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Outrageously low rates offered by "translators"
Thread poster: Dominika Lupa

Dominika Lupa  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:03
English to Polish
+ ...
Jan 18, 2011

Hi,

Today, for the first time in my life, I faced such a situation:

I have a client, for whom I translate highly specialized medical texts in the scope of optics and ophthalmology. And the work itself, during the last 7 years is very regular. We have a mutually agreed rate and so on.

Since few months, I didn't get any orders from them, so I went there, just to ask if everything is OK.

And what I hear, is that they received an offer from a very experienced translator, who will do this translations for EUR 2 per page!!!!!!!!!! (1600 characters). As you can easily find on Proz, the rates for English-Polish translations are much higher....

I am really trying very hard to stay calm - but does any of you have a clue, how to deal with such a situation?

Thanks in advance foe any clues!

Dominika


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Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:03
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
Things happen... Jan 18, 2011

Dominika Lupa wrote:

Hi,

Today, for the first time in my life, I faced such a situation:

I have a client, for whom I translate highly specialized medical texts in the scope of optics and ophthalmology. And the work itself, during the last 7 years is very regular. We have a mutually agreed rate and so on.

Since few months, I didn't get any orders from them, so I went there, just to ask if everything is OK.

And what I hear, is that they received an offer from a very experienced translator, who will do this translations for EUR 2 per page!!!!!!!!!! (1600 characters). As you can easily find on Proz, the rates for English-Polish translations are much higher....


If you could just somehow have a look at the translations of that person....

Maybe they are worth exactly 2 Euro per page

I am really trying very hard to stay calm - but does any of you have a clue, how to deal with such a situation?


If you depend on the money - start searching for new clients with your standard rate. Otherwise you can just wait - I believe this client may eventually return to you.


[Edited at 2011-01-18 14:44 GMT]


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Witold Chocholski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:03
Member (2007)
English to Polish
+ ...
EUR 2 / page? Jan 18, 2011

Is that right? EUR 2 per page? About 0.01 EUR per word?

Impossible. I don't believe they got such an offer from a very experienced translator.


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Michał Szcześniewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:03
English to Polish
+ ...
the real problem Jan 18, 2011

Well, I do believe they got the offer. There are different offers around and I'm not particularly surprised by this one.

The real problem is that we might now assume the client is really satisfied with what he gets (it's been few months since the last job, right?). So, is the client not a very demanding one or are the translations really OK?


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Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:03
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
Come on Jan 18, 2011

Witold Chocholski wrote:

Is that right? EUR 2 per page? About 0.01 EUR per word?

Impossible. I don't believe they got such an offer from a very experienced translator.


This is possible. Do you know how much local "off-line" translation agencies in Poland pay their translators? It could happen that this can be about same 1 cent per word. So, a person who previously worked for an "off-line" agency suddenly discovered Internet and came up here with his old rates.

This often happens in Ukraine and Russia so, this could happen in Poland, too.

[Edited at 2011-01-18 14:51 GMT]


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Dominika Lupa  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:03
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
ok, so Jan 18, 2011

First of all, it's an end-client, not an agency... And they - of course - look at their own costs.

Secondly - I did see this offer - the only thing they didn't show me was the name of that translator (probably for his own sake)

Thirdly, so far I have now idea about the quality of his work - they are still waiting for his translation.
And yes - the company is focused on quality - those are instruments for eye surgeries, so quality and accuracy is the predominant factor here. (7 years of good cooperation for me is a proof that they were satisfied. And I never had any claims whatsoever.)

But my point is: if you consider education, experience and so on, how can there be such a low offer...


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GerSi  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 06:03
Member (2010)
German to Slovenian
+ ...
makes me sad Jan 18, 2011

Hello Dominika,


I would like to tell you that there will be many mistakes and the client will notice the difference in quality. Because experience is not enough, one has to prove it. But this takes time. And is not necessarily true.

Perhaps nobody has revised the translations yet because no complaints arrived - yet.

However, there are good translators out there with their "spirit broken", selling themselves out. But I don't believe one can make a living from such a low rate. Perhaps the client found somebody who has a regular employment and just wants to earn a few extra cents?

Speculations are many, but only this translator knows the answer.

