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Trend to reduce translation rates
Thread poster: Friedrich Reinold

Friedrich Reinold
United States
Local time: 08:46
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Jan 25

Despite the fact that everything around you gets more expensive, translation agencies have started a trend to REDUCE translation rates and to even force their existing pool of linguists to accept reduction percentages from a certain PO amount or annual overall total.

  • What is your experience with this?
  • What are your views about this?
  • What is your experience with this?
  • What are your views about this?
  • How do you respond to this?

  • It would be interesting to see whether this is typical in certain regions/countries and/or language combinations or a general trend. I, for my part, have noticed this trend particularly in English to German for European agencies.
    Collapse


     

    Thayenga  Identity Verified
    Germany
    Local time: 17:46
    Member (2009)
    English to German
    + ...
    The trend is real Jan 25

    Friedrich Reinold wrote:


  • What is your experience with this?
  • What are your views about this?
  • How do you respond to this?


  • 1. a) A (former) good client of mine suddenly cut the per audio minute rates by about 70 % (seventy, no typo). There was no room for negotiations at all. It was a take it or leave it "ultimatum".
    b) Another client tried to reduce the per word rate by 40%.

    2. Despite the fact that competition is getting tougher, I feel that agencies (they consist of human beings too) should reflect on the following thought for a moment, what if their salary was suddenly cut by 40 - 70%? Would these individuals, that is, the PMs with a monthly salary, continue to work for that agency? Or would they rather start looking for an employer who pays salaries people can live on? I would say they decide to try to find new jobs.

    3. My reaction is simple, if I can't make ends meet on the offered rate and/or without working 28 hours in a 24 hours' day, I'll pass. Usually I politely decline. And... leave no room for negotiations if they insist on those peanuts.


    [Edited at 2019-01-26 10:29 GMT]


    Friedrich Reinold
    Morano El-Kholy
    Barbara Carrara
    Dan Lucas
    writeaway
    Sandra& Kenneth
    Robert Rietvelt
     

    Friedrich Reinold
    United States
    Local time: 08:46
    Member (2003)
    English to German
    + ...
    TOPIC STARTER
    Serious Jan 25

    Wow, this is worse than I thought!

     

    Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
    United States
    Local time: 11:46
    German to English
    On the decline Jan 25

    A while back I contacted an agency I used to work with to inquire why I hadn't heard from them for some time. The response: I was too expensive, even though I hadn't changed my rate since I started with them in the 1990s.

    I think it would be very hard for someone starting out now to become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time.


    Thayenga
    Christel Zipfel
    Jennifer Forbes
    Cetacea
    Jorge Payan
    Thierry Bourguet
     

    Daniel Frisano
    Switzerland
    Local time: 17:46
    English to Italian
    + ...
    Here's how I see it Jan 25

    From Europe, rates in EUR:
    EN>IT barely hanging on in some cases, losing half a cent to a full cent per word in the last 2-3 years in others.
    FR>IT no substantial changes.
    DE>IT still healthy, can update rates every couple years to keep up with inflation.

    From USA, rates in USD:
    EN>IT no substantial changes.

    Honestly, for a few years it seemed almost too good to be true: faster machines, faster connection, better applications (remember when CAT
    ... See more
    From Europe, rates in EUR:
    EN>IT barely hanging on in some cases, losing half a cent to a full cent per word in the last 2-3 years in others.
    FR>IT no substantial changes.
    DE>IT still healthy, can update rates every couple years to keep up with inflation.

    From USA, rates in USD:
    EN>IT no substantial changes.

    Honestly, for a few years it seemed almost too good to be true: faster machines, faster connection, better applications (remember when CAT tools were just a collection on Macros you ran on Word, and crashed like 15 times a day?), more resources meant working faster at the same rates adjusted for inflation. I wonder if it's catching up on us now.

    Friedrich, are the European agencies that you mention paying in EUR or USD? If it's USD, it may be because the euro is slowly losing ground to the dollar.
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    Kay-Viktor Stegemann
    Germany
    Local time: 17:46
    Member (2016)
    English to German
    Not in my experience Jan 25

    In the last three years, the time span during which I went from part-time translator to full-time freelancer, I have experienced a continuous rise of rates. This might be partly because I accepted somewhat lowish rates first, or other personal reasons, but I can only assume that the market for (specialized) EN>DE translation is really strong. I have been able to negotiate higher rates with existing clients (all of them agencies), or I have stopped working for certain agencies when I found others... See more
    In the last three years, the time span during which I went from part-time translator to full-time freelancer, I have experienced a continuous rise of rates. This might be partly because I accepted somewhat lowish rates first, or other personal reasons, but I can only assume that the market for (specialized) EN>DE translation is really strong. I have been able to negotiate higher rates with existing clients (all of them agencies), or I have stopped working for certain agencies when I found others where I got better rates. All these years I had more work than I could handle, and I could easily fend off any inquiries for lower rates with this argument. I can see no downward pressure in my pair. I only see huge workloads.Collapse


    Jan Truper
    Damien Poussier
    Dan Lucas
    missdutch
     

    Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
    Italy
    Local time: 17:46
    Member
    English to Italian
    You must be imagining things... Jan 25

    YOU set the rates, YOU decide the terms of the collaboration, YOU are NOT an employee, or, alternatively, YOU must be doing something wrong, or... YOU are a whiner.

