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Translators being treated like cattle.
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 19, 2009

I posted this before, but it bears repeating because they are back posting again seeking more "translators/suckers".

Due to site rules, I cannot post the name of the company here, but please read their FAQ before agreeing to work with them. They have a very flashy website and no doubt poor unsuspecting clients with be suckered in by their marketing. However, they pay only .03 a word - not including the deduction of PAYPAL fees. To the unsuspecting new translator, they make it sound as though this were completely normal and standard. They also pay no minimum and if you make a mistake (likely at .03), you won't get paid. AND you must translate 250 words an hour and respond to all customer questions/complaints. What the &^%# does the agency do?

Companies like this not only harm the translators they scam, but the other legitimate agencies they undercut and the unsuspecting clients who get the impression that translation is a cheap, instant commodity.

If a customer is not satisfied with the result, you will not get paid because according to them: "This is the only way we can protect our customers from frauds and low-quality translators." Who protects the translators and clients from them?

"The language does not affect the pricing and there is no minimum fee. The customer submits the text to be translated and the word count of that text defines the sum to be paid.
Payment is based according to the following:
100 words - $3 US
250 words - $7.5 US
500 words - $15 US
750 words - $22.5 US
1,000 words - $30 US
5,000 words - $150 US
10,000 words - $300 US

Our customers use our service to get fast results, so you have a time limit to submit the translation (around 1 hour per 250 words). If you don’t submit the translation within this time frame, the project will be re-opened for other translators and you will not be able to choose the same project again, nor will you get paid for the project.
Upon submitting the translation, the customer reserves the right to review and ask you for corrections or improvements. At this stage, the customer cannot copy/paste the result but just review it. We will credit your word credits as soon as the customer approves the translation."

"We created this service because we were searching for quick, professional and affordable translations and could not find a service that provided us the high quality human translation we needed. Using traditional translation service was too expensive and automated translation software products are not reliable."

[Edited at 2009-06-19 13:14 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My cleaning aid makes more! Jun 19, 2009

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
10,000 words - $300 US


I.e. US$ 9 an hour. My cleaning aid makes US$ 12 an hour. I will ask her about creating a joint-cleaning-venture.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:36
French to German
+ ...
It is the same old story again Jun 19, 2009

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

"We created this service because we were searching for quick, professional and affordable translations and could not find a service that provided us the high quality human translation we needed. Using traditional translation service was too expensive and automated translation software products are not reliable."

[Edited at 2009-06-19 13:00 GMT]


Some ten minutes ago, I just shook my head in disbelief when I saw the offer made by a French outsourcer paying 5,000 words at 150 euros ex VAT for a DE>FR translation (an average of 0.03 euro per SW, because of repetitions) - no indication as per topic, deadline, etc. The only thing this outsourcer knew was that "T****$ is a must".

I would not even mention this offer if the outsourcer in question was not a service provider (aka "translator") first and foremost.

As the saying goes, You don't need enemies when you have such friends. It is even more true in our trade, we just need to open our eyes.

Laurent K.






[Edited at 2009-06-19 13:17 GMT]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 03:36
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Business Jun 19, 2009

The fee is obviously very, very low, but it's not entirely insane, at least not in my neck of the woods... and then, payment within 3 days can partially make up for that for many people. As always, everyone is free to pass on this offer, and I know I'm passing on it - but that's not a reason to consider it an outrage.

They themselves pretty much state that they are aiming for the middle ground between machine translation and human translation through traditional agencies... this is obviously a bottom of the barrel service for bottom of the barrel traslators.
I'm fairly sure there are people and companies out there with non-mission-critical, dare I say trivial materials to be translated, and who are happy with what we would describe as a mediocre translation at best. There is nothing wrong with meeting that demand.

I too think they are taking way too much for what they offer though. 0.02 out of the 0.05 that the customer pays while they don't do much apart from maintaining the website, and they don't promise to meet all demands (rare combinations etc.) Then again, this is capitalism; if anyone thinks they can do the same thing and offer a larger share to translators, thereby attracting more/better translators and improving the quality and hence attracting greater volumes, they are welcome to try.

