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Low rates - Acting as a community
Thread poster: Elena Robles Sanjuan

Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:19
English to Spanish
May 26, 2008

In view of all the posts related to the dicrease of rates, I would like to suggest the following:

+ If Proz offers us the possibility of checking what the average standard rates are in a particular pair of languages, this should also serve as a warning for anyone posting a job. I doubt very much that Proz would be interested in banning companies that pay translators very low rates, but at least, these should automatically receive a warning to that effect when they are posting a low-paid job. Yes, they will still be allowed to post for sure, but at least the warning is a message that comes from a community, not from an individual professional.

+ On the other hand, ALL postings should have a precise indication of what rates are going to be paid. It would save us a lot of time if the typical "rates will be negotiated according to experience, etc." was reworded as "this is how much I´m willing to pay, full stop."


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:19
English to German
+ ...
Warning already given May 26, 2008

Hi Elena,

+ If Proz offers us the possibility of checking what the average standard rates are in a particular pair of languages, this should also serve as a warning for anyone posting a job. I doubt very much that Proz would be interested in banning companies that pay translators very low rates, but at least, these should automatically receive a warning to that effect when they are posting a low-paid job. Yes, they will still be allowed to post for sure, but at least the warning is a message that comes from a community, not from an individual professional.

That's already happening today; a warning is displayed to the job poster that the price indicated is below the community average. (Bear in mind that the entire rates system is currently undergoing changes.)

+ On the other hand, ALL postings should have a precise indication of what rates are going to be paid. It would save us a lot of time if the typical "rates will be negotiated according to experience, etc." was reworded as "this is how much I´m willing to pay, full stop."

Personally, I would oppose that: being the provider of a service, it's my prerogative to quote a price, or give a price indication.

To the contrary: in my view, job posters' budgets should be used for their own administrative purposes (e.g. to filter quotes), but should not be shown. (You may want to note that I predominantly use ProZ.com as an outsourcer.)

Best regards,
Ralf


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Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:19
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you May 26, 2008

Thanks for letting me know, Ralph. I had no idea the mechanism was in place, as I have posted jobs myself and never saw any messages related to rates.

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Silvestro De Falco  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:19
Member (2006)
Italian to English
+ ...
Improved transparency May 26, 2008

[quote]Ralf Lemster wrote:

Bear in mind that the entire rates system is currently undergoing changes.

+


Ralf,
any chance that - in view of these changes - bidders might be notified, after the bid is closed, about the price at which the outsourcer allocated the job?
Just the bidders, mind you.
I raised this issue lately in the Italian forum and I did not find the arguments against it satisfactory, as they revolved mostly around privacy, whereas I stressed that the enhanced transparency would give participants a clear idea about market conditions.
Silvestro


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 17:19
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Controversial, I would think... May 26, 2008

Silvestro De Falco wrote:
any chance that - in view of these changes - bidders might be notified, after the bid is closed, about the price at which the outsourcer allocated the job?


This I think might drive the rates even lower... It's not improbable that when a really low bidder is chosen, some less established translators might be tempted to think: „Next time I'll bid the rate that won the last job...”. On the other hand, it would not work the other way („My rates are lower, so next time I will probably win the bid”).


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Silvestro De Falco  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:19
Member (2006)
Italian to English
+ ...
Transparency May 26, 2008

Jabberwock wrote:
This I think might drive the rates even lower

Not necessarily In fact, if an outsorcer is only looking for low rates a good translator, who commands higher rates, is not going to waste his or her time with jobs coming from that particular outsourcer.
On the other hand, outsourcers who are in the market for quality would indicate with their choices that price is not the only consideration.
Transparency would allow the market to send clear signals and people - including agencies - to make better decisions.
Silvestro


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Evelyne Trolley de Prévaux  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 08:19
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Acting as a community we have to learn how to sell our quality May 26, 2008

I am a translator but I have worked as an outsourcer in Proz
Just back from America and as my first entry in Proz, I did not put any rate because I did not know what the rates were in Europe.
I received from translators quotes lower than expected and even a very very low rate from someone who was living in central Europe.
That person did a good job so I paid more than was asked. It was fair!
As for the others I did not choose the highest, nor the lowest, I looked for QUALITY and PRICE.
As a community I think that before posting a job, the outsourcer should be made aware that quality means time. You cannot expect to earn a lot out of one single customer. We have to find a way to have end customers understand what a good translation involves.
At the present time, the tendency for big companies is to cut costs, making it more difficult for the good translators to work and allowing beginners to get more work without knowing what quality involves.... So when we quote, we have to explain the quality we offer and why it is important for the outsourcer to choose us!.......... In the long run if the translation is not done properly the first time, .... they will come back to us and it will cost them three times as much!... And they will be eager to pay for it!!!! example: "The guy in charge of the web page offers us a quote half your price"........... one month later: "He did a very bad job, not using the right vocabulary, can you please do it"..........
Good luck to all, we have to learn how to "sell us" at the right price!
Que tengan suerte!
Bonne chance!