    That's what some illustrious colleagues usually say whenever a discussion about rates emerges (which generally includes a mention of the ridiculous rates offered by so many outsourcers here and elsewhere and/or the staticity of rates over time or the pressure to lower them), and yet, similar discussions do regularly emer
    ... See more
    YOU set the rates, YOU decide the terms of the collaboration, YOU are NOT an employee, or, alternatively, YOU must be doing something wrong, or... YOU are a whiner.

    That's what some illustrious colleagues usually say whenever a discussion about rates emerges (which generally includes a mention of the ridiculous rates offered by so many outsourcers here and elsewhere and/or the staticity of rates over time or the pressure to lower them), and yet, similar discussions do regularly emerge, so I would suggest that perhaps not every translator finds themselves in the exact same situation as others, as far as language pairs, specialization, market, country, expectations, capabilities, productivity, taxation and a host of other factors are concerned... and so perhaps dismissing such claims so hastily or haughtily, or going so far as to belittle those who raise similar concerns is not exactly the most 'enlightened' thing to do...

    That said, I personally never had clients directly ask me to lower my rates, but a couple did mention I could've gotten more work from them at lower rates (or less work at the newly renegotiated rates), one formally agreed to my rates with an offer of on-going collaboration and then never sent me any work (resorting to someone else's services, as I later discovered), while many of those with whom I didn't reach an agreement said my rates were too high for them.

    So yes, I too believe there's a general trend to lower rates, but then again, some people may fail to see that, because of their own specific situation, as I was saying above.
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    Dan Lucas
    Katalin Szilárd
    Ines R, PhD
    Tina Vonhof
    Christine Andersen
    Robert Forstag
     

    Colleen Roach, PhD  Identity Verified
    United States
    Local time: 08:46
    Member (Mar 2019)
    French to English
    + ...
    Wage regression (not stagnation) in US Jan 25

    In the US, although the media don't do a good job of covering this, wage "regression" and not wage "stagnation" has been a reality for many sectors of the labor market since the so-called recession of 2008. The best way of seeing this reality is not through the media but by reading job reviews by workers on sites like indeed.com. On one of the recent Linked-In translator group sites, someone posted an infographic which was titled the "Best 3 Translation agencies" (in the world). They were all A... See more
    In the US, although the media don't do a good job of covering this, wage "regression" and not wage "stagnation" has been a reality for many sectors of the labor market since the so-called recession of 2008. The best way of seeing this reality is not through the media but by reading job reviews by workers on sites like indeed.com. On one of the recent Linked-In translator group sites, someone posted an infographic which was titled the "Best 3 Translation agencies" (in the world). They were all American, all very large and seem to have been paying in recent times very low rates (i.e. 5 cents a word). I put a comment on Linked In: "What do you mean by 'best'?" The person who had put the chart on this web page did respond, saying "My bad. I meant the largest agencies."

    What happens in the U.S. labor market is not, of course, the sole factor explaining the regression in translators' rates for some (?many) sectors of the profession, but it is (in my opinion) an important element.
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    Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
    Netherlands
    Local time: 17:46
    Member (2006)
    English to Afrikaans
    + ...
    The current trend is downwards Jan 25

    Friedrich Reinold wrote:
    Translation agencies have started a trend to REDUCE translation rates and to even force their existing pool of linguists to accept reduction percentages from a certain PO amount or annual overall total.


    There was a time when my rates did increase for a while, but then (about 10-15 years ago) it started going down. This is a universal trend among translation agencies. Very few agencies routinely raise their rates. However, if you have your eggs in more than one basket, nothing prevents you from raising your rates with existing clients or seeking out other clients who are willing to pay more. It may be hard for you to find such clients, so don't raise your rates for everybody all at once.


    Thayenga
    Robert Carter
     

    Michael Newton  Identity Verified
    United States
    Local time: 11:46
    Member (2003)
    Japanese to English
    + ...
    Race to the bottom Jan 25

    Time was when 80 % of my business came from agencies and 20 % from private clients.
    Now the proportion is reversed and I will soon eliminate agencies altogether.
    People need to wean themselves from agencies and go for direct clients. By the way, the rates that agencies charge their end clients are increasing.


