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ll we need you to do is confirm that you accept our rates
Thread poster: Inga Petkelyte

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:45
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Aug 10, 2015

There is this translation agency in the UK that I love but hear from them on very seldom occasions.
Today, they sent me (along with their other vendors) an email about how they've decided to improve their work.
And I didn't know whether to laugh or cry:
"All we need you to do at this point is confirm that you accept our rates, and then we’re all set!"
And then the rates:
English-Portuguese £0.035 for Legal, Banking & Finance.
Is this how it is going to be in the industry?


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Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:45
English to German
+ ...
Only if we agree to it Aug 10, 2015

Inga.

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Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:45
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
Send them the link below: Aug 10, 2015

https://translate.google.de/?hl=de&tab=wT#en/pt/All%20we%20need%20you%20to%20do%20at%20this%20point%20is%20confirm%20that%20you%20accept%20our%20rates,%20and%20then%20we’re%20all%20set!

[Edited at 2015-08-10 16:24 GMT]


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:45
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sure Aug 10, 2015

Gudrun, that is obvious.
Yet I'm talking here about the fact of us being pushed toward lower rates for specialized areas.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:45
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Gudrun is right, and seemingly it's not that obvious after all Aug 10, 2015

Inga Petkelyte wrote:

Gudrun, that is obvious.
Yet I'm talking here about the fact of us being pushed toward lower rates for specialized areas.


Fact? Who's pushing you? Push back!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:45
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
They can push Aug 10, 2015

Inga Petkelyte wrote:
Yet I'm talking here about the fact of us being pushed toward lower rates for specialized areas.

We must push back, resist. They can't provide their clients with such ridiculously low-priced translations if nobody who can do the work correctly is prepared to do the work for less than an economic rate.

I do think it's reasonable to expect us to see what we can do to shave small amounts off our per-word rates. There are countless tools around nowadays that make our job that little faster. Of course, we have to buy them and learn them, but still we should be able to gain some small cost savings over time. I don't think the job is any easier nowadays: the difficult part was always in making sure you had the knowledge to do the job - and that hasn't changed, so we should still be paid well for our skills. But each job can be accomplished a little faster than when very little technology was available to help speed the process. Maybe we can shave half a cent per word off our rate. Maybe all we can manage is to keep our rates stable rather than increasing them. We certainly can't make the crazy cuts that some agencies are demanding. If they are promising their clients gold for the price of lead, their businesses deserve to fail. Ours don't.


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:45
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Keep focused Aug 10, 2015

Erik, why do you narrow it just to ME? It is a mass email suggesting that everyone in their vendor poll is invited to accept the offered rates.
It is not about me or another paricular translator nor even about the agency. It is about the trend so widely discusssed here in the forum already.
And hey, I don't want to fight anything, all I want is to work and be remunerated adequately.
Sheila - as always, your input is a ray in the darkness. And as always, I completely agree with you. Shaving half a cent away wouldn't do much harm as we translate indeed faster, due to the experience alone.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:45
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
The "rate game" Aug 10, 2015

Of course the agency wants to increase its competitivity and profits by offering its clients "almost free" translations. It's entitled to do so, since competition is tough on the translation market. If its clients are happy with a little better (maybe) than Google Translate products, then that's their decision as well.

Inga, you state that you only hear from that agency on very seldom occasions. So I presume that they are not your main client. Good. That they want you to agree to their rate is understandable from their viewpoint - aside from the fact that the service provider sets the rate, not the customer.

As a service provider you can do one of two thinks: 1) agree to their rate and continue to hear from them seldomly, if ever,

and 2) send them a friendly and professional reply stating your rate and then... hear from them seldomly, if ever.

Since the agency sent this email to all its vendors, it's up to each service provider whether he or she accepts this fixed rate or not. For some of our colleagues this might even be a good rate, depending on the costs of living in their country of residence.

Either way, the agency can push its LSP's as much as it wants to, none of them is obligated to accept it.



[Edited at 2015-08-10 17:41 GMT]


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:45
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
It's only business Aug 10, 2015

Inga Petkelyte wrote:
And hey, I don't want to fight anything, all I want is to work and be remunerated adequately.

You may not want to fight. I understand that. I don't want to fight either. But if I do not fight my corner, who will do it for me? We run our own businesses, we are our own bosses and we are also in charge of negotiating prices.

For their part, it's the agency's job to push translators to get the best deal they can. Negotiating on price is as old as commerce itself and it certainly doesn't deserve to be viewed as immoral or sneaky. In this case it may have been a bit cheeky, but as others have already pointed out, we can just say no. And you did. Mission accomplished.

If you're thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, I can assure you that the phenomenon is not limited to translation. Indeed I imagine that there are very few (if any) major industries in the world that are not subject to price pressure of some kind - yes, even lawyers.

Just in case I come over as an individual possessed of zen-like calm, let me assure you that I do have interactions with agencies that make me mutter rude words under my breath. It does happen, but it doesn't happen often because I have taken the advice of more experienced hands than myself. That is, when it looks as if the client cannot afford my rate, I say a few polite words, mentally write off the project and just move on.

EDIT: Having said all that, I wouldn't discourage people from coming here to vent. I think it serves a useful purpose - it's hopefully therapeutic for the original poster and it reminds others, both experienced and inexperienced, to stay on their guard.

