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Rip-off; Classing MTs as fuzzy matches
Thread poster: Richard Purdom

Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:25
Dutch to English
+ ...
Dec 19, 2013

I was recently asked by an agency to translate 10,000 words from PT to ENG. And it has to be done on their memoQ server.
My rates are low at €0.05, but provide me with a decent income.

Anyway the job arrives, only 8400 words, along with an 'estimate'(?!) of payment. Virtually all were 85-100% fuzzies that only paid 50%. The 'estimate' would be looked at again after completion.
However, these were marketing texts, with no repetitions. After starting I noticed that their TM was full of crappy Google translations (in fact ONLY had Google MTs) that needed completely rewriting. Even so, the match rate remains above 90% because so many words are the same...
So I would be working for €0025 per word...
I have abandoned the work 25% through in disgust, written to them explaining I will only carry on if all words are paid as new, of course I have had no reply.
This looks live a clever rip-off to pay fuzzy match rates for translations that have no matches whatsoever.

Anybody else been through this?

[Edited at 2013-12-19 14:42 GMT]


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Christophe Delaunay  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:25
Member (2011)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Not so far Dec 19, 2013

I've been living in Italy for the past 3 months... and I am abashed by the low level -culturally speaking- of the italian television.

But then as I ask friends around, they told me "what do you expect after so many years of Berlusconism?"

So I am now convinced that people have the politicians they deserve, the TV they deserve, the media the infrastructures they deserve, the education they deserve....and we, as translators, we have the clients (agencies or direct clients) we deserve.

Good luck!


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:25
English to Dutch
+ ...
Ripoff indeed Dec 19, 2013

That's a new one for me, but worth watching out for.

But may I say, please, don't work for €0,05. It might provide YOU with an income that's acceptable for YOU, but it makes it very hard for other professionals to make an income. Any selfrespecting professional translator should ask - and will get! - at least twice as much.
Anyone who tells you that you can't get higher rates is either ignorant or trying to fool you. I never work under €0.09 and usually get €0.10 to €0.12 - from agencies. Not to mention direct clients, who will pay yet much more. Do I get work for those rates? I'm craving for a day off, actually.

I strongly advise you to do the same. Maybe you're thinking: I don't need more money. But you could make the same money with twice as little work. That should appeal to anyone.


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Texte Style
Local time: 13:25
French to English
CAT tool sliding scales do not and cannot ever apply to marketing Dec 19, 2013

If you're doing marketing texts, they are worth more than 0.05. Marketing is deceptively simply. Everybody can understand it (unlike technical, medical, legal, financial where you need specialist knowledge). However not everybody can produce it. You need to be able to state ideas clearly, know when you can stray from the source, have a sense for language that will appeal to your audience.

It's rather akin to producing a logo. That swoosh: it's simplicity itself yet it's worth millions. Anybody could have thought of it, it's that simple. ... Or could they?

Getting back to what you were actually ranting about, a golden rule for me is:

Never use CAT tools for marketing.

OK, I might just let myself be persuaded to use a CAT tool if there's a decent term base (if I've previously used one to perform repetitive work for the same client for example), but sliding scales do not and cannot ever apply.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I agree with Jan Willem. Dec 19, 2013

Your rates are extremely low, especially considering that you do Dutch. Most Dutch to English translation is done by non-native speakers, and you're a rare commodity. I charge significantly more for Dutch than for my other European languages.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My sympathies, Richard Dec 19, 2013

Richard Purdom wrote:
I would be working for €0025 per word...
I have abandoned the work 25% through in disgust, written to them explaining I will only carry on if all words are paid as new, of course I have had no reply.

But I have to agree with Christophe that you are actually encouraging agencies to behave in this way by accepting such low rates. Those agencies who pay 0.10+€ per word in your pair and your part of the world are really quite unlikely to try a scam of this sort; on the other hand low-paying agencies are notorious for wanting even-lower rates, higher volumes, shorter deadlines, longer payment terms...

It all comes down to respect. They don't respect their translators so they'll try every trick in the game to get more for less out of them. Please restrict yourself to agencies who will respect you - we'll all win in the long run.


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Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:25
German to English
The CAT tool scam Dec 19, 2013

In an ideal world, the CAT tool would work to make a translator's life easier and to produce a better quality of work for the end client.

In the real world, the discount leverage applied by agencies means that the translator has to do more work for the same money he was getting five years ago. This will not end well - either quality will suffer or, more likely, translators will start leaving the profession in droves, in order to find a reasonable income elsewhere.

And yes, EUR 0.05 is far too low for an experienced translator. Please, just say "no".

Steve K.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Yes, Italian television is awful but.... Dec 19, 2013

Christophe Delaunay wrote:

I've been living in Italy for the past 3 months... and I am abashed by the low level -culturally speaking- of the italian television.

But then as I ask friends around, they told me "what do you expect after so many years of Berlusconism?"

So I am now convinced that people have the politicians they deserve, the TV they deserve, the media the infrastructures they deserve, the education they deserve....and we, as translators, we have the clients (agencies or direct clients) we deserve.

