Overworked and underpaid
Thread poster: Nancy_H

Nancy_H
Local time: 19:31
French to English
+ ...
Sep 29, 2009

Dear all,

I'm quite certain that large number of you must feel the same as I do currently, I feel I'm doing too much work for so little to no payment. I've been a freelance translator for the past six years of my life,and I took time to earn my certificates.But from all the clients and agencies I've worked for, I never felt as awful as I'm feeling currently. I recently decided that I wouldn't work full time in any other field and I will focus on being a translator, because it genuin
... See more
Dear all,

I'm quite certain that large number of you must feel the same as I do currently, I feel I'm doing too much work for so little to no payment. I've been a freelance translator for the past six years of my life,and I took time to earn my certificates.But from all the clients and agencies I've worked for, I never felt as awful as I'm feeling currently. I recently decided that I wouldn't work full time in any other field and I will focus on being a translator, because it genuinely makes me happy and make me feel accomplished, currently I'm in the process to gain as many clients as I can to guarantee a steady flow of work and income. I always been hesitant working for an agency and usually I prefer to deal with the end client directly but this time I randomly received an E-mail from an agency through another website offering me a steady flow of work with a flat rate of 250$ per 10 tasks, it stated the task doesn't exceed normally 4000 to 8000 word and the requested language pair is from Arabic to English. Back then I thought okay at least a 250$ every 10-15 days doesn't sound so bad, it is regular flow of work which I need and I can accept other tasks as well beside it, I normally charge 0.20$ per word but I sacrificed the money for the consistency, I've received a call from a lady (The agency is located in Dubai and I'm based in Egypt) she welcomed me into the "family" and she said most tasks their source will be audio files, only to be surprised later with how bad the quality of the feed!!

Anyway I went along with it and kept my deadlines, she once complained that she expected the audio file to be certain amount of words, because she calculate it based over the length of the file, I tried to explain English is a very compact language compared to Arabic and usually people take pauses in answering words in interviews (the material) so the total number of minutes isn't the actual number of minutes people are speaking! She got convinced after a week of steady flow, she disappeared then asked me to translate advertisements video files ( I specialize in media and marketing) and those translations aren't basically translations I have to describe each frame of the video and what I think about them or feel toward certain action or product then to translate the voice overs and any text. After I translated what she sent me. she called and was very impressed and asking me to translate more for her. Then all of sudden she kept on disappearing for a week then appearing toward the weekend asking me to accept a new task, till one point she disappeared for over two weeks, I called her she didn't pick up, I've sent her an E-mail mentioning that I need my payment as it been over 10 tasks delivered she just messaged back with my colleague going to call you to explain everything.
Next morning a man called me and he simply said you didn't complete 10 tasks yet, when I asked why he replied back you have to complete 90.000 word, we said the tasks range between 4000 and 8000 word,and he was like I m sorry you didn't know that I would like to send you fifty advertisement per day so you receive your money and I would love to work again with you, your work is very professional!

Now it been two days I didn't sleep and worse of all he sent me an audio file of an hour to translate, proofread and to deliver in three hours because the other translator refused the task. Worse of all he was like thank you in advance please when you finish go immediately finish the rest of advertisements.


I'm so sorry for the long post I know I been ranting, I'm really tired and frustrated! Does anything from the above sound like even remotely fair?
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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:31
German to English
+ ...
You asked for it, you got it Sep 29, 2009

Nobody imposed these terms on you. You accepted them. If you find them burdensome, state the terms you prefer, and if the client doesn't go for them, cut off the relationship and look elsewhere. Invest the extra effort in developing contacts with more desirable clients. Sorry for the obvious schoolmasterish drivel, but with your experience you ought to have known to have things arranged clearly in writing in advance. I would demand payment for the work already done and then cut these jokers off.... See more
Nobody imposed these terms on you. You accepted them. If you find them burdensome, state the terms you prefer, and if the client doesn't go for them, cut off the relationship and look elsewhere. Invest the extra effort in developing contacts with more desirable clients. Sorry for the obvious schoolmasterish drivel, but with your experience you ought to have known to have things arranged clearly in writing in advance. I would demand payment for the work already done and then cut these jokers off. From your description I have my doubts that you will ever get paid, but it's fairly certain that a continued relationship will mean more abuse.Collapse


 

Nancy_H
Local time: 19:31
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I know and I totally agree! Sep 29, 2009

I totally agree with you, I'm currently just playing along till Friday when I'm supposed to get my money. I have other clients who pay decent rates, I just thought working with an agency would guarantee more regular work flow. You should hear the rates of Egyptian based agencies basically the translator rate there is 3$ per 2000 word. Basically, the worst market for translators ever is in Egypt and the Middle East in general!

 

Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:31
English to German
Hello Nancy Sep 30, 2009

I definitely agree with Kevin, cut off this relationship as soon as you can. I also doubt that you will be paid at all. It's a very bad experience for you, however, I can understand that you tried to have a regular income basis.

What I would like to know: are you sure it is all the same in the whole Middle East? Is it really that bad?

Good luck for your payment!

Annett

[Edited at 2009-09-30 04:32 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:31
French to German
+ ...
Beware of "steady flows of work" Sep 30, 2009

Hello Nancy,
"steady flows of work" is, as far as I am concerned, a neat euphemism or an elegant description for the situation you are in. Which means: a lot of work (and possibly so much that you cannot deliver quality, that is if you manage to deal with it in an organised fashion) for a low amount of money (and, as Nancy and Kevin told it before, with the perspective of not being paid at all).
Some outsourcers seem to think that subcontractors are like second-class employe
... See more
Hello Nancy,
"steady flows of work" is, as far as I am concerned, a neat euphemism or an elegant description for the situation you are in. Which means: a lot of work (and possibly so much that you cannot deliver quality, that is if you manage to deal with it in an organised fashion) for a low amount of money (and, as Nancy and Kevin told it before, with the perspective of not being paid at all).
Some outsourcers seem to think that subcontractors are like second-class employees and can be abused in the same way. They are toxic communicators and should be kept out of anybody's life.

