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Yeah, good luck with that… March 9, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation Sites.

I just wanted to share two translation requests I received tonight. Enjoy!

Dear Sir or Madam;

Medical Translation from German into English

We are in a need of German to English Medical translators.

We might need at times to translate an average of 380 pages of medical transcriptions. The work will be performed for at least a year. We prefer that these service we deliver to us already proofread, edited and reviewed for final delivery. We expect zero errors and omissions.  We might have penalties for any return document(s) by client with more then 1% of error and or omissions.
You also need to agree to sign a confidentiality agreement, take training as needed and get certified about HIPPA rules.
Translators must vast experience (at least 3 years) on medical transcription is a plus, medical education or combination of both.

If interested please provide an update resume and rates per word and page s well as the extended of the work (only translation vs translation, editing etc. no later then 3/11/09 12:00 PST USA

If questions please send them by email.

Gee, zero errors and penalties? Sounds like a dream job – not. No one is that perfect. They can’t even write an e-mail with zero errors. They also didn’t mention if the translators would be reimbursed for the training and certification. I’m guessing no. Sorry, but I’d rather clean houses or be a secretary somewhere than be on tenterhooks for the next year working for this agency and wondering if the client was going to complain.

And this next one was just unbelievably ridiculous. Not surprisingly, it came through ProZ:

We are looking for German to US English freelance translators for a potential big project in the medical field.

The details are as follows:

Source format: .PDF and .doc files
Target format: .doc files
CAT tool: Trados
Proposed rate: 0.03 EUR/target word (I know it is a bit low, but the project is about 2000 pages and the client cannot offer higher rates)

If you are interested in this project and accept the proposed rate, could you please send me an updated copy of your CV in Word format? Your CV will be sent to the client (hiding your contact details) and, after the client’s approval, Silvia will contact you sending a short unpaid translation test, which will be reviewed by the client.

Should you have any question, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

A bit low? That’s downright insulting. Just a little under $0.04 a word for MEDICAL!!!! My delete button got quite a workout tonight!

Call me crazy, but I have a feeling both these agencies are bidding on the same job since the requests came in within an hour of each other. What do you think?



1. Ryan Ginstrom - March 9, 2009

Hmm, $0.04/word for medical translation — I sincerely hope no lives are at stake there.

For the first one, if you were feeling cheeky you might send them a bill for errors and omissions in their email. 🙂

2. Benny Lewis - March 10, 2009

What a coincidence! I also got an insulting request today (bulk emailed to a very large number of translators):

“The client came to us this afternoon and wants 4.5million words translated for THIS FRIDAY 3/13, due 11am EDT. I know last time (in January) we said they were probably going to go through, and they didn’t, but we are now 90% sure that they will sign off on the translation of 4.5 million words.
The client negotiated a volume discount, and it looks like our budget for the translation will be between 4-5 cents (USD) on the source count. I understand this is rather low, but they are being very price conscious.” (NO editing at all on my part)

I suppose if they are “being price conscious” then it’s alright to charge such a low price, right? That makes it ok. Especially since I’d be sharing it with, what? A thousand other translators?? I actually took this client seriously at first and wasted a whole 20 minutes of my life filling out their applications…

You also got to love their confidence – 3 emails in January first and even with the Friday deadline looming on “4.5 million” words they are still 90% sure that $0.04-5 isn’t good enough value 😛

3. Dondu N. Raghavan - March 11, 2009

How about this offer I received in email?

We would be interested in your services for one of our potentail projects. This project would mainly deal with writing summaries for articles. We require two different quotes from your end:

1. Writing summary from Foreign language directly into English. The costing for this is supposed to be as follows:
Slab-Wise Costing
– Cost when the article is between 1-5 pages
– Cost when the article is between 6-10 pages
– Cost when the article is between 11-15 pages etc

2. Writing a summary from Foreign Language to the same language and then translating this summary into English.
The costing for this is supposed to be as follows:
Rate per article
(Inclusive of writing a summary into the same language and translating it to English)

The domain could vary.
For Ex: FMCG Goods, Automotives, Entertainment etc.
Could you please send me a quote for the above.
Kindly get back to me in case of queries.

Good luck!

Dondu N. Raghavan

You could mail me at [email removed*]


4. yndigo - March 11, 2009


Funny! First of all, in translation you can never sell perfection. Only experience, effort, attention to detail, etc. I could never tell a client we’re going to send you a perfect translation. And isn’t the volume-discount line as old as “what’s your sign”? I use to have to try it on translators years ago, but the promised volume never came through.

The trend in large agencies seems to be going completely away from client education, and more and more in the direction of undercutting the competition. Maybe they think that model works better.

On a recent job we quoted, the client had received a quote from a large agency. Ends up their per-word rate was much lower but our quote was lower. How? Apparently, at the other agency, they ran all the words through OCR and Trados. We looked at the hardcopies (scanned PDFs) to estimate our words (a dying skill!) and, in looking at the files, saw that 40% of the words had nothing to do with the client’s case and didn’t need to be translated at all.

Along with this, by discussing the job with the client, we were able to report a few other strategies to save money and still receive a decent wage for our work. Automated ways of doing business — in terms of software, or blast emails or mentality — aren’t always the best for us or our clients.


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