How to compete with China ??
Thread poster: Sima Dalens (X)

Sima Dalens (X)

Local time: 06:06
Jan 18, 2011

Hello,

How can we compete with Chinese translation agencies, since they offer translators rock bottom prices? Unfortunately there are many translators out there, providing good quality work for 2 to 3 EUR per source word + discount working with a CAT tool.
How much do you think these agencies charge clients?
These companies work mainly in the technical field, such as consumer/household appliances manuals, automotive data sheets etc.
Do you have direct clients that provide you with regular work in this field, or do they prefer price over quality and go for a Chinese agency?


 

lisa23
Germany
Local time: 07:06
English to German
+ ...
These are my favourite agencies Jan 20, 2011

that pay for good quality work about 2 to 3 EUR per source word


Happy China, now I know why their economy is booming; I knew that there was something wrong with my rates (I used to charge 2 or 3 Euro per line (what is usual in Germany), but now I know better. Thanks for that.


 

Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
* Jan 20, 2011

Samera-D wrote:

Hello,

How can we compete with Chinese translation agencies, since they offer translators rock bottom prices? Unfortunately there are many translators out there, providing good quality work for 2 to 3 EUR per source word + discount working with a CAT tool.
How much do you think these agencies charge clients?
These companies work mainly in the technical field, such as consumer/household appliances manuals, automotive data sheets etc.
Do you have direct clients that provide you with regular work in this field, or do they prefer price over quality and go for a Chinese agency?



Do those agencies really offer translations in your language pair? But how?


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
How to compete? By not competing! Jan 20, 2011

Clearly the market targeted by Chinese agencies these days is not a quality market. Their translations resemble Chinese products: they are so cheap that you don't feel sorry you put them in the recycle bin. And in fact they make us translators look terrible when people come to us at parties and wave their awful Chinese-produced appliance manual.

I think their market is not our market, and we European translators should target a quality market that exists and is alive and kicking, merely by offering quality translations, an agile and flexible service, and expertise in translation and technology.

Trying to compete with the kind of translators who accept 2-3 cents of Euro per word would not only be difficult and would drain you financially, but also silly since you would abandon all good companies and agencies who desperately seek reliable translations.

So forget about the low-pays and concentrate in improving your capabilities, certifications, equipment, know-how, and service.


 

Sima Dalens (X)

Local time: 06:06
TOPIC STARTER
Same market Jan 20, 2011

@ Alexander: No idea, but there are several options: a) They live in Asia, b) They have another job or c) black market

@ Tomás: Thanks for the correction, I meant 2-3 Eurocents and not Euro.
Those agencies target mainly the European market and they have really big companies as clients.
I know someone (Dutch native living in Singapore) who works for 3 or 4 of those agencies. I have seen some translated documents and their quality is stunning and definitely not made with MT. From each agency he receives weekly at least 1 to 2 short manual documents to translate.
The agencies I work for in the UK and Holland hardly provide me with technical and engineering translation work.
These Chinese agencies have done their homework really well and how to run a business.

Since we target the same market I wonder how much they charge their clients. Second question could be: Do these big European companies prefer price over quality and take a risk?


 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 05:06
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Don't try to compete on price Jan 21, 2011

Samera-D wrote:

Unfortunately there are many translators out there, providing good quality work for 2 to 3 EUR per source word + discount working with a CAT tool.

When I saw that 2 to 3 EUR per source word, I thought "Woo hoo, I've gotta move to China!" but obviously you mean 2 to 3 euro cents right? You can't compete with them on price, so don't bother. All you can do is compete with them on quality. Instead of lowering your prices, raise them instead, and aim for agencies and clients that care about accurate, well-written translations delivered on time. They still exist (perhaps not on Proz, but out there), you just have to work harder to find them.


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:06
French to English
+ ...
Are they really providing good quality work...? Jan 21, 2011

Samera-D wrote:
bottom prices? Unfortunately there are many translators out there, providing good quality work for 2 to 3 EUR per source word + discount working with a CAT tool.


I wonder if this premise is actually true (I assume you mean 2-3 cents per source word, not Euros!).

What is certainly true is that there are people charging this price and companies contracting such services and deciding (rightly or wrongly) that the resulting quality is sufficient for their needs. But don't confuse "good quality" with "what the finance manager has decided is good enough". (Have a look at an average motherboard manual and decide how high certain companies have set their needs.)

I wonder:

- for 2-3 Euros per 1000 words do you really get the same quality as you get from somebody who is earning enough to travel, visit trade shows, invest in equipment and specialist dictionaries, attend courses, be able to rest from time to time etc;
- are the people at the *top* of the market in China really charging such rates...?


