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Rates discrepancy around the world...
Thread poster: David MAROTE

David MAROTE
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:04
Member (2006)
English to French
May 21, 2006

There is a tantalizing envy about telecommuting...
It should help people get together and do business, however some companies have decided to get richer by pressing on translators the need to work for cheap.

I believe that translation rates should have a threshold and it is a matter of principle that can save your life.

What if all companies decided to pay 0.04 USD per word for a language pair?

This is the question one should always ask before accepting to work for an outsourcer whether from India, China or Russia.

What are your feelings on this dear fellas?

Thanks for your replies,
You realise just how much diplomacy it takes not to offend anyone by saying 'no sorry, you rates are too low!'. I find the competition from emerging countries very unnerving indeed but I suppose there is a positive aspect to it.
Commercially, lowering overheads gives you a better margin for investment and investment brings trade, so all theories are welcome.
Thanks for the tip on fair trade in the UK, I don't think I belong to the fair trade category just yet but I wonder if there are any syndicates for translators around, does anybody know?

[Edited at 2006-05-21 21:36]


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Alicia Casal  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 19:04
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good Point David! May 21, 2006

And that question SHOULD BE ALSO ASKEd before accepting a test-

I tried it! I sent my rates kindly asking the agency to confirm if they agreed with them before going through the test...No answer!

Maybe they think that due to the dollar/peso exchange rate in ARGENTINA we could accept them.....But we are having inflation...and we pay for software, memberships, etc etc in dollars! And furthermore, I prefer to become a plumber, than translating for low rates! Problem is i m non gifted for plumbing.....


Alicia


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:04
Member (2005)
French to German
+ ...
Won't happen May 21, 2006

David MAROTE wrote:
What if all companies decided to pay 0.04 USD per word for a language pair?


Well, this hasn't happened so far, and I believe there is a very good intrinsic reason for this:

If you don't mind translation quality, you can get the work done even more cheaply through software translation - if you do care for quality, you won't get good professionals by offering bad fees.

This means “cheap” translation agencies are bound to fail in the long run. You either do it for high quality and high fees, or sooner or later you won't do it at all.

P.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:04
Italian to English
What's the problem? May 21, 2006

David MAROTE wrote:

What if all companies decided to pay 0.04 USD per word for a language pair?

What are your feelings on dear fellas?


Sadly, most companies take no account of my feelings but if there were any evidence for the behaviour you suggest, I'm sure the UK Office of Fair Trading, the UK Competition Commission and the EU Commission among others would like to have a quiet word with them about it!

Globalisation is like any other market development: a threat and an opportunity, depending on how you react to it.

If the purchasers of translations are forcing down general price levels because of an increased supply of translators, the individual translator has two basic options:

1) improve efficiency/output while keeping up quality standards to maintain income, even at a lower unit price per word;

2) maintain or improve unit price by acquiring or reinforcing market visibility (specialisation, certification, publication, or just a good reputation).

The third option is of course to combine the approaches by improving your efficiency (with CATs and so on) and specialising etc to justify upping your rate.

Go for it!

HTH

Giles


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:04
Member (2005)
French to German
+ ...
This has been discussed before May 21, 2006

David MAROTE wrote:
I believe that transltion rates should have a threshold and it is a matter of principle that can save your life.


This matter comes up with depressing regularity. On the one hand, PROZ has developped a reputation of being a cheap quality, cheap rate translation marketplace in some circles. On the other hand, there is no way to enforce raised rates, or for that matter, raised quality (however you would want to measure that).

Nobody prevents you from having a personal rates threshold below which you refuse work, of course. As a matter of fact, most translators have one.

Prescribing obligatory common thresholds for everyone, however, simply won't work. You can't prevent buyers and sellers to do business with one another when both agree on a common price. They'll simply do it and ignore the threshold you set for them.

Even on a market where the price is fixed by law, such as the book market in Germany, astute sellers can't be prevented from using tricks to offer rebates - for instance: “The book price is fixed, all right, but I throw in free postage and packaging”.

P.

[Bearbeitet am 2006-05-21 18:58]


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 17:04
English to Russian
+ ...
Try to find a cheap lawyer or dentist in India, China or Russia May 21, 2006

It's been said so many times...

