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Calling all TM users. How do you cope with price reductions?
Thread poster: myska

myska
Local time: 13:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 28, 2009

Dear colleagues,

I would love to start a discussion that will hopefully be interesting for all of us.
It is known that the use of Translation Memory tools can yield many benefits, the most obvious seems to be the increase in productivity. However, this increase seems to be offset with clients and agencies requiring price reductions for 100% and fuzzy matches.

What is your experience in this area?

I will be looking forward to your responses.


Martinaicon_smile.gif


 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:37
English to Japanese
+ ...
Bad custom established by agencies Apr 29, 2009

Dear Martina,

I firmly believe that this is a bad custom established by translation agencies, and I am one of those who strongly oppose to it. If the TM with full matches and fuzzy matches are supplied together with the source text, I could understand, but when you have to create one yourself and the agency asks for a discount for repetitions/fuzzies, etc. I cannot tolerate that. It's the agencies' fault that they established this foolish system to attract more clients. One of the benefit of using a TM is to guarantee consistencies of terminologies, syntax, etc. and I feel that the agencies are abusing this to attract more clients. And now the clients are familiar with an aid of TM and discounts, this so-called "discount" has been a standard rule in the industry.

Yasutomo


 

wonita (X)
China
Local time: 10:37
More than just to press a button Apr 29, 2009

It appears to the agency that we only need to press a button to translate a repetition.

But the fact is, we buy our CAT tools and learn to use them; we make TMs and glossaries and have to maintain them constantly; we crosscheck our translation with the CAT, and we update our tools when necessary...

The time consumed before being able to press a button should be counted as well. Why discount?


 

Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:37
English to German
+ ...
Forget the idea of Price/Source word Apr 29, 2009

I do calculate prices on a project basis. There is in principle no fixed price per word. It differs by customer, text type, format, length, specialty etc.

The price I quote in terms of so called “Fuzzy Rates” reflects my price calculation for this project. This means the customer/agency gets a nice “Fuzzy rate” adjusted pricing table, and I do get the money I want for the project. What is wrong with this? I have no problem offering a 50% reduction on 85-99% fuzzy matches, if I can realize my (higher) rate for everything below 85%.

I do not consider this a price reduction, in contrast, I have used my compliance with this requirement to increase my rates whenever possible. It is like being on an oriental market, you have to play the game, to get what you want.


[Edited at 2009-04-29 08:13 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It's the price of convenience Apr 29, 2009

myska wrote:
However, this increase seems to be offset with clients and agencies requiring price reductions for 100% and fuzzy matches.


If you don't want to give discounts, then don't. I personally have no problem with discounts, although I decide on a per-client basis (and sometimes a per-project) basis whether the amount of work and the potential speed of my work will offset the offset of the discount.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Definitely! Apr 29, 2009

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:
Bad custom established by agencies
I firmly believe that this is a bad custom established by translation agencies.


I'd be more specific: greedy translation agencies. Considering my personal sample, none of the best translation agencies I work for ever mentioned fuzzy matches.

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:
It's the agencies' fault that they established this foolish system to attract more clients.


I'd take that with a grain of salt. I honestly doubt it that agencies transfer such discounts to end-clients; I guess it's just a slick way to increase their profits.


Now answering the original question:
On jobs larger than 5,000 words, I give repeated segments (100% match) for free. That's just a keystroke. However I've never given a discount on fuzzy matches.


 

tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 14:37
German
+ ...
Who benefits from discounts? Apr 29, 2009

This discussion is a bit stale, really. We have it about twice a year here.

If you don't want to give discounts, don't. You should get paid something for matches and you can always negotiate for a higher base price if you're dissatisfied with your income.

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

I honestly doubt it that agencies transfer such discounts to end-clients

You would be wrong to think so. Of course they do (not all, maybe, but the one I run sure does and I know others that pass on the discount also.)

