
No Dec 27, 2007

Hi Marion,
It sounds to me as though they are just trying to find a way to pay their translators less. I agree with Jan, either your work is good enough, or it isn't. I would not lower your rates and I would think twice about working with them (especially since you say that you're turning down jobs because you have enough work from people who are already paying your normal rates). They sound a bit scary in the sense that they are saying, "Well, your work could be better, but we'll use you anyway. We'll just pay you less." What kind of agency does that?

And besides, in my opinion, a professional agency should always use proofreaders. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, and proofreading is an important part of quality control. I've been talking a lot with one specific agency recently and they've been telling me that they always have someone proofread all of their translations and that this is included in the quote to the customer (it's not an extra cost). It's all part of providing the best service possible! So, to me, the agency in Moscow does not sound very professional at all when they say that they will be pay you less because they will have to pay people to edit/proofread your translations.

If you do still want to work with them, I'd suggest insisting on seeing your test translation with their comments so you at least can verify if the mistakes are genuine or not.
Best of luck and best wishes for 2008!
Sara


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 23:46
Dutch to English
+ ...
Some thoughts, considering you're a relative newbie Dec 27, 2007

Marion Rooijmans wrote:

Is this fair? Should I lower my rates because my test translation wasn't perfect? I've only been working as a freelancer for just over a year now and I am still quite young, so I do not have that much experience. But the past year has been very busy and my clients have been happy with my work. Most of them pay me my standard rates, there's only one that pays a bit less and I often have to turn jobs down because I am too busy with jobs from agencies that pay more.



If you're that busy, what's the point? Unless you're not that busy all that much of the time. Only you know the answer to that one.

But to get back to your question, I frankly don't see anything particularly wrong with the agency's approach (or at least wouldn't if the agency was situated elsewhere). Yes, an agency should have every translation revised, but if yours really did require extra work, why should they pick up the tab?

If your test wasn't up to scratch - and I'm not suggesting it wasn't - and they are still prepared to pay you a reasonable rate whilst you complete the learning curve and review the rate again later, isn't it worth a try? Better than being blown out the water because it wasn't up to scratch, right? At least they've acknowledged your potential, maybe they just have particularly high standards.

Perhaps it is just a ploy to get your rate down indefinitely, only time will tell.

But there are a number of things to bear in mind:

1. Unless you get the revised translations back, you're never going to improve

2. Unless you get the revised translations back, you are never going to know whether you have improved to the extent that a raise is warranted

So, you'd have to insist on this. And, for starters, you have to insist seeing the test you apparently didn't do so well in - that will give you a fair idea of what they require and whether you can deliver.

I'd also suggest that if you decide to go ahead that you give it a certain period in which to work, and if things don't pan out as hoped, ditch them.

Don't accept too much work, until you're sure they'll pay. Don't take on more than you can afford to lose, as with any new client.

Would I do it? Not in a month of Sundays, but I'm not in your position, and have far more experience. These are just some ideas because you are relatively new to the profession. I do not work with any agency outside the EU and would frankly view the fact they are in Moscow (or Beijing or Hong Kong for that matter) as a greater problem than their suggested approach, but that is something that apparently doesn't bother you. Your choice.

@ Jan - I agree there is no such thing as a perfect translation but "adequate" isn't good enough either. At the very least, a translation should be fit for purpose, but we should all aim for better than adequate if we are to expect decent rates.

[Edited at 2007-12-27 11:45]


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Marius Reika  Identity Verified
Member (2006)
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
identical message Dec 27, 2007


'We have processed your test carefully and found that it contains only a few terminology, style, and grammar issues so we can propose you to start our cooperation right now. But we can do it we have to discuss the rates. I have already mentioned that your translation isn't perfect as we expected and we have to use another editors\proofreaders in order to increase the quality. It's time and money consuming. So we can propose you to revise your rates policy and propose us something below your current rates. From our side we promise that as soon as the number of issues with your translation will decreased and we can reduce the editor's time (i.e. money) we will increase your rates.'


