Multilevel exploitation
Thread poster: sabrino
sabrino  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 14:05
French to Japanese
+ ...
Nov 4, 2014

In this industry, the workflow from the originator (the owner of the business) through the 1st level contractor (a primary translation company) and through the 2nd and 3rd level contractors (secondary and tertiary brokers) to the worker (translator) constitutes a typical pyramid structure of exploitation and typically in the order of high West to low East, i.e. European originator price of for example 0.3 Euro word through brokers profit of 0.08 to 0.10 Euro word down to translator and proofreader with 0.04 to 0.07 Euro word and 0.03 to 0.05 Euro word, respectively, in China, Korea, Japan, or India.

The internet was supposed to be a good networking tool that could make brokers unnecessary at all.

This industry is a good example of the failure of the market.
This exploitation value chain is inefficient, demotivating for the workers, allowing crass brokers much room to play demanding @your best price@.

Something is wrong at the originator level.


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Salam Alrawi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:05
English to Arabic
+ ...
Keep your head up and stay confident Nov 4, 2014

sabrino wrote:

In this industry, the workflow from the originator (the owner of the business) through the 1st level contractor (a primary translation company) and through the 2nd and 3rd level contractors (secondary and tertiary brokers) to the worker (translator) constitutes a typical pyramid structure of exploitation and typically in the order of high West to low East, i.e. European originator price of for example 0.3 Euro word through brokers profit of 0.08 to 0.10 Euro word down to translator and proofreader with 0.04 to 0.07 Euro word and 0.03 to 0.05 Euro word, respectively, in China, Korea, Japan, or India.

The internet was supposed to be a good networking tool that could make brokers unnecessary at all.

This industry is a good example of the failure of the market.
This exploitation value chain is inefficient, demotivating for the workers, allowing crass brokers much room to play demanding @your best price@.

Something is wrong at the originator level.


1- before the Internet, you might get a job a day or a week or none, after the Internet you might get 2 jobs a day or 4 jobs a week or more.
2- a good translator would never sell cheap, even if she/he lives across the ocean. Once a terrible translator do a job or 2 for cheap price, they won't get a job anymore due to bad translation and will be black listed.
3- some governments or companies don't have the time to look for a translator for each language so they hire agencies. If those agencies do bad job by hiring cheap translators they won't get jobs again. Same as in paragraph 2.
4- I wouldn't hire a translator who offers 0..02 cents. Just FYI, I once desperately needed a job, I offered 0.02 a word, well... I never got a job.
5- I never became a proz premium member for a reason, to show people that just by joining this site I made living at some point when I had no single job or any source of income. Now imagine if I am a premium member. Eventually, clients get tired of cheap translation and they will come beg for your professional skill.
I might have not made this a profession, but I sure made some good damn income when I needed it the most.
Till today I get decent amount of emails from potential clients and I politely refuse them cause I am going to school again.

Don't be frustrated by this, be patient and do the right thing. Get some professionals here to look at your profile and CV. Complete all the required fields. Once a client likes your work, he/she will never let you go.

Yes there is west to east and north to south issues, but I would like to say this: I stopped buying any clothes that is cheap "made in China" and I do pay ten times the price for those I buy but you know what? They stay forever and keep their beautiful marvelous appearance.


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JL01  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:05
English to French
+ ...
Who was doing the supposing?? Nov 4, 2014

sabrino wrote:

The internet was supposed to be a good networking tool that could make brokers unnecessary at all.



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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 07:05
German to English
+ ...
where it breaks down Nov 4, 2014

At the end of the chain, there is still need for a translator to do the actual work. And at that point, when you are asked, just state your usual fee.

... demanding @your best price@.

Of course the customer can ask that. To which you quote your usual price, which is also your best price.


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The Misha
Local time: 08:05
Russian to English
+ ...
I am afraid you've read too much Karl Marx Nov 5, 2014

and it shows. The most apparent fatal flaw in your reasoning is that no one is forcing anyone to do anything. You as a freelancer (aka business owner) get to set your rates. There is no God-given right to making a living as a translator or a guarantee that your business is going to succeed. If it doesn't, you can always go do something else. That's not the end of the world and not reason enough to start a revolution or create a trade union (aka a cartel).

Incidentally, in my own case the workflow is in reverse - east to west - and I don't work for peanuts. You see, it all depends. Cheer up, bud, the sky's not falling. Not yet anyway.


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Jitka Komarkova (Mgr.)  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 14:05
Member (2013)
English to Czech
+ ...
Unfortunately, it does not necessarily have to be the case... Nov 5, 2014

Salam Alrawi wrote:
2- a good translator would never sell cheap, even if she/he lives across the ocean. Once a terrible translator do a job or 2 for cheap price, they won't get a job anymore due to bad translation and will be black listed.



Unfortunately, it does not necessarily have to be the case, which is confirmed (for example) by behaviour of one of my former West-West clients (a large and reputable company!) who KEEPS ordering translation from an unqualified translator who neither has a good command of the source language, nor of the target language, while the client expects their former - reliable and high-quality vendor - to deliver proofreading (of the rubbish) to achieve the quality their client is used to, which I am not really up to!
To give you a flavour of what I am talking about, you see my post below.

http://www.proz.com/forum/translation_project_vendor_management/265502-in_the_pursuit_of_cheap_rates.html

[Edited at 2014-11-05 07:59 GMT]


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:05
German to English
do something about it Nov 5, 2014

I've never heard anyone group Japan with South Korea or South Korea with China and India. Japan is not a "low East", exploited country and presumably has a more solid economy (as much as it may be struggling) than most European countries.

I don't think that I've ever agreed with "The Misha" before, but I would do everything that you yourself can do to solve the problem before you assign blame to the "originators" (direct clients). There can't be many good translators for French>Japanese in whatever your field of expertise is: Contact potential clients and cut out the middlemen (or at least some of them, if you prefer to work for top-tier agencies). If you have professional or academic credentials in a subject-matter field, you would be amazed how happy French, Swiss, Canadian, etc. SMEs would be to have you. You may not have much to offer Renault, but you have a lot to offer to a lot of potential clients.

And just so that I can disagree with "The Misha": I don't see much Marx there, except that the word "worker" is used. The proposed solution is a change in consumer behavior and colonialism is considered a major part of the problem and the deconcentration of the market (instead of concentration) is seen as the fundamental source of the situation.


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