Regards,
Benjamin

[Edited at 2009-04-29 12:21 GMT]


 

myska
Local time: 13:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You are absolutely right there Apr 29, 2009

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

It's the agencies' fault that they established this foolish system to attract more clients. I feel that the agencies are abusing this to attract more clients. And now the clients are familiar with an aid of TM and discounts, this so-called "discount" has been a standard rule in the industry.

Yasutomo


This is an excellent point, Yasutomo. One that I was hoping to find in this discussion. You see, I am not a translation professional yet, however, I am studying to become one in the near future. Your comment is very similar to what I have come across during my literature review.
On my behalf, I believe that translation is still undervalued as a profession and the marketing practice of many translation agencies in respect to the use of TM tools certainly does not help this. Not only that clients barely know that a good translation requires much more that than just a competency in the source and target language (the amount of background research for example) but now with the TMs on the scene, I dare to argue, they have even more distorted picture of the reality thanks to the practices of most translation agencies.

I am looking forward to seeing many more comments on this issue.

Thank you all.

Martinaicon_smile.gif


 

myska
Local time: 13:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, Jose Apr 29, 2009

[quote]José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

I give repeated segments (100% match) for free. That's just a keystroke.


Dear Jose,
thank you very much for your opinion. Please do not think that I am picking on your wording here. I simply view this as another excellent point for discussion.

It would be nice if 100% matche meant just one keystroke for your translation, however, even a 100% match might need to be adjusted to the new context....
But I assume that in such cases, you would let the client know about this and reflect it in the final price. (?)

Thank you,

Martinaicon_smile.gif


 

Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Who benefits from discounts? Apr 29, 2009

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

Dear Martina,

One of the benefit of using a TM is to guarantee consistencies of terminologies, syntax, etc. and I feel that the agencies are abusing this to attract more clients. And now the clients are familiar with an aid of TM and discounts, this so-called "discount" has been a standard rule in the industry.

Yasutomo


I doubt, too, that end customers "are familiar" with discounts. A friend of mine has recently requested an offer from various translation agencies and none of them even mentioned the word discount or fuzzy matches. Strange to say, their estimate didn't consider any repetitions and/or partial matches.

This said, like José Henrique, I have never been requested to quote for fuzzy matches and I work only on a full price basis (for target volume). The day I were, for whatever reason, to use a discount scheme, I would feel impelled to raise my prices.


 

Przemysław Szkodziński  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:37
English to Polish
+ ...
As a rule - not really. Still it depends. Apr 29, 2009

I would never agree to give a discount of any sort without knowing that I am really going to spend this much time less.

It might make sense at times, though - for instance, one direct client I work for (mostly localization-related tasks) uses a pyramidal discount system for 100%/75%/etc. matches. The reason is that the software's being translated whilst still in development - hence, there are loads of fixes made to the source. A typo here, a double-comma there, such really minor stuff that nobody sane would put in their translation willingly. And since the client actually cares for the quality, they want everything double checked, even if the changes are minimal. And the match is not based on any zany TM produced by whomever, it's based on the source text (f. i. "How are yuo?" changed to "How are you?" would count as such a match). I would honestly question the sanity of someone who'd be willing to pay my full rate for merry thumb-twiddling, although I wouldn't complain. No, really, I wouldn't.

Still, if there's a need for any actual editing, like, for example, change of tense or turning plural into singular, I'm paid by the hour.

[Edited at 2009-04-29 19:20 GMT]


 

Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:37
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
everybody benefits Apr 30, 2009

Christel Zipfel wrote:

Who benefits from discounts?

I doubt, too, that end customers "are familiar" with discounts. A friend of mine has recently requested an offer from various translation agencies and none of them even mentioned the word discount or fuzzy matches. Strange to say, their estimate didn't consider any repetitions and/or partial matches.


I can't understand why so many translators believe "discounts" are only for the benefit of the agencies trying to rip off their translators.

All major international companies I work for (through agencies) are very well aware of translation solutions and use them, because without those solutions it would not be possible for them to spend millions of dollars on localization of products plus ongoing updates. Translation solutions allow them to provide us translators with a huge chunk of well-paid work, which many companies couldn't or wouldn't offer without those solutions.

