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General strike against TRADOS and other expensive CAT tools
Thread poster: Thomas Johansson

Ivan Rocha, CT
Canada
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I agree Feb 21, 2011

FarkasAndras wrote:

Thomas Johansson wrote:

(3) "The price doesn't matter, as long as buying the CAT tool is a good overall business investment (in terms of increased productivity, ability to take on more projects etc.)"

Just because they CAN charge whatever price they want from us - and still get their products sold - doesn't mean the price is fair, just or reasonable. We are simply being used, and we should not accept that.


You seem to have trouble understanding capitalism. If they can charge what seem to be exorbitant prices and still get their products sold (without a monopoly or trust etc.) then those prices are not that exorbitant after all. Everything is worth as much as people are willing to pay for it, and apparently Trados is worth a whole lot. There's reasonably strong competition on the CAT market, I would say. Trados is by far the biggest player I believe, but not nearly a monopoly, so by and large the price is set by the market, not SDL's greed. MemoQ costs 620 Euro and I got my copy of Studio for about 350, so it's not like Trados is the only expensive CAT.

Thomas Johansson wrote:
(4) "Nobody is forcing you to buy Trados. You can use one of the freeware tools or Wordfast. It's your choice and your business decision to invest in a tool like this."

We often cannot just decide whichever CAT tool to use for a specific job.

You don't have a God-given right to do every job. Clients set conditions and requirements. If you can't or don't want to meet them, you're out. I don't see the problem with that, there's plenty other jobs left. It's your call whether you want to invest in a new tool in order to have access to certain new jobs.

Thomas Johansson wrote:
Many jobs are posted as requiring TRADOS. And there is an overall push towards TRADOS on the market. More and more agencies decide to work exclusively with some specific expensive CAT tool. And, as somebody put it, "if you don't have a required CAT tool, you can't collaborate effectively and your output is likely to cause technical problems for other people."

I for instance have personally acquired Wordfast, but I am loosing many job opportunities simply because I don't have TRADOS (and, no, I won't buy it either as long as the price is outrageous, however much sense it would make from a business or investment point of view).

Again, your call. If you find the price too high and you find that's a good enough reason to pass up a potentially lucrative business opportunity, so be it. No reason to get angry at anyone, it's your decision.

Personally, I also find Trados (and generally, CAT) pricing more than a little high, but again, it's a matter of mathemathics. If it's worth it to you, you buy it. I did, you didn't. No need to get worked up about it either way.


There is no such thing as a "fair price", engraved in stone, for any given good or service. "Fair price" is what the market is willing to pay. We are free not to pay those prices.


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:52
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Am I the only one who's been through this? Feb 21, 2011

A new agency sends you some work, they ask you what tool you use. Then suddenly:
"There's a lot more work where that came from. But unfortunately your tool is not good enough for us. You are lucky we can offer you a discount and once you buy TOOL X through us we'll be able to continue sending you work".

You keep getting emails from them about discounts, seminars and brunches they are hosting (a bit like the tupperware business?) and you eventually stumble across job ads on the
... See more
A new agency sends you some work, they ask you what tool you use. Then suddenly:
"There's a lot more work where that came from. But unfortunately your tool is not good enough for us. You are lucky we can offer you a discount and once you buy TOOL X through us we'll be able to continue sending you work".

You keep getting emails from them about discounts, seminars and brunches they are hosting (a bit like the tupperware business?) and you eventually stumble across job ads on the newspapers by them "know a second language? unemployed? you can make lots of money being a translator! come to our free software training session and work for us!"

They promise a lot of money and even employment to people who never dreamt of being translators, as long as they purchase the program. These people get one or two small assignments and that's it.

I've seen this more than one time and I think that's the main issue here: when they stop being agencies and become sales representatives.

Of course serious companies would never behave like that, but this has been going on.
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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:52
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Monolithic approach Feb 21, 2011

What I have seen on these pages is a rather stiff and inflexible approach to CAT tools and - to be honest - a lot of demagogy and posturing. Every CAT tools is different and affordability is a relative concept. £150 every 3 years for a CAT tool which allows me to be a lot more productive is nothing... only today I made £50 alone in extra income with it. The concept that agencies impose CAT tools on you is another fallacy. You don't have to use them and you don't have to bend backwards to satis... See more
What I have seen on these pages is a rather stiff and inflexible approach to CAT tools and - to be honest - a lot of demagogy and posturing. Every CAT tools is different and affordability is a relative concept. £150 every 3 years for a CAT tool which allows me to be a lot more productive is nothing... only today I made £50 alone in extra income with it. The concept that agencies impose CAT tools on you is another fallacy. You don't have to use them and you don't have to bend backwards to satisfy your clients' demands. You are a FREE lancer. You establish your business model. CAT tools are a precious tool for a translator and - if I had to - I would buy them all. The ROI is always there, if used wisely. If you don't invest in your business, you will suffer on the long term and will become obsolete: time to go back to employment, where you will be able to strike again...

