Do agencies pass on TM discounts to their clients?
Thread poster: philgoddard
philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Nov 17, 2009

I know there's already a couple of active threads on the subject of discounts, but I hope you'll agree that this is a slightly different issue.

I'm just asking as an interested outsider who doesn't use TM.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Interesting question! Nov 17, 2009

A friend of mine asked some translation agencies for a quotation.

Noone of those mentioned any CAT discount. Food for thought...:-?

Personally, I have always doubted that agencies pass on certain price reductions that they request from their translators to their customers. But maybe I am wrong here.:-)


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Rob Edwards  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:59
German to English
Yes, in my experience they do. Nov 17, 2009

Hi Phil,

I used to work as a PM for two agencies here in the UK and both passed TM savings on to their clients.

Rob


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes they do, and clients ask for it too... Nov 17, 2009

I used to work in a a translation company and they do offer CAT discounts.

Very often, customers know about CAT tools and claim these discounts.

Many customers didn't want to pay 100% matches and one my tasks was to explain our customers (and our sales people) why 100% matches have to be paid for because they do involve work, even if it's not as much work as as if it was totally new text.

Now, put yourself in the position of the client.

Imagine you are Microsoft.

You have developed Office 2007 and you know that only 20% of the documentation / help files is new. 80% of the documentation has exactly the same text than in the previous version.

Woul you really want to pay for the translation of a text which has already been translated?

Daniel


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:59
German to English
Large scale / long-term clients demand a discount Nov 17, 2009

Large-scale buyers of translation (several million words/year) know about discounts paid to translators and require similar price reductions from agencies. They're not about to pay full price for each occurrence of "Attach the diagnostic line to the tester" if it occurs 10,000 times a year.

Small-scale buyers of translation generally aren't sophisticated enough to know about CAT tools, discounts for repetitions, etc. Discounts, if given at all, are usually based on total volume, and not upon file analysis.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:59
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The CAT is out of the bag Nov 17, 2009

Most companies have a general idea of what market rates are.

Imagine the boss asking the secretary to find a translation service. Will he tell her to just find one and that will be fine? Probably not. He will say, "find me three or four quotes so we can compare".

Out of those three or four quotes the odds are that at least one of the translation providers will tout their efficient services using CAT tools and even throw in a nice discount for repetitions. The logical question that follows is, "why aren't the others using those efficient CAT tools and offering similar discounts"?

The CAT is out of the bag.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Alternatively, Nov 17, 2009

... she (the boss) might tell him (the secretary)...

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:59
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
In my experience... Nov 18, 2009

Of 17 yrs and using Trados since version 1 (with the dongle etc), and being involved many times in agency business, here's what goes on:

Category a, 5% of cases: Sophisticated clients, they have their own TMs and they have purchased the software (Trados, etc) but do not have translators so they send their docs. They make the analysis and send the project to the agency on the basis of trados analysis.

Category b, 10% of cases: Kind of sophisticated, they can spot similar paragraphs and sentences and ask the agency for a discount based on identical phrases (only 99%-100% matches).

Category c, 20% of cases: Not sophisticated but they know that the manuals of their devices are very similar and lots of agencies are approaching them with discounted offers on the basis of trados analysis. These are the clients that agencies educate on how to reduce their translation cost. The agency with the best offer wins.

Category d, 65% of cases. This category also includes PDF documents and legal firms. They have little clue about similarities and they generally do not ask for discounts. They suspect that there are tools out there but they do not know how they work.

Overall, agencies do NOT pass TM discounts in approximately 70% of cases. That's the reason why agencies can afford the Top TM Suites (do you know the cost of the top Trados Suite for Language Services Providers? Along with support contracts etc... it's enormous).

When agencies make an investment of - let's say - $400,000 in a TM Suite and support package, they expect to make money out of this investment. If they pass the discounts to their clients, then they will not make any additional money at all (they may as well buy the basic freelance version).

However, Edward is right about the discounts that agencies offer. They say "20% discount on similar text and half the price on identical text because we use CAT". Then they turn to the translator and say "60% discount for simlar text and 90% discount for identical text (or free)".

A word to the wise guy: Do NOT demonize agencies. I can say that most agencies are good. Without them, the modern translation industry would not exist and the end-clients would not be able to locate good enough translators to hire. On the other hand, do not be naive either - agencies are businesses to make money. They are not in this business "for the joy of translating". That's how you explain the question "how come most project managers in the US agencies do not speak a second language?". In their efforts to make money they also help us make money in most cases, and they do take care of a lot of details. For that, I'm grateful.
(As far as the ones who are not good to the translators, certain long term factors in the market will wipe them out or change them).

