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An e-mail received and my answer
Thread poster: Luis Arri Cibils

Luis Arri Cibils  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:48
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 19, 2008

Dear all,

I have just received a job offering e-mail from a major translation agency/company. I am attaching it (all identifying info removed), as well as my answer.

I am not suggesting that the job offers peanuts to monkeys (it ain't a two or three centers "thang," even though is not an offer I would write home about.) I believe that new translators should know how we, some older translators, handle these situations.

I am posting the offer and my answer just to state in public my position on how I answer what I consider below my "pay rate" offers.

Regards to all,

Luis

The e/mail I got:
_______________________________________
Hello!

I have an important translation to offer you, ENG > SP(MX)
2181 new, 151 fuzzy
This file is due 8.20 @ 6pm EST
I can pay $130 for this translation

_________________________________________

My answer:

________________________________________
Dear XYZ,

Thank you for letting me know of the job opportunity with your firm. I would like to state, however, that my fees, for EN>ES translations, start at $0.1X per source word if the document can be edited (such as a Word document), per target word otherwise.

I am an ATA-Certified EN>ES translator, holding degrees in law (JD), business administration (MBA, concentration in Finance), and chemical engineering (PhD), and residing in the US.

I do not know whether your presently offered rates are typical or whether they obey to some specific end-client's budget restriction. However, I have adopted a niche business model, providing services to high-end clients, with stringent expertise and quality requirements.

I am cognizant of the many market segments prevailing today in our industry, and I do not wish to suggest how agencies and freelancers should position themselves in that market. However, I would not want to falsely represent that I can provide services at the fee level you suggested. If you so wish, you might want to let your management know my fee requirements for them to decide whether my name should be still included in your mailing list.

Sincerely yours,

Luis E. Arri, PhD, MBA, JD, CT (EN>ES)
Attorney-at-Law
USPTO-Registered Patent Attorney
ATA-Certified EN>ES Translator
________________________________________


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:48
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same email received plus other Aug 19, 2008

I received the same massive email. The mentioned company uses massive emails as a normal practice. So, the first (and many times cheapest) translator will get the job.

Contrary to Luis, I did not take the time for a so polite reply. I don't know how they keep my email address in their roster though.

The email received:
___________________________________
I have a proofreading project for you, ENG > SP(MX)
6411 words, ready for you now
This is due 8.21 @ 3pm EST
I can pay $100 for this proofreading

Files attached
___________________________________

My reply:

That is peanuts. Please remove my email from yout list.

___________________________________

Unfortunately, once again, there are many translators willing to support these business practices.


Regards,

Elías


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Luis Arri Cibils  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:48
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Howdy, Elías Aug 19, 2008

I have not seen you, virtually or otherwise, since we met at the ProZ Conference in Buenos Aires. I hope everything is well with you.

Yup, it was a massive email, and I do know that some may consider it an attractive offer, compared to their local circumstances. I just wanted them to know that sticking to one's guns one could get, at least, the same income with one half, one third, even one fourth of the effort. But I know better.

Regards,

Luis


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:48
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bravo! Aug 19, 2008

Luis,

Your response is a masterpiece of professionalism and also so wickedly pointed. I hope someone at the other end blushed!

Good for you!
Patricia


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:48
English to French
+ ...
In other words, pay me or get lost Aug 20, 2008

"Pay me or get lost", says Luis. And he so says in a very polite, almost poetic manner. In fact, I have never heard someone say f**k off with so much elegance.

Power to you, Luis! Let's hope the people who find that offer attractive are reading this thread.



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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:48
English to Spanish
+ ...
¡Bravo.... ! Aug 20, 2008

Bravo Luís and Elías.

In fact, I love BOTH answers. And I hope that some of those people who accept these sort conditions read this thread before doing it again.

To Spanish translators and reviewers, remember:

"¡BASTA YA! Reventar precios es pan para hoy y hambre para mañana."



Ruth @ MW


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:48
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
Model letter Aug 20, 2008

Luis, what a great professional and decent person you are! You have found the formula to put this people in their place, and maybe even have them thank you for telling them to f... off, so nicely written is your letter.

I wonder, would you mind my using it as a template?


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Mónica Algazi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 00:48
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
CHAPEAU - HATS OFF Aug 20, 2008

Chapeau, Luis!

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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 06:48
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
A minority opinion Aug 20, 2008

Frankly, I thought it was over the top.

Good luck with getting rid of the customer though!


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Alana Quintyne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:48
French to English
+ ...
Very diplomatic Aug 20, 2008

The way in which you responded to that email was so diplomatic and professional. Thank you for posting it here. I think that there are quite a number of translators who need to see how to turn down jobs if they are not happy with the payment they would be receiving. I know that this type of email is sent to many translators so I just hit delete but your strategy is a good one. I hope that they take heed and remove your name from their listing.

