Who was there first - the translator or the translation agency?
Thread poster: Wulf-Dieter Krüger

Wulf-Dieter Krüger  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:51
English to German
+ ...
Jan 13, 2010

Or - what would translation agencies do, if there were no freelance translators?
They would have to do the work themselves wouldn't they, yet how many of them would be able to do so.

Since banksters particularly in the US, assisted by banksters around the world saw to it that the world economy nose-dived we have seen prices in our industry nose-diving to a level of about 20 years ago.
We have seen turn-around times becoming tighter and tighter.
We have seen demands of profiting on our investments (better hardware, software, dictionalries, internet, etc., supposed to improve our margins) by agencies spiralling up.
Agencies' red tape is ever increasing so are their demands on quality within ever tighter time frames. Terms are becoming longer and more frequently not being met.

Of course they are in a fierce competition with one another about market shares and squeezing one another against the wall. Of course they are caving in to industries' demands as they want to stay in business and because they do not necessarily know what translating really is. If they really did, they would translate themselves, nor would they accept inconsisten terms, wouldn't they?

The question, however, is, whether freelancers should assist them in doing so?

Just think for a moment how many words/less than 5 cents in any currency in any country would a translator have to translate to buy a new PC fitted with all necessary tools (software) to do a proper job? How much would that be in hours, days, weeks, moths? Not to speak about down-times due to shoddy programming?

I believe that freelancers should become aware of the fact that translation agencies depend on freelancers - not the other way round.
I believe that rates of 20 years ago at prices of today are not acceptable and should not be accepted.
I believe that agencies demandig rates of less that 5 cents/word do not respect translators' work and translators.
I believe that industries of all kinds including those of the banksters pressing agencies to squeeze ever lower rates out of translators don't respect translation work either.

This must stop!

Do not misread me - I enjoy translating, it's facinating and keeps you learning all the time, yet more respect of one another would make it real fun.


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Brian Young  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:51
Danish to English
race to the bottom Jan 13, 2010

I agree. Nobody should work for $0.05 per word. I would rather get another job.
In fact, I do a lot of totally free translation, for non-profit organizations that need something translated but could not possibly afford to pay for it. Why not? I love the translation work, these jobs are normally interesting, and rarely just this dry accounting stuff that probably all of us get so much of. So, you get to do what you like, and make a contribution at the same time.
Don't join in this race to the bottom. Just say no!


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 08:51
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Only you can stop it Jan 14, 2010

Each and every one of us has to keep up reasonable rates and not make any exceptions. Do not lower your rate for any reason whatsoever. Otherwise those agencies that pay well will suffer, and we all.
Regards
Heinrich


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:51
French to German
+ ...
Business decisions all the way Jan 14, 2010

I think we can all agree upon the fact that the situation described by Wulf-Dieter is the result of business decisions, and not the consequence of blind, unleashed forces fighting against each other in some parallel universe.

I therefore take this situation for what it is, namely the breakthrough of non-specialised wholesalers and wheelers in a sector which is as demanding as any other. Customers interested in a bargain will go to these and sometimes get more (mostly less) for what they are willing to pay. Potential clients will try to enter a lasting business relationship with professionals.


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Volodymyr Kukharenko
Ukraine
Local time: 08:51
Member (2009)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
It is a matter of "quality or cost" choice Jan 14, 2010

I think that most of the translators who put much efforts and years into polishing up their skills won't be chasing cheap orders unless they desperately need money, while anyone speaking 2 languages may claim that he is translator. The problem is that many agencies don't really care about the real quality as long as the customer don't beat them for poor results. And the final customer in most cases is not the speaker of target language, so he cannot check the quality unless he hires a competitor agency for that, which is normally not done for budget consideration.

So the low-rates race will as long as quality is not considered as major criteria.


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Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
There you are Jan 14, 2010

Vladimir Kukharenko wrote:

The problem is that many agencies don't really care about the real quality as long as the customer don't beat them for poor results. And the final customer in most cases is not the speaker of target language, so he cannot check the quality unless he hires a competitor agency for that, which is normally not done for budget consideration.

So the low-rates race will as long as quality is not considered as major criteria.



A few months ago a friend of mine told me that one of his clients in Germany told him that the translated marketing material (into German) from his winery was really awful and that it even said that its wine was bad.
This actual winery is contracting the translations through the "Camara de Comercio" (chamber of commerce), so they think they are getting professional translations. Of course at a low price, with high quality and fast. Well... since it is not possible to have all three at the same time, the agency will have to sacrifice at least one … (quality!?).