[Edited at 2011-02-21 16:59 GMT]
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Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:52
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Come on! Feb 21, 2011

Paula Borges wrote:
Introducing new discounts for fuzzies, etc. helps an agency maximize their profits. If you have been working with them and decide you will have to increase your rates, how exactly are they maximizing their profit margin?


This is highly theoretical approach which is so unlikely that it borders on ridiculous... You work for a company not applying the "discount" and all of a sudden they want you to keep your prices and apply the repetition rates? How often does that happen?

No the reality is this:

Hello, we're company X. We want this project translated. How much would it be? We'd like the repetition rate X.

a. I don't apply repetition rates. The total would be 200.

b. Repetition rates? Sure, no problem. That would be 200.

The reality is if you work more than a year you adjust your rates depending on whether you apply rep rates or not long before you are contacted by the client. There's no "raising" or "lowering" involved.


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:52
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Unlikely? Feb 21, 2011

Jabberwock wrote:

Paula Borges wrote:
Introducing new discounts for fuzzies, etc. helps an agency maximize their profits. If you have been working with them and decide you will have to increase your rates, how exactly are they maximizing their profit margin?


This is highly theoretical approach which is so unlikely that it borders on ridiculous... You work for a company not applying the "discount" and all of a sudden they want you to keep your prices and apply the repetition rates? How often does that happen?



How is that unlikely? It might be a regional thing, but in my experience that's exactly what's going on. As clients are only starting to consider CAT Tools, it's been happening very, very often here. As usual, they're late and getting overexcited about it.

Most of my long-term clients never applied any discounts and have been starting to do that recently, as they are "educated" about the "wonders" of technology. Some of them want you to maintain or even lower your rates with excuses like: a) economy b) this CAT Tool will make you work much faster.

They are certainly overestimating the tools and argumenting that the market is not willing to pay that much anymore. I'm actually surprised this sounds so absurd to you, given how common it has been: "Dear translators, we appreciate your long term cooperation and expect you to understand the market has changed. We will be applying discounts from now on, as we have to lower our prices to remain competitive. We hope that you understand and continue working with us. On the plus side, these tools will help you work much faster, so you'll be able to take in more work. Regards,"

All of my local colleagues have been getting this kind of email. You can't just drop a client you've been working with for years. It's a different market, we're generally not paid per word but another unit called lauda (approximately 290 words). Traditionally, national agencies set the prices here and there isn't much room for negotiation, the prices don't seem to vary much between different agencies either.

So, once again, I think we have very different views on the subject because of where we're located.


 

Adam Łobatiuk  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:52
Member (2009)
English to Polish
+ ...
@ Paula - Why Trados? Feb 21, 2011

Because Trados was around 10 years ago and more. It didn't change substantially over the years up until SDL Trados Studio, and became the norm, like Microsoft Office or like the Mac in DTP and graphics. There were Deja Vu and SDLX, and I could be wrong, but I think they were more expensive. Wordfast came later and was modeled on old Trados.

Over the years, translators and agencies invested their money and time into what was most viable, and still the "old" SDL Trados seems to be the
... See more
Because Trados was around 10 years ago and more. It didn't change substantially over the years up until SDL Trados Studio, and became the norm, like Microsoft Office or like the Mac in DTP and graphics. There were Deja Vu and SDLX, and I could be wrong, but I think they were more expensive. Wordfast came later and was modeled on old Trados.

Over the years, translators and agencies invested their money and time into what was most viable, and still the "old" SDL Trados seems to be the most commonly used tool, certainly more than Studio. That means there is no conspiracy. And if you find that translation companies encourage you to buy Trados at a cheaper price so they can give you more work, then why don't you just do so? Everyone wins, except for other tool makers.
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Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:52
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Of course Feb 21, 2011

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

What I have seen on these pages is a rather stiff and inflexible approach to CAT tools and - to be honest - a lot of demagogy and posturing. Every CAT tools is different and affordability is a relative concept. £150 every 3 years for a CAT tool which allows me to be a lot more productive is nothing... only today I made £50 alone in extra income with it. The concept that agencies impose CAT tools on you is another fallacy. You don't have to use them and you don't have to bend backwards to satisfy your clients' demands. You are a FREE lancer. You establish your business model. CAT tools are a precious tool for a translator and - if I had to - I would buy them all. The ROI is always there, if used wisely. If you don't invest in your business, you will suffer on the long term and will become obsolete: time to go back to employment, where you will be able to strike again...

