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insulting, ridiculous offer... from a EU translator
Thread poster: Elizabeth Joy Pitt de Morales

Elizabeth Joy Pitt de Morales  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:24
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 6, 2015

posting in this forum...but I'm mad as Hades and I just can't contain myself anymore (with apologies to the late, great William Finch).

I've just seen a job posting for a SP-EN technical translation of 8,000 words due in two days for the kingly rate of $0.03 USD to $0.035 USD.

Okay, so it's not the first time I've seen such an insulting, ridiculous offer. Okay, so twice today I've turned down ridiculous offers that pay MORE than this pittance...and one of them was from an agency in a(n) (in)famously low-budget country.

This one, however, is from a EU translator -- a "colleague", if you will -- living in a western EU country.

What good is it to stand up to agencies and demand a fair rate when our very own "colleagues" are stabbing us in the back?

Thanks for letting me vent.



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2015-10-05 16:32 GMT]


 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:24
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
I've had demands for USD 0.01 per word... Aug 6, 2015

...and not all from those parts of the world that seem to be building up a lovely reputation for slave driving at slave prices in our industry.

I think, though, that it is naive to think that by declining such generous offers of remuneration we are "standing up" to some big bully and making a change for the better. There will always be someone somewhere who will accept a lower price than you, and even if there isn't, there will always be some client somewhere wanting to try their luck. That is what happens in a market economy.

The good that comes from declining these types of rates is only for yourself, you are sticking up for your own benefit and there is not a lot more worthy than that.

But I understand your indignation at another translator doing that. I have had translators as clients in the past, and sometimes they made ridiculous requests (nothing like those rates, usually just requests for discounts based on seriously dubious grounds, like complaining about the exchange rate or something -- uh, sorry but MY currency has remained the same for me and I still have to pay my bills in that currency). It always made me wonder if we really were from the same universe and making a living in the same industry -- and also whether they were acting responsibly with their own clients if that is how they treat their own business.

Anyway, welcome to the forumicon_wink.gif


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:24
English to French
+ ...
Don't take it personally Aug 6, 2015

it is business, not personal.

Or it should be.

Elizabeth Joy Pitt de Morales wrote:

[snip]

What good is it to stand up to agencies and demand a fair rate when our very own "colleagues" are stabbing us in the back?

Thanks for letting me vent.



 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 03:54
English to Hindi
+ ...
Some misconceptions Aug 7, 2015

I notice a number of misconceptions in your post -

- that we translators are one big happy family of altruistic individuals who go out of our way to help each other (this is not true of even normal families! And translators are a cantankerous lot with conflicting interests.).

- that translators have an obligation to behave in a non-economical manner when dealing with fellow translators (most translators don't view it that way, such propositions as the one you mention are just business feelers to another business partner, and the objective is to gain economic advantage from the transaction).

- translators and agencies located in low-income countries are bad, while those in developed countries are all angels.

- that this site is there specifically to provide high remuneration translation jobs and low rate jobs are aberrations (the opposite is true).

Come on, grow up. You know as well as any of us, perhaps, that this site a business venture for the owners of this site, and we are here because we see benefits to us in being here. There are many things we don't like here, and those we avoid, and pick those that work for us.

Your best response would be to ignore such low rate jobs, as most of us do.

I grant you your right to rant here though, but please realize that that won't change anything here or in the actual translation world.

[Edited at 2015-08-07 02:48 GMT]


 

Elizabeth Joy Pitt de Morales  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:24
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not at all Aug 10, 2015

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

I notice a number of misconceptions in your post -

- that we translators are one big happy family of altruistic individuals who go out of our way to help each other (this is not true of even normal families! And translators are a cantankerous lot with conflicting interests.).

- that translators have an obligation to behave in a non-economical manner when dealing with fellow translators (most translators don't view it that way, such propositions as the one you mention are just business feelers to another business partner, and the objective is to gain economic advantage from the transaction).

- translators and agencies located in low-income countries are bad, while those in developed countries are all angels.

- that this site is there specifically to provide high remuneration translation jobs and low rate jobs are aberrations (the opposite is true).

Come on, grow up. You know as well as any of us, perhaps, that this site a business venture for the owners of this site, and we are here because we see benefits to us in being here. There are many things we don't like here, and those we avoid, and pick those that work for us.

Your best response would be to ignore such low rate jobs, as most of us do.

I grant you your right to rant here though, but please realize that that won't change anything here or in the actual translation world.

[Edited at 2015-08-07 02:48 GMT]



1. No, I never said or even implied that.
2. No, I never said or implied that either.
3. No, I never said or implied that in any way, shape or form.
4. No, I never said or implied that either.


