In the pursuit of cheap rates
Thread poster: Jitka Komarkova (Mgr.)

Jitka Komarkova (Mgr.)  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:23
Member (2013)
English to Czech
+ ...
Mar 5, 2014

I have just finished proofreading of a translation of 700 words. It was done for one of my indirect clients for whom I work (through an agency) for more than three years and they have always been very satisfied with the quality delivered. We have developed a robust TM and a rich and accurate termbase.
Now it seems the client looks for a cheaper vendor and asked for proofreading of his/her work (validating the translator's acceptability probably) because we are the team on whom they rely concerning quality.

As I consider myself a true professional, I never tend to make changes that are not necessary and do correct/modify only real issues. So I set about proofreading... Within the first 400 words, apart from some stylistic issues of minor but not preferential nature, I had to correct 15 major or critical mistranslations (9!), terminology, language and grammar issues. It is obvious the translation was not done by a professional translator and the wording of some parts of it even indicates that it was done by a Slovak native speaker (while the target is Czech).

To give you a flavour of the type of mistranslations, among many, the person for example translated “approaching intersections” as “if collision is imminent”; moreover the person failed not only to localize, but even recognize common units of measurement, such as miles per hour, e.g. 3 mph translated as 3 “metres per hour” or 6 feet translated as 6 “steps”. Let me highlight that the materials deal with safety of workers!!! The person was provided with TM, however, did not use it at all, which means that the translation is not consistent with previous translations of guidelines related to the topic. Beg your pardon? Is this really possible?

Now I am really asking where the industry goes when this client - whom I have always considered to be one of the smartest and most reasonable - chooses such a would-be “translator” to process translations for a long-term and demanding client!? How much does such a “translator” charge?
What more can a responsible translator, aiming at delivering top-notch quality, do?


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Elina Sellgren  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 11:23
Member (2013)
Finnish to English
+ ...
Benefit of the doubt Mar 5, 2014

It might be that they are receiving increasing queries for volumes (that may not have realized yet) that you or other equally qualified translators could not take, so they are looking for more translators to join their pool. If they don't have an expert in your language pair in the house, the only thing they really can do is have translators do a test and then have it proofread by their existing translators, such as yourself. It could be that this particular person is simply really good at giving a good impression of themselves and the agency was fooled.

Did you receive a response from the agency yet when you pointed out the serious quality issues? I have proofread test translations many times for one agency and if I say that I have serious doubts about the translator's skills (or credentials), they always trust me and won't use that particular 'translator'. So it's not necessarily about the agency looking for a cheaper translator. Or it could be that they are looking for someone who could take more general texts at a slightly lower rate than you for instance, so they could give more challenging and specialized ones to you at a higher rate. Or just simply volume control.

Of course if you're almost always available to them when they ask, it does seem suspicious.


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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 17:23
Japanese to English
+ ...
lol Mar 5, 2014

Jitka Komarkova (Mgr.) wrote:

e.g. 3 mph translated as 3 “metres per hour”


I would hate to be behind this person on my morning commute


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:23
Russian to English
+ ...
This is normal--this is why they want a good TM-- Mar 5, 2014

to later look for cheaper vendors or develop MT programs.

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Alex Kalani
United States
Local time: 04:23
Arabic to English
+ ...
And fraud companies Mar 5, 2014

I just finished a 7780 words translation of a document that was full of mistakes where I had to guess the words and the meaning of it. I did not do any work for over 3 days but this document. After 10 days I asked for payment and was told my translation was not good and was full of grammars errors. And the big mistake was that the project manager who does not speak Arabic is the one corrected the grammars. Go figure!!! This company send me a certificate for doing a good job and now does not want to pay. What is my options here?

This company XYZ out of the UK is denying me payment of $750.

I need your Help


[Edited at 2014-03-05 12:06 GMT]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:23
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 5, 2014



[Edited at 2014-03-05 16:38 GMT]


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Alex Mar 5, 2014

Was your translation Arabic to English or English to Arabic?

[Edited at 2014-03-05 18:17 GMT]


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Little Woods  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Member
English to Vietnamese
I think Alex's client is a real trouble Mar 6, 2014

If Alex translation was down right wrong to the point that they cant pay, I think they have proof and reasons to do so instead of sending a certificate of good job done.

Back to the main topic, If the translation was so wrong, charge them a higher price. They get the job done for cheap rate and editied for cheap rate so they got a benefit here but not you. Doing proofreading all day long is not profitable and really tiring.

