Request for help on agency pricing: meaning of mots nets versus nombre d'analogies?
Thread poster: seletti

seletti
France
Local time: 19:49
Member (2017)
French to English
Jan 11

Hello
An I just negotiated a price with an agency to do a 50 000 word French to English translation. My contact agreed to a rate of 0.09 centimes for a highly technical aeronautics-related translation. I'm a very experienced translator (around 20 years) but don't usually work with agencies. The commercial department just sent me the following Bon de commande, with only part of the translation listed at 0.09 centimes. I would appreciate it if someone can explain what they are proposing. Until now, I have not worked with trados or wordfast, but told the agency I would get it. This is their price: Nombre de pages à traduire : 178
Votre logiciel : Word Format d'enregistrement : .doc
Consignes : Nombre de mots nets : 17595 à 0,09€ HT le mot source
Nombre d'analogies : 11942 à 0,03€ HT le mot source
Nombre de répétitions : 2608 à 0,009€ HT le mot source
Accès Export de mémoire : Ok
Livraison : Fichiers cibles + Fichiers bilingues
Tarif : 1965€ HT
The deadline is one month from now..
Thanks for any input


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Looks like the usual CAT discounts agencies unilaterally impose on translators Jan 11

I don't use a CAT tool and refuse to accept these discounts agencies love to impose (it's one of the main reasons why THEY acquire CAT tools after all). Imo it's probably something like 'fuzzy matches', whatever that means in the real world. Any excuse to impose a lower rate is a good one (for agencies). I only allow discounts for 100% copy/paste repeats that I don't have to look at or otherwise touch. But I've always been willing to do that, long before the CAT tool invasion.
Hopefully you will also hear from colleagues who actually know about CAT tools and how agencies use them to drive down rates they pay to translators.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Seletti Jan 11

seletti wrote:
I would appreciate it if someone can explain what they are proposing.


They are assuming that you will be using a CAT tool that will allow you to save time while translating sentences that are similar to previous sentences. They assume that you will give them discounts for the translation of sentences that are similar to each other.

They have analysed the files using their CAT tool, and have found that 17595 words are in sentences that are "unique" (i.e. that are not similar to any other sentences), 11942 words are in sentences that are similar to other sentences (but they don't mention what percentage of similarity they regard as the threshold of similarity), and 2608 words are in sentences that are exactly the same as other sentences.

They are offering you EUR 0.09 per word for the 17595 "new" words, EUR 0.03 per word for the 11942 "fuzzy" words, and EUR 0.009 per word for the 2608 "repetition" words. This is because they believe (or hope) that "fuzzy" sentences will take you only 1/3 as much time to translate, and "repetition" sentences will take you only 1/10 as much time to review.

Note that different CAT tools may yield slightly different analyses, but this is their CAT tool's analysis.

This pricing scheme is only fair to you if also use a CAT tool.

They are asking you to deliver "bilingual files", which means that they want you to deliver a CAT tool format in addition to the final format. I suggest you ask them which bilingual format they prefer to get, and make sure you are able to provide it.

They don't specify their fuzzy match threshold, so I suggest asking them about it. If the threshold is 50%, it is grossly unfair. If it is 75%, it is not very fair but not very unfair either. If it is 85%, then it is quite fair (though still depending on other factors, of course).


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Writeaway Jan 11

They should not be unilaterally imposing discounts without negotiation. I'm in the same situation as Writeaway - I find TM to be of limited use except in highly repetitive translations, which yours isn't.

In my experience, if you politely tell them that you give discounts only for large chunks of cut-and-paste repetition, and not for "analogies" (fuzzy matches, ie semi-repetition), they will accept this nine times out of ten.

Good luck, and stick to your guns!

"


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Adrien Esparron
Local time: 19:49
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
What they are proposing? Jan 11

seletti wrote:

I would appreciate it if someone can explain what they are proposing.



They are offering you to steal half your work for a total of 33 145 words at 6 cents per word, and that "for a highly technical aeronautics-related translation"...

No comment.



Until now, I have not worked with trados or wordfast, but told the agency I would get it



Hope so for you, but a bit hasty as an affirmation, especially with such a volume.

I will never sign such an order (no less than 3500 € without repetition for such a job (or any other fanciful formulation used)).

Good luck!