Thank you for granting my right to rant; how very kind of you.



[Edited at 2015-08-10 19:22 GMT]


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:24
English to German
+ ...
On the importance of speaking out Aug 10, 2015

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

I grant you your right to rant here though, but please realize that that won't change anything here or in the actual translation world.

[Edited at 2015-08-07 02:48 GMT]


When you don't speak out against something that is unacceptable, you are implying that it "could" be okay, or people might be convinced that it is okay. When you say that "ranting here...won't change anything here or in the actual translation world," I beg to differ. We should rant and get mad about the unbelievably bold and continued wrongs that are happening in our profession. This is a public forum and the public - our clients - should know what's going on. Most importantly, that there is no way a serious translator will earn an adequate income ( = adequate for what she/he actually does in this job), that people charging a pittance are not serious translators - they are either without a clue in any respect, are not able to do a good job at all or have absolutely no self-respect. None of these things help our profession. And, yes, especially among colleagues we must expect a code of ethics that they should know they have to adhere to - "oh can you do this for peanuts/0.03/word" is the absolute opposite of ethical.

Not speaking out is to give carte blanche to those who believe they can continue to exploit us.
We should let everybody know that it's not at all okay to do what this "colleague" did. As often as we can.


[Edited at 2015-08-10 20:28 GMT]


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:24
English to French
+ ...
If you can't stand the heat Aug 10, 2015

It should be (painfully, maybe) clear now that, for a LOT of people, including on this web site, translation is some sort of additional income. Hence, ranting or speaking out is, at best, unproductive.

This is business in a free-trade world. Life as a free-lancer may be hard, but no one is forced to choose it.

Whining about it calls to mind that English proverb: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!"

What code of ethics are you talking about?

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

When you don't speak out against something that is unacceptable, you are implying that it "could" be okay, or people might be convinced that it is okay. When you say that "ranting here...won't change anything here or in the actual translation world," I beg to differ. We should rant and get mad about the unbelievably bold and continued wrongs that are happening in our profession. This is a public forum and the public - our clients - should know what's going on. Most importantly, that there is no way a serious translator will earn an adequate income ( = adequate for what she/he actually does in this job), that people charging a pittance are not serious translators - they are either without a clue in any respect, are not able to do a good job at all or have absolutely no self-respect. None of these things help our profession. And, yes, especially among colleagues we must expect a code of ethics that they should know they have to adhere to - "oh can you do this for peanuts/0.03/word" is the absolute opposite of ethical.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:24
English to German
+ ...
On the importance of speaking out II Aug 10, 2015

JL01 wrote:

It should be (painfully, maybe) clear now that, for a LOT of people, including on this web site, translation is some sort of additional income. Hence, ranting or speaking out is, at best, unproductive.

This is business in a free-trade world. Life as a free-lancer may be hard, but no one is forced to choose it.

Whining about it calls to mind that English proverb: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!"

What code of ethics are you talking about?

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

When you don't speak out against something that is unacceptable, you are implying that it "could" be okay, or people might be convinced that it is okay. When you say that "ranting here...won't change anything here or in the actual translation world," I beg to differ. We should rant and get mad about the unbelievably bold and continued wrongs that are happening in our profession. This is a public forum and the public - our clients - should know what's going on. Most importantly, that there is no way a serious translator will earn an adequate income ( = adequate for what she/he actually does in this job), that people charging a pittance are not serious translators - they are either without a clue in any respect, are not able to do a good job at all or have absolutely no self-respect. None of these things help our profession. And, yes, especially among colleagues we must expect a code of ethics that they should know they have to adhere to - "oh can you do this for peanuts/0.03/word" is the absolute opposite of ethical.




Thanks for reposting my comments. I stand by them. And this has nothing to do with not being able to stand the heat. I am sorry but I don't think you get the big picture. There are already plenty of forum threads discussing unprofessional behavior and what it does to this profession. Just search for the information. Or don't. But who are you to tell me what I can say and "that speaking out is at best unproductive." You don't want me to start telling you what happened in the history of mankind when people kept quiet about things, especially wrong things, do you?

As far as ethics (also referred to as professional practices here and elsewhere or best practices in general) are concerned, if you don't know what I am talking about here on "Proz.com," send Henry an email and let him explain it to you.

Review this as well: http://www.proz.com/professional-guidelines/


[Edited at 2015-08-10 21:54 GMT]


 

Jenae Spry  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:24
French to English
Business, not personal Sep 18, 2015

JL01 wrote:

it is business, not personal.