    Katalin Szilárd
    Vadim Kadyrov
    Carolina Finley
    Gareth Callagy
    Valérie Ourset
    Pete in Finland
    Tanami
     

    Teresa Borges
    Portugal
    Local time: 16:46
    Member (2007)
    English to Portuguese
    + ...
    Well... Jan 25

    I can’t remember ever being asked by a regular client (direct client or agency) to reduce my rates though I’ve been asked occasionally to negotiate my rates for a specific project. Anyway, for my long-standing customers my rates were raised 3/4 years ago and I intend to continue to serve my existing client base at current prices. I have been feeling the pressure to lower my rates from some potential clients: that’s one of the reasons why I now prefer to quote on a per-project basis rather ... See more
    I can’t remember ever being asked by a regular client (direct client or agency) to reduce my rates though I’ve been asked occasionally to negotiate my rates for a specific project. Anyway, for my long-standing customers my rates were raised 3/4 years ago and I intend to continue to serve my existing client base at current prices. I have been feeling the pressure to lower my rates from some potential clients: that’s one of the reasons why I now prefer to quote on a per-project basis rather than a per-word basis. For the record, I translate exclusively from English, French, Italian and Spanish into Portuguese.Collapse


     

    Aliseo Japan
    Japan
    Local time: 01:46
    Member
    Italian to Japanese
    + ...
    Too much competition Jan 26

    In my opinion, the real problem is in the steadily increasing number of freelance translators who everyday put themselves on the market at lower and lower rates, not least because of the exaggerated number of language/translation universities which every year churn out an army of dreamers. It's the high number of competing translators that has driven translation rates down steadily, I think.

    [Edited at 2019-01-26 05:44 GMT]

    [Edited at 2019-01-26 05:45 GMT]


    Matthias Brombach
    Erika Ballardin
    Thayenga
    writeaway
    Colleen Roach, PhD
    Robert Rietvelt
    missdutch
     

    Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
    United Kingdom
    Local time: 16:46
    Member (2014)
    Japanese to English
    Specialization? Jan 26

    Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:
    I can see no downward pressure in my pair. I only see huge workloads.

    My experience mirrors that of Kay-Viktor. I struggle to keep up with demand. Nobody has tried to get me to cut my rates. There are certainly agencies out there that will not accept my rates in the first place, but 2-3 times a year I get a serious inquiry from a client who does.

    With regard to Kevin's comment ("I think it would be very hard for someone starting out now to become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time"), I think it depends what you bring to the party. If you have a credible specialization, that helps a good deal, in my opinion. Professionalism also counts for a great deal.

    Regards,
    Dan


    missdutch
    Gareth Callagy
     

    DZiW
    Ukraine
    English to Russian
    + ...
    Expiring assets: global d&s vs low entry barriers for labor market Jan 26

    I'm working with direct clients, so I can't tell about middlemen, yet my international colleagues also mentioned new* unfavorable or tricky contract terms, including payment drawbacks.

    It's natural that in spite of highlight declarations, people are always different (not equal) with their ups and downs. Also there're too many hoaxes, gimmicks, and ploys to trick even decent language specialists (translators) into "discounts", feeding on their poor biz skills. Furthermo
    ... See more
    I'm working with direct clients, so I can't tell about middlemen, yet my international colleagues also mentioned new* unfavorable or tricky contract terms, including payment drawbacks.

    It's natural that in spite of highlight declarations, people are always different (not equal) with their ups and downs. Also there're too many hoaxes, gimmicks, and ploys to trick even decent language specialists (translators) into "discounts", feeding on their poor biz skills. Furthermore, when big payers from developed countries go small and little or switch to PEMT bottom-feeders, the trend goes down too, declining the overall market value
    Collapse


    Gareth Callagy
    Colleen Roach, PhD
     

    Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
    Germany
    Local time: 17:46
    Member (2007)
    Dutch to German
    + ...
    Exactly! Jan 26

    Aliseo Japan wrote:
    ... not least because of the exaggerated number of language/translation universities which every year churn out an army of dreamers ...


    This should be addressed to our (your) translator´s associations. Wouldn´t that be a topic they should be good for, to evaluate market demands and supply, and discuss the results with relevant education institutes? But I´m afraid the latter aren´t interested in reducing their capacities, because of the profitable career possibilities those study programms offer for lecturers and course leaders, a whole industry on its own.

    [Bearbeitet am 2019-01-26 11:16 GMT]


    missdutch
    Colleen Roach, PhD
    Jorge Payan
     
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