Yes, translators are exposing themselves to the whims of the client as the company automatically sides with the client which guarantees the occasional disaster... But hey, at least they are up front about it! If you don't like the terms (I sure as hell don't), you can move right on. We've read more than a few stories of traditional agencies doing the same thing when you least expect it.


Bottom line: not for established translators, more for people who badly need to make some money and more or less know how to translate. Nothing to see here, move on.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
On a second thought... Jun 19, 2009

I think that, as automatic translation gets widespread and better, this company does not have a single chance of surviving: people can get the meaning quite well with automatic translation they will have integrated even in their loo and will cost nothing, and when they really need a translation, the faulty translation they will get for 3 cents won't do.

So my estimate is that the company goes out of business before they can even take off. Time will tell!


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Being an entrepreneur Jun 19, 2009

What some of these new KTAs run by "entrepreneurs" without any language or translation experience fail to understand is that we are also entrepreneurs and businesspeople. We can also create a website and market clients. If they fail to offer us a decent rate, we can get work elsewhere. On the other hand, without translators, they have no business at all.

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:36
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Two more. Anyone want to undercut 0.005 $US per word? Jun 19, 2009

Two job offers from a translators' website (not ProZ.com) in the past two days.


Source language: Russian
Target language: English

Details of the project: Dear Translator,

We have an assignment / project which needs to be translated from Russian to English. Kindly let us know your availability for completing this project.

Kindly reply back and let us know your interest in taking up this job,
Subject: Geological Text the text quantity: approx 20,000 pages

Can you please answer the below questions.

1) Let us know about your experience.
2) Are you available for the project?
3) We are offering $0.01 experience per english word.
4) The earliest TAT (Turn Around Time) you could give to complete the project.
5) How many pages / words you can translate per day.

Please contact to xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Special requirements to the applicants: Freelancers translators only

Who can apply: Freelancers only

Deadline for applying: 30/06/2009
___________________________________________________________________

Source language: Russian
Target language: English

Details of the project: Hello,

I am seeking Russian to English translators in order to translate and/or proof-read some text. I am looking for what is known as the legally certified translators and have a licence with the certification number and these translators will be given a preference, but if you do not have a certification number and thus a certificate, you still have a good chance of being considered. If you are a legally certified as a certified court-sworn translator or just legally-certified and have a licence with the certification number, it is a plus though. Please let me know your rates.

The lowest rates with the best quality work would be given a priority as well (1 cent US per every 2 words is tops that i can pay (, but the lowest rate gives you a competetive edge). Method of payment is paypal, check or credit cards after the job has been done as per the job's advertisement and specifications and delivery to me. As I have stated, it is prefered that the translator is a certified translator and will be able to provide certified translations with the certification number, court-sworn document, seal and address on the translations.

If you are one of the translators and are what I seek, please respond with the subject line in your email stating Russian to English Translation at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Every page that has been translated by you must have the heading and the footnote with the name of your company (if you have one), your full name and full address, your telephone number, certification number and by whom and when it was issued (if you need to attach a copy of the certification document, please feel free to do so), court-sworn affidavit or a certificate and a seal, signature and any other attistation(s). It might very well be that proof-reading and not the actual translations will be required only.

Who can apply: Freelancers only

Deadline for applying: the sooner the better


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:36
Flemish to English
+ ...
Why bother to bid ? Jun 19, 2009

Why bother to bid on Proz.com and other websites.

Take up a telephone or simply do a tour of businesses active in your market niche in the nearest big city. Try to hand out biz.cards or make an appointment with the person responsible for translations. Some cold-calling might help too.
This requires time and effort, but in the long run proves to be more profitable.
Rather a translation at 0.15-0.20 p.w. and no trados discounts, simply because the cost of the translation is part of a multi-million euros project and a drop on a hot plate, than "wasting" one's time jumping like flies on a bidding system with agencies who want you to offer "best rate" + reductions for words/sentences that appeared in a previous almost similar text.

The only time, the bidding turned out to be effective for me was for an interpreting assignment.

[Edited at 2009-06-19 14:13 GMT]


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:36
English to Japanese
+ ...
Oh my God, Jack Jun 19, 2009

The format of the first job offer seems very familiar to me. I don't work in the same language pair as you do, but I do get a lot of ridiculous and most of the time non-paying agencies using the site to solicit translators.