Imagine an international company with lets say five different products in consumer electronics, each product with 5 different models that change frequently or are updated once a year. Each model requires a manual of 10.000 words, and they need them translated into 10 different languages. At a word rate of x0.10, that is x250,000 for one set of manuals. Do you expect those companies to pay that amount of money year after year, for each model that has only a few different features from the others? Or to spend a lot of time cutting and pasting those different segments for each manual, each year?

Who benefits from those translation solutions? Everybody, including translators. If I had to reach the same income level without those projects from larger companies, I would have to work much harder. And without the affordability of translation that CAT tools and "discounts" allow, these projects would be far less or simply not exist at all.

I also consider myself as a business partner of the agencies. The agencies and I work together to achieve common goals. Being able to offer "discounts" on matches and repetitions makes an agency more competitive, and believe me, there's a huge amount of competition for large international corporations with translations projects worth many thousands of dollars each one of them. And in their selection of translation agencies, these corporations look very closely at everything to find the best overall value: quality, reliability, turnaround and, of course, price.

It's probably a pretty safe bet that your friend does not represent one of those companies and his project was most likely at the bottom range of potential income for those agencies. They don't have much to loose if they don't get his work. It's the large projects that bring in the money.

It's not different from how I (and probably you too) pick new customers: If it's a one time thing, I don't care too much whether I get this project or not, and I try to get a higher rate than I usually work for (and no, I don't offer discounts). If it's a company with numerous projects that are of high interest to me, I carefully weigh how high my requested rate can be to make sure that a) I get paid adequately and b) they don't go to the competition. And offering discounts gives me as well as the agencies a competitive edge; even if it doesn't translate into large savings for the client in the end, it gives them the feeling of having gotten a good deal.

Of course, there are clients/agencies that try to get the cheapest rate they can at all costs. But it's up to you to pick the clients/agencies you want to work with, that treat you fairly and pay appropriately for your work. As Sigfried and Samuel have pointed out: It's your choice. And if your bottom line is the way you want it without giving discounts, then don't. It also probably depends a lot on your area of specialization and your typical (end) clients.

Bin Tiede wrote:
It appears to the agency that we only need to press a button to translate a repetition.

But the fact is, we buy our CAT tools and learn to use them; we make TMs and glossaries and have to maintain them constantly; we crosscheck our translation with the CAT, and we update our tools when necessary...

The time consumed before being able to press a button should be counted as well. Why discount?


Translators are running a business. A business generally creates business expenses. This includes software or hardware purchases, time spent on preparing estimates and invoices, learning new skills such as using a CAT tool, etc. It's your job as business person to ensure that your income covers your business expenses and gives you enough earnings to support you adequately. If you have clients that require a lot of additional work (using their glossaries, for instance, or multiple reviews of a published document), this has to be either reflected in the rate you charge these particular clients or be "carried" by other clients where you make good money with less work. You have to make sure your bottom line comes out to your liking. If you think you can make more money/work less by not offering discounts, do so. But don't discount (pun intended) the huge business advantage CAT tools offer as mere rip-off strategy directed at translators.

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

I feel that the agencies are abusing this to attract more clients.


Why would that be abuse?? Doesn't it make good business sense to use whatever you have to offer to attract more clients? Don't the translators profit from an agency that does the hard work of attracting new clients so they themselves don't have to? The only abuse that takes place is if you let yourself be abused. If you find that you cannot accept these agencies' rates, don't. And for that decision, it doesn't make any difference whether the unacceptable rates are based on CAT tool discounts or not.


 

Uwe Schwenk (X)
Local time: 07:37
English to German
Everyone benefits... 2 Apr 30, 2009

First of all let me say that I fully agreeing with the statement form Heike. Additionally, I would like to add a different perspective to this. Since I have the "luxury" of being able to look at it from both sides of the fence (I am in charge of localization for a large software company and also work freelance).

