The other day I was approached by a friend who works in a large company. He was complaining about the high prices the translation agency was charging him and mentioned he had received incredible information in an email from a brand new translation company. They claim that through the use of Internet they can reduce costs, offer a highly competitive price, excellent quality and native translators!
From the .28 cents that their current translation agency was charging to an incredible price of .12 cents from the new company. There was no room for hesitation, so they started negotiations. Because his company's policy is not to deal with translators but with companies, as they are thought to be “ more trustworthy”,I just let the incident go, I had no chance to compete.
A couple of days later I got an email from a “brand new translation company” offering me translation work.They already had my resume and where to send me a test, as it would be the first time I would work for them. I got the test and that´s when I recognized my friend's company.
I did the test, and the next email from them was to tell me that my asking rate was very high. They where located in India and the rate they usually pay is .025 per word, but considering my qualifications they were ready to offer me .03 per word, half my usual rate, and they mentioned that if the company they where representing was happy with my work, I could count on a large volume of work.
I dug a bit into information on this company, and I found that they have an address in the USA, but they are in fact based in India. They have several Indian Spanish translators for low quality translations and they search the Internet for native translators for high quality translations. When the negotiation does not work, they use only the reputation of the native speaking translator, (they have their resume and the test) and they assign the translation to one of their non-native speaking translators.
I contacted my friend and asked him about his negotiations and he told me that it was going fine, the agency had increased the price a bit (.15/W) because they were using a very reputed translator, native speaker, etc. So it was still cheap for this big project compared with the previous agency. A real bargain.
It took me a while stop laughing and then I explained to my friend what really was going on, and sent him a copy of the emails.
To me it was really enlightening. A company in the USA charges around .30/W and pays the translator .08 maximum; the average being around .06. So they charge about 5 times my rate and most of the time asks me to lower it to 0.05/W. This is a high profit gained from the hard work of the translator.This leaves a gap for smart people that have to up their income, like this “brand new agency”. So now there are Chinese, Indian and even Russian translation agencies that offer “high quality translations at very competitive prices”.
The part that did not make me laugh was finding that some of my collegues living in Mexico are accepting these bargains under the guise that “now a days profit is so thin”. But these cheap translation companies are not the ones killing my income, they are only “smart” people trying to get some money in their pockets any way they can. It´s not them I blame. I do, however, blame us translators because we are the ones accepting these rates and letting low quality translators compete with high quality ones in the same rank.
So, if it comes to the end of the month and are asking yourself who is killing your income, just look in the mirror and you might find the one to blame.