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seletti
France
Local time: 19:49
Member (2017)
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
thanks for the input Jan 11

Thank you all for the clear explanations. The agency turned me down when I refused to accept less than 0.09 but I feel better about it. It was just too exploitative

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:49
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
One other thing to bear in mind Jan 11

It looks as though you've got the best outcome on this one - not all jobs are worth getting. But I just want to point out that a CAT tool has quite a learning curve. For me personally, it's enormous! I know most people will learn faster, but a CAT tool is certainly not something that's going to save you vast amounts of time on the very first job. In fact you'd have been likely to spend more time on those words using a CAT tool than without. You can't expect an agency to care about that, of course, but I advise you to learn to use your chosen CAT tool in your own time or on a well-paid non-urgent job.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:49
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
No imposed discounts accepted Jan 12

Whether I use a CAT or not is solely my decision. If an agency sends me an inquiry and instantly imposes its discount policy, then I either reply saying that discounts must be bilaterally negotiated, or I just turn down the job.

When said agency tries to convince me to accept a bottom rate, then I politely explain that I could do it, however, without looking at any fuzzy matches sentences or paragraphs, emphasizing the fact that this would be unprofessional and thus a good reason not to accept the project. After all, no vendor of anything allows the customer to impose discounts on her/him. So why should I, especially since I don't get my CAT tool for free?

[Edited at 2018-01-12 12:48 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I almost always accept client imposed discounts Jan 12

Thayenga wrote:
No imposed discounts accepted. ... If an agency sends me an inquiry and instantly imposes its discount policy, then I either reply saying that discounts must be bilaterally negotiated, or I just turn down the job.


I suspect many translators feel that way, yes, but since I find that most agencies' discount tables are roughly the similar anyway, I generally accept "client imposed" discounts, unless I feel that the discount scheme crosses a line. This means, of course, that I end up earning slightly less with one client than with another, if the one client's discount scheme is slightly less favourable than that of the other, but I find that some things are simply not worth the endlessly negotiations.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:49
French to English
Personal preference Jan 13

I have about the same number of years' experience as you and agree with a lot of what has already been said here. You can only accept a job that you can do within the time limits required to a standard both parties are happy with and for a price that is acceptable to you.

Sheila and others make an important point. CAT tools take time to master and it is best to learn on smaller jobs where it is not going to be critical in terms of time. In the early days, you will need to factor in extra time for using the tool, not less time.
Over the 23 years I have been translating, the type of work I have done has never been really included significantly repetitive pieces of text. However, I’ve been playing around with Wordfast recently and once you start to build up a certain terminology database, the propositions made are increasingly coherent and no doubt do save time. I tried out SDL Trados for a month and found it unnecessarily complicated and rather fiddly. Maybe it was just me, then, etc. I also find it quite pricy. It is obviously necessary to invest in one’s business but if you are working under some particular schemes, (e.g. auto-entrepreneur in France), it is not always possible to deduct such outgoings. It can become expensive if you don’t use it again.

Is what the agency is offering a fair deal? As pointed out by Samuel, most of the tools calculate in fairly similar ways. It is then up to you to decide what type of discounts you are prepared to accept and in what circumstances. If the agency isn’t budging, you may prefer to turn the deal down. I accept copy/paste reductions, I mean, obviously, right? They are like the Jumblies, far and few between. The awkward ones are when a term is repeated in different contexts. You still have to deal with it in that different context. Also, changing one word in a sentence can mean changing the whole sentence round, so be wary of the minor ones that can be legion and seem harmless, yet in fact not represent any saving in time at all.

Finally, the agent can probably present the file in table form so that you can present the work in such a way that they can convert it back without your having to bother with a tool at all.


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 12:49
German to English
+ ...
about "agency pricing" Jan 14

My position is that an agency is free to offer its own customers any type of price or discount it wants to offer, but when that agency asks me for a translation, that agency is a customer, and I set my own fees.
One thing to consider is this: Agencies compete against other agencies. Those other agencies are also our clients. So when I accept such a low fee, I am asking allowing that agency to drive my better clients out of business! Why would I want to do that?
Some of the trends that have been happening for a while since the Internet has gotten big: Agencies that spring up and treat translators as employees minus the usual benefits and employer-responsibilities: also banking on the insecurity of newer translators who would like the pseudo-security of a more steady paycheque of regular work via large projects.
These discount arrangements don't need to become the norm, but if enough people accept them, they might become a norm in some quarters. It may seem petty to look at language, but word usage can also influence our mindset and how we relate to clients. That's why I'd insist that there is no "agency pricing" --- only a customer's wish to have a bargain.


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