Misleading information about the translation industry on the internet
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:31
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 25, 2009

It all sounds so simple, I think I will become a translator. On second thought, maybe I will open my own agency and "do more important stuffs" rather than translating...

How to Start an Online Translation Service:
http://www.ehow.com/how_2073468_start-online-translation-service.html

(...(8) Pay the translator after you receive payment from the client for the translation services...")

How to Start a Home Based Language Translation Service
http://www.ehow.com/how_4921619_home-based-language-translation-service.html

(...Translation services are normally quite expensive and there isn't too much competition....,

Starting your Own Translation Agency:
http://ezinearticles.com/?Translation-Agency&id=2185478

(...There are many web sites where you can find and bid for such freelancers who are multi-talented... ...it is better to get a professional to do it for you for a fraction of the price and free yourself to do other more important stuffs...)

[Edited at 2009-07-25 01:15 GMT]


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:31
French to English
well that's some dumb... er stuff Jul 25, 2009

Hang around in airports trolling for custom with the Hare Krisnas? Get listed with government agencies as an accredited interpreter - aren't they forgetting the part where you actually get accredited? You don't have to know anything yourself, but be sure to correct the transator's mistakes? Good ones.

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Niraja Nanjundan  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:01
German to English
What about this one? Jul 25, 2009

Or you might be struggling to find the word that is synonymous for the translation work.


What's the synonym for "translation work" again? Any ideas?

Sorry, but I'm just not feeling very "multi-talented" today!


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:31
French to German
+ ...
Missing lines Jul 25, 2009

What I am missing here is a caveat or a disclaimer, even in small print: "As an author, I may know nothing about the themes I deal with, which means that I only may have written this to make some bucks at your expense. I hope you won't mind: everybody has eventually to make a living out of something."

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-07-25 05:39 GMT]


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- Carolina  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:31
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
We should post our comments on those sites as well Jul 25, 2009

I believe we should post our comments about the sites mentioned by Jeff (above) in said sites as well in order to educate the readers. If we just speak about them here, in our professional environment, we will never educate people on what professional translation services really are.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:31
English to German
+ ...
Good grief! Jul 25, 2009

Now I feel bad that I clicked on this stuff and got their Google rating up.

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Vadim Poguliaev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 00:31
English to Russian
Hm Jul 25, 2009

I feel like raiding those bastards. Too bad we're not one of those imageboards=)

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I drafted a reply to one of them Jul 25, 2009

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
How to Start an Online Translation Service:
http://www.ehow.com/how_2073468_start-online-translation-service.html[/quote]

A few points were missed in perfecting a translation scam.

First, some logic is lacking here:
You don't have to be a translator to start an online translation service.

Then, later:
Check for errors and format of the translated document...


If you are not a translator, how can you spot any errors?
If you admit your operation is a scam, just fwd the files you get from the translator to the client, unopened. You've got to reckon that you are in it for the money, not customer satisfaction.


Second, where will you make a profit?
Generate a pricing list. Call your competition and ask what they charge per word translated.

Then...
Find a translator by visiting the American Translation Association website.


ATA members are professionals; they should charge professional rates.
Your competitors might be attracting clients with low... both quality and rates by using amateur and wannabe translators.
You can't make a profit from selling professional-level quality work at amateur rates.

So you'll have to play the cash-flow game. Sell the pros' work with marginal or no profit at all, but demand full payment in advance from your clients. Then pay translators 60 days after the delivery month end. You'll have all that money to play around in this meantime, and then you'll pay a translator with the up-front payment from the NEXT job. If the next job fails to come up, change your name, move to another state or country, and start over.

This method is called a pyramid, and it's illegal in most countries, but it's still amazingly frequent in translation worldwide.

