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Agency mark-ups
Thread poster: Gül Kaya

Gül Kaya  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:36
Turkish to English
+ ...
Sep 5, 2013

I know this will probably be like getting blood out of a stone but I'm still going to have a stab at it. I would like to know if at all possible what the average agency adds on to the average translator's rate when charging the average client. I want this information because I have been offered an insulting amount by an agency that I have never worked with before. I won't bore you with the details, I think we're all bored of that particular conversation but I would like to send a cutting and succinct reply to said agency thanking them for their interest in me while at the same time pointing out some home truths. So does anyone know what the average mark-up is? Without giving away any state secrets of course.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
PRetend Sep 5, 2013

Pretend you're a potential customer. Send them a document and ask for a quote.



[Edited at 2013-09-05 12:39 GMT]


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Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:36
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I have seen prices from only a few agencies Sep 5, 2013

I can't speak for all language pairs or for all countries for that matter but the few agencies I've seen the prices of seem to charge the client double what they pay the translator, or pay the translator half what they charge the client more like. Of course, I'm not counting the proofreader in that equation or any other overheads the agency may have but if I wanted a really general rule of thumb, I'd use that.

If you want to know that agency's rate to customers though, it's easy enough to do as Tom says, or get a friend to do it.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:36
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Do they earn it, whatever it is? Sep 5, 2013

I really don't know any percentage figure.

But I do know that some agencies do a lot to earn their mark-up: making sure there's a competent translator chosen for each job, dealing with DTP issues, proofreading, ensuring consistent terminology (providing good TMs, glossaries etc),... I don't really begrudge them a decent mark-up.

Whereas others just pass the texts between the end client and the translator and do absolutely nothing to earn their share. They are also the ones that try to reduce the rate not only beforehand but also after the job's been done; and then they delay, delay, delay when it comes to paying. I bet their mark-up is no less.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
You're forgetting one thing Sep 5, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I really don't know any percentage figure.

But I do know that some agencies do a lot to earn their mark-up: making sure there's a competent translator chosen for each job, dealing with DTP issues, proofreading, ensuring consistent terminology (providing good TMs, glossaries etc),... I don't really begrudge them a decent mark-up.

Whereas others just pass the texts between the end client and the translator and do absolutely nothing to earn their share. They are also the ones that try to reduce the rate not only beforehand but also after the job's been done; and then they delay, delay, delay when it comes to paying. I bet their mark-up is no less.



You're forgetting the one key thing that agencies do, Sheila: **they get the work**


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Gül Kaya  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:36
Turkish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
But... Sep 5, 2013

Tom in London wrote:


You're forgetting the one key thing that agencies do, Sheila: **they get the work**


They get the work but you're the one that does that work. The way I see it we can get along without them but they can't without us.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
We discussed this recently... Sep 5, 2013

...but I can't find the thread. Can anyone help?
I worked for an agency in-house a long time ago, and the mark up was around 100%. Based on the recent discussion, I think that was at the high end.
Some agencies do advertise their prices on their websites.

[Edited at 2013-09-05 13:26 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I couldn't Sep 5, 2013

Gül Kaya wrote:

Tom in London wrote:


You're forgetting the one key thing that agencies do, Sheila: **they get the work**


They get the work but you're the one that does that work. The way I see it we can get along without them but they can't without us.


I couldn't. I work with a small number of very good agencies who go out there and get the work, which they pass on to me. I couldn't do what they do.

Stop dissing translation agencies as though they were all bad people. Some of them are good.


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Gül Kaya  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:36
Turkish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Of course not Sep 5, 2013

Tom in London wrote:

[Stop dissing translation agencies as though they were all bad people. Some of them are good.


Tom you misunderstand me. I'm not dissing all translation agencies and I have very good and productive relationships with quite a few. As I said in my original post my request was for a very specific purpose and I wanted an average figure.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Yes Sep 5, 2013

Gül Kaya wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

[Stop dissing translation agencies as though they were all bad people. Some of them are good.


Tom you misunderstand me. I'm not dissing all translation agencies and I have very good and productive relationships with quite a few. As I said in my original post my request was for a very specific purpose and I wanted an average figure.


Yes- apologies, Gül - my ire wasn't directed at you.

But in general these threads often tend to degenerate into a diatribe about how nefarious translation agencies are. My ire was directed elsewhere.



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Gül Kaya  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:36
Turkish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Sep 5, 2013

Tom in London wrote:


But in general these threads often tend to degenerate into a diatribe about how nefarious translation agencies are. My ire was directed elsewhere.



No offence taken.

So the general consensus seems to be between 75 and 100%. That's a mighty improvement on what I was offered in this instance.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Well... Sep 5, 2013

Gül Kaya wrote:

So the general consensus seems to be between 75 and 100%. That's a mighty improvement on what I was offered in this instance.


In the retail business I believe a markup of at least 100% is considered normal. So if I buy an apple for €1, the greengrocer paid €0.50 for it (or less).

[Edited at 2013-09-05 14:02 GMT]


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Gül Kaya  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:36
Turkish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Will update later Sep 5, 2013

I have just got a colleague to contact them to quote for a fairly basic job. I will let you know what the outcome is.

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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:36
Portuguese to English
+ ...
You should also think of the hospitality business! Sep 5, 2013

Tom in London wrote:

In the retail business I believe a markup of at least 100% is considered normal. So if I buy an apple for €1, the greengrocer paid €0.50 for it (or less).

[Edited at 2013-09-05 14:02 GMT]


Wines that are sold to you for £15.00 are bought at £5.00 and the bottled water/soda/lemonade for which you're charged £2.00 are bought for £0.30.

My problem is not that they charge the client double what they pay us. My problem is when the agencies want to pay you £14.00 an hour for interpreting and then you hear the GPs and hospital spokesmen say things like ''an interpreter costs us £150.00 an hour'' (as it was written in a very recent article shared on a Facebook group's wall).


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:36
Member (2008)
French to English
Which market? Sep 5, 2013

Diana Coada, BA RPSI wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

In the retail business I believe a markup of at least 100% is considered normal. So if I buy an apple for €1, the greengrocer paid €0.50 for it (or less).

[Edited at 2013-09-05 14:02 GMT]


Wines that are sold to you for £15.00 are bought at £5.00 and the bottled water/soda/lemonade for which you're charged £2.00 are bought for £0.30.

My problem is not that they charge the client double what they pay us. My problem is when the agencies want to pay you £14.00 an hour for interpreting and then you hear the GPs and hospital spokesmen say things like ''an interpreter costs us £150.00 an hour'' (as it was written in a very recent article shared on a Facebook group's wall).


Sounds like two different markets. The agency the hospital is using is quite likely paying their medical interpreter £75 per hour worked.

And to get that business probably takes a lot of on-site meetings and negotiation by the agency's sales people, which justifies the margin.


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