From the Client perspective

Every year around September, the planning for localization begins in earnest. Besides planning the products, I also contact the vendors and have them provide me with the price lists for the following calendar year. While some of you might say that the price pressure starts here, this is not quite true. Since I know what will be localized in the upcoming year, having fixed prices allows for good budgeting and making business run a lot smoother. Once the vendors are selected, they will then negotiate with the relevant translators.

As Heike clearly stated, the larger projects bring in the revenue. However, lets not forget a few things in regards to outsourcers. When you get a project from an outsourcer, you have a clearly defined project and scope, because the project manager will provide all this. Outsouring companies have a larger overhead because a number of things which you would need to do, is done on their end already, leaving basically the translation as final piece, whereas accounting, maintenance, preparation, etc. is all done by the outsourcer for you already. Therefore, the outsourcer will ask for reduction and it is a reasonable request because his/her expenses are a lot higher than yours per se. However, although the price reduction is there, this will very often be made up more than enough by the volume, and the margin is there.

From the Translators perspective

As a translator, I accept these reductions, because as stated before, a lot of the preparatory work outside of the actual translation is done for me already, meaning my overhead is reduced and I can actually concentrate more on the translation and therefore provide high quality. Using the TM tools allows me to process a lot more than I would be able to do without them. In this manner, I am able to accpet more projects, built up more and more and therefore, although the margin is reduced percentage-wise, the income is there based on the volume.

To give you a practical example: As of today, I am already way past 300K words in my freelancing efforts, and the volume is going up and not down.


Final comment

While there are some strategists stating that other things such as TM will become more and more prevalent, and translators will be relegated to other tasks, I am personally not concerned. The translation volume is going up regardless of language, and the only thing that really changes are some of types of documentation within the subject areas.

As stated before, everyone benefits because due to reductions more and more material can be translated and we will not reach the pinnacle anytime soon, where it starts to bottom out and nothing is left to translate.

Also, we have to realize the location of the translation agency as well as the client. What is maybe a pittance for some translators, for geographically different locations its a high pay.

All things said, in the end it is the translators decision on what he/she accepts or declines.


My 2 cents...

Uwe


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Clarification Apr 30, 2009

[quote]myska wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
I give repeated segments (100% match) for free. That's just a keystroke.


Dear Jose,
thank you very much for your opinion. Please do not think that I am picking on your wording here. I simply view this as another excellent point for discussion.

It would be nice if 100% matche meant just one keystroke for your translation, however, even a 100% match might need to be adjusted to the new context....
But I assume that in such cases, you would let the client know about this and reflect it in the final price.


Each specialty has its quirks. My key specialty is management training coursware. So what are my most frequent repetitions?

- Items (section titles) that appear on the TOC, the various possible agendas, and finally as themselves.
- "Read aloud or say with your own words"
- "Exercise", "Activity", "Video", "Role play" etc.
- "Discuss the following questions"
- "totally agree", "partially agree", "neutral", "partially disagree", "totally disagree"...

I hope this gives you the picture. A "typical" such job will have 5% repetitions, no 75-95% matches, and 95% new segments.

In a technical catalog, things like height, width, length, weight, etc. will repeat at least once on most pages This should result in different match figures, but I never bothered to keep statistics on them

Anyway, these repetitions of mine are really no-brainers, so I give them away for free to good, quick-paying clients. If their payment practices pose a challenge to my persistence, they don't deserve any discount.


 

FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:37
English to Hungarian
+ ...
At long last Apr 30, 2009

Heike Behl, Ph.D. wrote:

Who benefits from those translation solutions? Everybody, including translators.

I also consider myself as a business partner of the agencies.


A welcome voice of reason in the usual mix of opinions from trade unionists and people without much business sense but a great sense of entitlement.

Translation is a business, and people need to run their affairs accordingly. During negotiations about a project, we are equals of the client. Any freelancer is free to set any conditions to cooperation, just like any client is. If you don't like what you are offered and you are an excellent translator, don't complain about how unfair you consider the pricing scheme. Just walk away and work with someone else.


 
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