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Disturbing? Strange? Normal?
Thread poster: Álvaro Espantaleón

Álvaro Espantaleón  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:05
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 6

I have received this email today:

"Dear partner,

You've probably noticed that you haven't been assigned projects lately.

This is likely to do with the fact that your rate is significantly above the average rates that our other service providers charge us. Our Project Managers have profitability targets to meet and when assigning the projects they most likely will choose the linguists whose rates are closer to the averages.

Our business model relies on large volumes. We have long term contracts with the largest corporations in the world and because the volume of words we provide them is so big we cannot charge the same that an individual translator would.

Having that in mind, I thought I'd write to you today and see if you would be willing to renegotiate your rate to a level which is closer to our average.

Alternatively, if you consider that your current rate is the minimum you'd be willing to work for, would you like me to remove your name from our database so you no longer receive our availability check emails?

Kindly let me know."


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 18:05
English to Croatian
+ ...
Depends. Apr 6

I think that them sending a "suggestion" for you to reconsider your rate is fairly normal. What is not normal is them going into great detail about their profit targets, other translators' rates, etc. - none of these is your business really and I assume you are not interested in these details (I wouldn't be).

The email could have simply said: "Your rate does not match what we can pay, therefore, are you OK with being removed from our database? Thank you."

Tell them that you have your own profit targets to meet, not theirs.


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Frances Nichol  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:05
Member (2016)
Chinese to English
I'd say definitely unusual Apr 6

Is it true you haven't heard much from them recently, whereas you did before?

To be honest, if it is the case, then I think it's fine that they tell you. At least you know. And if you want more work from them, you can see what their average is. At the least, you can find out some average prices, even if you don't want to work with them. And if they can't pay what you want, then yes, you don't need to hear from them again.

I think I'd like to know if I dropped my rate by a small amount, then I could get a lot more work. At least to consider if, even if I didn't want to in the end.

It's better than not getting work and never knowing why.

[Edited at 2017-04-06 20:00 GMT]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:05
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Consider this.... Apr 6

If they truly had enough people to work at their desired rates, they would not have bothered contacting you.

The fact that they have done so indicates that the quality and service you provide is superior to what they have been getting. (Remember that people can take on work at 1/2 the rate, but if they are unreliable in delivering on time then...). Not everyone can take on a "large volume" project and reliably deliver on time.

They are unable to sell translation at a higher rate, but at the same time recognize that the rate their clients are willing to pay will not result in a quality product and a satisfied, long-term client.

What they want is your quality and service at the cost of a lower quality service. To achieve this goal, they are trying to convince you that your work is worth less.

Plus, ¡qué grosero!



[Edited at 2017-04-06 20:06 GMT]


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
bull*it Apr 6

> You've probably noticed that you haven't been assigned projects lately.
Is it really so? From them only? Did they ask about the rates before?

> This is likely to do with the fact that your rate is significantly above the average rates
> that our other service providers charge us.

Where specific pairs and numbers? I compared your rates and they are quite acceptable.

> Our Project Managers have profitability targets to meet and when assigning the projects
> they most likely will choose the linguists whose rates are closer to the averages.

It has nothing to do with the point.

> Our business model relies on large volumes. We have long term contracts with
> the largest corporations in the world and because the volume of words we provide
> them is so big we cannot charge the same that an individual translator would.

They are so big pathos talking, yet still beside the point.

> Having that in mind, I thought I'd write to you today and see if you would be willing
> to renegotiate your rate to a level which is closer to our average.

Aha, they allegedly have so many projects from so many Fortune 500 clients, and so many average fishes that they care to contact for a re-negotiation.
THEY. NEED. YOU.

> Alternatively, if you consider that your current rate is the minimum you'd be willing to work for,
> would you like me to remove your name from our database so you no longer receive our availability check emails?

Oh, pretty please! I've galloped after you for three days just to say that I don't like you at all!

IMO it's has very-very vaguely little to do with your rates.


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Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:05
Member (2008)
English to French
As with all things in life... Apr 6

...I prefer to be 'better than average'

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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:05
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Lower rates Apr 6

This agency is quite manipulative and controlling. If you lower your rates once, they will insist that you lower them again and again.
Tell them to "pound sand" (actually I was thinking of another phrase but I am excluding it in the interest of good taste). Translators should try to wean themselves from agencies.


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Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 18:05
Member (2005)
English to German
Typical "race for the bottom" development Apr 6

... let them race without you.

Sometimes even good agencies decide to work for big companies that make them go into "reverse auctions" for projects and underbid their own pricing every year.

