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Lionbridge does it again… November 1, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Scam alert.

They were probably hoping that everyone would be so busy at the ATA conference that no one would notice their little e-mail demanding a 5% discount from their vendors.

Luckily there were several bloggers who received the e-mail and commented on it. To learn more about the topic, you should read A Personal Response to Lionbridge VP Didier Helin’s Unilateral Demand of a 5% Discount (my favorite quote: “I was an infrequent and reluctant accomplice of your agency until some years ago, when I discontinued collaboration after coming to the conclusion that your project managers and I simply spoke different languages/lived on different planets/were not drinking the same Kool-Aid/were addicted to different hallucinogens.”) and Discounts Required.

Since Lionbridge refuses to pay more than US$0.10 a word for my language pair and implemented their pay to play system (see Would you pay to work for a translation agency?) I don’t work for them either.

Of course, it must also be said that this e-mail contradicts Lionbridge’s own press release, which I read a few days ago, that announced the “highest quarterly profits in its history”!!! Hey, Lionbridge, you suck!

Update: Here is another reasonable response.



1. Kevin Lossner - November 2, 2010

Yes, Lionbridge sucks boulders. I’ve managed to avoid any direct relationship with the company, because I dislike the way organizations of that size work in our sector, but I’ve known plenty of ex-Lionbridge employees, and the best of them are the ones that can overcome their training there.

Working for a company like Lionbridge or TransPerfect you might as well go look for a position at Walmart. Not just for the compensation usually offered but for the general contempt shown to the foot soldiers who should be happy to serve as cannon fodder in the LSP price wars. (Actually, I shouldn’t dis Walmart. That company probably understands quality better 😉

These organizations also blithely ignore data protection laws at times; this morning I was contacted by one for a “rush” job after I was promised that all my information would be purged from their databases and I would never be contacted again. The information in the e-mail, including the use of business e-mail addresses I have discontinued, made it clear that as much attention was paid to my request as was paid to the invoice that took seven months to settle years ago.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of bypassing these factory farm language service producers who would welcome you to their little cages and working instead with a healthy mix of small- to medium-sized LSPs of good reputation and direct clients in a proportion that suits your capacity and temperament. Lionbridge and every other LSP on its order of magnitude have a lot of unfortunate characteristics in common, and it is unlikely that satisfactory, long-term relations can be enjoyed by anyone without a serious masochistic streak.

2. English-Russian Translator - November 2, 2010

Great post and great comment! I guess LB will lose their ‘translation vendors’ on both sides of the pond.

3. Sophie - November 3, 2010

Well, in Asia, they pay far less than 0.1 USD to their freelance translators. Imaging how much 5% discount means!! This is the most non-localized localization company I have ever seen!! Shame on LB.

4. Tess Whitty - November 4, 2010

Sad news, really sad news. Another agency going down that path. I wonder if the end clients know. Thanks for sharing!

5. Rory C - November 11, 2010

One way to possibly escalate this concern for fairness is to make more powerful stakeholders who will care what this mean for the future of the company.

Identify all the research analysts that cover LIOX and inform them in a clear and dispassionate tone how this move will very likely cause the best translators to refuse to work with LIOX and result is lower quality for many services provided by LIOX thus resulting in customers leaving and a lower stock price. Remember that these are the guys who publicly quiz the executive management about how things are going every quarter and also write reports to inform interested investors what they think about the company and its future. Here is a start:
• Vafi, Joeseph of Jeffries & Co
• Baldry, Richard of Signal Hill Group LLC
• Hynes, David of Canaccord Genuity
• Liu, Kevin of B. Riley & Company, Inc.
• They also have coverage by Friedman Billings, Matrix Research, First Albany and Piper Jaffrey so find the analysts and let them know why you think LIOX has a shaky future
Identify the Investment Officers at their largest institutional investor firms and inform them why LIOX may be a bad investment and why their stock price is likely to fall, again in a dispassionate and clear way so that they understand that there is a real risk of the stock price collapsing and staying in the gutter.

This link provides a list of all their largest Institutional Investment holders http://finance.yahoo.com/q/mh?s=LIOX+Major+Holders
Find their addresses/emails and make sure they hear about this from you and all your best friends who disagree with this policy.

Write them all an email explaining the role of the translator in the localization supply chain making sure they understand that quality comes from good translators who are likely to work best when they feel fairly compensated. You could also explain how alienating good translators will undermine LIOX quality in the long run. LIOX will probably have a story on how easily translators are replaceable – it is important to explain that like in any other profession, the best translators are not so easily replaced. Give them examples of how bad translators undermine product and services offered by LIOX.

Then attach a link to all the blogs that explain why this is unfair / bad strategy etc.. There is a good summary of the LIOX Crowdscorning with many links at http://t.co/ArVJtc7 I suggest that an even and considered tone like the one employed by Kevin Lossner will be the most effective way to make your point. Angry people are tiresome and best ignored.

Make sure that you and a 100 of your best friends send some form of this summary to anybody who is interested in investing in LIOX stock or currently owns a significant amount of LIOX stock.

