Pages in topic:   < [1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10] >
The bottom of the translation market
Thread poster: LegalTranslatr2

Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Regarding BB Oct 10, 2009

I have been wondering over the years why oursourcers that pay notoriously very low rates get enthusiastic ratings, even by colleagues that I would never have supposed to work at those rates.

I have followed several threads about this and now I find it perfectly logical:

Everything you know BEFORE accepting a job (i.e. rates, payment terms and so on) is NOT a Blue Board matter. So, if you accept a job at 2 cents/word paid after 120 days, you cannot complain about this af
... See more
I have been wondering over the years why oursourcers that pay notoriously very low rates get enthusiastic ratings, even by colleagues that I would never have supposed to work at those rates.

I have followed several threads about this and now I find it perfectly logical:

Everything you know BEFORE accepting a job (i.e. rates, payment terms and so on) is NOT a Blue Board matter. So, if you accept a job at 2 cents/word paid after 120 days, you cannot complain about this afterwards because the terms were agreed beforehand.

You can complain if they pay late or don't pay at all, don't answer your queries or don't get back to you shortly for everything you need, are rude and so on - in brief, things you couldn't know before.

I think this is important to bear in mind
Collapse


 

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:04
English to French
+ ...
Missing the point Oct 10, 2009

Lingua 5B wrote:

I am not sure why some translators accept such treatment, and moreover, they also offer themselves cheaply without anyone asking them to do so. Incurable masochism?

I believe the original post was not actually giving us a sampling of replies from freelance translators. Those were rather replies from desperate people wanting to pay their rent before losing their no heat cold water flats in Bombay, Moscow and, yes, even London... I can assure you these people have nothing to do with freelance translators.

It is not freelance translators who are incurable masochists--it is rather desperate people who are, well, simply desperate, and serious companies who are being totally let down by kitchen table agencies who enslave desperate people and pretend that their work is professional and worth what they pay for it.

I am not surprised at any of this. What saddens me is not that people are willing to work for such rates or that agencies are willing to sell such a crappy product for good money. What saddens me is that businesses are tricked into paying for it because they can't tell a good translation from a bad one. And why should they have to? I don't "proofread" the filling in my tooth when I leave the dentist's office, and I don't "review" the plumbing in my bathroom once the plumber leaves. And even if I wanted to...


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 17:04
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
To Viktoria Oct 10, 2009

Yes, I know what Jeff has posted, i.e. phantom experts with delusional disorders imagining they are translators. That's a category not worth commenting.

However, I have written about the masochism of freelancer translators, because as I occasionally manage translations projects, I used to receive all sorts of self-humiliating masochistic offers from freelance translators with credentials and good professional portfolios. Some of these offers included probationary work for free( not
... See more
Yes, I know what Jeff has posted, i.e. phantom experts with delusional disorders imagining they are translators. That's a category not worth commenting.

However, I have written about the masochism of freelancer translators, because as I occasionally manage translations projects, I used to receive all sorts of self-humiliating masochistic offers from freelance translators with credentials and good professional portfolios. Some of these offers included probationary work for free( not test, but actual probationary work). Maybe it's important to point out that I had never asked for anything like that from anyone, not even close. To me, it looked like a desperate and clumsy attempt/method to win the competitors. Hence my commentary.
Collapse


 

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:04
Swedish to English
+ ...
Playroom for little children Oct 10, 2009

Why bother with the GaF site - anyone who can actually spell the word freelancer correctly is unlikely to ever bid there.

But at least translators seem to be highly valued there (0.01-0.03) compared to monolinguals. I've just had some fun reading through a few copywriting "jobs" there tonight. How about:

- The offer of writing 150 original English articles of 500-550 words for $2/article (0.003).

- Or steady work writing original Spanish articles of 400-600
... See more
Why bother with the GaF site - anyone who can actually spell the word freelancer correctly is unlikely to ever bid there.

But at least translators seem to be highly valued there (0.01-0.03) compared to monolinguals. I've just had some fun reading through a few copywriting "jobs" there tonight. How about:

- The offer of writing 150 original English articles of 500-550 words for $2/article (0.003).

- Or steady work writing original Spanish articles of 400-600 words for $1/article (0.0016).

