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Dumping and low prices
Thread poster: Felice Liserre

Felice Liserre
Local time: 15:52
Member (2005)
German to Italian
+ ...
Aug 19, 2014

What do you think about dumping? I realized, that there are more and more agencies which try (and sometimes force) to accept low prices. Today, another experience. I say no every time, but they find someone else which accept those poor rates. Also here appear agencies which offer these rates. I believe it is a bad idea to accept them. Translate needs a lot of work, it is necessary to work more, accepting low rates...


Rudolf Frans Maulany  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:52
English to Indonesian
+ ...
I have the same opinion Aug 19, 2014

I have the same opinion with you and will select according to a standard rate. My colleagues also suggest me to avoid dumping.


Local time: 14:52
German to English
Not only a lot of work Aug 19, 2014

Translators also have skills which are not commonplace. They can write well in their native language, speak and understand two or more languages at a high standard and may have spent years in higher education learning about a specific area of expertise, e.g. engineering or law.

If a translator's hourly rate is comparable to that of a relatively unskilled worker, such as a cleaner or someone who makes sandwiches in a factory, something must surely be wrong.


Felice Liserre
Local time: 15:52
Member (2005)
German to Italian
+ ...
Hi, thanks very much, but there are a lot of translators which accept, and.. Aug 19, 2014

this is not ok. The woman which contacted me today, wrote to me again to say: no problem we have found someone. It would be nice to fight such disgusting strategy. I see that the number of agencies which try to pay less is increasing, they use all kind of tricks, sample translations which will be never paid, they say that it will be nice to work together but the rates are too high, or that the customer was not satisfied. Of course that there are good and serious agencies, but they are not so many. A good idea could be a kind of pool (they already exist, I know, but I bieleve are not enough).

[Modificato alle 2014-08-19 13:31 GMT]

[Modificato alle 2014-08-19 13:32 GMT]


Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Local time: 15:52
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
Education is key Aug 19, 2014

It is extremely important to educate translation industry newcomers and encourage them to stand their ground when negotiating with clients.

From many questions and posts here in the forum it becomes obvious that many young translators are rather insecure when it comes to business skills and are not even aware of the fact that they can and should negotiate with agencies. I am afraid that during their studies they learn the necessary linguistic skills, but are not being sufficiently prepared to run a business.

I see it as an important function of this forum to alert to this situation, help newcomers with their negotiation skills and keep the topic alive.

I have several clients that approach me with offers and deadlines and I will always try to renegotiate terms with which I don't agree. Most of the time, my terms are accepted. Of course, agencies will always try and get the translation for a lower price - that is the nature of running a business. Setting our terms is our own responsibility, we cannot really expect agencies to pay us more if we don't ask for it. Or, as they say in Portuguese: http://en.bab.la/dictionary/portuguese-english/quem-não-chora-não-mama


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:52
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Dumping makes no sense for the translator Aug 19, 2014

Dumping could make sense for an agency, to drive competition out of business, provided that agency could get good quality translators at a lower price.

Okay, you can build and sell cheaper electronic products by using parts imported from countries where the cost of living is much lower, however translation relies on the translator's individual cultural assets, which may be very difficult or impossible to acquire in a distant environment.

Any translator must fine-tune their rates to their specific clientele. If they set these too high, competitors will leave them without work. If their rates are too low, they'll be in such high demand, and have to work so many hours per day to make ends meet, that their quality will be forced downwards.

So what does a translator gain by dumping, i.e. fine-tuning their rates below what they should be? Nothing! They'll increase their demand to fill all their working hours and beyond. Over time, their quality will naturally wither, out of sheer haste, to the point where what they deliver is no longer worth what they charge. Then, it will be very hard to stop or reverse this trend.

I consolidated the lesson learned with one client, who asked me for a cost estimate on a rather large job. I gave her my price. About a week later, she phoned me to say that she had found someone who would do it for 25% less. I thanked her for the heads-up, so I wouldn't be waiting for a reply. She was taken aback, and said, "But we want YOU to do it!". I asked her why would she have me doing it, if she had found someone 25% cheaper. So she explained, "We want YOU to do it for 25% less."