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:19
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Not the most pressing concern I think May 26, 2008

Silvestro De Falco wrote:
any chance that... bidders might be notified, after the bid is closed, about the price at which the outsourcer allocated the job?


Gee, I really wouldn't suppose it's my business what rates other translators bid on a job that interests me. You are free to set whatever rate you like, but an outsourcer that decides on price alone may find that unwise. You have plenty of relevant attributes for a job bid beyond your rates.

With the dollar as low as it is, you would think that European agencies would dump their translators in my language pair (and others) that are based here in Europe and use only persons living on the US economy, but so far I've been unable to discern such a trend. The colleagues I talk to about work schedules here are as overloaded as ever. I assume that factors such as the convenience of a common time zone are relevant here.

As far as transparency is concerned, as long as we clearly state what we expect to be paid for our work and the client agrees, nothing more is needed. If some joker expects to have a highly complex technical document translated for two cents a word and declines my bid for a large multiple of that, that's his right, but chances are he'll end up with an inferior product shopping on the cheap side. Eventually that will cost the outsourcer dearly I think. Yes, I know there are supposedly good students out there willing to deliver superb translations for nothing, but

1) neither I nor a number of agencies I talk to very openly have encountered these mythical beings and

2) if they do exist, eventually they will have to pay rent, insurance, etc. and they will become nearly as expensive as the rest of us.

There may be obvious exceptions to this, like great differences between the cost of living in South America versus Spain or Portugal, but even there I suspect there may be difference of usage that are similar to those that are often relevant in English for culturally sensitive translations.


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The Misha
Local time: 11:19
Russian to English
+ ...
What's next? Forming a guild? May 26, 2008

If one follows your line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, the next thing we should do is form a union or a guild. No, thanks, count me out.

P.S. Do not hold my reasons suspect, I'd rather not work at all then work cheap.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:19
English to French
+ ...
Rates are not decreasing May 26, 2008

I am one of the people here who regularly discusses rates with colleagues, and I understand that many people feel that rates are decreasing. However, I would like to bring something to your attention, seeing how many threads were posted lately denouncing decreasing rates.

It is not the rates that are decreasing - it is the number of translators who undersell themselves that is increasing. I am surprised at the large number of translators who seem to think that the rate originates from the outsourcers. In fact, it is the people who offer - and not those who buy - the service who determine the price at which they want to sell their goods. It seems to me that there are too many translators who feel that they are in a classical employer-employee relationship with their outsourcers. That, however, is only an impression. We do not depend on agencies - they depend on us. If you are unwilling to sell your services at the rate the outsourcer would like to pay, they will either have to pay what you are asking - or you can politely turn them down, and they will find someone who sells their services at a lower rate. That is perfectly fine.

You are a business. You have competition. Some people use price to stay competitive - the easiest tool, but far from being the best in the long run. Some people prefer to concentrate on quality instead. Yet more people add value to their services to stay competitive. There are yet more factors to attract clients without offering rates that are too low. You have to understand that this is business, and that you do not depend on your clients.

I don't agree that rates are decreasing. It is rather the number of people who can translate but have no idea of how to run a profitable business that is increasing. If rates seem to be decreasing, it is because people like you and I decide to offer low rates. We have control over our rates - not the other way around. If we all said no to low rates, all the outsourcers who shamelessly sell our services to their clients with 500% profit margins would go out of business - for everybody's benefit.

We should inform each other of people who request unfair rates from us, I agree with that. But I don't agree that it is the low rates that should be fought. Instead, we should all focus on marketing our services, and on remembering that we are not subject to the client's whims. Look at it this way: if we all keep accepting the rates outsourcers ask from us, pretty soon, we will be asked to work at no cost.

