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We MUST quote in low-price jobs with OUR prices!
Thread poster: Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:21
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jan 29, 2009

Dear colleagues:

These days low rates in Proz jobs is a rather frequent topic. I read that many translators don't even care enough to make a quote if the starting rate is ridiculously low, which happens every now and then.

Unfortunately, if good, experienced translators don't quote on low-price jobs even if they would have the time to take care of the job, only less qualified or less experienced translators will quote, thus giving the outsourcer the impression that the price they offer is actually a fair one, which is clearly not.

By not quoting at our usual rate, we are letting the average rate in the minds of outsourcers plummet freely into the abyss. If we let that happen, we should not complain afterwards about the market situation.

So if you are interested in a job, think you can provide a good service in the field and meet the customer's requirements, make sure you DO quote with YOUR price. Outsourcers must know what the actual price is for a good translation!!


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 14:21
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Well.... Jan 29, 2009

I agree with you in part. If one is interested in a job in general and actually has capacity, it makes sense to do so. Once in a while I'll follow this procedure and quote a reasonable rate for a peanut job. Sometimes I'll get it, sometimes I'll get a rude response from a zookeeper, which I will then give appropriate publicity.

However, even when I do have capacity, I am not likely to waste a lot of time on this activity. I'll hang out in the forums, walk the dog, putter in the garden, maybe even go get drunk - anything which is more productive on the whole.

You see, I really don't care what the zookepers think about rates and what is acceptable and what is not. If they call me, they'll find out what I consider acceptable. If they call a colleague they may get a different answer. Both are valid. If they end up hiring some cheap translators and the customer nukes them, demz da breaks. If they get the world's best translator living in the pampas and happy to take one cent per word, I don't care either, because any person has a capacity limit, and the world's supply of truly good translators is very limited compared with demand. If some outsourcers in low-end market segments don't realize this, I don't care - if I run out of agencies willing to pay me good euro rates when I ask, I'll just go chase some more direct customers who want quality. As it is, however, there still seem to be agencies out there to discover who will pay what most consider to be "end customer" rates. You just have to stop wasting time with the zookeepers and look for them.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:21
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, but statistically we should... Jan 29, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:
...I'll just go chase some more direct customers who want quality. As it is, however, there still seem to be agencies out there to discover who will pay what most consider to be "end customer" rates. You just have to stop wasting time with the zookeepers and look for them.


Yes, I do agree with that: agencies must make a living, but those who are dangerously reducing rates to their customers (dangerously for the agency, I mean, as they will also have to lower the quality with the derived risks) should know that their good translators can always go to other agencies or look for direct customers.

I was suggesting we do quote with our price if the job, other than the price, is something we would do nicely based on our qualifications, experience and availability.

So let's not stop quoting on adequate jobs just because the price and let's quote with our price! It might sound like a waste of time now, but it will yield positive results in the long run.


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thimar
Local time: 15:21
English to French
Zookeepers Jan 29, 2009

Hello,

That's funny, when this kind of agency contact me and go mad if I ask for 0.09€/word, I explain them I've 14 years of experience, a master degree in translation, but few of them care about that, they prefer to hire a cheaper translator, then pay again for a proofreader.
Sometimes, they send emails, offering "great opportunities of collaboration" for... 0.06€/word, then, I answer them that at this pace, in 10 years time, I'll have to pay them myself in order to collaborate with them
Regards,


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 14:21
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Who cares? Jan 29, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
... agencies must make a living, but those who are dangerously reducing rates to their customers (dangerously for the agency, I mean, as they will also have to lower the quality with the derived risks) should know that their good translators can always go to other agencies or look for direct customers.



Am I my agencies' keeper? If they are too dumb to figure that out, they shouldn't be in business, and their passing will go unmourned. If they want to hire me as a consultant on an hourly basis to tell them that, I will do it, but most of these jokers aren't worth the match to light the pipe for what they're smoking.

You know what I prefer to do? Work with really cool agency partners who are eager to go after new business and help them develop strategies for getting it at top rates. Then I don't have to take the hit to my blood pressure that I get dealing with too much direct customer chaos (it varies of course - most are total angels, but some... ) or I get the project coordination backup I crave and a better rate than many will see from a direct customer.

Ignore the twerps with their cattle calls and focus on the businesses that are worthy of the term "partner". If the rest fail, who gives a rat's tail? If they succeed, they will inevitably inhabit the sewers of the profession, which will always be with us to wash the sh*t out to sea.


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Alan R King
Local time: 15:21
Basque to English
+ ...
I agree (with Tomás) Jan 29, 2009

Tomás,

I think what you propose makes perfect sense. Personally, as it happens, I don't bother replying to any jobs on ProZ as I have my own customers and don't need those jobs (luckily). But if I were in that market, that is what I think I should do, and I welcome your making the point.

Freelancers tend to go it alone and act independently on such matters. Ours is not a workers' trade-union-type professional culture. And your suggestion would, I suspect, be almost too obvious to people who do live in that sort of culture. People, that is, who are used to thinking collectively as well as individually. By underselling myself I am doing neither myself nor my colleagues a favour, but playing into the hands of those who live by exploiting us. It is easy to get lazy or indifferent about this, but it reflects short-sightedness.

Alan


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:21
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Dealing is OK; exploiting is not Jan 29, 2009

Alan R King wrote:
By underselling myself I am doing neither myself nor my colleagues a favour, but playing into the hands of those who live by exploiting us. It is easy to get lazy or indifferent about this, but it reflects short-sightedness.


