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Can we please do away with unreasonable requests from outsourcers?
Thread poster: Bernhard Sulzer

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:10
English to German
+ ...
Jan 4, 2017

This is one of those bad habits of most posters (mostly bad for the translators who accept them) on the job board: asking for a rate before the translator has even seen the texts/documents to be translated/proofread/revised/edited etc.

Or the posting of a price range - let's say from 4 cents to 6 cents per word from English to German (an example) or any price range for that matter.
Within a few minutes, you have people applying and ...uh ... bidding of course. Guess who gets the job? At what rate?!

Even though 80% of all Proz.com users who have reported rates - which is not necessarily a representative number and includes outsourcers as well - charge/pay more (as a disclaimer tells any translator looking at such posts), these postings continue on and people continue to bid. Must be working pretty well for those outsourcers.

I think Proz.com should do something about those unreasonable demands. Because there is nothing professional about them. That's my opinion and I am simply asking you to share your opinion.
My suggestion to Proz.com: Completely do away with the option for posters to post rates or rate ranges. And let's get rid of the silly asking for best rates (and other variations of it) as well.

From a job board:

"Contact us and send us your references and CV and include your best rate in the message."

or:

"Price range for this project: EUR .027 - .067/source word


PS: I am a member of the site. My name appears here. That used to be worth something to me and mean something to other professionals (just saying).

[Edited at 2017-01-04 14:55 GMT]


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 23:10
English to Croatian
+ ...
Some points. Jan 4, 2017

Hello Bernhard,

I appreciate your efforts to systematically raise awareness about the low rates.

In my language pair, the situation is even worse.

The chicken or the egg scenario, who is to blame, the translator accepting the rate or the outsourcer offering the rate? Personally I blame those who accept them because they are eventually the ones enabling and facilitating low rates. If an outsourcer contacted 10 translators through the directory and none of them accepted anything less than $0.15 per word, what do you think would happen? Remember it takes only one out of ten to drag the rates down for the other nine people.

In my language pair the rates dropped by 100% since I first came to ProZ. It's translators who did this, not outsourcers.


[Edited at 2017-01-04 15:01 GMT]


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:10
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
4 - 6 cents Jan 4, 2017

Happy New Year, Bernhard.

Oh, you're running down open doors with your request. Even more so after I've seen a job post today that - at first glance regarding the type of service requested - sounded really interesting. But then... I immediately left that job post because the offer was 0.01 - 0.015 cents per source word. And it was not a job that only required the completion of a list of 100% repetitions. (Even if, it's below the "belt line", so to speak.)

If ProZ can't stop these peanut job post, then it would be nice to stop receiving job notifications for any jobs that are below one's rate. - And no, not one's best rate.icon_biggrin.gif

Requesting references from any LSP based on a possible vague chance of getting the (underpaid) job isn't (IMO) exactly the best way to start a business relationship. Once the rate offered is acceptable, or the prospective client accepts the LSP's rate, then it might be time to speak about providing references - NDA's permitting.

But... let's not permit that these jobs drag us down. We know what we and our service is worth. We also know that there are customers who realize this and who are prepared to pay for good quality and great service.icon_wink.gif


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:10
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many translators simply accept the rates that are demanded on job boards Jan 4, 2017

Lingua 5B wrote:

...

In my language pair the rates dropped by 100% since I first came to ProZ. It's translators who did this, not outsourcers.


[Edited at 2017-01-04 15:01 GMT]


Hi, Lingua 5B,

Thanks for your post. You are right that it is translators who accept these rates. But every wave of new translators is already confronted with posts that spell out rate ranges, rates and other demands (not always, but most often). So I believe that many translators simply react to what they are offered and don't even bother thinking twice about what they do to themselves and the community of translators.

Instead, what they should first see is a detailed explanation of what it means to be a professional translator or of how to set up shop as a translator and get somewhere with it in life. That's why I think getting rid of these rate posts and other inadequate communications on job boards would be a good move. Proz.com could take the initiative. Just my thoughts.

[Edited at 2017-01-04 15:10 GMT]


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 23:10
English to Croatian
+ ...
Yes, true. Jan 4, 2017

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

Lingua 5B wrote:

...

In my language pair the rates dropped by 100% since I first came to ProZ. It's translators who did this, not outsourcers.