Make your clients agree with the services you offer. If the two aren't a match, chances are you will be underselling yourself. There are plenty of clients who are prepared to pay good rates, including a fair number of agencies.

Take control of your business.

Viktoria
A translator who offers quality translation services to quality clients

[Edited at 2008-05-26 15:13]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:19
English to German
+ ...
This is it May 26, 2008


Take control of your business.

As simple - and yet as difficult - as that. Fully agreed.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:19
Italian to English
+ ...
Hear hear, Viktoria May 26, 2008

Well said. My prices are certainly not the cheapest, but I'm never out of work. I must be doing something right somewhere along the line, but it doesn't involve lowering my rates.

It's been said before, but would you rather have half the work at twice the price or twice the work at half the price? You'll earn the same in both cases. And there are clients out there - including agencies, believe it or not - who are prepared to pay more for quality.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:19
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
No, they just pretend they are going to pay May 26, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

If you are unwilling to sell your services at the rate the outsourcer would like to pay, they will either have to pay what you are asking - or you can politely turn them down, and they will find someone who sells their services at a lower rate. That is perfectly fine.



[Edited at 2008-05-26 15:13]


Hi Viktoria,

My experience along these lines, on a number of occasions, with low-paying agencies is as follows:

(1) Low-paying agency contacts me with an "urgent job" and asks my price.
(2) I quote my price.
(3) Low-paying agency writes back and says, "Oh dear, that is too expensive for us, but we desperately need the job done."
(4) I write back and say, "That is my price. I also have loads of overheads to pay."
(5) Silence (e.g. for the duration of a Friday afternoon)
(6) Friday evening comes round, and said low-paying agency writes to me again: "We have decided to accept your rates. Here is a PO. We need the translation on Monday morning."
(7) I write back: "OK, deal done."
(8) Together with translation I send invoice.
(9) I send a couple of reminders, 4, 5 and 6 weeks later.
(10) Agency pays a quarter, a third, or a half of the price.
(11) I never hear from the same agency again, and the remainder is never paid.

So who decided the price in the end? They did! They knew their budget, which was maybe half my rate, and they decided to pretend they were going to pay me what I wanted, just to get it done at the time.

Are you sure that we decide the rates, Viktoria? It would appear that nobody ever pays more than they want to for anything!

Astrid


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 09:19
German to English
Number of translators who can't translate is also increasing May 26, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

I don't agree that rates are decreasing. It is rather the number of people who can translate but have no idea of how to run a profitable business that is increasing.



I think the number of people who CAN'T translate is also increasing, and KudoZ is partly responsible for encouraging this trend. KudoZ is attracting more and more unqualified people to try their hand at translation as a source of income. When novices can ask 60 questions per week, they are encouraged to take on jobs they aren't qualified to do at low prices, thinking pro translators will save their bacon.

For several years, many members have been arguing for a revision of the KudoZ rules with an eye to raising the quality of discourse. We could start by reviewing the number of questions a person can ask per day/week, just as we prohibit questions longer than ten words on the basis that KudoZ is not a free translation service. We could also review enforcement of rule no.

2.1 - KudoZ should be used for requesting terms help only after other resources have been exhausted. Resources available include the KudoZ archives (KudoZ > ProZ.com Term Search from the main menu), dictionaries, search engines, etc. If translations are found elsewhere and the decision to post a KudoZ question is made nevertheless, information found elsewhere should be included, along with an explanation of what further information is sought.
and
2.4 - Sufficient context must be provided with each question. When there is no context, the subject area and type of document should be indicated. It can be helpful to enter sentences or paragraphs where the term in question occurs.


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Noe Tessmann  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:19
English to German
+ ...
Eyewash? May 26, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

I decide to offer low rates. We have control over our rates - not the other way around. If we all said no to low rates, all the outsourcers who shamelessly sell our services to their clients with 500% profit margins would go out of business - for everybody's benefit.



Hello Victoria,

nice to say, but when big multinational agencies send out mass e-mails to all the freelancers, that from now on they're only willing to pay 10 % less of the agreed rate. Who decides in this case. It's an eyewash to say that we're making the price. Sure you can stop working for them and look for other clients. The ones who do not depend on them will do so. But the others will do the same job just for less and next year the rates can decrease once again.

If nobody accepts everything would be fine, but this is not the case. How can I help does colleagues who are forced to accept such "offers" and by this mean help myself to continue to ask reasonable rates?

Regards

Noe


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