I find it surprising when agencies do that of whom I had a high esteem for many years, and who in my opinion can do better than that. Yet some agencies feel that they need to sell themselves at the price of bread when I think they could easily sell as cake. I feel sorry for them, but that doesn't mean I have to join them in this development.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:05
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Disturbing Apr 6

Álvaro Espantaleón wrote:

I have received this email today:

"Dear partner,

You've probably noticed that you haven't been assigned projects lately.

This is likely to do with the fact that your rate is significantly above the average rates that our other service providers charge us. Our Project Managers have profitability targets to meet and when assigning the projects they most likely will choose the linguists whose rates are closer to the averages.

Our business model relies on large volumes. We have long term contracts with the largest corporations in the world and because the volume of words we provide them is so big we cannot charge the same that an individual translator would.

Having that in mind, I thought I'd write to you today and see if you would be willing to renegotiate your rate to a level which is closer to our average.

Alternatively, if you consider that your current rate is the minimum you'd be willing to work for, would you like me to remove your name from our database so you no longer receive our availability check emails?

Kindly let me know."


There is a flaw in their system. They shouldn't check the availability of all translators at all rates. That equates to the situation all translators learn to avoid.

Cheers,
Gerard

[Edited at 2017-04-06 21:22 GMT]


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Laura Kingdon  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:05
Member (2015)
French to English
+ ...
I'm sure it's not just me... Apr 6

...but it really rubs me the wrong way when agencies propose paying less because of large volumes. Why would it offer me any benefit to do more work at less money than I'd make spending that time working for another client? I suppose it makes sense if you're really starving for work and want some job security, but as I am not in that position, I always refuse to lower my rate.

Also, I've seen some of the rates agencies charge. They're much higher than most individual translators' rates I've seen. That entire part of their argument makes no sense whatsoever.


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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 18:05
Member (2016)
English to German
It's a market Apr 6

I think that it is legitimate that the agency asks for lower rates, just as legitimate as a translator asking for higher rates. It works the other way round too. It's good practice to inform agencies that pay below average rates about this fact and tell them that they have lower priority with their assignments. Try it.

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Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 16:05
Japanese to English
You say that to all the other girls Apr 6

Call me cynical, but I bet they sent that same email to all the translators in their database, not just you. If even 10% of them take the bait, think of savings!

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:05
English to Spanish
+ ...
Manipulative language? Maybe. Controlling? I don't think so. Apr 6

Michael Newton wrote:

This agency is quite manipulative and controlling. If you lower your rates once, they will insist that you lower them again and again.
Tell them to "pound sand" (actually I was thinking of another phrase but I am excluding it in the interest of good taste). Translators should try to wean themselves from agencies.


The message's tone is polite and businesslike. Of course, the agency will highlight their goals and not the translator's. That's only to be expected.

That they took pains to write that letter (or even if they wrote it once to send it to a bunch of people) should be acknowledged in a businesslike and polite response: Yes, my rates will continue to be above your average OR No, I want to be considered for future projects, so here's my lower rate from now on.

I see nothing disturbing or strange in the message. Of course, the message tries to be persuasive, giving the recipient an option to respond according to the agency's wishes, but I don't see that as controlling, because the recipient does have a choice to say no.



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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:05
English to Spanish
+ ...
Striking a balance Apr 6

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

I think that it is legitimate that the agency asks for lower rates, just as legitimate as a translator asking for higher rates. It works the other way round too. It's good practice to inform agencies that pay below average rates about this fact and tell them that they have lower priority with their assignments. Try it.


Agreed. If we are professionals, we can't take every rejection letter too personally. Clients come and go, so project managers and smiling receptionists. And being professional means answering that letter in a businesslike manner.


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:05
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Disturbing Apr 6

Mario Chavez wrote:

I see nothing disturbing or strange in the message.


What is "disturbing", in my opinion, is that, after having reached an agreement with an agency, said agency tries to lower the agreed rate based on a reasoning that is totally inconsequential and irrelevant for the translator. And actually, in doing so, they also highlight a pretty big logical flaw: "... because the volume of words we provide them is so big we cannot charge the same that an individual translator would". Problem is, they are in fact asking "an individual translator" to charge less although he won't obviously be able to translate that "big volume of words". So they're basically trying to maximize their profits by accepting huge volumes of words at reduced rates and splitting them among a number of translators while at the same time refusing to lower their cut on those translators' work, but instead trying to have "individual translators" take the hit (even though they had previously agreed on higher rates).

So, maybe it's not "strange" they're trying to maximize their profits at all costs, but I definitely find it "disturbing" they're doing it that way, also considering this does not concern specific projects/accounts, but general rates for every project.


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