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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:48
Spanish to English
+ ...
A well crafted response Aug 20, 2008

It is a well written reply, no doubt, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

If they continue to send you similar offers then they won't have taken a blind bit of notice to what you said. You know what some companies (and their people) are like.

Time, therefore, will tell.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:48
English to Spanish
+ ...
Excellent Aug 20, 2008

That is an excellent response, although certainly undeserved by the recipient.

Being me, my own response would have been similar to what Elias said.


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Alfredo Fernández Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:48
English to Spanish
+ ...
Your rates, not theirs Aug 20, 2008

Well done, Luis! ¡Hay que ser valiente!

As per usual, a client is 'informing' of *their* budget.

But if so turns out, we, translators, have our own rates.

So, we are not waiting to the client's, nor do we have to adapt ourselves.


One is better off just waiting for a proper offer. Or simply, relaxing in this summer season.


P.S. Who goes to a self-employed, i.e., a dentist, saying 'I only have xx USD/EUR, I need my XXX (tooth) fixed/done?'



Alfredo


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:48
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
What? Aug 20, 2008

Luis,

With all these degrees, what are you doing in this industry?


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Luis Arri Cibils  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:48
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Preference for beer breaks iver coffee breaks Aug 20, 2008

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:


Luis,

With all these degrees, what are you doing in this industry?




Dear Eleftherios,

Let me finish my beer break before I give you a complete response.

For the time being, just let me say that I am partial to taking yearly, one-month-long trips to Argentina, visiting my children and grandchildren in Houston, at least 2 or 3 times a year, for a week or more, teaching overseas for one to two weeks a year, and, of course, taking some well-deserved yearly vacation. Of course, the rest of the year is not a weekday, 9-to-5, job but I take it.

Oh, I forgot, I am also partial to watching live (and thoroughly enjoying it this time!) soccer games such as yesterday's game between Brazil and Argentina at the Olympics. (To all Brazilian translators, you were sort of establishing paternity rights on us. We had to change that. And you don't mess with Messi!)

Incidentally, I do agree with your assessment, made in another thread, that rates will drop sharply in the next year or so. I do not know whether your forecast of a 40% drop is correct, but I am sure that it'll be some significant number. The agency to which I sent my e-mail is a case on point.

This agency is not a flight-by-night, one-outsourcing-translator firm. To the contrary, it is one of the largest X translation agencies in the world. 10-15 years ago, when I was happily, or not so happily, churning legal documents at a couple of major law firms (at that time, 300 and 500 attorneys nationwide, respectively), I, as a lawyer and, thus, a translation consumer, received their advertisements by mail: impressive Roladex cards, business cards, glossy brochures which emphasized how a lousy translation could screw up our well-thought legal analyses. That agency is not aiming to the lower-end of the translation consumers' market

As little as just one year ago, when I had already been for years enjoying beer breaks, which I widely preferred over coffee breaks, I was invited to join their pool of translators. The offered rate was 20 to 30% over the rate quoted in their recent e-mail to me. The trend is there.

Since their then offer was way below my "pay rate", I just ignored their e-mail, and forgot all about it. Somehow I became on their radar a few months ago and started receiving e-mails with "job offers." Again, I ignored them until this recent one, when they stated the offered rate, 20 to 30 percent below the rate they offered me one year ago.

I decided then to answer. I implanted firmly my tongue on my cheek and wrote my response, having already decided I was going to post it in ProZ. (Yes, Mikhail, it was by design to be over the top. You are not a minority opinion. If it was way over the top, your call, it might have been due that sarcasm is not a skill we Latins know how to master. I just wanted to let new translators know what some of the "more established" translators in ProZ, at least I, whether I am established or not, think about this kind of offers.

I just put myself in the newbie's shoes: "Hey, I have just received an offer from the "Acme" Translation Co., a huge company in the business. I must be doing something right. They offered me twice the 2 cents complained about by the most experienced translators on ProZ. Maybe that's the prevailing market rate after all."

There are many ways to respond. We clearly need to "just say no", but in itself, that will be as fruitful as a similar policy was in curtailing teen pregnancies in the US.

We must specialize and find our own niches.

We must inform the new generation of translators about what it entails to succeed in our industry, at least, what it takes to get enough money to pay our bills. I hope my post contributed to that.

We, translators in those countries that generate most of the translation requests, must "bring" to the market those top translators that live far from them, through association and team work.

That's all I wanted to say with my post, Eleftherios.

Bye, for now, I have translations to make and possible assignments to evaluate for quotation.


Best,

Luis


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