Personally I fully understand, accept and applause a 100% profit margin for agencies, and I strongly recommend to many of them to start treating their translators as real professionals who should be very well paid. A happy and well paid translator does a much better job.

And a final comment: Agencies hate machine translation. The reason is that if someone invents a perfect piece of software that can perfectly translate any language, then someone will also post it on the internet and the end clients will use it - agencies will go out of business in 24 hours. Agencies love manual translations. The more difficult and the more manual they are, the more they charge their clients (and for the good agencies, the more they pay their translators).

Break over, back to work.



[Edited at 2009-11-18 00:21 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:59
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Generalizations are risky Nov 18, 2009

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
A word to the wise guy: Do NOT demonize agencies.
I can say that most agencies are good.[/b]


It depends on what you call a translation agency. Looking through a web browser, a solid, professional, hard-working translation agency may have a rather plain-looking web site. On the other hand, a cunning operator trying to rip off both clients and translators may come up as a dazzling Flash animation. Yet this doesn't preclude the opposite possiblity.

The problem is that for each thoroughly good translation agency - according to Pareto's Law - four scammers pose as a reliable translation agency.

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
On the other hand, do not be naive either - agencies are businesses to make money. They are not in this business "for the joy of translating".


However some of them add value to the job. Others want to make a hefty spread on rates by merely pushing files back and forth. Quite often the end-client won't know the difference unless they have someone able to ascertain the transtation quality.

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
In their efforts to make money they also help us make money in most cases, and they do take care of a lot of details. For that, I'm grateful.


Definitely! We must be grateful to those agencies that select us to join their team effort to provide the end-client with a good service. However there are "agencies" that seem to live on the up-front cash, or COD received from the end-client, knowing that they'll only have to pay the translator much later... with the money from the next job... if and when it lands there. They prefer to "borrow" interest-free money from translators than from banks.

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
(As far as the ones who are not good to the translators, certain long term factors in the market will wipe them out or change them).


It will take long until no competent translator will work for them, and until the end-clients notice that their quality is consistently low. Anyway, I'd cross my fingers for that if I weren't typing.

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
Personally I fully understand, accept and applause a 100% profit margin for agencies,


Certainly, that's the way to go if they add any value to the process. However file-pushers do it for a minimum profit, just for the interest-free cash flow.

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
... and I strongly recommend to many of them to start treating their translators as real professionals who should be very well paid. A happy and well paid translator does a much better job.


Unfortunately, my quality does not drop, ever. Gotta learn to do it when it's not worth the effort. I'd see the situation from the corolary stance: Ony translators who consistently do a lousy job will accept abuse in treatment and rates.

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
Break over, back to work.


Absolutely right!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 14:59
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
No way, José! Nov 18, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
The problem is that for each thoroughly good translation agency - according to Pareto's Law - four scammers pose as a reliable translation agency.


What source of Universal Enlightenment tells you that the so-called "Pareto's Law" has any validity here? Must be a controlled substance.

I haven't counted my agency partners in a while, and many drift in and out of active status for various reasons, but in the past 9 years I think I've dealt with over 100 of them, more than 50 routinely. The actual numbers aren't important, but the experience is: there are damned few of that number that I would call scammers. The infamous LP in Switzerland, sure. An insolvent Czech here in Berlin, maybe, but I think "financially incompetent" is a better label. Beyond that I have policy disagreements with a few, but I find them honest. Maybe this is a regional thing, but I prefer to think that is not the case, since I hear the same invective directed against European and US agencies by others who play only with that set.

The statistical probability of me encountering so few thieves with the 4:1 ratio of scum to good guys that you claim is astonishingly low. If my ego were just a teensy bit bigger I would conclude that I have discovered The Secret of Sniffing Out Honest Internet Business and I would write a bright-colored e-book and start spamming everyone at ProZ to buy it for € 199 per copy. But alas, arrogant as I am, I'm still only mortal, and I think I have just encountered an ordinary, typical bunch of small and medium-sized agencies (I usually dislike and avoid big ones for personal reasons). In this case typical = thoroughly honest. Just yesterday I made a mild complaint about a rate mixup on a PO and got a new one with a rate 15% higher than I asked for. No attempt to shaft me there, though I feel obliged to be sure that there isn't yet another mixup before I write the invoice. Mistakes by human PMs (no experience so far with robots) occur fairly often, but these are mostly decent, overworked people that make good partners in a relationship of mutual respect.