Seriously, GaF is a playroom that has nothing whatsoever to offer professionals.
Collapse


 

Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:04
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
i think i saw that ad Oct 10, 2009

i read it and thought hmm...then it showed the rate. SHeaeaahhh! right!
what nerve. Although, I admit that MAYBE if i was just starting out and didn't have much experience I'd have considered it, just as an opportunity to get a gig, improve my craft etc. I did a couple of low-paying gigs early on, but even then, not THAT low. There's an old saying, if you want monkeys pay with peanuts.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:04
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
No lawsuits Oct 10, 2009

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
Unfortunately, things probably will not change for the better until there is a big LAWSUIT against one of these agencies resulting from a .02 translation. They simply do not have any grasp of the big risk they are taking.


They won't go so far. When the end-client actually has access to someone who can read the target langiage and properly evaluate the quality of the translation, if it's a cheap, slovenly job, it gets promptly rejected, with a blunt note "Kindly have it redone from scratch!"

The agency is no fool, and if their client is a good, prestigious company, they'll pay through the nose to get it redone by a professional translator as quickly as possible. They'll explain that some stupid ex-employee assigned it to the wrong translator.

However this is the only time they call the pro. From my experience, as soon as they get that end-client happy again, they stop "wasting" money on good professionals. I redid some horrendous translation jobs for a few desperate agencies, but they haven't contacted me again ever since. I guess they only will when some cheap folks goof again and they get caught in the act.

Considering the image of the end-client, the importance of the translations I re-did for that image, and the quantity of copies that would be printed in full color, I guess they weren't so concerned about cutting costs in translation.


 

Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:04
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Cultural issue Oct 12, 2009

To Brian:

"5. Improve chances of getting into Heaven"

Actually, no. With rates of 0.0 you are promoting extortion and you' re not going to any heaven.

It proves my theory that poor countries will remain poor for at least 2 more generations, because they are just used to it (they don't even dare asking for more).

Rates depend highly on the socio-economic environment of the translator. Translators from poor countries/areas are used to chea
... See more
To Brian:

"5. Improve chances of getting into Heaven"

Actually, no. With rates of 0.0 you are promoting extortion and you' re not going to any heaven.

It proves my theory that poor countries will remain poor for at least 2 more generations, because they are just used to it (they don't even dare asking for more).

Rates depend highly on the socio-economic environment of the translator. Translators from poor countries/areas are used to cheap stuff and low pay, and it's almost impossible to change that outlook. They get dizzy with high numbers.

This is also the reason that the people of China accept to work without consuming much, instead, they save their money to buy... 10-year $U.S. treasuries at 2% interest. Instead of improving their living standards by buying cars, they prefer to work cheaply in order to buy... American paper dollars which they will never redeem (tragic, ah?).

If they wanted wealth, then they would buy things for themselves. But they don't. They say "we are ok with 1 cent per word, because we' re not buying anything anyway".
On the other hand, the owner of an American agency likes to consume and to make large profits. Thus, he will pursue a 200% profit rate by outsourcing the job to someone in China who doesn't want to consume and doesn't need profits.

It's a cultural issue and the West makes enormous profits from it. The American agency makes 200% on the Chinese translator who then buys American treasuries (instead of buying a car), thus benefits the West even more, by providing a "free loan" which will never be repaid. We, in the West, discovered an excellent trick: we make them work for much less, then we make them give us a loan (bonds) with the little money they made, which loan will never be repaid.

It's the habit of being poor, and it will remain for 2-3 more generations. I saw it in Greece (translators in Greece have a religious approach to it: if they charge more than 9 cents, they feel guilty). Ironic, because it was Aristotle who said "a habit is a second nature".



[Edited at 2009-10-12 04:52 GMT]
Collapse


 

sungy  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 23:04
English to Chinese
Disagree Oct 12, 2009

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:

It proves my theory that poor countries will remain poor for at least 2 more generations, because they are just used to it (they don't even dare asking for more).

Rates depend highly on the socio-economic environment of the translator. Translators from poor countries/areas are used to cheap stuff and low pay, and it's almost impossible to change that outlook. They get dizzy with high numbers.

This is also the reason that the people of China accept to work without consuming much, instead, they save their money to buy... 10-year $U.S. treasuries at 2% interest. Instead of improving their living standards by buying cars, they prefer to work cheaply in order to buy... American paper dollars which they will never redeem (tragic, ah?).

