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How much can our rates be reduced?
Thread poster: sylvie29

sylvie29  Identity Verified
Morocco
Local time: 17:09
English to French
+ ...
Aug 24, 2014

I have been a translator for more years that I care to remember. I see the rates going down every year, not to mention post-editing which is total nonsense. I have lost many customers fighting for my rights. I think a Master in languages and over 20 years of experience give me some standing. On my own, I'll never get anywhere, it is obvious. So I am hoping that you, my professional colleagues, will get in touch and that we will get our profession recognised and appreciated. Thanks

 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:09
Russian to English
+ ...
You are absolutely right. It will eventually stop Aug 24, 2014

when most companies find out what nonsensical texts they get for the low price. Translation is a highly complex activity, and it cannot be cheap. Even Google uses well-paid, human transaltors to translate all the documents related to their Google Translate.


[Edited at 2014-08-24 15:49 GMT]


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:09
German to English
There's no floor Aug 24, 2014

Customers I've had for decades are asking me to lower the prices I haven't changed since starting with them.

There are, in fact, several translation markets. Prices have remained more or less stable at the upper end, highly-specialized segment. In my experience, the middle segments are less stable with some price slippage and no increases; that is, if you hope to increase your rate, you generally have to find a new customer. The bottom segment, where, I suspect, much of the work is, continues to drop as new and barely qualified translators enter the job market. Since anyone with a computer and Internet connection can aspire to be a translator, this isn't likely to change, as many newcomers are happy to accept a few pennies per word in the hope they can claw their way to a reasonable rate, whatever that may be.

Back in the mid-1990s, I had a discussion with a General Motors executive who oversaw translation activities at that industrial giant. Back then he expressed the company's goal as "1-1-1", that is, ONE word costing ONE cent, paid for ONE time. Nowadays, that doesn't seem so farfetched.

Since I live in a university town with several language departments, I am frequently contacted regarding vocational advice. And my advice is always the same. Don't try to be a translator without serious subject matter qualifications (course of study, work experience). There's too much competition at the low end.


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:09
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
The bottom is Aug 24, 2014

The other day I received an offer to proofread a file for USD 100. Perhapos an acceptabvle rate, I thought, until I read the requirements. The file consisted of some 4.700 and the proofread, partially edited file had to be returned within 1 (one!) hour.


I refused the job simply because I can imagine what type of "proofread" (?) file the outsourcer would get in case someone is "blinded" by the USD 100.00 earned within 60 minutes. If the service provider wasn't Speedy Gonzales, there is no way to accurately proofread 4K in 1 hour.

This is also a way of reducing the rate, and this will eventually stop simply because there are outsourcers, clients, end customers or agencies who value good quality.

Raising rates with existing customers is alway like walking on thin ice, and personally I don't think this will ever change, not even because of the allegedly gained value through post-editing.


 

Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 01:09
Japanese to English
+ ...
I've got you beat, Thayenga Aug 24, 2014

I got an email offer yesterday for a J -> E translation job. It was a 56-page scanned PDF (horrible quality) of fairly technical civil engineering documents, so I didn't do a word count, but clicking through the document it didn't have a whole lot of pictures at all. So yeah, 56 pages...guess what the proposed price was?

$90.


 

ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 19:09
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Here is my take... Aug 24, 2014

I am afraid this is a matter of supply and demand. As long as there are plenty of translators (which is actually a good thing) translating a particular language pair, along with the current demand for translation, we will have low prices. I guess it is the notion of translation quality that needs to be emphasized and praised. ProZ is an excellent medium for doing that.

 

Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:09
English to French
... Aug 24, 2014

In a couple of years, they'll ask us to pay to work with them.

It's already the case when your banking fees end up being higher than the amount you invoiced...


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:09
Member
Italian to English
How long is a piece of string? Aug 24, 2014

As Atil noted, rates will continue to sink as long as there as translators willing to "work" for those prices. The economic situation is so atrocious here in Italy that people really are willing to work for peanuts.

A Kevin points out, there are several translation markets. I am firmly convinced that there are still customers who are able to recognise quality and who are willing to pay for it, but part of that is to do with the sector involved.

Should you go to a restaurant and order "Tunny with Moth", you will be pleasantly surprised when your dish turns out to be pasta bows with tuna, and no real harm is done. Medical and legal translations are a different kettle of tunny entirely.


 

Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 18:09
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Not borne out by reality. Aug 24, 2014

LilianNekipelov wrote:

when most companies find out what nonsensical texts they get for the low price. Translation is a highly complex activity, and it cannot be cheap. Even Google uses well-paid, human transaltors to translate all the documents related to their Google Translate.