[Edited at 2011-02-21 16:59 GMT]


But that's not the point here - I don't think anyone is saying they don't like CAT tools. We're simply questioning the market monopoly - if I can do the same thing with a tool I choose, why does it have to be a specific one?

It depends on your areas of expertise. Some of us can really benefit from some of them, others will find that a cheaper or different tool can give them all they need.

I'm not so sure about ROI. Buying all of them would be costly and you would waste some time getting used to all of them - let's not forget time, there's only so much we can do. I didn't do the math but I suspect buying ALL tools (or even more than one) would not be practical or profitable.

[Edited at 2011-02-21 19:55 GMT]


 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 14:52
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
happened to me as well, Paula Feb 21, 2011

Paula Borges wrote:

Jabberwock wrote:

Paula Borges wrote:
Introducing new discounts for fuzzies, etc. helps an agency maximize their profits. If you have been working with them and decide you will have to increase your rates, how exactly are they maximizing their profit margin?


This is highly theoretical approach which is so unlikely that it borders on ridiculous... You work for a company not applying the "discount" and all of a sudden they want you to keep your prices and apply the repetition rates? How often does that happen?



How is that unlikely? It might be a regional thing, but in my experience that's exactly what's going on. As clients are only starting to consider CAT Tools, it's been happening very, very often here. As usual, they're late and getting overexcited about it.

Most of my long-term clients never applied any discounts and have been starting to do that recently, as they are "educated" about the "wonders" of technology. Some of them want you to maintain or even lower your rates with excuses like: a) economy b) this CAT Tool will make you work much faster.

They are certainly overestimating the tools and argumenting that the market is not willing to pay that much anymore.



Yeah, it has happened to me as well. From both regular and new clients in at least Belgium, Hong Kong, Sweden, and Latvia. So, no, it's not just a regional thing.


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:52
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Misunderstanding Feb 21, 2011

Adam Łobatiuk wrote:

Because Trados was around 10 years ago and more. It didn't change substantially over the years up until SDL Trados Studio, and became the norm, like Microsoft Office or like the Mac in DTP and graphics. There were Deja Vu and SDLX, and I could be wrong, but I think they were more expensive. Wordfast came later and was modeled on old Trados.

Over the years, translators and agencies invested their money and time into what was most viable, and still the "old" SDL Trados seems to be the most commonly used tool, certainly more than Studio. That means there is no conspiracy. And if you find that translation companies encourage you to buy Trados at a cheaper price so they can give you more work, then why don't you just do so? Everyone wins, except for other tool makers.





Yes, I understand all that, but we have new tools to choose from now.
I wasn't talking about companies that want you to buy Trados to send you more work, I was talking about companies that act as translation agencies but are more focused on getting commission from selling tools - they don't intend to send you more work. They're even "recruiting" people who never wanted to be translators and making promises to convince them to buy them - there's not much work after that. I've seen it happen, everyone here knows of these companies.

They might be encouraging me to buy Trados at a "cheaper" price but that's still at least 3x more than other tools. If you want the tool, great, but not everyone really needs it. Like I said before, if we consider currency you'll find that the regular price of that tool would allow someone here to pay for a new qualification, sometimes even a postgraduate course. There are no discounts for developing countries, so you can understand why some people would be reluctant.

I've tried Trados and found it too complicated - just reading this forum you'll see how many new threads pop up everyday from people having trouble with it. I mostly work with fashion, journalism and advertising so TMs rarely help me - why should I invest in the most expensive tool available when I don't even like it that much and prefer another one?



[Edited at 2011-02-21 20:01 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:52
French to German
+ ...
Different specialities, same conclusion Feb 21, 2011

Paula Borges wrote:
(.../...)
I've tried Trados and found it too complicated - just reading this forum you'll see how many new threads pop up everyday from people having trouble with it. I mostly work with fashion, journalism and advertising so TMs rarely help me - why should I invest in the most expensive tool available when I don't even like it that much and prefer another one?