If they wanted wealth, then they would buy things for themselves. But they don't. They say "we are ok with 1 cent per word, because we' re not buying anything anyway".

It's the habit of being poor, and it will remain for 2-3 more generations.

[Edited at 2009-10-12 04:52 GMT]


Hi Eleftherios Kritikakis,

I disagree with you.I am a native Chinese.I don't think it is the habit to make us poor.It is because we earn less we spend less.At least to me,that's true.When I apply for a job,the employer always try to pay me as low as they can.Sometimes if I ask something about the salary when I am interviewed by an employer,I will be immediately rejected.So it is hard to say that because we spend less we are poor.That's nonsense.Many employers take for granted that it is ok if they pay Chinese people low salary.Some of us accept it just because we have no choice.Many people are restricted by circumstances.You don't know Chinese very well.China is too big.There are so many different people who have accepted different level education.They have different thoughts.They have different knowledge about the world. Many people are treated unfair just because they are ordinary Chinese and nobody cares their feelings,even treat them by using some dirty strategies will not be criticized.
Of course,what you are talking about is a trend demonstrated by a whole nation.But you should not take for granted that we deserve it.We are controlled by something you don't know.

Regards
Sungy

[Edited at 2009-10-12 06:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-10-12 07:14 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-10-12 07:17 GMT]


 

Rifraf
Local time: 17:04
cheap translator versus expensive agency Oct 12, 2009

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

When dealing with agencies, the client does not choose the service provider, but trusts the agency to find qualified translators. If more clients were aware of the practice of some of these bottom-feeding agencies (despite their flashy websites and immodest claims) and knew that the job they pay .20 a word for was being "translated" by someone who claims "I speaking fluently English" or "ich kan sehr gut deutsch spreche" at the rate of .02 a word with the agency taking a huge cut and providing no added service, perhaps these clients would play more attention to WHO is translating their documents rather than just HOW MUCH and HOW FAST and agencies would be forced to pay more and be more selective.


[Edited at 2009-10-10 14:55 GMT]


I don't believe that these cheap agencies, who pay let's say 0.02 per word, ask .20 from the client. I think that such agencies are also at the lower end of the market and thus sell the translation for around 0.6 per word.
With the "quality" you would get for 0.02 I don't think you will be able to sell the work at 0.20


 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:04
German to English
+ ...
The habit of being poor Oct 12, 2009

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
... my theory that poor countries will remain poor for at least 2 more generations, because they are just used to it (they don't even dare asking for more).

It's the habit of being poor, and it will remain for 2-3 more generations. I saw it in Greece (translators in Greece have a religious approach to it: if they charge more than 9 cents, they feel guilty).


How right you are on this one, Eleftherios. About a week ago I was approached by an Indian agency (which claims to be the largest in India) offering cheap German to English translation services. This was my reply:

Sorry, I do not do business at those rates. I do have an Indian colleague that I work with, but he has the good sense to charge appropriate rates for Europe, and my customers appreciate the value he delivers. I do not think you do yourselves any favor by competing on price, and while doing so might bag you the occasional big fish (I know that Siemens Health Care has a lot translated in India, because I have refused to edit that mess), it only serves to reinforce unfortunate stereotypes about your country and the knowledge workers in it. The people I deal with will never go to India to save money. They will deal with you if you offer truly superior service as my colleague in Mumbai does, and they will pay their usual rates without complaint. Anything less smells like a rotten fish. If I want a quality jacket and someone offers me a Gucci for 5 dollars, I will assume it is a cheap knock-off with seams that will unravel in the first wind.


The agency PM was quite insulted and wrote me a long response. Here are a few choice excerpts:

Quoth the Indian agency:
To begin with, we did not ask you to offer your services to us at these prices and I fail to see why we are being judged for merely offering our services at a price that you think is incredibly low. High or low is only a case of seeing the glass half empty or half full. So though we would not have minded a polite “no, thank you”, we are certainly not amused to receive a mail suggesting how in your opinion we lack good sense or how we are not doing ourselves any favour by charging what we are or how we reinforce unfortunate stereotypes about our country ...