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:31
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Appalling articles Jul 25, 2009

Some of that crap on eHow is the reason I started to post translation-related articles there to counterbalance material written by those who obviously haven't a clue about the subject. At least some of the stuff I have found there on dog training subjects is reasonable, though you have to know something about the subject in the first place to know what should be ignored.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:31
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It's not all bad Jul 25, 2009

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
How to Start an Online Translation Service:
http://www.ehow.com/how_2073468_start-online-translation-service.html


We may have doubts about certain sections of that list, but keep two things in mind. First, it is not a comprehensive instruction manual -- it is a list of items or steps to take. Some steps are easy and others are difficult. Second, if the reader ever gets to the offending item on the list, it means that he had done several other things already, which is more than most people will accomplish.

(...(8) Pay the translator after you receive payment from the client for the translation services...")


This happens to be the norm. If you don't work this way, then you're one of the exceptions.

http://www.ehow.com/how_4921619_home-based-language-translation-service.html
(...Translation services are normally quite expensive and there isn't too much competition....,


You are misquoting. The text you're quoting comes from a comment that someone posted in response to the original article.

Starting your Own Translation Agency:
http://ezinearticles.com/?Translation-Agency&id=2185478

(... it is better to get a professional to do it for you for a fraction of the price and free yourself to do other more important stuffs...)


I wouldn't set too much store in the above "article". It reads like someone's blog post written on the back of an envelope. The article has no structure and it seems to be about two things at the same time, namely how to be a good client and how to be a good translator.

I can't be 100% sure but I get the impression that the "fraction of a price" comment refers to hiring a professional to do the job right the first time, so that you can concentrate on what you're good at and not waste time trying to do things you're not really good at (such as designing a web site). What do you think the comment means?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:31
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Why hold on to the money for 60 days? Jul 25, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
So you'll have to play the cash-flow game. Sell the pros' work with marginal or no profit at all, but demand full payment in advance from your clients. Then pay translators 60 days after the delivery month end. You'll have all that money to play around in this meantime...


I wonder what agencies do with the money in those 60 days. In a country like South Africa, where you can gain 8% interest on a savings account, or pay 12% on a building bond or 23% on an overdraft account, it might actually help to keep the money longer. But what about countries where interest rates are low? What profit can an agency have from holding on to the translator's money for 2 or 3 months?


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Wasn't I clear enough, Samuel? Jul 25, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
So you'll have to play the cash-flow game. Sell the pros' work with marginal or no profit at all, but demand full payment in advance from your clients. Then pay translators 60 days after the delivery month end. You'll have all that money to play around in this meantime...


I wonder what agencies do with the money in those 60 days. In a country like South Africa, where you can gain 8% interest on a savings account, or pay 12% on a building bond or 23% on an overdraft account, it might actually help to keep the money longer. But what about countries where interest rates are low? What profit can an agency have from holding on to the translator's money for 2 or 3 months?


Unfortunately, too many fly-by-nite agencies worldwide have found this way to live on borrowed cash at no interest. It's a small-scale "translating version" of Bernard Madoff's ploy.

The trick is that they demand up-front payment from the end-client, and commit to paying translators in anything between 45 days from delivery with invoice to 60 days after the invoice date month-end. In this meantime, they have that money to live, pay bills, play the ponies, anything they want. They'll only need cash when the payment to the translator becomes due. Then they'll stall as much as they can. In the meantime, they've got other jobs rolling, so they have the advance payments from later jobs to pay long-past-due translators, as well as keep on living.

The risk is that some day business will decline, and the next job with its up-front payment won't be there. Then they'll default on payment on one translator, another, yet another, until their image (a series of LWA=1 on the Blue Board) is dirtier than an aviary perch, as we say in Brazil. When they can't take it any more, they change name, web site, and start over. Check the "see also" found on many Blue Board bad records.

You might think that such operations exist only in the so-called "third-world" countries. I have seen this in agencies located in very first-world countries. One of them clearly explains on their web site that every order must be accompanied by full payment of the estimated cost before translation work will begin. At the same time, they invited me to join their database, explaining among other things that they pay 60 days after delivery.

The only way I found to do my part in trying to stop this scheme was to bluntly refuse any job offer where payment will be later than 30 calendar days after my delivery. If every translator does it, these scammers will be starved of deliverables, and will have to invent something else.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:31
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I don't think so Jul 25, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
Unfortunately, too many fly-by-nite agencies worldwide have found this way to live on borrowed cash at no interest. It's a small-scale "translating version" of Bernard Madoff's ploy.