[Edited at 2017-01-04 15:01 GMT]


Hi, Lingua 5B,

Thanks for your post. You are right that it is translators who accept these rates. But every wave of new translators is already confronted with posts that spell out rate ranges, rates and other demands (not always, but most often). So I believe that many translators simply react to what they are offered and don't even bother thinking twice about what they do to themselves and the community of translators.

Instead, what they should first see is a detailed explanation of what it means to be a professional translator or of how to set up shop as a translator and get somewhere with it in life. That's why I think getting rid of these rate posts and other inadequate communications on job boards would be a good move. Proz.com could take the initiative. Just my thoughts.

[Edited at 2017-01-04 15:10 GMT]


I'm also surprised to hear those rates are offered in your language pair. I know they are offered for Eastern European languages as most translators in those countries are very happy to accept them. I thought Germans were determined about keeping the high rates at any cost.

I mean, if you see them offered, it tells me some German translators did indeed work for those rates. If an outsourcer offers a very low rate, it means someone somewhere worked for that rate for them before, in the same pair. So they believe I will do it as well - eg. offers at $0.02 per word or today I saw an offer at $5 per hour, by a Chinese agency.

[Edited at 2017-01-04 15:25 GMT]


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:10
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
"Hiding" those posts doesn't eliminate them Jan 4, 2017

Happy New Year to you too, Thayenga!

Thayenga wrote:

If ProZ can't stop these peanut job post, then it would be nice to stop receiving job notifications for any jobs that are below one's rate. - And no, not one's best rate.icon_biggrin.gif


That is possible I believe. You can get that set up as far as I know. But it doesn't get rid of those rate demands and other unprofessional communications. They are still reaching people who don't know or don't want to know any better and accept them.

I already ignore these posts but it's the fact that a) they are posted here where my profile happens to be and b) that I know for sure that outsourcers keep doing this to the community of professional translators (I think it affects the type and number of professional jobs offered to us) that bothers me very much.

Thayenga wrote:
But... let's not permit that these jobs drag us down. We know what we and our service is worth. We also know that there are customers who realize this and who are prepared to pay for good quality and great service.icon_wink.gif


That's true, but we are faced with cheap competitors who have an effect on all of our businesses to yet varying degrees. I think talking about this issue and the consequences for us all is important.

[Edited at 2017-01-04 15:33 GMT]


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:10
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Education Jan 4, 2017

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

... But it doesn't get rid of those rate demands and other unprofessional communications. They are still reaching people who don't know or don't want to know any better and accept them.

...but we are faced with cheap competitors who have an effect on all of our businesses to yet varying degrees. I think talking about this issue and the consequences for us all is important.


That's true, and the real problem. Now, I don't know whether this is feasible, one possible way to prevent "divine ignorance" (absolutely no offense intended!) might be to provide each new colleague who joins this platform with a very brief "Welcome Package". The first item on the list (if you wish) could be something about accepting low rates, followed by a brief outline of the effects accepting such rates will have on all of us, including the new colleague.

Prices increase worldwide, and people are struggling to increase their income to make ends meet. So why would someone voluntarily accept low rates and/or follow demands for even lower rates, while all along they should know that neither their landlords nor the supermarket want to hear about them being unable to pay for the merchandise? It's a downward, never-ending spiral.

Again, I cannot blame any customer for wanting to keep their own costs as low as possible...and their profit as large as possible. We, the translation community, are the only ones who can stop this downward trend.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 23:10
English to Croatian
+ ...
Absolutely. Jan 4, 2017

Thayenga wrote:

Again, I cannot blame any customer for wanting to keep their own costs as low as possible...and their profit as large as possible. We, the translation community, are the only ones who can stop this downward trend.


Cannot agree more. We cannot expect the people from other communities to do that for us, they have their own agenda, goals and interests (that may often conflict with our own).

The problem is that when people from our community quote very low they are not thinking about the whole community and how that will affect us all, especially in the long run. If they did, they would never work for those rates. And then the outsourcers are to blame? Don't think so. If someone wants to work cheaply, they will find a way to do it (regardless of ProZ). The others will find a way not to.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Solution Jan 4, 2017

Surely it would be a ten-minute job to change the site's coding so that only requests from outsourcers willing to pay my stated rate are displayed/sent to me?

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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:10
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Solution? Jan 4, 2017

Chris S wrote:

Surely it would be a ten-minute job to change the site's coding so that only requests from outsourcers willing to pay my stated rate are displayed/sent to me?


I am not talking about that.