If your displeasure springs from the fact that your partner hails from India and unlike us offers a higher price (which you choose to equate with good quality) then the way I see it is he is charging you more than he should. Our rates may be low from your point of view but are more than what your own (European) companies based in India pay their Indian translators and our rates still help us make good money viewed from an Indian angle. Can this then not mean that we are not greedy but content people who do not believe in overcharging instead of meaning what you have suggested? ...

We are happy to work with other like-minded translation companies in Europe and help them become more competitive and profitable while earning what seems like good money for ourselves. Is that a bad business model? Can we not see that happening all around us in every sector? Thousands of European companies have set up their production facilities in India so that they can benefit from a lower cost of production and then sell in other parts of the world including Europe? ...

You are dealing with one of the most professionally managed translation companies in India and in the absence of any survey I can only say that we are “unofficially” the largest translation company in India... This mail is no longer about making a case so that we can work together; it is more about standing up to defend our self-respect.


This is just part of a very long and well-written response I received that unfortunately fails to understand my point entirely, because as you said, they are used to being poor, want to remain poor and make it part of their business plan. I found it particularly unfortunate to equate translation work with the "cost of production" of auto parts, etc. If my correspondent thinks these goods enjoy an excellent reputation in western countries... oh well, he is "content", and that is all that matters, I suppose. Just like one of our South American colleagues who has publicly encouraged people to use her services over those of another colleague, because Peru is cheap and people there are not "greedy". When/if the economies in these countries develop further and inflation inevitably hits, they will find that any savings they have evaporate. I hope they are "content" then.

If we are talking about the fat hump that lies on the bad end of the translation quality curve, I don't care if those people get one or two cents a word or nothing. They ought to be digging ditches or cleaning toilets instead, and they would probably make more money at it. But if my Indian correspondent here has an excellent grasp of German and a sound knowledge of engineering, I would consider it nearly criminal for me to pay those low rates for a translation which might well exceed the quality of many good translators in Europe. If he can live like a rajah getting the same rate as me, I don't see that as greed. If he feels guilty about the money, give it to his old mother or go sponsor a school or something. Opportunities to dump cash always present themselves.


 

Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:04
English to German
+ ...
Thanks Oct 12, 2009

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:

Why bother with the GaF site - anyone who can actually spell the word freelancer correctly is unlikely to ever bid there.

But at least translators seem to be highly valued there (0.01-0.03) compared to monolinguals. I've just had some fun reading through a few copywriting "jobs" there tonight. How about:

- The offer of writing 150 original English articles of 500-550 words for $2/article (0.003).

- Or steady work writing original Spanish articles of 400-600 words for $1/article (0.0016).

Seriously, GaF is a playroom that has nothing whatsoever to offer professionals.



... for "translating" my posts, Madeleine


 

Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:04
English to German
+ ...
Problem of mindset Oct 12, 2009

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:

I saw it in Greece (translators in Greece have a religious approach to it: if they charge more than 9 cents, they feel guilty).


I feel "guilty", if I charge less, but it never happens.

From an economic point of view, professional translators living in less wealthy countries have the opportunity of the century to belong to the richest people in their respective countries - thanks to globalization.


 

Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:04
English to German
+ ...
The Luck Factor Oct 12, 2009

http://www.firsturl.de/eY9ddjI

Luck is not from your psychic power, it's more the consequence of how you behave and how you view your daily life.



[Edited at 2009-10-12 08:38 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:04
French to German
+ ...
Decimal point and "standard rates" Oct 12, 2009

Rifraf wrote:

I don't believe that these cheap agencies, who pay let's say 0.02 per word, ask .20 from the client. I think that such agencies are also at the lower end of the market and thus sell the translation for around 0.6 per word.

I think your intention was to write 0.06 per word. Anyway, and as a general trend in France, the Netherlands and Belgium (sometimes even Germany), I can see that agencies tend to pay the translator about 0.07 euros ex VAT per word and to sell the translations at no more than 0.12 euros ex VAT per word. This seems to be the more or less agreed upon "bottom" so far, at least in Northern Europe.

[Edited at 2009-10-12 09:29 GMT]


 
Pages in topic:   < [1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

The bottom of the translation market

Advanced search







SDL MultiTerm 2019
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2019 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2019 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »
TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search