Or it should be.



Exactly. It's not personal. Let them hire someone at .01/word, and let them deal with the consequences of that action. I've had many clients come back to me after offering a low rate that I politely declined explaining that it would not be worth my while at that rate. Sometimes they don't know any better, sometimes they do. Either way, does it really matter? It's a free market.


 

Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:24
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's no secret that agencies want cheaper translators Sep 18, 2015

Two Spanish agencies have contacted me this month, who told me that my details had been passed on to them by two translators I often 'see' in Kudoz. Without having met either of them personally I have the impression they are both excellent translators.

I admit I took it as a compliment that two people I admire had thought of me as being suitable for taking on work they were unable to handle at the time.

However, I was very surprised when both agencies told me my rates were too high - and I'd quoted a normal rate for my language pair.

I like to think that perhaps I was only told part of the story. That the two translators were too expensive and the agencies were looking for someone cheaper! Or they might have even made up the story about my details being passed on to them.


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:24
French to English
Odious comparison Sep 19, 2015

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

"that speaking out is at best unproductive." You don't want me to start telling you what happened in the history of mankind when people kept quiet about things, especially wrong things, do you?


What an utterly vile attempt to draw an equivalence.

We are talking about a business project proposal, where both parties are utterly free to take it, leave it, walk away with no repercussions, attempt a negotiation or ignore it completely, in a profession they have entered voluntarily and which requires the possession of skills that can easily (in theory) be transferred to other areas for remunerative purposes if need be. All parties concerned can exercise their free will and remove themselves from the situation at any point.

And so allusion to the events of history is contemptible.

I happen to see some worth in "raising awareness", so I'm not 100% "meh, leave it, it's just the free market".
People are nonetheless free to make whatever legal proposals they see fit (IMHO).
While rants against such proposals are getting a bit tiresome, the underlying message that not all proposals are necessarily in keeping with professional practice, needs repeating for some, perhaps. And yet I wouldn't seek to prevent anyone accepting such proposals either.

But any claim justifying the expression of any kind of view on/in any medium as trivial (in the overall scheme of things) as a translation forum on the internet by means of a comparison with the actions of some Germans (and others) in the 1930s and 1940s (yeah yeah, you didn't say as much, but that's what you meant) would be laughable if it wasn't such a repulsive reference to make. For shame, sir, for shame.

(Edited to add some clarity, although I'm still so annoyed, I'm not sure I've succeeded...)



[Edited at 2015-09-19 13:23 GMT]


 

Romina Navarro
Argentina
Local time: 19:24
English to Spanish
Just ignore them and keep looking Sep 28, 2015

Elizabeth Joy Pitt de Morales wrote:

What good is it to stand up to agencies and demand a fair rate when our very own "colleagues" are stabbing us in the back?



Welcome to the forum, Elizabeth!

I feel the same when I see or hear about such proposals and the number of 'translators' who apply for them. In fact, I barely visit the job board now.

Anyway, it is not about demanding agencies a fair rate, it is about us refusing to apply for those projects.

The agencies are free to choose the cheapest translator they can find - and deal with the quality they will get in return. And unfortunately there are too many unprofessional translators who apply for those jobs.

Unfair competition? YES, actually a dirty competition. But you can be sure they are not the best material in this site. The real professional translators on ProZ always ignore those proposals. There are other ways to get better clients who are willing to pay fair rates, and there are ways to become more visible to them, either in ProZ or anywhere else.

Let the poor, unprofessional 'colleagues' be slaves for those abusive agencies. They don't have a better option!icon_wink.gif

And always bear this in mind: You are not job seekers, you are a service provider. It means that the client is NOT your boss to tell you how, when, and for how much to work.

[Edited at 2015-09-28 19:53 GMT]


 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:24
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Deja Vu Sep 28, 2015

Alhough I do understand that this topic is very interesting (and that it is a kind of where you can loose all of your frustratons), I have seen it passing by here on Proz about a 100 times before.

YES, there are agencies with unrealistic proposals, there have always been and, probably, there will always be.

My adivice - If we all just ignore these agencies (all of us), these kind of forums will not be necessary anymore.

If we only could be a real professional group of translators, without selfishness, our business could be so much better.

And me? I keep on dreaming!

[Edited at 2015-09-29 08:47 GMT]


 

Christian Nielsen-Palacios  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:24
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
"normal" rate? Sep 30, 2015

Is there a place that lists what "normal" rates are or should be?

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:24
Member (2008)
Italian to English
So Sep 30, 2015

So so.

So.


 
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