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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 21:36
Member
Spanish
+ ...
They think they're doing us a favor Jun 19, 2009

I know what agency you're talking about. There was a discussion in another forum and the founder actually thinks he's doing us a favor in several levels. They hire (whatever that means) "junior translators" (i.e. non-professionals) to do translations, and LET the professionals (whatever that means for him) review them because and this is what he actually said:

The idea with Review is to check the translation a more junior translator did, and fix where needed. Obviously it is much less work than doing the actual translation, still we pay the translator doing the review the same amount we pay the translator....

... the basic price we charge (and pay translators) is low, BUT the longer a qualified and certified translator work with us the more Review projects she/he gets.


This is what I replied and he didn't answer of course:

"The idea with Review is to check the translation a more junior translator did, and fix where needed. Obviously it is much less work than doing the actual translation"

No it's not. Fixing a bad translation usually takes longer than translating it from scratch. Let me guess, you pay your reviewers per word, don't you?


Just yesterday, an agency asked me for a quote to proofread a document. Almost every paragraph had blatant mistakes that were obviously done by a bilingual non-professional person (a professional translator would never do that kind of mistakes). I do proofread documents on a regular basis, and I can spot machine translations and non-professional translations in seconds. I never review those, ever.

This is part of what I replied to him when I told him I wasn't going to proofread it:
I've seen "translations" done by non-professionals before, and I know that correcting them might even take longer than re-translating everything from scratch, so if I notice that the translation wasn't done by a professional translator, I simply don't accept to edit/proofread it. That is regardless of how good or bad it is.

... usually this is what happens: a) I'd have to read what's already badly translated, b) try to correct it, c) translate the original anyway. Or, I could just do step c. If I absolutely have to use the existing translation, I'm not gonna be happy with the quality of my work and the client is not gonna be happy because he'd end up paying more (proofreading is charged by the hour because a good translation shouldn't take that long).


But the thruth is that most people really don't know all the work that a proper translation requires, and why should they? But as professionals, we must educate our clients and let them know the difference. That is actually the reason I (like many others) am no longer a ProZ member. I really like this site and there are many great translators here, but there are also way too many of those 3-cents-per word agencies and translators, and they have great entries at the Blue Board and they can post all those crappy jobs with zero standards. And that is reflected on the image of the ProZ community.

What happened with LinkedIn is a clear example of that (do a Twitter search for #linkedinfail). They were trying to get a freebie and they will probably get what they will pay for: peanuts for peanuts. The response from the professional community all over the 'Internets' has been amazing, and also an example of how useful these social networks can be.

Matthew Bennett created a group called: 'Translators against Crowdsourcing by Commercial Businesses' where the community is talking precisely about that.


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Michael GREEN  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:36
English to French
Market forces .... Jun 19, 2009

OK, it's not acceptable - but should we be surprised ?

As translators we are operating in a global market, and we have both the benefits and pitfalls of that situation.

The Internet ensures that any job, any prospective customer, can be offered to vast numbers of us, instantly. That makes it a buyers' market, since the offer of services from translators ALMOST ALWAYS exceeds the demand from any customer for a specific job.

At the same time, if we play our cards right, it can be a sellers' market, because unless we are desperate we can pick and choose, and select only those customers/jobs that offer us the deal we are looking for.

Situations like those decribed by Jeff, Jack and others arise because there are regional differences in fees and customer expectations - a couple of cents per word is ridiculous in Western Europe or the USA, but for all I know it may be a very good rate for a translator in Russia or a developing country - and these agencies/translators are competing with the translators/agencies from the "developed world". The fact that translators from a developing country can accept what to us are very low fees is more a reflection on the cost of living in their country than on the quality of their work.

In today's world, this happens in every area of economic activity, so why are we surprised if it happens to us ?

The answer is to be selective, ignore or refuse jobs at rates which are lower than our threshold, and yes, do as Williamson suggests - don't bother to bid (except when the job meets very specific criteria that only you can set for yourself), go out into the world and start prospecting. Before I got tired of travelling the world for a bunch of anonymous shareholders and became a translator, my background was sales & marketing in multinationals, and I brought with me the "marketing approach" - I go to trade shows, send out mailings, make cold calls, in other words, I do what any sales guy does to sell his product. Today, my product is my translating services.