I understand the attraction that direct client business has for many people, and I enjoy a healthy share of it myself, but please people let's be realistic about the agencies among us. I think the share of bad apples there is probably much smaller than with "translators" on the whole. They are a business like any other, run by ordinary people, and approached with a bit of confidence, competence and common sense they make great partners for spreading workloads and keeping sane.

*******

Edited to get back on the topic:

As for agencies passing on scaled reductions of rates for repetitions and matches is concerned, I don't ask in every case, but I am quite aware that some do. Where a discount is not applied, these agencies usually volunteer to pay the full rate. They aren't out to abuse anyone. I'm sure there are ones out there who will, but as the Germans say, Lügen haben kurze Beine, etc. and eventually they'll just piss off the good translators with such practices and lose them. The vast majority of agencies I encounter do not even vaguely resemble the crooks that too many of my colleagues obsess about. Not in their conduct toward translator and not in the way they treat end customers. They may differ in sales skills or the ability to justify not giving a discount (I'm always ready to supply ammunition for the latter battle), but they try hard for the most part to be fair to all parties. Some I know do that to the extent that it "hurts" their interests. So just relax, everyone.




[Edited at 2009-11-18 11:15 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:59
French to German
+ ...
Ifs and what ifs Nov 18, 2009

Edward Potter wrote:

Out of those three or four quotes the odds are that at least one of the translation providers will tout their efficient services using CAT tools and even throw in a nice discount for repetitions. The logical question that follows is, "why aren't the others using those efficient CAT tools and offering similar discounts"?


The obvious answer to this client would be: "Why bother about those who don't offer discounts? Get the discounter and have them sign your contract!"

[Edited at 2009-11-18 20:14 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
gad
United States
Local time: 09:59
Member
French to English
My guess is that most do, while a few don't Nov 19, 2009

I think that most agencies are on the up-and-up, and that they only pay a discount to translators when/if the agency/-ies insist on taking a discount. I don't believe they would bother to calculate the discounts. However, that being said, I think there are probably also agencies that take discounts when paying the translator without any discount to the end client. Just a guess, but I think there are some, though they are most likely a small minority of agencies.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:59
Flemish to English
+ ...
Some do and some don't Nov 19, 2009

But most don't.

According to the law, in the niche I stumbled upon the same sentence has to occur at
the end of every chapter. In those technical descriptions, the same words occur time and again in every description ( a book of 15 chapters).
But the price of such a translation say 10.000 euros is but a drop in the ocean on the total project of the budget of the market these companies are active in.
They don't know and don't care. However, when agencies get the assignment, they come nagging for Trados-discounts.


[Edited at 2009-11-19 17:42 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:59
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You missed my point, Kevin Nov 19, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
The problem is that for each thoroughly good translation agency - according to Pareto's Law - four scammers pose as a reliable translation agency.


What source of Universal Enlightenment tells you that the so-called "Pareto's Law" has any validity here? Must be a controlled substance.


I'm not saying that 4 out of every 5 translation agencies are crooked. What I'm saying is that for every serious translation agency, there are 4 guys, often quite clever in web design, who build a web site to the image of a serious translation agency. Their pictures of their shiny address-less offices were taken from some unknown clip art collection.

I've seen - and work for - some excellent translation agencies whose web sites look either miserable or plain skimpy, but translationwise they are the crème de la crème, truly world class.

I recently worked for a new one, did a couple of relatively small jobs for them, but they were so unusually nice that I volunteered and translated their minimal web site into my native language. The manager there said, I'm not too good with html, so it may take a while before I figure out how to add your translation to the ones I already have.

A large, rather famous agency chose and hired me specifically to do the same for them, viz. translate a part of their several times larger web site. Not only their payment term was longer than my stipulated limit (that's why I dropped them for good, among other reasons), but yet they paid late! This time they couldn't lamely blame the end client for not having paid them, because they were the end client, and yet, they could go on living well for a decade with the other translations of their site they already had.

However the danger lives elsewhere. I saw an impressive agency web site, but my trained eyes noticed that it was not really an agency, but a one-man-show. This one knew more about web design, and design itself, than about the translation business, or business itself. On one page he stated firm per-word rates, and that no job would get started before full payment of the estimate had been received. On the recruitment page he set low rates, fuzzy-match discounts, and informed translators applying that payment would be made on the last day of the second month following delivery. A colleague here on Proz asked me about the URL, but I couldn't find it any more. Either a short-lived business leaving behind a flock of unpaid translators, or maybe now it's operating under another name, possibly just for the time being.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


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


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

Do agencies pass on TM discounts to their clients?

Advanced search







Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »
Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »



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