I have come to the same conclusion with other specialties. And what 80% of my clients want back is the translated file. I could do my work without any CAT tool if I had the will and/or the patience to deal with various file formats.

What I find convenient in my main CAT tool is that I don't have to care about formatting while translating - and this is one of the reasons I use it.


 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 14:52
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
they and us Feb 21, 2011

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:

1) A strike is something employees do against employers. Not something purchasers do against suppliers.



Call it a strike, boycott or whatever, but the concept is clear and this is something we, as translators, can do in relation to CAT tool vendors and translation agencies/end clients.

Through some form of collective action, we can send them a clear message that expensive CAT tools are not OK. (I.e. stop pressuring us to buy such tools, shift to less expensive tools, lower prices, find flexible solutions to convert source files to formats compatible with less expensive tools, etc.)



2) A subjective concept as "reasonableness" has nothing to do with prices.



I disagree. If your working (i.e. income) conditions (e.g. the market, agencies, job suppliers) pressure you to purchase tools at prices you consider unreasonable, then you and others in the same situation can take action to either get those prices lowered or to get the market/agencies/job suppliers to stop pressuring you to purchase those tools (at those prices).



3) It is not "obvious" at all that something wrong is going on.
I absolutely need to read a book that only you can translate... If you don't translate the book, I won't be able to graduate.

Will you translate the book for me for 100 dollars, or less, or not?



There's nothing wrong? You just won't be able to graduate unless you purchase the translation at the translator's price - and we know he or she won't accept the 100 dollars you can afford. Nothing wrong at all in the set-up here? Yes, there is, and you'll have to have a serious talk with the program coordinators of your study program. (They shouldn't require you to get the book, if the only way to do so is at a price you cannot reasonably afford.)



Going back to translation tools: it is not at all true that there is no alternative to Trados: there are dozens of different translation tools, from free ones, to others that are several times as expensive as Trados.



Whether the alternatives are feasible or not depends on the market. As I and many others already have pointed out, many jobs are posted as requiring certain specific CAT tools, often unreasonably expensive ones. Also, many agencies are shifting to such tools as their preferred tool and require their translators to make that shift as well.



If you don't want to buy Trados, you are free not to do so. It is your choice.



No, it's not just my choice. And many of us are simply not that free to just decide to buy or not to buy a certain tool. We need an income and therefore need to adapt to the market around us. Now, that is possibly not your situation, but you need to accept the fact that for many of us it is.



If SDL doesn't want to sell Trados for 100 dollars, they are free not to sell it at that price. It is their choice.



Yes, I agree perfectly, it is their free choice and their perfect right to set whatever price they want.

But, it is also our right as translators to have our say on the matter, i.e. as to whether we accept their price or not or whether we decide to take action to make sure that either they lower they prices or otherwise the market shifts to alternative solutions. We have no reason to just shut up and accept a situation of paying up whatever unreasonable prices they set.



If an agency, decides they want to deal only with translators who can send them Trados bilingual files, the agency is perfectly free to set such a condition. It is their choice.



Again, yes, it is their choice. And it is our choice whether we as translators will accept this situation or send such agencies a clear message that many of us are not comfortable purchasing that tool (at its, supposedly, high price).



If you want to work for an agency that requires Trados bilingual files, but are not willing either to purchase Trados nor to find an alternate workflow to create Trados bilingual files, you cannot demand that the agency changes their requirements, nor that SDL sells you their software at a price not set by them. It is NOT your choice.



I am not sure what you mean here. As translators, we can show whether we are OK or not with such work conditions or prices, and we can take action to effect changes more amiable to our needs. Whether specific agencies, CAT tool producers and other market actors adapt or not to that situation, and to what extent, is their decision.

[Edited at 2011-02-21 20:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-02-21 20:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-02-21 20:36 GMT]


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:52
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Main reason Feb 21, 2011

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:
most expensive tool available when I don't even like it that much and prefer another one?

What I find convenient in my main CAT tool is that I don't have to care about formatting while translating - and this is one of the reasons I use it.



That is the main reason for me. Repetitions are so rare me and my clients joke about it when it happens.


 

Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:52
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
No: nothing wrong Feb 21, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:
There's nothing wrong? You just won't be able to graduate unless you purchase the translation at the translator's price - and we know he or she won't accept the 100 dollars you can afford. Nothing wrong at all in the set-up here? Yes, there is, and you'll have to have a serious talk with the program coordinators of your study program. (They shouldn't require you to get the book, if the only way to do so is at a price you cannot reasonably afford.)


