Upping those offers as a matter of principle
Thread poster: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:34
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 25, 2008

A recent tight-deadline offer on Proz.com caught my eye, and I bid for it on the site, but not at the price they stated. A little practice I have fallen into with jobs that attract me in everything but price. I do, however, ensure it takes me no more than 2 minutes to make these bids. I know I will not be selected, but I like to make a point.

Having set a cut-off time for receipt, which had elapsed, later I only realised I had been sent the file and given the go-ahead quite by chance, while switching off the computer around 9 pm. I then asked for confirmation of price and conditions as in the original bid, because there had been a big price hike, and you never know. This was a 24-hour job, from late evening to late evening.

I was still waiting for confirmation after an hour, during which time I did not start work, obviously, whereupon they suddenly e-mailed to ask me to refrain in future (?) from quoting prices that were double the price originally offered (actually, it was more than four times their price), and saying the job was cancelled.

I e-mailed to say I regretted the misunderstanding, and accepted their cancellation. I did not tell them Thanks for wasting my time, but I thought it. I informed them, though, that I had every intention of continuing to make counter-offers to prospective clients. I did not say You are nobody to tell me how to deal with job offers, but I thought it.

Fifteen minutes later, two e-mails arrived from the same people. One of them was to cancel the cancellation and confirm my price, whereas the other, mysteriously, asked me to confirm their original price, and that I was willing to do the translation (I'm not making this up - that was how it happened).

I asked them to finally confirm my price if they wanted it done, and heard nothing more. I went to bed, and the job closed late the following morning.

I was just hoping I am not alone in upping these offers deliberately, and as systematically as I can.


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:34
French to English
+ ...
You're not alone, but I'm not systematic Sep 25, 2008

I occasionally do this too, but usually only if I'm directly contacted. Typically, someone emails me out of the blue saying 'can you translate this? We can pay $X/word' and I email back saying 'My minimum rate is $3X/word' (or whatever). If I'm in a bad mood, stressed or feeling particularly annoyed at the unsolicited assumption that I'm cheap, I'll say 'My minimum rate is four times what you are offering, and I am kept very busy at that rate'.

This usually receives no reply whatsoever, but I hope someone somewhere realises that there are people out there charging moderate to high rates (I'm not exorbitant but neither am I cheap, in my view) and who are not desperate for work.

I don't often bid and when I do it is generally at the price stated or for jobs with no stated price. I have been known, though, to bid for interesting jobs at my own rate, no matter what the price stated. It never comes to anything though.

So, I offer you my apologies for not being systematic.


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Jim Tucker  Identity Verified
United States
Hungarian to English
+ ...
This should be standard practice Sep 25, 2008

...and I do it sometimes, as Angela does, in response to offers. (As a corollary: to particularly, ridiculously low offers I recommend making absurdly high bids, but that is really just a form of recreation more than anything else.)

Offers by outsourcers should be considered starting points for negotiations. This approach is good for the profession.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:34
Italian to English
What's the point? Sep 25, 2008

If the client stipulates a rate ceiling below your minimum rate, I really don't see any point in responding to the offer.

Unless, of course, you are the world-famous (straight up, Merv, you're a star!) Little Translator, who can mine the subsequent correspondence for another entertaining episode of the continuing saga, which I hope one day you will publish

Anyone else would be micturating into the mistral, or tinkling into the txirimiri, as your corregionalists apparently call the sea mist that in Scotland is known as "smirr".

Best,

Giles


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:34
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
The point is that it works sometimes Sep 25, 2008

I, too, get cheap thrills by responding to interesting jobs at unacceptable rates with my own prices when I have a few minutes to kill. Sometimes it even pays off, usually not, but I figure that until the ProZ filters get fixed so that this crap doesn't land in my inbox I might as well have some fun to balance out the pain of the repetitive strain on my poor finger which constantly clicks the delete button.

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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
As the current saying goes - meh... Sep 25, 2008

Repeating the thoughts of some others here, I would say that

1) I won't respond to a public job posting that is clearly stated at a rate below what I would accept.

To my mind, if a company says "we will pay 5X per word" and my standard rate in the same currency is 15X per word, there's not a lot of room for negotiation.

Plus, what does it look like if I respond at all knowing that this is the situation? The way I figure, it looks like I'm the one that's willing to negotiate (downward, possibly by a lot) since by answering, I have clearly indicated "I'm looking for work" (whether this reflects reality is another matter); I think this gives the impression that I'm the one that's going to cave.