Regards
Dan


[Edited at 2015-08-10 20:57 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:45
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Somehow we have to compete on factors other than rates. Aug 10, 2015

With all the aids and technology, I have not set my rates up much in 15 years. I have dropped the lowest-paying clients and concentrated on the ones who pay most. I work more for the ones who pay the highest rates, but they are still paying me the same per word as they did ten years ago.

OK, I also quote those rates to new clients, take it or leave it, so I am earning more than when I started. Meanwhile the costs of almost everything else have gone up.... No way would I agree to £0.035 for any subject field at all. In my language pairs I want double that at the very least.

I tell my clients I am an MCIL, what qualifications I have, what courses I have been on recently, and details like that.

I mention my knowledge of their subject area - or tell them what I specialise in.
I provide service that they won't get from the link provided by Matthias Brombach. Of course I go the extra mile, but mostly for clients who would do the same for me.

Luckily they exist - cherish them, and tell the bottom feeders and everyone else what we do for our fees, and why we should be paid more than unqualified cleaners and people who flip burgers. I tell people about examples of challenges in translation, how a word can mean very different things according to context, and critical situations where you need training and expert knowledge.

It's drip, drip drip to wear down the rocks, but it seems the only way to go.


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 14:45
German to English
+ ...
If I'm their customer .... Aug 10, 2015

then I accept their rates. However, since they are intending to be your customer, they have no rates for you to accept. YOU have rates for THEM to accept. They've got it backwards.

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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:45
English to German
+ ...
Push back! Aug 10, 2015

Inga Petkelyte wrote:

There is this translation agency in the UK that I love but hear from them on very seldom occasions.
Today, they sent me (along with their other vendors) an email about how they've decided to improve their work.
And I didn't know whether to laugh or cry:
"All we need you to do at this point is confirm that you accept our rates, and then we’re all set!"
And then the rates:
English-Portuguese £0.035 for Legal, Banking & Finance.
Is this how it is going to be in the industry?


Hi Inga,

Thanks for posting. Nothing wrong with bringing this to everybody's attention.
On the contrary, the more, the better.

If you and all the other translators those low-ball agencies are looking for were to accept their rate, then yes, they would be all set! Far too many times people say yes or these agencies wouldn't be in business any more.

I was curious, you said you "love" that agency - why? Because they used to pay much more (as in what you quoted or felt was a professional price) or because they paid up front? Clearly, you couldn't be loving them anymore?!

The brazenness with which this and a many other agencies try to push on us their inadequate and nasty business practices, on this and many other portals and by contacting us directly, should be a concern to every professional.

I encourage anyone to tell the public - esp. our clients - about unprofessional practices, but, most importantly, to tell our colleagues, esp. the newcomers who might be led to believe that when an agency boasts that they've been in business for 20 years, are one of the biggest agencies, offer all languages, have a vast pool of translators all over the world, have an absolutely fabulous in-house QA procedure in place, make it cheaper for clients by applying CAT tool analyses discounts, and explain in 10 paragraphs how they arrive at the most incredibly excellent results, that TELLING us to accept their meazly rates is of course the most natural thing any professional translator would do, when in reality it is absolute b%^$&#@.

Is this how it is going to be in the industry?
It is far too often so because people get tricked into it or don't care or know about the business. The more people are aware of what is unacceptable, the harder it will be for those bottom feeders to succeed.

So, yes, let's keep talking about it.
And of course, no one should accept any such offer. If desperation sets in, that's the last thing I recommend. The lower an agency goes, the less likely it is you get paid on time (as in in advance 'cause you can't trust them anyway - they might be out of business tomorrow) or paid at all.

Time to push back as Erik said.
B

[Edited at 2015-08-10 23:02 GMT]


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Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:45
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's because we use email Aug 10, 2015

Before becoming a full time translator I had had over 20 years' experience running a business, which entailed dealing with people face to face on a daily basis.

People used to occasionally ask me for a discount and it was easy to tell them that the day the owner of the premises reduced the rent or the phone, water, electricity bills, local rates, etc. went down, I would start giving my students a discount.

Needless to say, prices went up every year without exception!

My policy has always been NEVER to go backwards. Ok, I might 'freeze' my rates, but in 30 years I can honestly say I have never pushed my rates back.

When I joined ProZ four years ago, I soon discovered that the €0.03 agencies were offering me was an insult to me, and our profession. I hadn't realised that translating from home is exactly the same as running a business in the town centre. But I immediately decided to do something about it - for everyone's sake!

In four years I've well over doubled my rates and I have no intention of undoing everything I've achieved.

If I receive an email from a client trying to convince me to do what they want me to do, which actually isn't very often, I just politely refuse.


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xxxNorber
Germany
In some countries Aug 11, 2015

telling independent subcontractors what they should do, is against the law.
Then they are not independent anymore but salaried workers and should be paid as such (pay slip).


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:45
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not a nasty company, not at all Aug 11, 2015

Christine - a very nice and thoughtful input, thank you. It makes me review my own reply templates and presentations.
Bernhard - I see all this more than a trend rather than nastiness of an atitude. As someone has already mentioned, the market conjuncture pushes to both directions, translators and agencies. Agencies also have to survive in these tough competetive conditions so they seek ways for doing it. Maybe only that wording "you just confirm our rates and all will be set up" was less apropriate.
I love that company because they are professional. Life is not only about payments, rates, advancements. It is just easy to work with this company: quick decisions about the job assignment, all questions answered, payments made in time without any reminders... and all in a nice, friendly manner.


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