Wrong (perhaps) on the university's side of things - but nothing wrong on the translator's side. Yet if you apply the same criterion as your proposed boycott, you would not ask the program coordinators to change the requirements for the course, but rather ask the translator to lower his rates.

Diagrammatically you are saying:

[I] need [thing] to do [activity] because [being] requires [thing]. I believe [thing] is too expensive. So let's pressure [producer of thing] to lower their price.

For you, this is OK when

[I] = translators
[thing] = Trados
[activity] = translate
[being] = translation agency
[producer of thing] is SDL

Logically, since the argument is the same, then, you should also be OK when

[I] = students
[thing] = translation
[activity] = graduate
[being] = university
[producer of thing] = translator

or maybe

[I] = translation agency
[thing] = translation
[activity] = obtain prject from customer
[being] = translation agency's customer
[producer of thing] = translator

To put it in very simple terms: the same argument you are making to hopefully drive down Trados price could be made to drive down translation rates.

Are you OK with that?


 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 14:52
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
depends on the situation Feb 21, 2011

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:

Thomas Johansson wrote:
There's nothing wrong? You just won't be able to graduate unless you purchase the translation at the translator's price - and we know he or she won't accept the 100 dollars you can afford. Nothing wrong at all in the set-up here? Yes, there is, and you'll have to have a serious talk with the program coordinators of your study program. (They shouldn't require you to get the book, if the only way to do so is at a price you cannot reasonably afford.)


Wrong (perhaps) on the university's side of things - but nothing wrong on the translator's side. Yet if you apply the same criterion as your proposed boycott, you would not ask the program coordinators to change the requirements for the course, but rather ask the translator to lower his rates.



Different situations call for different solutions/strategies. In the case of the student/book story, yes, the students would probably most reasonably pressure their university, not the translator. But, also, if the translator in question asks for unreasonable prices, I guess that a note of disapproval to him/her might also be in place.



To put it in very simple terms: the same argument you are making to hopefully drive down Trados price could be made to drive down translation rates.

Are you OK with that?



As long as we are talking about unreasonably high rates, yes, of course.

As consumers - whether of CAT tools, translations or bread or rice - we are always entitled to make our voices heard when we need something and providers set unreasonably high prices. No?

We can do this for instance by choosing not to buy or use their products.

And we can decide to do this collectively, if we like to do so - something which makes even more sense if we are also affected collectively.

In the case of CAT tools for translation, I'd say we, as translators, are all affected by the unreasonably high prices and have reason to take collective action in some way.

(Not to say that there may also be plenty of other issues that we also could feasibly take collective action around in some way or other.)


 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 14:52
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
clarification of the purpose of the strike/boycott Feb 22, 2011

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:

Thomas Johansson wrote:
There's nothing wrong? You just won't be able to graduate unless you purchase the translation at the translator's price - and we know he or she won't accept the 100 dollars you can afford. Nothing wrong at all in the set-up here? Yes, there is, and you'll have to have a serious talk with the program coordinators of your study program. (They shouldn't require you to get the book, if the only way to do so is at a price you cannot reasonably afford.)


Wrong (perhaps) on the university's side of things - but nothing wrong on the translator's side. Yet if you apply the same criterion as your proposed boycott, you would not ask the program coordinators to change the requirements for the course, but rather ask the translator to lower his rates.

Diagrammatically you are saying:

[I] need [thing] to do [activity] because [being] requires [thing]. I believe [thing] is too expensive. So let's pressure [producer of thing] to lower their price.

...

To put it in very simple terms: the same argument you are making to hopefully drive down Trados price could be made to drive down translation rates.

Are you OK with that?



I think perhaps you are missing a very important point of the proposed strike/boycott:

The goal is very general, to point out to the market that we don't accept being pressured to purchase unreasonably expensive CAT tools.

There are several ways in which such a situation could resolve to our favor (which I have hinted at in a previous post).

The CAT tool vendors (for certain currently expensive products) lowering their prices is only one possible solution.

Other solutions would be:

- Agencies and end clients shift to other CAT tools that are less expensive to the individual translators.

- Agencies and end clients find ways to make source files generated under expensive CAT tools compatible with processing on less expensive CAT tools.

- Agencies and end clients in general avoid unreasonably expensive CAT tools or pressuring translators to purchase such tools.


 
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General strike against TRADOS and other expensive CAT tools

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