Expo 2015 in Milan – La gioia di stare al ribasso!

*facepalm*

No Peanuts! for Translators

Expo 2015 arrives in Milan, Italy in late 2015, another fabulous opportunity for Italy to show off its very best for an international audience!

So why do we already think it’s going to be a flop?

logo_expo_In part because the organizers of Expo 2015 have awarded the translation contracts to bottom-feeding agencies in several cities in Europe, including (for Italian to English) to a notorious Italian agency known for its rock-bottom rates, shameful working conditions, indifferent treatment of translators, and leisurely (let’s just say it that way) payment practices.

The agency, which is now madly fishing for translators from its “team,” is offering 4 to 7 cents per word with the expectation that translators will deliver between 50 and 100 cartelle (a page of 1375 characters, according to the terms of the call for tenders) in time frames that range from 2-3 days.

Oh, but it gets worse. So much…

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5 thoughts on “Expo 2015 in Milan – La gioia di stare al ribasso!

  1. Our team was very disheartened to read this article. We would like to clarify a few misunderstandings:

    – The EXPO 2015 translation tender has not yet been awarded. (Deadline for submissions: 28.02.2014) We have not yet applied nor submitted price quotes in regards to this tender.
    – The prices quoted and listed in the original EXPO 2015 tender documents are the maximum pricing allowed and are not representative of the competitive pricing required to win a tender.
    – The translation tender business is by nature a very competitive sector. As a company, we accept a significantly lower margin on tenders in order to win the multiple-year contracts with key organizations for a variety of business reasons as do our translators.
    – We pay our translators per word, not per “cartella”, and the rates offered to translators in our tender recruitment process have varied from 0.040 to 0.140 based on the language combinations, relevant subject fields and local market demographics.
    – Our translators tell us how many words they can translate per day and not the other way around.
    – The art of assigning large, rush projects to multiple translators and having a reviser edit for consistency is a “common” not “iffy” practice. It is a business necessity for a variety of projects.

    We are open and honest with translators about the pricing during the tender recruitment process, despite the risk of releasing competitive pricing information to other translation agencies. We have won and lost many tenders based on pricing over the past two years, so we know that our prices are not out-of-line with the current market.

    I would like to ask the author of the article to remove the names of our team members, Debbie and Elena, and replace them with my name and email address, since I am the one who trained and directed them on how to recruit translators for our growing tender business.

    We do not expect to please everyone, but we are in the business to win tenders and, by consequence, provide quality work to our translators at the best possible price.

    If there are translators interested in working with us on tenders, you are welcome to register with us at http://www.translated.net/top and send me an email after your profile has been completed.

    Best regards,
    Dena Hayes
    Director of Business Development
    Tenders Department
    dena@translated.net

  2. Dear Dena,

    Thank you for your kind answer and for clarifying the wrong details of this post. I am not an author myself, and therefore I cannot change the name of your colleagues, of which I am really sorry.
    However, I’ve been thinking a lot about your comment, wondering if I had to delete the reblogged post or not. I still haven’t decided, to be honest. There are a couple of things that sound pretty weird to me, and I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight them to you.
    – You say translator tender business is a very competitive sector, to which I perfectly agree. All the same, we both know that quality translations come with a price (quite literally). I’ve taken part to tenders where people with little or no linguistic knowledge and translation skills were chosen over professional translators because they charged less for the job. This is humiliating both for us and for the sector, and I don’t think you translation agencies should be encouraging this vicious cycle. I obviously would charge you less for a plumbing work, but I think the results would be visible in few hours. No, well, maybe days, I’m quite good at practical housework, the joys of been an early home-alone girl.
    – The “so is the market” explanation is not an explanation at all. I’ve been working for years with clients that paid me nothing, and as I said already, it is humiliating. That’s not what markets should be at all. There’s a lot of talking about changing the work conditions of translators, and hearing the “so is the market” refrain from a big agency like yours is really worrying. Selecting the best translators and paying them right would gain you the best team worldwide, and you know better than me that clients DO understand the difference between average and top quality (I’m not implying you’re not providing the best quality you can, obviously). What many translation agencies propose is the “cheap+quick+good” utopia, and this eventually backfires against the translators. So I think we have quite the right to complain and to point out possible problematic situations (I’m always speaking in general, not directly about your case)
    – What you say about your rates is rather curious. I’ve registered to your platform some time ago, and when I put my rates in, the system suggested me to lower them down to 0,02€/word so to get higher chances to win jobs. I was facing a really hard moment of my life, so I put them to 0,02€/word. No work came all the same. Moreover, I was never given a translation sample or anything. I could be a pizza maker (no offence for the pizza makers and the product of their effort, I absolutely couldn’t live without) with no idea of what I’m doing, and still I would be chosen because I charge about ¼ of the price I should, according to my local market. This makes no sense, doesn’t it? And I won’t start my pleading about how global translation agencies should differentiate among local or –at least– continental markets, because I would turn into the utopist one. But I must say really envy your 0,14 translators, and I’m not an envious person, normally.
    There’s something rotten in this world, and this little speech of mine counts less than a drop in the ocean, but unfortunately I am this romantic kind of person that keeps on hoping and works hard to improve things. I maybe starve to death, if I don’t get more practical, but I don’t give my dignity, including my professional one, away for peanuts.
    I hope I haven’t been too rude, this was really not my intention. On the contrary, I am glad I had the chance to tell you these things, one doesn’t talk to the director of business development one of the biggest translation agencies of the world everyday.