I've received an identical message with regard to my test translation. Think it's the same company and I don't see here anything professional in using such cheap tactics to force down the proposed rate.

M.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:46
English to Dutch
+ ...
Not quite identical, but.... Dec 27, 2007

I got this message (think we're talking about the same agency here) in a first mail.

Sorry for the delay with answer. We have processed a number of replies from translators.

We have processed your test carefully and found that it contains only a few terminology, style, and grammar issues, but we can propose you to start our cooperation right now.

But we can do it we have to discuss the rates.

Your rates is a little bit high, could you please revise your policy with the following increase of the quotation due to improvement of quality?


Then I gave a small reduction (I did the same for a good American client as well and thought it was reasonable, since this agency too proposed to pay in USD). I got the following response:

Thank you for the greetings and for your rate, it is less or more acceptable, but what about xxx USD$ per word, the matter is-the lower your price will be, the higher the volume of your Projects will be.-) ] The rate they asked for here was 0.005 USD lower than the one I offered. I declined. We'll see if they want to work with me or not.

In fact, this is the first time I did a test translation and was not accepted as a translator right away. So, I'm not worried. I'm certainly not going to lower my rates any further. If they want quality, they'll have to pay for it, and like you, I'm busy enough without them.

Best wishes,
Margreet

P.S. If you want to know the rates I offered, drop me a line through my profile. Don't think it's permitted to post them here. I would like to see yours in return


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 01:46
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Ask for same rates regardless of country Dec 27, 2007

I think it unfair to work cheaper for customers from socalled low-wage countries than for those from normal countries. Translation is a global business. The only guideline should be the price-level of your own country of residence, where you live and spend your money. It would be unfair because our customers have to compete globally too.
If someone wants cheap translations, let him look for translators from cheap countries.
Cheers
Heinrich


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RichardDeegan
Local time: 17:46
Spanish to English
Why not correct the mistakes in THEIR mail? Dec 27, 2007

Based on the quality of the response you received, their firm does not have the least interest in quality. Why not correct the message they sent you, tofether with a comment such as, "I translate into proper English. If the type of English that you ised in your message to me is what you're looking for, I am unable to deliver with that low level of quality."

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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:46
English to Dutch
+ ...
Definition of 'Adequate' Dec 27, 2007

Let's not have a confusion over the word 'adequate' I used.
'Adequate' is not the minimum that is barely acceptable, adequate is what the client is satisfied with. So satisfied that s/he will hire us again.
Of course, any craftsman will strive to do the best s/he can within reason. That goes without saying. I wouldn't know how to do less, even if the client would be satisfied with it.


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:46
English to Russian
+ ...
nothing else but Dec 27, 2007

Marion Rooijmans wrote:

... seems really professional. I suspect they just say there were 'issues' with my test translation to get me to accept lower rates.
...
Should I lower my rates or should I keep them as they are and maybe lose out on this cooperation?

Thanks for any comments.


1. They are professionally squizing lower rates from you. No doubt.

2. Beware of them, you will definitely loose, if you start this cooperation.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:46
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Just a cheap trick Dec 27, 2007

Try to imagine this...

You walk into a restaurant and tell the mâitre d': "My brother ate here last week, and the food was overdone and overspiced. So I'll pay you 65% of the prices listed on your menu."

This would mean that you actually expect to have an overdone and overspiced meal.

Is this agency actually ordering sloppy translations from you? I doubt it.

Just thank them for telling you in advance that they'd try to cut prices. It would be worse if they played that trick after you had done some work for them. Some agencies do.


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Marion Rooijmans
Netherlands
Local time: 00:46
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for sharing your views Dec 27, 2007

Thank you all very much for sharing your views on this matter. I will ask the agency for their comments on my test translation. But as there are several people who received the same email, I suspect it is indeed a trick to get my rates down and I won't receive their corrections.

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Vadim Poguliaev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:46
English to Russian
Dear Marion Dec 27, 2007

Stay away from them. Being a resident of Russian Federation I assure you, that 99% of our agencies are not woth dealing with for various reasons. And this "trick" suggests, that your people do not belong to remaining 1%

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