Charging for learning an agency's CAT tool
Thread poster: Simone Linke

Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:40
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Oct 24, 2010

Out of curiosity:

If a new client (agency) wants you to use their very own server-based CAT tool that comes with a 60-page handbook and probably requires some extra training hour(s), do you charge for it or do you consider it "an investment" in a long-term relationship?

Or, do you work with such agencies at all?

(The agency seems to be reputable, but I'm not in a desperate need for new clients, so I'm kinda undecided here.. I don't feel like learning a new tool without getting paid for these hours, but I'm also curious to see what kind of projects the agency has in store.. )

Thanks for your opinions!


Adam Łobatiuk  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:40
Member (2009)
English to Polish
+ ...
Investment, but Oct 24, 2010

I would consider it an investment, but I wouldn't want to work with such a tool (unless the rate was higher than usual).

From the agency's point of view (or rather what it sells to its client), the main advantage of such a solution is confidentiality, as you don't have the TM locally. Obviously, this is nonsense, because of all the TM content, you might happen to work on the most sensitive information, and so you could sell that information if you should be so evil and unprofessional.

Also, the agency is in complete control of the analysis and wordcount, and you can't verify it anywhere else (all CAT tools have their specific ways of counting words).

When you work over the Internet, even if you have a very good connection, matches are served less quickly than with a local TM. The difference might seem insignificant, but with time you find that you are less productive.

You might want to search the forums for Logoport and Translation Workspace for people's opinions about such tools.


Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:40
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Mentioned at the powwow - not much liked Oct 24, 2010

Somebody mentioned this problem at yesterday's powwow in London. I think the complaint was actually that the agency charged for using the CAT tool, not (or not only) for learning it, therefore effectively reducing the per-word rate paid. We took a negative view of this, but each translator will need to make his/her own decision. A further problem that I think this will cause is the difficulty of benefiting from the resulting translation memories when you do any work that does not use this server-based tool.
I am generally not in favour of CAT software that is specific to one translation company, precisely for those reasons: (a) it means extra work to learn and then use something of limited application and (b) you can't (or can't easily) benefit from that work when you then work in a different environment.
So, I conclude you'll have to decide for your own case on the basis of the outlay (time and money) to learn it and the expected subsequent amount of work and rate of pay when you do the translation work.
I hope these comments are of some use to you. (I've just seen Adam's comments, and they are more or less consistent with mine.)


Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:40
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Exactly Oct 24, 2010

Yes, those are exactly some of the things that cause my hesitation to even take a look at this tool without getting paid.
Particularly the idea of having to go through extra hassles in order to have my own TM at the end of a job stinks. And what if my internet breaks down right before a deadline (normally the internet connection is fine here but we do have failures occasionally..)? I guess I'll have to bear the cost then...

I've also thought about the productivity issue.. I've gotten used to various SDL shortcuts etc... but the screenshots of that agency's tool don't look very appealing.. it may indeed slow me down.

And you might be right about the word count. I've checked the agency, and while Blueboard etc. looks fine, Google found some pages where people discussed weird word counts from that agency that supposedly came from their CAT tool.. hmm..

The agency's rates are average.. not really a reason to jump through many extra hoops for this job.. ah well, I guess I've already made up my mind but have been looking for some confirmation here..icon_biggrin.gif

So, thanks for your feedback. That's definitely helping.

[Edited at 2010-10-24 16:55 GMT]


Milos Prudek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:40
English to Czech
+ ...
It can be a gentle trap Oct 25, 2010

a 60-page handbook and probably requires some extra training hour(s)

I would charge. But the agency may refuse to pay. I was actually offered money to learn some tools, and I always accepted such offers. When the agency does not offer to pay, you can always ask to be paid... and if they refuse, you can refuse the job.

By learning a specific tool for free you are making a mental commitment to work with this agency more than you would otherwise. You want to work with them more because you already invested your time for free upon their request.

On the other hand, learning something new is a joy.


Egil Presttun  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:40
English to Norwegian
Unpaid work Oct 25, 2010

It seems to me like this company is trying to take advantage of you. My experience is that if they give you unpaid work, and you do it, they will give you more unpaid work later.


John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
Down the garden path Oct 25, 2010

Sign up and you will have marked yourself as a 'soft touch' and someone desperate for work at any price. As Egil Presttun points out - this won't be the last invitation to work for free or pay to work.


Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:40
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Unpopular tool? Oct 25, 2010

Simone Linke wrote:

If a new client (agency) wants you to use their very own server-based CAT tool that comes with a 60-page handbook and probably requires some extra training hour(s), do you charge for it or do you consider it "an investment" in a long-term relationship?

I met with this situation. The tool can be unpopular and not pay you well (your experience become useless with other clients) unless this agency offers you a big volume job.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


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

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

Charging for learning an agency's CAT tool

Advanced search

BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »
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 »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search