Good luck!



Yes, Italian television is awful but as a German friend visiting the UK once said to me, "British television is so good because the British have no meaningful social life, so they need their television to be good!"

Italian television was trash long before Berlusconi came along. Anyone who blames it on Berlusconi (bad as his TV channels still are) has a very short memory. Even so, there have always been a few very good investigative journalists who still manage, here and there, to find a space on television for their work - but they are few and far between. Here's one brilliant example (after the annoying YouTube ads) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fcvn4-MG8E or this one from the "Blu Notte" series, which I watched recently. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1uX8lGC3ow

As for the main topic: using a CAT tool is an admission by the translator that they are willing to play the agencies' game (I'm agreeing with Steve, above). So when the agencies start to play dirty, there isn't much you can do.

[Edited at 2013-12-19 21:16 GMT]


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:25
Member (2008)
French to English
Price for marketing texts Dec 19, 2013

Texte Style wrote:

If you're doing marketing texts, they are worth more than 0.05.


Definitely. It's one area where price per word has little place. How about +$50,000 for a couple of words?


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Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:25
German to English
Marketing payments Dec 19, 2013

John Fossey wrote:

Texte Style wrote:

If you're doing marketing texts, they are worth more than 0.05.


Definitely. It's one area where price per word has little place. How about +$50,000 for a couple of words?


I recently did a "freebie" for a company slogan of three or four words. Then I remembered that Andrew Lloyd Webber was paid megabucks for the three-note theme of News at Ten! Maybe I'm in the wrong business...

Steve K.


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Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:25
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
rates are going DOWN Dec 19, 2013

This wasn't about my rates..... although I reckon a lot of you are are kidding yourselves about being able to continually receive 10 cents or so per word. As it happens, I ask 6 cents for NL-ENG, and at an average of 500 words per hour, that gives a decent income. I really don't understand how some people can spend all day on 2,000 words, maybe they are in the wrong line of work.
However, 5/6 cents in quotes on Pro.Z rarely gets me any work, so there are obviously people working for much less. Many, particularly in India/China/US, want to pay 4 USD cents maximum. I don't accept that, but the fact is translating has never been so easy with free MTs, CAT tools and references easy to find on the net. Those who don't adapt to this technological reality will find themselves high and dry and without meaningful amounts of work, and you can't live off pride.

Getting back to the point, this thread was really about warning others of my experience, or finding out if anybody else has experienced the same.

[Edited at 2013-12-19 23:08 GMT]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:25
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
There is no kidding here... Dec 19, 2013

I translated over 650,000 words this year - almost all of it for agencies - and almost of it between .10 and .18 per word. This is with 0% discount for fuzzy matches, almost matches or kitchen-table matches.

Same thing goes for the past five years.

If you think that translating with MT is easier, you do not know how to translate. You are missing a lot.

Yes, it is true that on-line references do allow us to work faster. That is why rates have not gone up much from the .12 a word we earned in 1998, precisely because we can work faster and more efficiently.

No one works for .04 a word unless they have no other options or they are still living with their parents and have no bills.



Richard Purdom wrote:

This wasn't about my rates..... although I reckon a lot of you are are kidding yourselves about being able to continually receive 10 cents or so per word. As it happens, I ask 6 cents for NL-ENG, and at an average of 500 words per hour, that gives a decent income. I really don't understand how some people can spend all day on 2,000 words, maybe they are in the wrong line of work.
However, 5/6 cents in quotes on Pro.Z rarely gets me any work, so there are obviously people working for much less. Many, particularly in India/China/US, want to pay 4 USD cents maximum. I don't accept that, but the fact is translating has never been so easy with free MTs, CAT tools and references easy to find on the net. Those who don't adapt to this technological reality will find themselves high and dry and without meaningful amounts of work, and you can't live off pride.

Getting back to the point, this thread was really about warning others of my experience, or finding out if anybody else has experienced the same.


[Edited at 2013-12-20 00:17 GMT]


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Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:25
German to English
No you can't... Dec 19, 2013

Richard Purdom wrote:Those who don't adapt to this technological reality will find themselves high and dry and without meaningful amounts of work, and you can't live off pride.]


..but then, you can't live off 4 cents a word either!

Steve K.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Why not try an experiment? Dec 19, 2013

The next few times a new customer approaches you, double your rates and see what happens. Some will turn you down - but they're not the type of clients you want to be working for anyway. The worst thing that can happen is that you lose a handful of jobs. The best is a dramatic increase in your income.

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Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:25
German to English
That's the way to do it.. Dec 20, 2013

philgoddard wrote:

The next few times a new customer approaches you, double your rates and see what happens. Some will turn you down - but they're not the type of clients you want to be working for anyway. The worst thing that can happen is that you lose a handful of jobs. The best is a dramatic increase in your income.


I now have fewer customers, but nicer ones, work less hours and earn the same amount of money. Sorted!

Steve K.


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