Thanks for your comment Alan. It does make perfect sense. Something I want to be clear about is that I am not against agencies: they offer services locally and in a way makes things more comfortable for us translators and for the customers, and it's grand that they exist and can centralise work both for the customers and for us translators. There are tons of really sensible, kind and fair agencies out there and we should do our best to work together.

But trying to offer 25% (or less) of the regular market price is indeed exploiting us. We should start turning things around with just a little extra effort.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 14:21
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Collaboration Jan 29, 2009

thimar wrote:
... in 10 years time, I'll have to pay them myself in order to collaborate with them


Ah, but you should, just for the privilege and honor of knowing that you have helped to pay the rent on that big office in downtown New York, London or Madrid....


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Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 19:51
German to English
+ ...
I tend to agree Jan 29, 2009

Our efforts as translators to raise price levels in this fledgling industry must necessarily be multi-pronged.

We freelancers are, of course, constantly reminding each other to do so, both on these ProZ forums and in conferences and powwows. The bidding strategy Tomás outlines could be quite effective in educating prospective outsourcers as well. Even one correctly priced bid in a sea of low-priced quotes would stand out and make the outsourcer take note.

I for one have and continue to bid on low-price jobs with realistic prices, precisely for this reason! Gives them an even bigger jolt when they see which part of the world the bid is coming from


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:21
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Anil!! Jan 29, 2009

Anil Gidwani wrote:
I for one have and continue to bid on low-price jobs with realistic prices, precisely for this reason! Gives them an even bigger jolt when they see which part of the world the bid is coming from


Way to go buddy!!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:21
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agency offices Jan 29, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:
Ah, but you should, just for the privilege and honor of knowing that you have helped to pay the rent on that big office in downtown New York, London or Madrid....


It's completely true: the more downtown and luxurious the office, the lower the rates. I have visited some agency offices over the years, and I must say that my best customers have busy, sufficiently and tastefully decorated offices in industrial areas just near their customers, whereas low payers always have a chic office in a top-notch building downtown.


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Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
I do it Jan 29, 2009

As I already said, I already do that. I will keep on doing it, whenever I get some spare time.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:21
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It makes sense Jan 29, 2009

Yes, now and then, when the ad sounds polite enough I send them my rates and qualifications, however such activity has a very low priority.

I wonder if outsourcers have access to all market rates on Proz. I can see it only for my pairs. My rates there are right on the average, 16% below the mode, total frequency close to 2,000, so they shouldn't scare away any sensible, not overly greedy, outsourcer. I think all outsourcers - maybe everybody, paying or not - should have access to all these average market rates. On the long run that might help some free-using translators to afford Proz membership.


Regarding zookeepers, the only one I ever met was in Zurich, or maybe I should write Zürich - the umlaut has been dropped in Portuguese only. Upon handing him my ticket, he started a speech in German. I made a desperate gesture for him to stop. Then I mustered all the Deutsch spracht I knew (absolute squat!!!) and asked him:
"Sprechen sie Englisch?"
"Nein."
"Französisch?"
"Nein."
"Italianisch?"
"Nein."
"Spanisch?"
"Nein."
"Portugiesich?"
"Nein."

And then I stopped. He uttered a "Sehr kosmopolit!" and finished his presentation in German. I guessed it was about not missing the chance to visit the new aquarium.

However he was extremely polite and patient. So I think these people Kevin is referring to are not the actual zookeepers, but escaped gorillas wearing zookeeper's uniforms.



[Edited at 2009-01-29 17:44 GMT]


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Marion Rooijmans
Netherlands
Local time: 15:21
English to Dutch
+ ...
Love that Jan 29, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

So I think these people Kevin is referring to are not the actual zookeepers, but escaped gorillas wearing zookeeper's uniforms.


Thanks José, that made me laugh.

Back to topic: I understand what you mean, Tomás. But I also agree with the whole peanuts-and-monkeys story. I honestly think there's no point trying to educate these agencies. They see your quote, laugh, delete it and contact the translator that DID quote their low rate (or maybe even a few cents less).


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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:21
English to German
+ ...
All translators and clients are created equal, but some are created more equal than others. Jan 29, 2009

Hi Tomás,

I agree with you in part, but:
Why should I waste my time with the wrong target group???
Or let me put it the other way round: Why do many outsoucers offer "shame-on-you-rates"? Why do many translators reply to 3-cent-jobs?

All men are created equal, but some are created more equal than others.
There are different translators, there are different outsourcers, and there are different markets. In my opinion the ProZ.com job system is not the right place to identify high-end clients directly and/or to boost the image of the translation industry. This is a never-ending process that takes much time, effort and patience.

If a professional (fulltime) freelance translator wants to climb a mountain, he/she has to go a long and hard way to reach the peak. The mountain will certainly not come to the translator. I don't think that the ProZ.com job system is the ideal platform to find many clients willing to pay a decent rate. Fortunately, there are exceptions. It's worth "educating" the potential clients of my target group, but not the majority willing to pay peanuts (obviously, what I consider peanuts).

Best,
Aniello
(living and working in Germany where a flat with 80 square meters is approximately 1.000 Euros per month - at least in Munich! Just to give an idea.)

PS:
So let's not stop quoting on adequate jobs just because the price and let's quote with our price! It might sound like a waste of time now, but it will yield positive results in the long run.


In the past I did quote many times on adequate jobs, but in most cases I was either too late or not "cheap" enough.





[Edited at 2009-01-29 21:04 GMT]


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