The end client doesn’t know better and selects the agency based on rates. Then, my friend has a huge difficulty selling wines in Germany, and he thinks it is his fault or the country’s rejection to his wines. Now, that this client has told him about the translations, my friend knows what was wrong and the winery has understood the importance of quality in their translated material and they are ready to pay a decent rate. Now, they know how much it has cost them to have a cheap translation.

But not all wineries (companies) are so lucky!

And this is the problem...


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Diana I.
Romania
Local time: 08:51
English to Romanian
+ ...
In Romania Jan 14, 2010

Hello, I live in Romania, and I will only say this: not further than yesterday, I've been sent by a known agency in Bucharest ( the capital of the country ), an offer of collaboration for less than 3 ( THREE ) Euro per page of 2000 characters with spaces. Taxables ones, with 16% income tax, plus about 50% health and retirement charges. Not to mention the rest of the work related costs.
I have not collaborated yet with any romanian agency, being still somewhat at the begining of doing translations "oficially", fiscally registered and everything, but from what I hear ( and see ), this is more or less the range of rates where most agencies stand in.

I told you this just so you know how much worse than 0.05/word the market can get, and please be sure that there's plenty of professional ( sic ) people ready to throw themselves at this kind of job offers.
I only wonder, and I'm about to post this on the Romanian forum too, why won't they rather do baby sitting, or dog sitting, or building cleaning, for the same amount of money if not more, and with much, much less amount of stress and eye-soreness?

As for the agencies working with these rates .... Kudos to their business smarts, right?

Wishing much better rates to everbody,
Diana


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Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
Baby sitting, dog sitting, cleaning, etc. Jan 18, 2010

Diana I. wrote:

Hello, I live in Romania, and I will only say this: not further than yesterday, I've been sent by a known agency in Bucharest ( the capital of the country ), an offer of collaboration for less than 3 ( THREE ) Euro per page of 2000 characters with spaces. Taxables ones, with 16% income tax, plus about 50% health and retirement charges. Not to mention the rest of the work related costs.
I have not collaborated yet with any romanian agency, being still somewhat at the begining of doing translations "oficially", fiscally registered and everything, but from what I hear ( and see ), this is more or less the range of rates where most agencies stand in.

I told you this just so you know how much worse than 0.05/word the market can get, and please be sure that there's plenty of professional ( sic ) people ready to throw themselves at this kind of job offers.
I only wonder, and I'm about to post this on the Romanian forum too, why won't they rather do baby sitting, or dog sitting, or building cleaning, for the same amount of money if not more, and with much, much less amount of stress and eye-soreness?

As for the agencies working with these rates .... Kudos to their business smarts, right?

Wishing much better rates to everbody,
Diana


I think that baby sitting, dog sitting, cleaning, etc. pays more than the equivalent to 0.03 €/word. Maybe these translators think they don't deserve a decent pay....


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:51
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Too much "them and us" Jan 18, 2010

Wulf-Dieter Krüger wrote:

Or - what would translation agencies do, if there were no freelance translators?
They would have to do the work themselves wouldn't they, yet how many of them would be able to do so.


There seem to be constant complaints in these forums, posted by translators, directed against translating agencies.

The truth is that translators need agencies and agencies need translators. It's a symbiotic thing.

In my experience it's all a matter of fostering a good, collaborative, friendly and businesslike relationship between translator and agency.

A negative or litigious "us and them" attitude gets nobody anywhere.

[Edited at 2010-01-18 11:32 GMT]


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Wulf-Dieter Krüger  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:51
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
True, yet some agencies do seem to forget this. Jan 18, 2010

Tom in London wrote:

Wulf-Dieter Krüger wrote:

Or - what would translation agencies do, if there were no freelance translators?
They would have to do the work themselves wouldn't they, yet how many of them would be able to do so.


There seem to be constant complaints in these forums, posted by translators, directed against translating agencies.

The truth is that translators need agencies and agencies need translators. It's a symbiotic thing.

In my experience it's all a matter of fostering a good, collaborative, friendly and businesslike relationship between translator and agency.

A negative or litigious "us and them" attitude gets nobody anywhere.

[Edited at 2010-01-18 11:32 GMT]


[Edited at 2010-01-18 13:42 GMT]


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