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EXTREMELY insulting offer from subagency shark
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:37
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 7, 2013

A U.S.-based agency recently posted a request for translators on ProZ and sent out the following reply to those who responded (names not used according to ProZ rules).

I awoke this morning to find this gut-wrenching letter in my in-box. I cannot believe that anyone would stoop so low in our profession. The letter appropriately landed in my junk folder and I should have just left it there because it has ruined my day and made me sick to my stomach.

Why in the world would anyone want to work for less than half their rate and give CAT discounts if they still have to wait three times as long to be paid, presumably will have only rush work AND have to do a test translation just to have this privilege? And in some cases, you will have to pay ____ a month to work with them.

If I were forced to work for 0.06 a word and wait over 30 days to be paid, I would quit and do something else. No one is forcing me to be a translator.

If an agency, or in this case a "subagency", is unable to pay its translators more than 0.05 or 0.06 a word, they should simply close and open a different kind of company or except fewer jobs at higher rates. No one is forcing them to run an agency.

The company claims to have several "regular" translators who foolishly accept these terms.

I encourage all who receive this insulting piece of garbage to reply to the company directly and/or post your reply (without names of course) here on this thread.

And please spare us the usual replies about supply and demand, about being a beginner, and about having no other choice - you DO have a choice!

I pity the client who is paying .20 a word to what they think is a reputable international agency and that company pockets .10 a word, the sub-agency pockets .05 a word and then the translation and editing is done by some poor soul for .05. And this is provided that there is not another sub-subagency in the middle.

Reputable agencies need to speak up about this practice and warn their clients because otherwise disintermediation (the elimination of agencies) will soon become the norm.

Here is the letter:

"I recently posted a "call for translators" on ProZ, and you responded in the category of ......... to ................ Thank you very much for your interest.

I have attached some test translations, but before you do any of them, I would like to explain the particular needs of our company so you can determine whether this opportunity would be of interest to you.

"______________________ has been in business for ___ years, but over the past 10 years we have evolved into a company that serves mainly larger translation firms as a subcontractor. You would be familiar with some of these larger companies. As a result, we are usually here in the marketing chain:

End client -> International Translation Company -> _______________ -> Freelance Translator

Because there is almost always an intermediary between us and the end client, part of the margin is taken by that intermediary. In the last couple of years, our rates typically paid to ______ to ______ translators has been in the range of $0.06 to $0.07/word, with standard discounts for repetitions, full and fuzzy matches provided by _____.

However, continuing downward price pressure in the market is forcing me to shift down to the $0.05 - $0.06/word range. This is important for you to take into account in considering whether you want to respond to this invitation.

I am also looking at changing my payment terms to something closer to what I am subject to in the marketplace. This typically means billing an entire month's work at the end of the month on a single invoice, and then waiting sixty days. No, I don't like it either, whether on the receiving or giving end, but today's market has forced me into this position. I have several suppliers who have been on this arrangement with me already for many months or years and who have become "regulars", and whom I send work pretty much every month.

We do a lot of work in ______ CAT Tool. Also, I am receiving increasing work from a company that has a proprietary translation memory system called "______________", for which the user pays a modest monthly usage fee of ___. I am particularly interested in translators who are willing to obtain and learn how to use this tool, but ______-only users are also welcome.

The product that I expect to receive is fully accurate and native English translation that is publication ready. We do spot-check or fully review your work as necessary. On the positive side of all this, when translators do good work for me I tend to be very loyal and come back to them again and again.

If this proposal interests you, I invite you to translate one or more of the test passages (at no charge, I'm afraid). All of these passages come from previous projects and are not involved in any actual billable work, so please be assured that I am not trying to get free translation work.

My colleagues and I will evaluate your translation sample(s) and get back to you to express possible interest in working together."


[Edited at 2013-04-07 16:51 GMT]


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
One way to look at it Apr 7, 2013

Well, you have to admit, from a certain perspective that is absolutely HYSTERICAL.

Sometimes we have to take the laughs where we can get them!



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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Honest? Apr 7, 2013

It looks, at least, as if the people are being honest: pin-pointing their place on the food chain and admitting their crummy payment terms up front. I wonder if they are just as honest with the larger companies that sub-contract to them. If they are, those big sharks are eqully reprehensible for playing along.