[Edited at 2014-08-24 15:49 GMT]



You seem to have this fixed idea that "companies" will eventually come to realize the poor quality of texts produced by incompetent translators - this is not the case in a vast majority of cases.

I don't know quite what timeframe you're thinking of, but poor translations are just as ubiquitous now as ever.
Nothing has changed.

Fortunately, most incompetent translators eliminate themselves from the market after a relatively short time, when they realize they're getting flack from the customer while at the same time their lack of knowledge/low rates/low speed combined means they barely break even.

Some, of course, muddle through with a little help from sites like this. But they're easy to spot.


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:09
Italian to English
Generous GM Aug 24, 2014

Kevin Fulton wrote:

Back in the mid-1990s, I had a discussion with a General Motors executive who oversaw translation activities at that industrial giant. Back then he expressed the company's goal as "1-1-1", that is, ONE word costing ONE cent, paid for ONE time. Nowadays, that doesn't seem so farfetched.



At least GM was willing to pay for translations back then.

With Google Translate and other free translation services knocking around, people nowadays expect to pay nothing for translations that materialise instantaneously on their computer screens. The trick is to persuade these punters that a more considered version might add more value to their text/product than a "tunny with moth"-style rendition.

In other words, if you want to earn a living from translation, identify the value that you are adding and pick customers who are going to appreciate it.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:09
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Smart clients gain nothing from reducing our rates Aug 24, 2014

A while ago there was some sort of an e-commotion here on the Proz forums, when one large translation agency e-mailed all translators that had worked for them, trying to impose a cut on rates. Later, as their mushrooming profits, as well as the big fat bonus paid to their CEO became public, a large number of translators said, loud and clear, that they wouldn't be working for this agency ever again.

A thoroughly bad strategic decision, as now this agency has to rely on "desperate tranzlaters" (sic!), regardless of a client of theirs eventually requesting uncompromising top quality in exchange for some rather generous compensation.

IMHO each translator - like any other personal services provider - should have their fixed rate and their compatible service standards.

No client should be so concerned in lowering translators' rates. If they are reasonably intelligent, they'll try to reduce their costs. I've listed 10 ways to reduce costs in translation on this page, and none of them implies lowering translators' rates.


 

ToFrench  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:09
English to French
Are the clients happy with bad translations, do the know they have bad translations? Aug 24, 2014

Are the clients happy with bad translations, do the know they have bad translations?

I am using a web site located in Germany on a regular basis. It provides a subscription based service and has a French version. The translation is so bad however that I wrote to complain, as a customer (I did not offered my translation services).

They answered that they are aware of the issue but that as long as the translation makes the site more or less understandable, they prefer to put their ressources in providing quality service to their customers. And that they were sorry.

So, there are clients who are OK with bad translations. They will allocate a minimum budget on it and less they can pay the better.

The real question is: what is the rate of those clients in the market?


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 18:09
English to Russian
+ ...
I see no rate decrease Aug 25, 2014

I've been translating for 29 years, and I keep steadily increasing my rates ahead of inflation, even for a huge outsourcing agency known to squeeze their translators really hard (and I charge them well above their average offered rates). Just don't be afraid to lose some jobs - you are always better off doing X words at 2Y cents per word than 2X words at Y cents.

 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:09
Russian to English
+ ...
Car manufacturer paying $0.01/w--customers paying $1,000 for cars Aug 25, 2014

Kevin Fulton wrote:



Back in the mid-1990s, I had a discussion with a General Motors executive who oversaw translation activities at that industrial giant. Back then he expressed the company's goal as "1-1-1", that is, ONE word costing ONE cent, paid for ONE time. Nowadays, that doesn't seem so farfetched.



Our aim then should be to make their cars cost $1,000, and not buy them at any higher price. This is how the market works, but some economists seem to have forgotten it. many seem to think that the gains for one side will multiply at high speed into he infinity.

[Edited at 2014-08-25 08:15 GMT]


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:09
Russian to English
+ ...
There aren't plenty of qualified translators--I can assure you with an almost 100% certainty. Aug 25, 2014

ATIL KAYHAN wrote:

I am afraid this is a matter of supply and demand. As long as there are plenty of translators (which is actually a good thing) translating a particular language pair, along with the current demand for translation, we will have low prices. I guess it is the notion of translation quality that needs to be emphasized and praised. ProZ is an excellent medium for doing that.


This is the problem--that there are very few qualified translators, on average, especially in some pairs, yet the rates seem still much too low.

[Edited at 2014-08-25 08:21 GMT]


 
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