You go "lastshirtless" or toothless and noone will care. You pay or you don't get the service. Somehow lawyers and dentists survive and thrive in those poor countries. How can they, I wonder, if, supposedly, noone can pay them? BTW, a good recognized Moscow interpreter won't set a foot outside of his flat for less than $300/day (mind it, in Russia)and they are not out of work.

Our profession is not protected by bar associatiions, and the hunting season in open round the year. Somehow free market works for some trades in the UP direction only, and no laws are being broken. Why such a strong rejection of cheap rate banning?

Proz is a commercial site, and, by all means, the owners should, must and are fully entitled to make money, the more - the merrier. Just like you and me. But do translators' and the site's financial interests drive in the same direction? What if I dare to suggest that... in the totally opposite ones? At least for the "dinosaur" translators with old habits? Or is it "for our own good" to push us closer to CAT tools? Here is what I mean:

Proz can't make money from our Q&A, right? Membership fees won't put any butter on a daily bread. Maintaining the site must be expensive. programming side of global interactive pages and databases can't come out of a clear blue.

Proz can make money by placing ads and selling CAT tools. The largest CAT tool retailer in the US, if I'm not mistaken. That's great!

Now, if I can find clients without CAT tools at my rates and make a good living, am I a money-bringing user/member? Not a chance. Prices go down and more people buy CAT tools to keep up with family needs without changing a profession (produce more within the same time interval?) - Absolutely! Does Proz need cheap (or rather all kinds of) outsourcers then, and cherish everyone of them, even 1-centers? What happens it if turns to "elite" only? Answer it yourselves, think, whether quality and terrific community of friends and intellectuals though undoubtly present, is prime or incidental at this stage... Maybe this it what's called "we can't stop the progress" and where 100 have worked before now one can push a button. Are we going through a "stabilization" period after which even really good tanslators will have to damp their prices and turn to CAT tools? 10000 thousand words at 1 cent/word equals 1000 words at 10 cents... The profession impossible without ones? You can't be a horse-driven cab driver any more to make a good living, you need at least a Chevy. Crazy money-making globalizing world will force you anyway? Site owners have kids:-) A promising business:-) Maybe... Good for them to see through into the future, no kidding. But then it is one of otherwise impossible good reasons to be happy that I'm not too young and have a chance to stay in the beloved profession till I retire...

Believe it or not, I'm not judging Proz, I am a passionate free entreprise fan (I lived in the USSR, remember:-)), whatever works for an individual. I'm simply trying to play an amateur financial analyst here.

This is the prime reason I do not renew my membership - I don't support damping, I'm fighting for my survival as a free enterpreneur in my full right, but I answer lots of questions (and win) to make my contribution to the good side of Proz. Maybethis is still not enough and I am an abuser?

Or, if you agree with me, let's stop this rate discussion business for good, it's useless, each of us is on our own to get what we can while we can and enjoy the good side - it's not in site best interests to cut outsourcers. IMHO.

Respectfully,
Irene


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 23:04
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
What if all companies decided to pay 0.04 USD per word for a language pair? May 21, 2006

What if USA decided to pay just 30$ for a barrel of oil?
What if nobody wants to fly for more than 10 bucks? Less than 1000$?
What if nobody wants to translate for more than 10$ / word? Less than that?
What if all the transators decide to pay 0.04$ per word to translate?

etc, etc

There's a lot of kinky questions one can ask. Kudos to Mr market for providing the answers ("I'm a decider" ggg)

smo


[Edited at 2006-05-21 21:33]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:04
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's not that simple, folks May 22, 2006

Try finding an exotic pair, say Amharic - German or (to put presumed cost sides really low), Amharic - Khmer. Think you'll get it at 4 cents a word? And yet you could conceivably imagine life ought to be cheap in Ethiopia and Cambodia. (Been there and seen it).

So cheap, in fact, that infrastructure may be inaccessible. That takes an investment that only a professional and business commitment can sustain. You pay for that. In fact, it could be so tough that only a handful of outfits could specialise in these kinds of combinations. (And note that I'll specify "outfits" because there might be more agencies than translators, all using the same people since undercutting at this level spells out a very short professional life-span, indeed). This is where globalisation shoots itself in the foot. I mean, be serious. If planting potatoes is going to give people more occupational stability than translation, there are bound to be more potato-planters than translators. If globalisation is going to insist that, say, Quechua speakers not having that much bargaining leverage, they may as well sell for song, it's going to get more Quechua potatoes than translations, and all things being equal (by "all things" think of Bill Gates and the like, which are our means of production) the Quechua language product will appreciate considerably more.