The trick is that they demand up-front payment from the end-client, and commit to paying translators in anything between 45 days from delivery with invoice to 60 days after the invoice date month-end. In this meantime, they have that money to live, pay bills, play the ponies, anything they want. They'll only need cash when the payment to the translator becomes due. Then they'll stall as much as they can. In the meantime, they've got other jobs rolling, so they have the advance payments from later jobs to pay long-past-due translators, as well as keep on living.


This may be true of scammers, but what about the agencies that start up with the intention to stay in business? A young agency will struggle to find clients, so I don't think they'll be able to pull of what you're suggesting, unless they start off with a very large job. Someone who works really hard is unlikely to be a crook, in my opinion (unless they're the cold, calculating kind). To start an agency, you need to work very hard at getting clients.

To be honest, I can see how good cash flow can be beneficial to an agency start-up. The agency gets commission on buying and selling, but unlike someone who buys and sells stocks or shares, the agency needs to have a sizeable staff to survive. To start an agency, therefore, even with a 90 day payment cycle, you'd need a lot of start-up capital and good cash flow.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The right thing to do Jul 25, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:
This may be true of scammers, but what about the agencies that start up with the intention to stay in business? A young agency will struggle to find clients, so I don't think they'll be able to pull of what you're suggesting, unless they start off with a very large job. Someone who works really hard is unlikely to be a crook, in my opinion (unless they're the cold, calculating kind). To start an agency, you need to work very hard at getting clients.


Pareto's Law (80/20) would say that one out of every five translation agencies should be good.

I work for a few of these good ones, and I suspect they add more than 100% on my standard fees to get to the final price. Nevertheless, I can see from inside that they add so much value in the process, that the end-client winds up getting top-notch service for a bargain. And then they pay me on the dot, often earlier

Likewise I see a large number of other agencies that consider my same rates too high. Their requirements assure me that my files will be forwarded to the end-client unopened. Incidentally, now and then I see the final work they produce on their end-clients' web sites, and though the translation cost may have been a bargain, the cost to that company's image will be a fortune.

As the latter largely outnumber the former, outsiders tend to see the whole translation market by the gross margin of the first group, and the value added by the second. This entices people to go for it as described in those DIY pages on how to set up an agency.

And then, you are right... it takes a whale of an effort for a new agency to get clients, probably two whales to get good clients. Low price is an excellent bait, whenever a translation job lands in a company's purchasing department. This is how they get started.

After they start, bills begin to pour in, and the cash flow requires them to either sharply improve their results, or join the cash-flow game. This is how non-scammers cross the line.

Samuel Murray wrote:
To be honest, I can see how good cash flow can be beneficial to an agency start-up. The agency gets commission on buying and selling, but unlike someone who buys and sells stocks or shares, the agency needs to have a sizeable staff to survive. To start an agency, therefore, even with a 90 day payment cycle, you'd need a lot of start-up capital and good cash flow.


As I understood from http://www.globalwatchtower.com/2009/07/16/cls-zurmont-madison/
money is finding its way to develop solid translation agencies.

I think you went too lightly on an "agency getting commission" without adding any value. I hope and expect this business strategy to die over time, as translation globalization over the web settles down. No other business activity can be so "webiquitous" as translation.

A translation agency should earn money from their expert handling of (but not limited to):
- recruiting adequate translators for each job
- negotiating rates and deadlines with them
- assembling translator/reviewer teams and coordinating their work
- outsourcing and coordinating post-translation work (e.g. DTP, dubbing, subbing)
- reliably delivering a finished job, that the end-client will have no complaints about.

If it were just a commission, the seller (i.e, the translator) should be paying it on their own rates. The in-between sales rep has no right to change the original manufacturer's price in any other trade.

Maybe the whole model is wrong, and this gives the market the impression that translation is not a profession to be respected. That may be why some people don't care so much about paying translation agencies nor translators on time.


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Misleading information about the translation industry on the internet

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