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What is volume ?
Thread poster: Inga Petkelyte

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 05:40
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Sep 15, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

I've got puzzled: what is volume in the translation business, afterall?

In the end of August, I was contacted by a PM asking to participate in a translation project for a criminal case. The rate was ridiculous, I would say below ridiculous, and I pointed this out to the the PM. She answered she is aware of that but directed to the idea this is going to be an ongoing project and the volume of the work would attenuate the rate issue.

Ok, I like translating and the project is in my area of expertise, and that was a new client, so I agreed to join.

Well... First week order: 16 pages. Second week order: 8 pages. Second week weekend: on Saturday morning, a request with the deadline before Monday: 2,4 pages.

Well, even liking translating, I didn't feel comfortable anymore. I responded that 12 pages per week cannot be considered "volume" and the standard rate for such orders should be applied, with a separate reference to the weekend orders.

What do you think, fwllow translators ? When do you think an order as a "volume" ? And what is your pricing policy for the volume translations ?

Many thanks for sharing.

Inga


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:40
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Volume means........ Sep 15, 2010

Doing a lot more work for a lot less money.

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Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:40
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
Volume does not matter Sep 15, 2010

Inga Petkelyte wrote:

Dear Colleagues,

I've got puzzled: what is volume in the translation business, afterall?

In the end of August, I was contacted by a PM asking to participate in a translation project for a criminal case. The rate was ridiculous, I would say below ridiculous, and I pointed this out to the the PM. She answered she is aware of that but directed to the idea this is going to be an ongoing project and the volume of the work would attenuate the rate issue.

Ok, I like translating and the project is in my area of expertise, and that was a new client, so I agreed to join.

Well... First week order: 16 pages. Second week order: 8 pages. Second week weekend: on Saturday morning, a request with the deadline before Monday: 2,4 pages.

Well, even liking translating, I didn't feel comfortable anymore. I responded that 12 pages per week cannot be considered "volume" and the standard rate for such orders should be applied, with a separate reference to the weekend orders.

What do you think, fwllow translators ? When do you think an order as a "volume" ? And what is your pricing policy for the volume translations ?

Many thanks for sharing.

Inga


Never agree to sub-standard rates and that's all.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:40
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The right way to handle volume (imho) Sep 15, 2010

It is a fact though that some customers do have big translation volumes, and that for business and customer loyalty reasons it is sensible to offer a volume discount. So volumes exist, and we should be ready to negotiate what happens if the volume directed to us gets big.

If you are in a negotiation in which "volume" is supposedly a point, say that you will charge your usual rate and give a discount along the year if --and only if-- agreed volume limits are actually reached. Otherwise you make a fool of yourself!


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JH Trads  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:40
Member (2007)
English to French
+ ...
volume should not impact rates Sep 15, 2010

all the more so for a new client...

otherwise it would imply that you lower the quality of your translations as the volume increases, which is not acceptable

another angle: a huge volume usually comes with comparatively tight deadlines akin to urgent jobs, which is one more reason not to lower your rates


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:40
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not really Sep 15, 2010

Hugo wrote:
otherwise it would imply that you lower the quality of your translations as the volume increases, which is not acceptable

Wouln't you get a discount from the dealer if you bought 10 Audi's instead of one? Would the quality of the Audi's be any different? No, it would not, because they are made by the same people, same materials, same process.

They just cannot lower the quality for your 10 Audi's, the same way any conscious translator does not lower his/her quality because it would be impossible: we all like to write and translate the way we write and translate, and producing something intentionally bad would take longer than doing things in our normal way.

Volume discounts are normal in any industry, and if managed correctly (and I mean that a volume discount cannot lower your rate more than 5%-7% in my opinion) they can bring you a continuous flow of work that can be very welcome at times.


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Yes, volume does not matter! Sep 15, 2010

After all, we are not a grocery store.

Each sentence/word needs a different translation. I never give volume discounts, or - just to make happy the customer - I round down a little bit, but that's all.


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 05:40
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
And still Sep 15, 2010

Tom in London wrote:

Doing a lot more work for a lot less money.


TomDD I think it's just what was expected on that project.

Tomás, somehow I'm in line with your way of thinking: open for discussing a lower rate on a big project. Or, let's say, x amount of pages for usual rate and the rest with a discount.

Well, I'm much more in contact with wholesalers and distributors rather than with translators, hence my inclination to the practices in those fields - and discounts for the volume. Yet customs in one field cannot be transferred automatically to another field and thus, I wonder when, from what amount of pages/words the project can be considered "big" and worth thinking of sweetening the deal.