[Edited at 2009-09-30 06:36 GMT]
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:31
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Why not avoid Egyptian agencies? Sep 30, 2009

Nancy_H wrote:
Basically, the worst market for translators ever is in Egypt and the Middle East in general!


It's easy for me to say it, and I realise it may be harder for you to put it into practice, but my question is: If Egyptian agencies are so bad, why work for them? Why not target agencies in other countries? After all, your top language pair is English to French - there's a lot of work out there all around the world for that pair, not just in Egypt.

I suppose things like payments, bad debt recovery etc may become a little more complicated but the advantages might just outweigh the disadvantages.

Good luck with this one - I hiope you get paid then tell them to s**** it!


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:31
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
"Steady flows of work" makes me shiver Sep 30, 2009

I agree with Laurent. In my case, the expression "steady flow of work" has always meant: A) big urgent chunks of work some days, no work for weeks; B) bad payment practices; C) low rate.

When a prospect comes to me and says "steady flow of work", I always say: "OK, I'll be happy to develop this long-term relationship, but let's start with the first job and take it from there."

One side of being a freelancer is that it takes some expertise to manage the business side of
... See more
I agree with Laurent. In my case, the expression "steady flow of work" has always meant: A) big urgent chunks of work some days, no work for weeks; B) bad payment practices; C) low rate.

When a prospect comes to me and says "steady flow of work", I always say: "OK, I'll be happy to develop this long-term relationship, but let's start with the first job and take it from there."

One side of being a freelancer is that it takes some expertise to manage the business side of things properly, and expertise comes with time and with errors. I just encourage you not to feel bad about this. It could have happened to anyone. If you just don't like the situation, simply step out of it elegantly and get paid whatever is due to you.
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foghorn
English to Turkish
+ ...
Greetings from Turkey Sep 30, 2009

Here is a scenario. (Sorry for my bum phrasing, i have to hurry all the time).

People are running their own business and you are much appreciated as long as you help them run their business. Naturally, some loyalty ties are developed in time and there is no way you can say “no” after a certain point. After all, you’re receiving your monthly check, though not a quarter of your expectation. Gentleman’s agreement in the beginning has just become irrelevant under the market co
... See more
Here is a scenario. (Sorry for my bum phrasing, i have to hurry all the time).

People are running their own business and you are much appreciated as long as you help them run their business. Naturally, some loyalty ties are developed in time and there is no way you can say “no” after a certain point. After all, you’re receiving your monthly check, though not a quarter of your expectation. Gentleman’s agreement in the beginning has just become irrelevant under the market conditions. What can you do if you very well know that saying ‘no more’ will jeopardize your next payment (which is due since the last spring)? The thing is it may even become a form of ‘slavery’, holding you back from breaking ties with that ‘steady flow of work’. In the end, you feel frustrated to calculate how many words and how much dollars.


No, this is not a true story, very likely though.
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Zoe Green  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Please tell me I'm misreading something here! Oct 2, 2009

If I'm reading your post correctly, you agreed to do 10 tasks of up to 8,000 words each for a flat rate of 250 dollars. Assuming the max. word count per job, 10 tasks could be up to 80,000 words. That's 0.0031 cents per word. In addition, you are talking about completing these 80,000 words in 10-15 days. That doesn't leave you time to do any work for anyone else at all unless you work 24/7. And if you get the work done, you get paid 16.5 dollars a day.

Why on earth would anyone agre
... See more
If I'm reading your post correctly, you agreed to do 10 tasks of up to 8,000 words each for a flat rate of 250 dollars. Assuming the max. word count per job, 10 tasks could be up to 80,000 words. That's 0.0031 cents per word. In addition, you are talking about completing these 80,000 words in 10-15 days. That doesn't leave you time to do any work for anyone else at all unless you work 24/7. And if you get the work done, you get paid 16.5 dollars a day.

Why on earth would anyone agree to that?
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Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:31
Dutch to English
+ ...
$250 for 10 jobs totalling at least 90,000 words? Oct 2, 2009

... and you're still asking whether it is "fair"? Am I misreading something here?

 

Alejandro Moreno-Ramos  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:31
Member (2008)
French to Spanish
+ ...
I think Nancy meant $250 per task Oct 2, 2009

... otherwise it doesn't make sense. She said that she normally charges $0.20 per word.

 

Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
When in Rome... Oct 2, 2009

I know another country where you can get translations for USD0.005 per word, but these come with special Terms & Conditions:

You can never know
- what you will get
- when you will get it
- whether you will get anything at all.

It is like living in a "Parallel Universe"..


 

Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:31
Dutch to English
+ ...
Well, we can guess all we want about what she meant to say... Oct 2, 2009

Alejandro Moreno-Ramos wrote:

I think Nancy meant $250 per task

... otherwise it doesn't make sense. She said that she normally charges $0.20 per word.


... but it doesn't make sense, either way, for someone who normally charges $0.20 -- that would still only be around $0.03 per word for an 8,000 word job.

Sorry Nancy, but they saw you coming ...



[Edited at 2009-10-02 16:19 GMT]


 


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