I explained her that she had my price at the outset. If now, based on the new information, I lowered my price by 25%, it would make my earlier estimate SO blatantly dishonest, that they shouldn't entrust me with ANY work at all, ever! So that was my price, and I know what I'll be delivering for that. She should be checking what she would get for 25% less, which I'd have no way to find out.

Two hours later, I received her order, for my normal price. I'll never know - and I don't care - whether there was actually another translator offering to do it for 25% less or if it was merely a ploy.

I was chatting over the phone with a colleague today. Among other things, he told me about a large international company that once sent him a huge translation job order, out of the blue. He called them to ask if they didn't want a cost estimate first; as a large company they'd probably have to compare a few bids from different vendors, etc. etc. The answer was "No, please do it ASAP, and send us the invoice. You have an oustanding reputation in the marketplace for this kind of work. Last time we put out a tender for translation work and hired the cheapest, all right, we saved a few hundred bucks, however we had a million-dollar project stuck for several months in a government agency, after which they requested us to submit that documentation re-translated, because they were unable to make heads or tails of it. So please do it and bill us accordingly."

Lesson of the day, seen on a foodstuff delivery van here in Sao Paulo:
"We prefer explaining our prices to apologizing for the quality."

Malgorzata Bakalarz

Eric Zink  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:52
Member (2012)
German to English
can't be sustainable Aug 19, 2014

There is absolutely no way that quality translators will work at dumping prices. Being a decent translator requires commitment and a variety of skills (as has been mentioned), not only in composing a decent text, but understand complex concepts, learning new concepts quickly, research and, if there is to be any consistency in the text, one or more CAT tools, which are not picked up overnight.

If an agency offers dumping prices, they must be accepting substandard quality. It's just not that easy to be a good translator.


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:52
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Dumping Aug 20, 2014

Felice Liserre wrote:

What do you think about dumping? I realized, that there are more and more agencies which try (and sometimes force) to accept low prices. Today, another experience. I say no every time, but they find someone else which accept those poor rates. Also here appear agencies which offer these rates. I believe it is a bad idea to accept them. Translate needs a lot of work, it is necessary to work more, accepting low rates...

Just before I came to this forum this morning, I saw the avatar, yes, here on ProZ, of a translator and the slogan: Cheapest prices . At first it didn't register in my mind, so I went back to look at it again, and sure enough that's what it said.

I'm sure that this colleague will be drowning in work and... most probably be asked (eventually) to work for even less.

I cannot and do not blame any agency for trying to get translators do the work for the lowest, or my "favorite"icon_frown.gif words, the best possible rate. They are a business, need to make a profit, and competition is strong and omni-present.

But... is a translator, unless working in-house or otherwise employed, not a business? Does a translator not have to make a profit? Or at least make ends meet? We all know the answer. We also know that good quality has its price. So does self-esteem.

[Edited at 2014-08-20 11:47 GMT]


Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:52
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Name them: Aug 20, 2014

Starters (hoping to get a foot into the industry)
Students (financing their living or their gadgets)
Part-time translators (whose earnings are secured by their husband)
Expats (profiting from lower living costs abroad)
Moonlighters (let other people pay their state and insurances)
Desperate colleagues (who aren´t able getting a foot into the industry)
[...to be continued]
They all have their reasons to work for a lower rate than we (hopefully) don´t.


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:52
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not our market Aug 20, 2014

There are many customers who are initially wrong about their translation budget and (at least initially) cannot pay a quality translation. If they did not find cheap agencies and cheap translators, they would rarely translate their materials.

In my opinion, sensible end customers very quickly experience the disadvantages of going cheap in translation: lost business, bad reputation, perception of cheapness in their target market, damage claims for gross translation mistakes... They then realise that they need better quality and prepare a budget for it. This is the moment when we full-time professional translators (as well as good agencies) jump in and foster a healthy business relationship.

Let bottom feeders keep trying and disappointing their customers. It's only good advertising for us!


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