I see that some translators don't apply any discounts - does that always work smooth?


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:40
Swedish to English
+ ...
Maybe not a good comparison? Sep 15, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:


Wouln't you get a discount from the dealer if you bought 10 Audi's instead of one? Would the quality of the Audi's be any different? No, it would not, because they are made by the same people, same materials, same process.


Firstly, the dealer, not to mention Audi, is likely to have added a healthy margin to the list price which can be used for discounts. How many freelancing translators do the same?

Secondly, the dealer will release more physical space in which to display/store other cars which can then be sold for profit. How can a freelance translator release more space for other products (translations) by selling off a larger amount of words?

Thirdly, for the dealer, selling 10 cars involves one transaction as does selling one car which means both scenarios require roughly the same amount of the dealer's time (I'm ignoring the actual movement of the product/car here). Does selling 100,000 words require roughly the same amount of the translator's time as selling 1,000?

The people, materials and processes involved in the production of one or 10 Audis are totally irrelevant to the discount offered by the dealer (though Audi are likely to receive a volume discount on the material).

For a translation middleman, for example an agency, your example is somewhat more relevant. Selling 10 translations to a client in one transaction will most likely involve only one set of paperwork.

Edited to add a missing part of a comparison.

[Edited at 2010-09-15 20:34 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:40
Member
English to French
Translation and commodity Sep 15, 2010

[Edited cos' Madeleine was quicker]

To me the only valid reason to give a discount on volume is the assurance to work full time for a long period. If you're usually busy 40% of the time and you get a contract that will keep you busy 120% of your time for weeks, then it makes sense.
It's nothing to do with volume, but with business sense.

[Edited cos' there she was quicker too]

Today's mantra: I am not a resource, I am a translator, and I sell a service, not a product.

Philippe

[Edited at 2010-09-15 21:06 GMT]


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:40
German to Spanish
+ ...
What is volume ? Sep 15, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

It is a fact though that some customers do have big translation volumes, and that for business and customer loyalty reasons it is sensible to offer a volume discount. So volumes exist, and we should be ready to negotiate what happens if the volume directed to us gets big.

If you are in a negotiation in which "volume" is supposedly a point, say that you will charge your usual rate and give a discount along the year if --and only if-- agreed volume limits are actually reached. Otherwise you make a fool of yourself!


Hi Tomás: Any valid reason to work more for less?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You could have said "No way!" Sep 15, 2010

Inga Petkelyte wrote:
The rate was ridiculous, I would say below ridiculous

She answered she is aware of that but directed to the idea this is going to be an ongoing project and the volume of the work would attenuate the rate issue.

First week order: 16 pages. Second week order: 8 pages. Second week weekend: on Saturday morning, a request with the deadline before Monday: 2,4 pages.

12 pages per week cannot be considered "volume" and the standard rate for such orders should be applied, with a separate reference to the weekend orders


Hello Inga

I'm sorry but I think they made it perfectly clear that they were not prepared to pay you a sensible rate for your work.

If you thought it was "below ridiculous", why did you agree to it?

Again and again we read that translators are perfectly willing to contribute to their own downfall. When will we learn some self-respect?


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 05:40
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not approved yet & Every penny matters Sep 15, 2010

Being not a member, my previous post is still awaiting approval, though there are 11 posts here already and I don't know when this exact one will see the day's light.

So I would like to thank everyone that has contributed so far; very good points were drawn here.

Sheila, have you ever heard (I'm sure you have) about Maslow's hierarchy of needs ? Not everyone is well established at the moment, for whatever reason, and some of us trying to find our way. If you read carefully, I refused afterall.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:40
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Two questions Sep 15, 2010

Inga Petkelyte wrote:
When do you think an order as a "volume" ? And what is your pricing policy for the volume translations ?


You should not have asked the second question. Now everyone is going to answer the second question and not the first question, even though the entire post preceding these two questions relate to the first question. No-one here even knows about the first question, in fact...


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:40
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Indeed, not a good example Sep 16, 2010

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:
Thirdly, for the dealer, selling 10 cars involves one transaction as does selling one car which means both scenarios require roughly the same amount of the dealer's time (I'm ignoring the actual movement of the product/car here). Does selling 100,000 words require roughly the same amount of the translator's time as selling 1,000?

OK, OK. Indeed it was not a good example. It was the quality question that really triggered something in me. I just cannot believe someone is able (I mean technically capable) or reducing quality because of volume.


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