    Kind regards

    Wendy
    kissthetranslator@gmail.com

  3. Ms. Hayes’ letter, an identical copy of which she sent to No Peanuts! is both disingenuous and frankly false.

    Here is the response No Peanuts! sent to her:

    Dear Ms. Hayes:

    There are no misunderstandings to clear up.

    >The prices quoted and listed in the original EXPO 2015 tender documents are the maximum pricing allowed and are not representative of the competitive pricing required to win a tender.

    That may be so, but it is not a translator’s problem. You are offering below-market rates NOW. We consider that an inappropriate and shameful business practice. More than that, if an agency is forced to be “competitive” (an empty buzzword that means “translators get paid crap”), then the money should come out of your pockets, not those of freelance translators. Reduce your overhead, not theirs.

    > We pay our translators per word, not per “cartella”, and the rates offered to translators in our tender recruitment process have varied from 0.040 to 0.140 based on the language combinations, relevant subject fields and local market demographics.

    Let’s start with a principle, which is apparently brand new to you. Clients don’t set rates. Freelancers set their rates.

    Further, I don’t understand your point. We provided calculations in both words and cartelle (the latter mainly for the benefit of the Italian translators you’re attempting to corral) based on the tender’s specification that a “cartella” was constituted of 235 words. We have received perhaps 10 copies of your emails; none of them offered higher than .07, which is a rate you ought to be ashamed of. If someone sends us an email in which you’ve offered 0.14/word, we’ll be sure to put it on the site. Frankly, I don’t believe it. Meanwhile, you are offering the lowest rates and the worst pay to Italian translators working into Italian, especially those working from English to Italian. Frankly, it’s an insult. That’s not keeping “local market demographics” in mind. That’s blatant, ugly, sweatshop-level exploitation in a market where the economy is in the toilet and in which the industry has been crippled by cut-rate agencies. Hey, that’s all good for your business though, huh!

    > The art of assigning large, rush projects to multiple translators and having a reviser edit for consistency is a “common” not “iffy” practice. It is a business necessity for a variety of projects

    It is also a matter of opinion. In most cases, it remains far closer to “iffy” than to your optimistic “art.”

    >We are open and honest with translators about the pricing during the tender recruitment process, >despite the risk of releasing competitive pricing information to other translation agencies

    Yes, you are. You are open and honest about the fact that you plan to underpay and exploit them.

    > we know that our prices are not out-of-line with the current market.

    The current market is s**t, especially in Italy, so what does that have to do with anything? Are you Walmart? The fact that the market is depressed is absolutely no excuse not to offer a fair, living wage. This is a pathetic, morally bankrupt response to a serious problem.

    >I would like to ask the author of the article to remove the names of our team members, Debbie and >Elena, and replace them with my name and email address, since I am the one who trained and >directed them on how to recruit translators for our growing tender business.

    No, though we are glad to add your name to the list. They signed the emails, which went out (apparently) in the hundreds. If they had (as they should have had) ethical problems with what you had “trained them” to do, they should have found other work.

    >If there are translators interested in working with us on tenders, you are welcome to register with us at http://www.translated.net/top and send me an email after your profile has been completed.

    You’re kidding right? You think we’re going to shill for you now when, in fact, our position is that NO ONE ought to be working with you on Expo 2015 at all? Thanks the offer, but we’ll pass.

    No Peanuts! for Translators

  4. Pingback: EXPO 2015: Cronaca di una morte annunciata | Kiss the Translator

  5. Pingback: La traduzione di Expo 2015 | Babele Liberata

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