Translators are a profession - ok - but we are selling a product - our skills - and it is very short-sighted to sit back and expect the business to come to us. We have to go out to get it.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:36
French to German
+ ...
What would be these? Jun 19, 2009

Michael GREEN wrote:

OK, it's not acceptable - but should we be surprised ?

As translators we are operating in a global market, and we have both the benefits and pitfalls of that situation.



I mean the benefits of globalisation?

Laurent K.


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:36
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
The next bubble Jun 19, 2009

"Translators being treated like cattle."

Isn't that the ultimate result of low biding sites such as proz and others?

That makes it a buyers' market,...

A good lawyer still costs $350 an hour in the US, and I don't know of anybody who posted an ad "We have a large litigation case, and lawyers can submit their offers".
Translators are cattle.

They think they're doing us a favor
It didn't use to be like that. It became like that when many agencies from "old cultures" got in the game. In these "old cultures", the "agency" is the ultimate boss and has to bully everyone around (just because they bought two PCs and two cheap desks from office depot).
Then they throw all responsibility for the product to the translator, and they don't do anything else other than forwarding emails.

Most translators are juniors and they set the prices and terms of "total submission" for the larger part of the market.

Lately I've been reading a lot of complains from readers of major Greek newspapers about the quality of many articles (translated press releases). On a daily basis. The most recent one was a letter to the editor "did you guys graduate even elementary school?"

Eventually, all these errors are somehow "incorporated" in every day language.
That's just one of the results, the destruction of the language.

The lower the quality, the lower the willingness of the end client to pay money ("why pay money? the translation will be bad anyway"). This will eliminate lots of agencies, since end clients will never pay them enough for anything. That's the reason they post such ads: nobody wants to pay them more.

Since there are so many new agencies out there, and even more pop-up every day like mushrooms, this means that they do have a high profit margin, but it also means that the ones with the lowest quality (hiring unreliable translators), will eventually be crowded out of the market. For a "mediocre or bad" translation, I won't pay anything or very very little.

Prepare for the bursting of the next bubble, the Bankruptcies of many "cheap" agencies. They'll work in the beginning, maybe a few months, then many of them will go bust. It happened with major financial firms (the "experts of finance"), don't you think it will also happen with clueless new cheap agencies?


PS. If an agency posts a cheap job, and hundreds of offers appear, doesn't this give the very clear impression that "they are doing us a favor"? They throw a bone and all the neighborhood dogs are fightig each other to get it. It's very very clear what impression this gives.
How many of you, who call yourselves "professionals", can afford to buy even a chep car? (so that you finally stop translating the "exhaust" as "exit").



[Edited at 2009-06-19 15:51 GMT]


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Andrei Yefimov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 04:36
English to Russian
+ ...
it really depends Jun 19, 2009

Michael GREEN wrote:

Situations like those decribed by Jeff, Jack and others arise because there are regional differences in fees and customer expectations - a couple of cents per word is ridiculous in Western Europe or the USA, but for all I know it may be a very good rate for a translator in Russia or a developing country - and these agencies/translators are competing with the translators/agencies from the "developed world". The fact that translators from a developing country can accept what to us are very low fees is more a reflection on the cost of living in their country than on the quality of their work.



Exactly. If I had a stable flow of assignments with a rate of at least USD .05-.07/sw, which is a joke for most of you, I could make a pretty good living in Ukraine. I charge more than local translation agencies do. If only did you know what they pay their translators... So, it really depends on the economic situation, and agencies from wealthier countries know this very well.

As to direct clients, it really depends. The other day I was approached by a localization manager of one of US-based online content store who replied to my marketing e-mail. He offered me to translate 16 pages of computer-related text for USD 50, saying it would be a sample translation that could confirm my rates:S. Also, in my country, even if you manage to find a direct client, everyone wants a bargain no matter whether this is a multi-billion project or not. And with all these local agencies offering cheap translations and constant discounts you really need to be lucky to win direct clients who agrees to pay well. By well I mean USD 0.1/sw. However, I believe nothing is impossible:)

Andrei


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 21:36
Member
Spanish
+ ...
That is really disturbing Jun 19, 2009

Andrei Yefimov wrote:

By well I mean USD 0.1/sw.

Andrei


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