Then, there's defensive pricing. I'm sure we all have minimums set up to guarantee we won't get drowned in unprofitable work. This is where globalisation can't help but be fair: we all have 24 hours a day, and are subject to a limited number of keystrokes. Might as well use them for good profit, no?

When I talk about defensive pricing, I'm talking about the basic need to cover your back and guarantee that the outsourcer will still be there and solvent when he receives your bill. Don't you ever get rates proposals that send shivers down your spine, of the will-you-be-here-tomorrow-darling type?

The country doesn't (or no longer) matters. This is another thing I learned after 20+ years. Many so-called third world countries have paid me more than some so-called advanced economies. It's just a matter of sending rates and getting a firm commitment that they will be respected.

HOWEVER: it's also a must to know the outsourcing country's policy on forex. Payments that take six months and tons of paper to process simply because a state is short on cash aren't going to be very competitive (or promising over the long term) where everyone else can transfer money in a snap. Can you imagine how this can trip up an agency while still in bidding and negotiations?

If you know you've covered yourself well rates-wise and done your homework on the forex angle, I'd advise you not to lose too much sleep about it.



[Edited at 2006-05-22 13:00]


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 15:04
English to French
+ ...
For those of you who read French... May 22, 2006

We had a thread along those lines in the French forum a couple weeks ago:

http://www.proz.com/topic/47031?start=0&float=

It looks like things are not that simple as Parrot says.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:04
English to French
+ ...
My thoughts May 22, 2006

I think that in geographic regions where the rates are lower for the same language pair, people should start raising their rates to be more in line with the higher rates in other countries.

Think about it! It would be beneficial for all.

[Edited at 2006-05-22 19:53]


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David MAROTE
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:04
Member (2006)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
TOIL May 22, 2006

There is toil and hard toil...Not the same.

This is my project: establish an international Trade Union called TOIL (Trade Organisation of International Linguists) to act as a watchdog, a bit like in every trade.

I need 100 000 signatures and I will be publishing a petition very soon to organise all that and the terms and conditions of all translators around the world.

Fancy that?


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Alicia Casal  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 19:04
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOIL May 22, 2006

I always ask myself: what if and angency doesn t pay me?

how would I afford an international lawyer? According to what regulations?

Alicia


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David MAROTE
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:04
Member (2006)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
precisely May 22, 2006

You would have to be able to afford an international lawyer, you can't just sue people because they don't pay you, but you can claim your payment on the basis of a contract. A PO is a contract.

I think the Proz.com system is quite regulated enough, you can always make a comment on the blue board about the company that doesn't pay.

I don't think there is a need for alarming oneself. the negotiation process is all you've got, you can always find out who you are dealing with.

I am thinking of an international organisation to regulate translation practices and protect the trade, rights as a matter of fact, precisely.


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David MAROTE
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:04
Member (2006)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Dumping, that's what I mean May 24, 2006

This question has not tail and still it's biting its tail?
I don't think so. There is a point in discussing it.
Your raised several points and they were quite spot on.

CAT tools should not contribute to lowering the price, it's down to anyone to instill some ethics in his or her job not to dump, that's what I mean.

Ethics, in this job is becoming essential and believe me I can ask people to work for 0.04 USD per word on this site and they will still do it. I have seen it before.

The only thing is that at the end of the day it makes people angry, unhappy and it's too easy to blame the CAT tools, it's not the CAT tool, it certainly is because there are more people on the market place thanks to the Internet and less control on people's competences.
But it also means that there are more people able to sell translations. In fact, Good Old Britain is still right, it's the survival of the fittest.

The point with lawyers is quite correct but at least most of the lawyers in under-developped countries have originated from wealthy families who could send their kids to a European school. That means they were already privileged. It 's easier now, or worse, it's not. Countries are zipping up their universities, you can see it in England, and later you'll see it in France.

My point is if you're a translation company there is always a customer who is ready to invest in a translation if it's sold correctly. The cheapest on the market does not make the best translations. Believe me...


[Edited at 2006-05-24 16:45]


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