[Edited at 2014-03-06 01:34 GMT]

By the way, If you have to proofread a really short text, should you apply minimum fee on it? I got asked for proofreading short text but they all want to pay based on words while I want to pay minimum fee so we couldn't make it. My minimum fee is half my hourly.

[Edited at 2014-03-06 01:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-03-06 02:08 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-03-06 14:04 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-03-06 14:36 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My stated proofreading rate Mar 6, 2014

When I'm asked about both translation and proofreading rates, I state my translation rate, and explain that my proofreading rate is one-third of my translation rate, for competent human translation.

Then I explain what I mean by competent human translation: Bluntly stated, it's "as good as mine". In other words, if I had translated it, before anyone proofread it, my translation overall wouldn't be visibly better nor worse than the one provided.

If I cannot consider whatever they give me to proofread as a competent human translation, I advise the prospect that my proofreading rate will vary from one-third to my full translation rate, the latter case being when redoing it completely is justified.

BTW, I don't differentiate proofreading, reviewing, revising, editing, fixing, whatever. In any case, my mission is always to take it as close to perfection as I can in one single step. The issue is how far from perfection it was, when they handed it over to me.


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Little Woods  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Member
English to Vietnamese
I think you and I really have something to think about Mar 6, 2014

Today I experienced something similar in terms of cheap rate pursuit.

One of my agencies named Tome***, which provides human translation, has a bidding system that the final rate it gets is really low than the last time I work for them by 50% for a brochure (marketing) job of 700 words due in 6 hours. The bidding system said that you cannot bid higher than $** and someone already bidded $** ( a rate that can't be any lower for marketing and rush job) so if I want to win, I have to bid lower, the lower the more chance I get the job.

I am really upset because it is my fellow translator, experienced and professional as they claimed but still drived the rates down without long-term consideration. And more than that it is also because this agency using the bidding system even though they said they handpick the translator and always produce articles about reasons for high rate or post comments supporting no peanut for translators.


[Edited at 2014-03-06 15:29 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It is - or should be - a well-known trick Mar 6, 2014

Little Woods wrote:my emphasis here

Today I experienced something similar in terms of cheap rate pursuit.

One of my agencies named Tome***, which provides human translation, has a bidding system that the final rate it gets is really low than the last time I work for them by 50% for a brochure (marketing) job of 700 words due in 6 hours. The bidding system said that you cannot bid higher than $** and someone already bidded $** ( a rate that can't be any lower for marketing and rush job) so if I want to win, I have to bid lower, the lower the more chance I get the job.

I am really upset because it is my fellow translator, experienced and professional as they claimed but still drove the rates down without long-term consideration. And more than that it is also because this agency using the bidding system even though they said they handpick the translator and always produce articles about reasons for high rate or post comments supporting no peanut for translators.


Have you ever heard... "Do as I say, not as I do"?

These folks are the most typical ones.

In their early days, when they had few translators on board, and I had more time to spare, I'd take one slightly low rate job and do it, so they might see what quality looks like. It was a one-off promo. If they wanted that, they'd have to move up to my rates.

I thought that, for instance, before the Berlin Wall was torn down, some "happy" East German Trabant owners might have never experienced driving a new BMW, Audi, etc.

So I did it for these Tom**** guys. They liked my work, and wanted more of it. As they grew their translators database, inflating it with cheap vendors, I scrammed.

They are the typical case where advertising fails to match sourcing. As I suggest on my page on selecting a translation agency:
Check their translators recruitment page. If they seem overly interested in rates, it's likely that they are hiring the cheapest vendors in the marketplace.


As these folks do it via e-mail, no prospect will ever have access to their recruitment "page", so they are safe.

I've seen their job offers. Most often they need a competent, experienced professional translator. Their frequent posts everywhere against paying peanuts for translation work is hypocritical PR at its best. They thrive in actually doing what they preach against.

The only hope left is that some end-client will eventually notice the shoddy quality they deliver by using cheap amateurs, and then they'll need some fairly priced pros to redo the job from scratch.


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Little Woods  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Member
English to Vietnamese
I really should check your page Mar 6, 2014

These guys still play at the bidding and ask us to bid again to rank first. The rank first right now offer 1/3 my rate and I dont intent to change my ranking. Afte all, it is 11 pm at my place and something due in 6 hours should make the translator who wins loses some sleep.

I should check your page. I just realize now that I dont know how to pick agencies. Hope it will change for better soon.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Caveat on my page Mar 6, 2014

Little Woods wrote:

I should check your page. I just realize now that I dont know how to pick agencies. Hope it will change for better soon.


That page is intended for translation clients, to help them decide whether they should hire a freelance translator directly or a translation agency.


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