2) I will respond to a personal mail (or one that, while not completely personal, is sent to me via eMail and appears to be serious and aimed at my particular skillset).

I have had several serious offers this way. It is a sad fact that even after serious and friendly negotiations (and occasional begging on the part of the offeror), hours of my time have sometimes been spent absolutely in vain trying to create a new business relationship. But occasionally there will be enough common ground to move forward.

In many cases, the bottom line is a mutual decision to not rule the other party out, and that job offers below my standard rate may be considered when I do not have better-paying jobs lined up. Although, again sadly, this has not been put to the test in a real-life situation, probably for the reasons you can imagine.

Keep in mind that a job post that states a rate is probably confirmed with a client (when coming from an agency, as most are) and the budget has been preset.

If you want to spend your "spare time" responding to job posts below what you accept, apart from wasting your time (the value of which you have to decide for yourself) and theirs, the potential drawback, as I mention above (1), is that it may give an impression you don't actually mean to give - and I suppose there is a very slight chance this could reflect on us all.

Where would we be if low-rate job posters started to think en masse "wow, we have to keep doing this, because obviously these high-paid translators are falling into hard times, look at how many are contacting us to try to negotiate down to our rates?!".

Hmmmmm

[Edited at 2008-09-25 21:34]


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Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 06:34
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hmmm... Sep 26, 2008

Janet Rubin wrote:


If you want to spend your "spare time" responding to job posts below what you accept, apart from wasting your time (the value of which you have to decide for yourself) and theirs, the potential drawback, as I mention above (1), is that it may give an impression you don't actually mean to give - and I suppose there is a very slight chance this could reflect on us all.

Where would we be if low-rate job posters started to think en masse "wow, we have to keep doing this, because obviously these high-paid translators are falling into hard times, look at how many are contacting us to try to negotiate down to our rates?!".

Hmmmmm

[Edited at 2008-09-25 21:34]


And imagine if the "low-rate job posters" started to think en masse "wow, so many translators are refusing to accept our pathetic rates that we had better negotiate a rate that is at least somewhat less insulting that the one we are offering"?

I love to respond to e-mails that say the rate for a 1500 word assignment is $15, or thereabouts. I am scrupulously polite (as only the child of a teacher can be), and always explain that that is way below my minimum and I'd be pleased to discuss another rate when they are ready. I'd say that at least a third of the time they raise the price...


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The Misha
Local time: 06:34
Russian to English
+ ...
I usually wish them good luck looking Sep 26, 2008

Whenever one of those garbage offers really gets to me (not too often though), I send the outsourcer an email wishing him good luck looking for a quality job at the price offered. No, I am not trying to change the world. Like Jim Tucker said, it's just a form of recreation

[Edited at 2008-09-26 03:39]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:34
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Say what? Sep 26, 2008

Janet Rubin wrote:
Where would we be if low-rate job posters started to think en masse "wow, we have to keep doing this, because obviously these high-paid translators are falling into hard times, look at how many are contacting us to try to negotiate down to our rates?!".


How is telling the zookeeping poster of a 5 cent a word job that I'll gladly do it at 15 or 20 cents trying to negotiate down to the outsourcer's rate?

I actually like the idea of these peanut vendors having to spend a significant part of their time sorting through responses from translators who are too "high priced" in order to find the ones willing to sell their bodies for scraps. It adds perspective. Once in a while I get a nice job at my suggested rate out of the deal, at other times I get highly amusing, indignant responses from some fool running an "agency" from her kitchen table. You might call it a waste of time, but so is feeding pigeons in a park or making and flying paper airplanes. Entertainment takes many forms and has value for the individual in itself

[Edited at 2008-09-26 08:25]


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 12:34
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Looks like a variant of the 419 game Sep 26, 2008

Maybe you could request the order confirmation to be a photo of the agent, holding up a sign saying "come to us for bozo prices" for instance. I just dont think they would get the joke.

Must be a lot of fun, costs just 2 minutes per taunt. As a pastime, it beats stamp collecting - but barely.





[Edited at 2008-09-26 22:25]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:34
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Upping... Sep 27, 2008

I usually ask them to take a ride on my bike...

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

G

[Edited at 2008-09-27 12:58]


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