[Edited at 2013-04-07 15:42 GMT]


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Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: empty post
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Empty post
564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:37
Danish to English
+ ...
April's fool? Apr 7, 2013

I would have been tempted to write back simply asking whether this was a belated April's fool joke.

Unbelievable ...


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:37
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Honest or not, I guess I just don't understand... Apr 7, 2013

why anyone would want to operate a business under these conditions.

What added-value does a subagency bring to the process?

The client would be better off to just save their money, go outside, throw their documents in the air and allow random sections to be caught by random masses of amateur linguaphiles.


[Edited at 2013-04-07 16:19 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:37
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Collaborator Apr 7, 2013

Jessica Noyes wrote:
It looks, at least, as if the people are being honest: pin-pointing their place on the food chain and admitting their crummy payment terms up front. I wonder if they are just as honest with the larger companies that sub-contract to them. If they are, those big sharks are eqully reprehensible for playing along.

Remember, there are at least two definitions of collaborator:
col·lab·o·rate (k-lb-rt)
intr.v. col·lab·o·rat·ed, col·lab·o·rat·ing, col·lab·o·rates
1. To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.
2. To cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupation force in one's country.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/collaborator

This person sounds like "one of us" who's been tempted over to the other side and doesn't like what they find there. That's very sad for them, but ultimately they've made their choice and they deserve nothing but our derision. Are we supposed to feel sorry for this poor collaborator?

I agree, Jeff, this leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth.


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:37
German to English
+ ...
Who knows? Apr 8, 2013

Even that could be false to justify dumping prices. Plausible? Possibly, but it's no excuse, no matter how you twist and bend this truly offensive offer. Here in Germany you could probably get the same hourly wage or more for cleaning toilets in public restrooms.

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Olly Pekelharing  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:37
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
End client -> International Translation Company -> _______________ -> Freelance Translator Apr 8, 2013

That business model is never going to work.

Olly


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:37
English to Czech
+ ...
Unfortunately Apr 8, 2013

Olly Pekelharing wrote:
End client -> International Translation Company -> _______________ -> Freelance Translator
That business model is never going to work.
Olly


Unfortunately, Olly, that business model has been working for years already. For example, most Czech agencies have been operating this way and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 12:37
French to English
+ ...
No need to be insulted Apr 8, 2013

This business model does work. It is used every day. The only difference is that this person is being honest about it.

There is no need to be insulted by this offer. It is just that, an offer. If you do not wish to take it up, then ignore it and get on with your life.

Are you insulted because one supermarket sells milk at a much higher price that another? I doubt it. You either buy your milk at the other supermarket or you accept the higher price in exchange for the convenience of not having to go to another place. In either case, the supermarket has made you an offer and you have either declined or accepted that offer. If a lot of people decline the offer, they won't sell much milk; if a lot of people accept the offer then they have found a sweet spot in the market. The supermarket has not in any way insulted you.

Agencies, like yourself, are profit-making entities. This one has chosen a particular business model and has been quite open about what it is. If you see an opportunity to profit from that model, by all means do so. If you don't then move on to where you do see an opportunity.

Translation is a business like any other, not a religious calling. In my opinion, it would be a much better business to be in if people would treat it that way. The agencies have figured it out, why can't we?


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:37
German to English
+ ...
Refreshingly honest Apr 8, 2013

I agree with Jessica - this guy is being disarmingly honest. I wish all cold e-mailers were this honest about their terms, it would save me the decision of whether to take the time to write that "can you really afford me?" e-mail.

As it is, the guy makes it easy for me to decide that he should take his offer for a long walk on a short pier and not bother to inform me about the splash.


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Maria Popova  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 13:37
Member (2011)
German to Bulgarian
+ ...
Trash Apr 8, 2013

Dear Jeff,

There's no need for you to be upset. You have that wonderful function in your mail box called Trash. I would throw that letter there and forget about it immediately.

Cheers,

Maria


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:37
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Honesty on both parts Apr 8, 2013

Victor Dewsbery wrote:

I agree with Jessica - this guy is being disarmingly honest. I wish all cold e-mailers were this honest about their terms, it would save me the decision of whether to take the time to write that "can you really afford me?" e-mail.

As it is, the guy makes it easy for me to decide that he should take his offer for a long walk on a short pier and not bother to inform me about the splash.


Hi Victor,

I agree with what you said here. And thank you for the a. m. chuckle. *Splash*


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