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Bad work ethic: "very very low budget" OR "very limited budget" emails
Thread poster: Erkan Dogan

Erkan Dogan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:23
Member (2009)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Jul 24, 2009

Hello everyone,

I am sick and tired of getting emails hunting for freelance `slaves`, emails starting with "very very low budget" or "very limited budget". I keep ignoring them, but at the same time, they are starting to touch my nerves. I there any site that I can post the names of the companies sending such emails or is there anything else you recommend? I think we should have some plans in place. I would like to get some other ideas.

Thanks in advance!


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:23
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Waste Their Time Jul 24, 2009

Inform them that your rate is .02 per word.

Then go back and forth for several hours asking questions about the job, formatting requirements, confirmations, stupid questions, etc.

Then politely inform them that you apologize, but you made a typo and the rate should be .20 not .02 and of course they must have known this because no one would ever work for .02 cents... Please confirm the rate...

The same works for bids as well. If 500 people responded to every "best rates" job offering to work at a low rate and then ultimately declined to accept the job, it would take these companies hours and hours to find a sucker translator and they would have to post their "jobs" elsewhere.


 

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:23
English to French
+ ...
Here's a plan for you Jul 24, 2009

I agree that this is a nuisance and the sheer volume of mail that sets this out from the beginning is getting to be so large that I am afraid newbies will think it is normal for outsourcers to set rates.

I think the plan to prevent this already exists: respect your principles and educate others. You are already denouncing this practice here, which is a good start. The buyer has every right to decide how much the service is worth to them--and the translator has every right to determine how much the same service is worth to him/her.

A polite e-mail reply along the lines of "Sorry, I do not determine the value of my service based on the buyer's budget--here's my quote in any case" can also be a useful reminder to outsourcers that translators, much like outsourcers, also work for money...


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:23
French to German
+ ...
High-end products and services Jul 24, 2009

We should ask ourselves and ask those potential "clients" why, for Heaven's sake and in their opinion, high-end products and services seem to sell themselves while low- to medium-end products and services are subject to a never-ending rat-race.

Most probably they won't be able to answer.

As an example, taken from a teaser film for such an high-end product:

We live in a world that is spinning faster and faster.
Where the latest products are copies of copies.
Where true values are surrendered in the pursuit of the superficial.
But there is a place where time is still given in abundance...
to the integrity and passion of creating objects with a soul.
Where skilled craftspeople work seamlessly with modern technology.


Do these folks care about the time and effort they invest in their product? No, and their customers don't care much about buying this product at "the lowest budget possible". And they both know why: it is a matter of values rather than a matter of money...

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-07-24 18:38 GMT]


 

sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:23
English to Russian
+ ...
Jeff.. Jul 24, 2009

.. you made my day! Thanks for the perfect idea of rate negotiating.

 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:23
French to English
+ ...
Amazing how people *volunteer* low rates Jul 24, 2009

I've been outsourcing a few translations recently as I've been a bit snowed under. As a translator myself, I do my best to give people fair terms, and always essentially ask "what price would you like to/normally charge". I would never say things like "give me your best rate", "I will pay you less than my cleaner's pet hamster" etc, just as I would rarely respond to such advertisements myself.

BUT... what has amazed me is the number of people VOLUNTEERING unrealistically low rates, including some on paper reasonably qualified and experienced translators.

[Edited at 2009-07-24 22:02 GMT]


 

Tomasz Poplawski  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:23
Member (2007)
English to Polish
+ ...
What do you expect Jul 25, 2009

The major source of these "very limited budget" projects put the following directions for their project managers, right at the top of their vendor info screen where they list your rate (I am quoting verbatim):
"Note: These rates are a guideline from which you should negotiate down."
Those who negotiate well get promoted. Those who are not so good at it may eventually leave and become project managers in respectable agencies. So as annoying as it is, I always try to be polite.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:23
French to German
+ ...
Another possible reply (education) Jul 25, 2009

At this rate, what I can offer is unedited machine translation. And to be honest, you could get the translation "for free" if you cared to MT it by yourself.