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David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
100% Jan 4, 2017

[quote]Lingua 5B wrote:

In my language pair the rates dropped by 100% since I first came to ProZ. It's translators who did this, not outsourcers.
quote]

dropped by 100%? So everybody works for free?


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
? Jan 4, 2017

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

I am not talking about that.


Silly me, I understood the post title to mean that you wanted to stop getting unreasonable requests from outsourcers.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:10
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification Jan 4, 2017

Chris S wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

I am not talking about that.


Silly me, I understood the post title to mean that you wanted to stop getting unreasonable requests from outsourcers.


If everyone knew what cheap is and would have only requests delivered to their email that fit their stated rate, it might already be an improvement. But many don't know or don't want to know what a reasonable rate is.
Nevertheless, I believe having rates/rate ranges/prices not posted at all by outsourcers may be a good thing. That way new translators aren't inducted into this business by simply grabbing the cheap jobs because that seems the most logical thing to do. Some say, well great, let them do that, I don't mind, I am not interested in these jobs. But that IMO means one is ignoring the big picture - that cheap translators are consistently poisoning the well for serious colleagues because projects that would have never been carried out for unreasonably low rates are now carried out for just that - unreasonably low rates.
.
Now, granted, the jobs posted on job boards are only a small part of the overall business, so it seems. But the way outsourcers approach translators here and the way translators react surely has an impact on direct contacts as well - I see it every day in my email. Ridiculous offers abound from cheap companies that use our emails.
Now, again, you can block all this. But it gets through to others anyway.

Why care at all? I listed my reasons above (big picture and all, and professional image).
Once a poster can't demand a certain rate or rate range, the translator has to make the effort to come up with the rate themselves. Will they still quote as low as they possibly can, meaning, unreasonably low? Maybe, maybe not. But at least job boards would be cleaned up and no one can say all this is sanctioned by the sites that offer these job boards.

[Edited at 2017-01-04 20:56 GMT]


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Losing battle Jan 4, 2017

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
... cheap translators are consistently poisoning the well for serious colleagues because projects that would have never been carried out for unreasonably low rates are now carried out for just that - unreasonably low rates.


But taking cut-price jobs has always been the natural route into the business... That's how I started back in 1993.

If you block that on ProZ they can/will just do it elsewhere. It's only natural.

I share your concerns about rates but I think we just have to write off that end of the market and have faith that enough customers will continue to care enough about translation quality to pay for it.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:10
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I'll take job posts without rates over posts with rates any day Jan 4, 2017

Chris S wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
... cheap translators are consistently poisoning the well for serious colleagues because projects that would have never been carried out for unreasonably low rates are now carried out for just that - unreasonably low rates.


But taking cut-price jobs has always been the natural route into the business... That's how I started back in 1993.

If you block that on ProZ they can/will just do it elsewhere. It's only natural.

I share your concerns about rates but I think we just have to write off that end of the market and have faith that enough customers will continue to care enough about translation quality to pay for it.


I don't count on anyone wanting to keep paying the same or a higher rate when so many openly keep demanding and accepting lower and lower rates. Letting posters do that is the first step to lowering prices, lowering, mind you, not keeping them at a reasonable level (IMO). Why don't I count on it? Because the posting of low rates is obviously continuing. It's not getting better, quite the opposite.

Why shouldn't Proz.com be able to simply take away the option of posting rates and rate ranges from posters? They're certainly not favoring cheap rates - we are warned many times that 80% of translators/outsources (posting rates - see my earlier post) charge/pay more than what is stated in the job post. I think it's a far better idea leaving it up to the translator to state rates and then negotiate or not negotiate. Plus continued education should help as well. I don't think it's good to start out accepting unreasonably low rates and hope that somehow in the near future, you'll be able to make that reasonable rate/have that reasonably earned income everyone deserves that does a good job. And it doesn't help us at all when someone does a good job but thinks he has to do it for peanuts because he/she is new. This impacts us all.

So, what if the option is taken away? Will it have an immediate positive effect? Well, for one, Proz.com would obviously acknowledge that it is the translators who should state the rates/prices. I'll take that over any form of rates/ranges posted by outsourcers. One argument is that they will just go elsewhere to do the same. Fine.
Proz.com can urge translators to learn about the business before they quote. And by that I mean about their own business, their own livelihood. We're not cheap laborers. And that's an important lesson for new colleagues. I think things can always be changed to the better. But it takes initiative and it has to start somewhere.




[Edited at 2017-01-04 22:45 GMT]


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