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Here's a fun business proposition from an agency that I received
Thread poster: Herkko Vuorinen

Herkko Vuorinen  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 10:51
Member
English to Finnish
+ ...
Oct 16, 2013

Opened my emails half asleep this morning but this opened my eyes:

"...We are a translation company that WORKS FOR other translation companies, hence our clients are another translation companies. Due to this we have a lot of work compared to any other company, but in the same time this makes us a little rate conscious.

Presently we are in the middle of finalizing translators of a big project. Our offered rates for that is 0.02 USD Per English words. ..."

Now, I am a gentle person, so I did not answer this email. I left it unanswered.

I mean seriously...


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 15:51
Chinese to English
For your pair?! Oct 16, 2013

I see this kind of thing all the time, but were they claiming that they can find English-Finnish translators willing to work for 2 cents?! That's extraordinary.

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Michal Fabian  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:51
Member (2012)
Dutch to Slovak
+ ...
Let's take it to another level Oct 16, 2013

Now there's a business plan: How about I open a translation agency that's going to work for this translation agency? Adding a lot of value in the process, of course.

Just when you thought you saw it all... How low are we gonna get?


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Paulinho Fonseca  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:51
Member (2011)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
0,02? Oct 16, 2013

Hi there,

I am sure this is a way to pay less, saying they work for other agencies! OMG, I hope this does not become a trend. The market is becoming nasty!

Not replying the email was clever.

Paulinho Fonseca


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:51
Member (2008)
French to English
Mind-boggling Oct 16, 2013

Just try to imagine how much work the translation companies that work for this translation company must have! No need to pay translators pittance, just hire another translation company!

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:51
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Would be nice.... Oct 16, 2013

It would be quite interesting to know how much this translation agency charges its "mother" agency and, in turn, what the sub-sub-client (the mother agency) charges its clients. I know it's not the translator's concern what an agency charges its clients, but... it might be amazing (or eye-opening) to know.

If they "generously" offer a Finish>English>Finish translator USD 0.02, what would they offer a translator who works in a more "frequent" language pair? Points, mints, pebbles?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Half of my clients Oct 16, 2013

Herkko Vuorinen wrote:
"...We are a translation company that WORKS FOR other translation companies, hence our clients are another translation companies. "


Half of my clients are like that, and yes, it means that their rates are lower, because there are several middlemen.


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Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:51
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I would reply Oct 16, 2013

Thank you for your e-mail. However, I am not strictly-speaking a translator. I work for other translators and specialize in fielding off offers from other translation agencies and translation agencies who work for translation agencies, where these offers could constitute a waste of their precious time, thereby freeing up their time to do what they're good at, which is translate. Since these translators have to pay for my services, they are rather rate-conscious. The translator I am currently representing, [fill in your name], will only accept offers at or above X [fill in your usual rate incremented by at least 10%].

(if you can be bothered)


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Hin und Wieder  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:51
Member (2012)
German to Dutch
+ ...
I completely understand Oct 16, 2013

Herkko for not answering that message. I mean..I don´t want those translators to get `finalized`! Not for 2 nor 20 cents.

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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:51
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Collapsing pyramid Oct 16, 2013

John Fossey wrote:

Just try to imagine how much work the translation companies that work for this translation company must have! No need to pay translators pittance, just hire another translation company!


It's like a huge Ponzi scheme - the top agencies will make a profit, but as everyone jumps on the agency pyramid at some level to get their cut, eventually there will be no translators left to do the work - because they will all be busy trying to find someone else to outsource it to.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 15:51
Chinese to English
Maybe this is an opportunity Oct 16, 2013

In this neverending tower of turtles, no-one will take responsibility for quality, so I say accept those jobs, Google translate them and send them back. Even if they deduct half your pay for quality issues you're still a winner! And all you've done is make the world a shoddier place.

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Elina Sellgren  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 10:51
Member (2013)
Finnish to English
+ ...
Heh Oct 16, 2013

Phil Hand wrote:

In this neverending tower of turtles, no-one will take responsibility for quality, so I say accept those jobs, Google translate them and send them back. Even if they deduct half your pay for quality issues you're still a winner! And all you've done is make the world a shoddier place.


Thanks for the laugh Phil! What else can you do but laugh at something like this..


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xxxnrichy
France
Local time: 09:51
French to Dutch
+ ...
This is not new Oct 16, 2013

In the past I have been contacted several times by (reputable) agencies telling me that "of course our agency clients cannot pay as much as direct clients, but would you accept working for xx". The rate was not as low as 0,02, but half my standard rate.
And, of course, do you know the "Polish route" (no offense ment), in which German companies subcontract to reputable German agencies, who subcontract to hard working Polish agencies, who find translators everywhere in the world especially in East Europe? The system can even be more complicated, I have seen situations in which 3 or 4 middlemen were involved. Which may also mean that a part of the proz job board is coming from these last stages in this subcontracting chain who engaged themselves to do the work but have difficulties to find translators at that price. It might also explain lots of unpaid translators, because if one of the elements is a nonpayer, the whole chain suffers.


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KateKaminski
Local time: 08:51
German to English
I would respond as follows: Oct 16, 2013

Write back that you are excited about their proposition, as you have in fact just launched your own translation company which is very similar to theirs. What a coincidence! You would be happy to support them with this exciting project and would pass the large volume onto a group of translators, obviously keeping a 50% cut for yourself.

I would be interested to see how they responded to that.


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jbjb  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 10:51
Estonian to English
+ ...
EU Oct 16, 2013

It's strange that everyone finds it so amusing. This is how the whole European Union translation business works - and we are talking about more than 100 million euro a year.

Let's say European Parliament needs to translate all of its written materials into 24 EU languages. Will they organise tenders in all of the 24 countries? Of course not, the tender will be won by a company that offers the best price for translating into all 24 languages. Let's say the company is based in Brussels.

After winning the tender, the company needs to actually translate into all 24 languages. Naturally it would be horrible to look for translators and proofreaders into all of these languages and assure quality as well. Therefore the Brussels company would keep 20% of the money and use 80% to commission e.g. a Swedish translation company based in Stockholm to get translations into Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish.

The Stockholm company has a problem - they don't have enough freelancers for Finnish. Instead of training the freelancers and proofreaders, it is easier for them to keep 20% of the money and use the remaining 80% to commission Finnish translations from a Finnish-based translation company.

This Finnish translation company now handles all of the European Parliament translations into Finnish. They have a problem - they don't have enough freelancers for that at peak periods. So they try to do all of the work by themselves but when there's a lot, they will commission the work from other Finnish translation companies.

So instead of working directly for European Parliament, you may very well have a Finnish translator
1. who translates for Finnish Translation Company B
2. that sends the work to Finnish Translation Company A
3. that sends the work to Stockholm Translation Company
4. that sends the work to Brussels Translation Company
5. that sends the work to European Parliament

And this does not only go for EU. My acquaintance works as a project manager in a large translation company and says around 30% of their work is commissioned by other translation agencies, not directly by end clients. And that they do the same if they have a shortage for certain language pairs at some periods.


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