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-07-25 06:28 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:23
French to German
+ ...
Pressure... down Jul 25, 2009

Neil Coffey wrote:

BUT... what has amazed me is the number of people VOLUNTEERING unrealistically low rates, including some on paper reasonably qualified and experienced translators.

[Edited at 2009-07-24 22:02 GMT]


Amazing, yes... But I guess that the equation [Competitivity = Lowest Rates] has been so engraved in our minds that even some experienced translators cannot help but offering unrealistic rates.

And, AFAIAK, the pressure on prices was always down, not upicon_wink.gif... else it would not be named "pressure".

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-07-25 06:35 GMT]


 

Brandis (X)
Local time: 13:23
English to German
+ ...
They think you are a hero... Jul 25, 2009

Hi! but the revision costs are much higher than the translation costs, sometimes as high as 3 times of translation costs, meaning the material you supply is the RAW material and you will be rewarded on percentage success basis, which is usually not mentioned in the contract, instead only via msn or yahoo messenger through a chat session, which has no gravity. But this is happening not since yesterday. So what do you think can be done about this. I thinkk on the other end, if the quality matches and mind and selection of the reviewer, he may get equally less payment, while the argument says, "you did not do a good reviewing work" and have suggested better alternatives. So both ends lose. BR Brandis

[Edited at 2009-07-25 08:08 GMT]


 

Sandra B.
Portugal
Local time: 12:23
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I don't even bother to repy to them... Jul 25, 2009

.

 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:23
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Phone calls too Jul 25, 2009

There is one agency for which I only do about one or two small jobs a year, but every time they call me, they want a price in advance from me, and every time, they say they are on a tight budget and ask if I would do it for less. The difference is not great, and so far I have accepted their price or haggled for something in between. But next time, unless it's something really big, I shall give them a price and say take it or leave it.

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 13:23
German to Serbian
+ ...
I normally ignore them.. Jul 25, 2009

.. but nonetheless I agree with the topic starter that they should be blacklisted as low payers. Just like we have a blacklist for late or problematic payers, so we should for low payers.

And yes, it's extremely humiliating. I had companies working on high-caliber multi-billionaire projects negotiating the price down like crazy. My favorite type are also those who want me to give them my quote per source word, which I do, and then they send me a list of 500 random terms in an Excel sheet that are plucked out of context to translate and give equivalents in Bosnian ( completely absurd in my language pair due to language structure incompatibilities). Not to mention how much time I have to lose to actually figure out an approximate non-existing context for each of the terms vs. when it's done surrounded with a comprehensive context / writing. And they are very sly asking for my quote in advance BEFORE showing me the design of the source text or they show me a full text for reference, and then ultimately send me random in-comprehensive plucked out weed in an Excel column. But hey, a list of selected terms costs less than the full text! I only wonder what they plan to do with the list.. create some weird translation?

[Edited at 2009-07-25 15:06 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:23
French to German
+ ...
A convenient way of doing this... Jul 25, 2009

Lingua 5B wrote:
.. but nonetheless I agree with the topic starter that they should be blacklisted as low payers. Just like we have a blacklist for late or problematic payers, so we should for low payers.


would be to create a mailing list with Yahoo!Groups or to suggest to the owner of such a list to create a special topic for rates. I know it is not the best solution, but it works. I am only saying this because not all payment practices lists accept discussions about rates. And to push this a little further, statistics could be made in order to determine the correlation between rates and payment practices. I guess this would lead to some surprises.

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-07-25 15:36 GMT]


 

cilantro  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 14:23
Italian to English
+ ...
It's annoying, but not completely unethical... Jul 25, 2009

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

Inform them that your rate is .02 per word.

Then go back and forth for several hours asking questions about the job, formatting requirements, confirmations, stupid questions, etc.

Then politely inform them that you apologize, but you made a typo and the rate should be .20 not .02 and of course they must have known this because no one would ever work for .02 cents... Please confirm the rate...



This is slightly unethical in its own right... making a knowingly false quote to be later corrected. Granted that working for a very low rate is annoying, but there must be a better solution? Saying that you have to take your cat to the vet for tooth treatment at the last minute is a better option (I actually had to do this, really)


 
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