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:06
French to German
+ ...
Wrong outlook Jan 21, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Clearly the market targeted by Chinese agencies these days is not a quality market. Their translations resemble Chinese products: they are so cheap that you don't feel sorry you put them in the recycle bin. And in fact they make us translators look terrible when people come to us at parties and wave their awful Chinese-produced appliance manual.


In the defence of China, I can repeat here what a Chinese colleague told me: you may very well get long-lasting, quality products from this country. But don't expect to buy them at the price of cheap junk like described in your post.

In China as in other countries, you get what you pay for. It is your decision! (*)

So:
Neil Coffey wrote:
I wonder:

- for 2-3 Euros per 1000 words do you really get the same quality as you get from somebody who is earning enough to travel, visit trade shows, invest in equipment and specialist dictionaries, attend courses, be able to rest from time to time etc;
- are the people at the *top* of the market in China really charging such rates...?


My answer to both questions (and to the second in particular) is a plain *NO* - and the same applies to other often criticised countries, like India. The colleague mentioned earlier in this post also has done "less noble jobs" for example MT post-editing, but his basic rate is about 0.15 € ex taxes per SW.

And by the way: low-rates Western agencies are not any better than low-rates agencies located in any other part of the globe. In fact, they are even worse!

Time to get a bit more flexible and open in our ways of thinking...

(*) ETA:
Example 1: I assume that most of us know that Apple's iMac is assembled in... China. Its current price for the basic 21.5" version is USD 1,199 - which is somewhat more expensive than a basic Windows machine.

Example 2: I bought my main CAT tool - which is Java-based and imho works better than any Windows software because it is versatile, robust and easy to use (among others) - for 368 €. The publisher's corporate headquarters are in Hong Kong.

[Modifié le 2011-01-21 11:53 GMT]


 

Patryk Bartkiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:06
English to Polish
+ ...
all in the approach Jan 21, 2011

Asian translation market IS prospective. Well, has been so for many years now. It would be unwise to abandon it altogether or consider it all low quality and unworthy of your time.
And as in every market, there'll be companies interested in good quality at reasonable cost, and those seeking pre-graduate students to work with Google translator at nighttime for mere peanuts.

As Neil said - grab your mobo manual and appreciate the quality. And then grab your single sheet, photocopied "Operator & Maintenance Instruction Manual" for the el cheapo power tool you bought at Tesco for the price of a large pizza.

I'm personally following the PC hardware world for my own sinister, dark pleasures. Virtually everything is now made in China. Top-tier enthusiast gear. Expensive stuff. With lifetime warranties. With cutting edge, space technology features 90% of us can neither use nor need. Say, you can buy a generic, low wattage PSU for a home PC for USD 15 w. shipping (Newegg, USA). Or you can buy an enthusiast grade Seasonic (similar wattage) for USD 130. See my point?
Same thing will apply to other stuff made there - medical equipment, industry grade measurement devices, automotive components, etc.

I recently worked with a Chinese agency working for some big outfit, and the pay was good, really decent. But the text itself was demanding, true.

All in all, the threat of outrageously low prices lurks everywhere, even in Europe. Point is - search for the right client, never give in, fight with quality, quick service, professional business.

[Edited at 2011-01-21 06:28 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:06
French to German
+ ...
Thanks a bunch, Patryk! Jan 21, 2011

Patryk Bartkiewicz wrote:
All in all, the threat of outrageously low prices lurks everywhere, even in Europe. Point is - never give in, fight with quality, quick service, professional business.


icon_smile.gif Exactly my point.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I take the point! Jan 21, 2011

Patryk Bartkiewicz wrote:
Asian translation market IS prospective. Well, has been so for many years now. It would be unwise to abandon it altogether or consider it all low quality and unworthy of your time.
And as in every market, there'll be companies interested in good quality at reasonable cost, and those seeking pre-graduate students to work with Google translator at nighttime for mere peanuts.

OK, OK! I take the point and will take it into account. However, until today and for many years, all offers I received from China were the awful kind...


 

Patryk Bartkiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:06
English to Polish
+ ...
brutally low rate > spam folder Jan 21, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
OK, OK! I take the point and will take it into account. However, until today and for many years, all offers I received from China were the awful kind...


I'm sure your spam folder will continue to welcome such offers cheerilyicon_smile.gif


 

Dragomir Kovacevic  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:06
Italian to Serbian
+ ...
exactly so Jan 21, 2011

There is no need to compete with China, but to live and work with all the circumstances. To compete with China, one has to do it living and working in a country with the identical living costs as in China.

And let us not forget how many colleagues, or other professionals from the so-called western countries, now live and work in Russia, China, South-Asian countries. Life is everywhere.

D

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:



 


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