I know a similar case, the colleague just didn't have enough self esteem and struggled to survive until she finally gave up and found herself a regular employment. Because she couldn't live from working all nights, sleeping only 4 hours a day and get miserable payment for this huge "sacrifice" she made.

I believe eventually this person will start to make mistakes and the client will notice it.


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Michał Szcześniewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:03
English to Polish
+ ...
but why? Jan 18, 2011

GerSi wrote:

Perhaps the client found somebody who has a regular employment and just wants to earn a few extra cents?



I never actually understood why someone having a regular income from a 9 to 5 job would be willing to burn the midnight oil for a low rate (or a rate lower than that of a full time freelancer)? If you have a regular income you can be picky and you can try to raise your rates, right? Or am I missing something?


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
OK, let them have it! Jan 18, 2011

I am sure they will come back to you with the tail between the legs as we say in Spain. May I just advise that you keep a good relationship with them, call them every now and then to say hello or to comment on the bad weather... send them a little present for your anniversary in business or for Christmas... whatever. Make sure they remember your name and your phone number, as they are bound to come back. When they do, however, they might want to readjust the rate with you a little bit...

Good luck, and don't be discouraged with this situation! There is surely a host of other customers willing to enjoy your quality at a reasonable rate.


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Anna Michlik  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:03
Spanish to Polish
+ ...
Unbelievable Jan 18, 2011

At first I thought that there was a zero missing, and it should be not 2 EUR but 20...

Anyway, you say you saw this offer, did you see this person´s cv as well? Does he really have any education and experience? Maybe it´s just an unconscious wannabe?

What you can do is to tell the client that you´d be happy to proofread this translation. And maybe they will come back to you. Or maybe not, if this is such a great offer for this company...


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GerSi  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 06:03
Member (2010)
German to Slovenian
+ ...
Translating to help a friend ... Jan 18, 2011

Michał Szcześniewski wrote:

GerSi wrote:

Perhaps the client found somebody who has a regular employment and just wants to earn a few extra cents?



I never actually understood why someone having a regular income from a 9 to 5 job would be willing to burn the midnight oil for a low rate (or a rate lower than that of a full time freelancer)? If you have a regular income you can be picky and you can try to raise your rates, right? Or am I missing something?


I don't know how it is in Poland, but in some countries regular jobs are underpaid. And if these people are not actually translators, they don't know the "normal/usual/acceptable rates".

I heard of cases when foreign language teachers or linguists employed elsewhere or specialists in the field were translating just to earn a few cents, to see if they can do it or just for fun and even more common: to help a friend who is employed at a company which needs the translations.


... And there are cases in Slovenia for example: specialists are unsatisfied with their jobs, they have some knowledge of a foreign language, think it's not that hard and say, "I'll give it a try, maybe I will be happier if I translate". But I would like to make it clear at this point, the rate is not the issue in my posts. I would just like to point out possible situations.

[Edited at 2011-01-18 15:39 GMT]

... even a student with no experience at all would work for such a rate.

[Edited at 2011-01-18 15:44 GMT]


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Michał Szcześniewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:03
English to Polish
+ ...
If Jan 18, 2011

Yes, if the person is underpaid and not very much up to date with the 'industry standards' then you're right GerSi.

However, let's think about the case for a while. The person somehow tracked Dominika's client and thought they might need translations. Doesn't look like a wannabe to me... Rookies usually don't know how to approach clients (at least from my observations).


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Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:03
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
:) Jan 18, 2011

Michał Szcześniewski wrote:

I never actually understood why someone having a regular income from a 9 to 5 job would be willing to burn the midnight oil for a low rate (or a rate lower than that of a full time freelancer)? If you have a regular income you can be picky and you can try to raise your rates, right? Or am I missing something?


You are 100 % right.


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GerSi  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 06:03
Member (2010)
German to Slovenian
+ ...
how can a rookie find clients ... Jan 18, 2011

Michał Szcześniewski wrote:

Yes, if the person is underpaid and not very much up to date with the 'industry standards' then you're right GerSi.

However, let's think about the case for a while. The person somehow tracked Dominika's client and thought they might need translations. Doesn't look like a wannabe to me... Rookies usually don't know how to approach clients (at least from my observations).



Oh dear, there are so many possibilities ... people meet all the time and one word leads to another ... everything is so expensive, we need to cut costs... oh, I know somebody who knows the language a bit ... and so on ...


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