Agencies abusing the directory with lowball spam
Thread poster: Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:41
English to Polish
+ ...
May 24, 2016

I realize there isn't much direct action that could be taken without incurring the wrath of anti-trust watchdogs, but something needs to be done about the plague of not even India- or China-based but UK- or US-based translation agencies addressing translators with insulting offers to the tune of 10% of normal rates. A while ago an Asian colleague was asked, by a UK-based agency, to do 20,000 words for $80.

In my experience, UK- and US-based agencies from Proz.com tend to be notorious for this sort of thing, hoping to pay less than Poland's low average among translation agencies, which is several times less than the UK or US average. So we aren't just talking about Indian companies. It's Western companies who are engaging in this sort of lowball spam, which as serious professionals we don't want to receive.

To be specific, the problem isn't really about higher or lower rates in the usual sense, as the difference is one or two orders of values (i.e. moving the decimal point) rather than the typical 20–30% difference that exists between better and worse pay within the same order of values.

The problem lies in the bargain-seeking mentality with which those people approach Proz.com, which has something to do with the site's image, at least in those folks' eyes. I too believe in freedom, so let them seek out translators with the lowest posted rates they can find, if that's their type of thing, but how about introducing a rule to prohibit agencies from sending mail to translators with offers much below stated rates?

Especially as on opt-in sort of thing could work, where the translator has to first tick a box that says: 'I don't want to receive offers below my minimum rates,' after which sending such offers to such translators would be an offence against the site's privacy/data rules, resulting in warnings and eventually penalties being given to such agencies?

Despite the usual translator-client confidentiality that makes such things a bit complicated normally, this should be legally doable, just as long as it's part of the rules accepted by the agency through simply using Proz.com's services. So for example simply by using Proz.com's services — including the directory and the translators' contact data and contact channels — the agency acknowledges and expressly agrees that sending offers to translators who have elected to not receive inquiries below their posted rates is prohibited and constitutes a privacy violation, and the agency agrees that translators will be allowed to report such spam, waiving any expectation of the financial terms of such offers remaining confidential.

Independently, broader action — more in the realm of marketing & PR — needs to be taken in order to shift the agency perception of Proz.com away from sort of a paradise of unrealistic bargain seeking toward a serious & steady sourcing channel for the normal flow of jobs.

In other words, this would involve a shift in who the site's marketing/advertising message is targeted at, as well as making the formulation of the promise more explicit (finding the right translator, not finding translation workforce cheaply).


[Edited at 2016-05-24 15:10 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-05-24 15:13 GMT]


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 08:41
English to Russian
+ ...
That would be barking up the wrong tree May 24, 2016

I do somewhat share your indignation, but do we really need to worry about these agencies? As an esteemed colleague of mine says, as much as 80% of the translation market is crap, but these 80% find their clients alright. It's not the agencies we need to educate, but the clients. It's amazing, but many clients think any translation is stilted and poorly readable almost by definition, and aren't even aware a translation can be as good as the source if not better - at the right price, that is. And as to those clients who don't need quality - they aren't our clients anyway.

[Edited at 2016-05-24 22:35 GMT]


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:41
Member
English to Italian
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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:41
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Anti-spam measure, essentially May 25, 2016

Anton Konashenok wrote:

I do somewhat share your indignation, but do we really need to worry about these agencies? As an esteemed colleague of mine says, as much as 80% of the translation market is crap, but these 80% find their clients alright. It's not the agencies we need to educate, but the clients. It's amazing, but many clients think any translation is stilted and poorly readable almost by definition, and aren't even aware a translation can be as good as the source if not better - at the right price, that is. And as to those clients who don't need quality - they aren't our clients anyway.

[Edited at 2016-05-24 22:35 GMT]


I think my proposal fits within acceptable limits of spam control and is practical, which makes it worth pursuing.

Importantly, there's no way it could be even semi-reasonably held to violate anti-trust laws.


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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:41
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
lowball spam May 25, 2016

Many US and UK agencies are owned and managed by people from the Third World.
Check the proz.com page to see who management is. This is oftentimes enough to discourage one from working with these begging bowl agencies.


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