Make it clear that this is likely to cause the following:
• Loss in service and product quality
• Increasingly lower quality translators working for Lionbridge which will be reflected in their deliverables
• Imminent and sustained drop in LIOX stock price (i.e. it will be very hard for the stock to rise again)
• Continued losses as some large customers realize that they have so much ill will that it is going to affect their ability to deliver services and choose to find other suppliers who have better relations with the supply chain
• Perception of LIOX as a sweatshop which will make many blue chip customers shy away and avoid LIOX as a supplier

If you do this, I think you will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you have done everything you can to let the authorities know about this. If you are lucky this will even cause Rory and Didier to get a severe hand slapping from the investors and possibly even issue an apology to all the people who received the infamous letter. Even if there are no visible signs of remorse I suspect there will be some back room chats that will make the boys tread much more carefully in future.

But my real advice to all of you is that you are probably best served by finding new people (SLVs too) to work with, who treat you with more respect and fairness and realize that in this industry quality is accomplished through human partnerships. Working with people who recognize and acknowledge your value always makes for a better life. Right?

Good Luck.

Jill (@bonnjill) - November 11, 2010

No Peanuts has a really good post written by a former PM who breaks it down pretty well – and stresses that good translators are indeed hard to find and that there are indeed good agencies out there who won’t treat us like cattle. http://nopeanuts.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/mega-mills/

Jennifer - August 13, 2014

if the company makes so many millions, where is our yearly raise? haven’t had one in two years. shame on you. we do all the work for all you VIPS and make your pockets a lot bulkier for what, for nothing, you fill your mouth when you say “team work” that will be the day. it is all a competition here, walk over who ever to get the credit for what others did

TBG - March 30, 2015

I have asked for my raise since 9/2014; there is no response up until now. I haven’t had a raise for at least 3-5 years. I can’t hardly recall when was my last raise.

6. Zachary Overline - December 21, 2010

Hi Jill!

I just found your blog through Sarah Dillon’s — it’s great! Reading through some of your past entries, I stumbled upon this one and, although it’s somewhat bad form in the blogosphere, I wanted to share something from our own blog that you might enjoy, as it’s not wholly unrelated to this Didiergate stuff: http://blog.csoftintl.com/your-own-terms-four-conversations-that-translators-love-not/

Anywho, no more self-promoting for me. (And feel free to delete this comment if it goes against your code of blog ethics.) Heheh. Thanks for the interesting read!

7. Mariel - January 3, 2011

Hey! Many many thanks for sharing your comments.
I am currently helping with translations in a big multinational company. You should see the age of those who hire me! They are but babies!
How can they possibly imagine the years spent to become a faily good translator? They just google translations and trust translation machines blindly!
We should definitely unite and educate the employees in corporations. If we don’t, our future will be at stake!

8. Tired - January 13, 2011

“Since Lionbridge refuses to pay more than US$0.10 a word for my language”

…try US$0,049 minus the 5% discount (and this is the highest rate I know of), discount for a shorter (never met at the end of a quarter) payment term, plus the payment for using geoworks in Lionbridge’s projects.

9. Tired - January 13, 2011

Oh, I forgot about the 3% discount (voulntary) for all the projects…

10. Bert Borg - February 18, 2011

I own a small LSP and I used to work for Lionbridge. It’s a shame but translation is really moving down the road to “deprofessionalization,” which is a word I made up that makes alot of sense.

The best way to undervalue professional work is to lower your expectations and deny that an occupation is a professional one, I think. Most young people have no desire to spell words correctly in their communications, and as everything becomes merely “information,” low quality translations will be seen as good enough to get information across. Kind of a doom scenario.

But lots of people I meet choose low quality and cheap over high quality and expensive…

11. Magda - May 12, 2012

I have aslo applied for the position called Internet Assessor. But, although I did not start to collaborate with Lionbridge, I am already dissapointed. The reason that lies behind my dissapointment is that after i applied, I had to wait for 3 weeks to get a reply from them. Anyways, this was not very surprising since they have a high number of applicants. The email that i got was asking me to complete the employment history section, although i introduced data for the last 7 years (the initial requirement was to provide details about previous jobs for the last 5 years at least). Additionally, they requested me to attach a resume although this was not required in the first place. I did all these and resubmit my application. After a couple of days, I got the answer that they reached the quota with regard to the number of employees they need for the project. I was wondering qhy they asked me to complete the application if the position was not available anymore. Anyways, i returned to their website and I saw that the position was still valid. I checked again after about 2 days and the position was still there. I went online and i found out that a few applicants also got a message stating the the position was not valid anymore. Some of them sent an email to Lionbridge and got an answer within the next 1-2 days. I did the same thing although wrtiting an email to these guys is a real adventure. I really hate companies, which do not provide any email address.I searched over the web and the only email addresses i got are: privacy@lionbridge.com and ro.raters.bal@lionbridge.com. This was on 09 May 2012. Until now (12 May 2012), i have not gotten any answer from them. I do not even know if the email addresses i used are correct or not because there is no info about contacting this company (if you are not a client, of course). This tells me one thing: Lionbridge does not care about its applicants or employees. Maybe, I understand the fact that the company does not provide an email address on its website, but it should offer it on the application template so that an applicant, who encounters different issues during the application process, can contact them. I do not really like the way they behave with the applicants. And even though i have found numerous positive reviews and oppinions about this company, I guess that they are written by US, Canadian, UK, and German employees. I am from Romania and even though this is not the first time I feel discreminated, it is definitely annoying. Furthermore, I did not expect such behavior from a company that promotes international projects. I am really curious when (and if) they will contact me, but a company, which has hundreds of employees, should also have an HR department. Does anyone know any reliable companies that offer work-from-home jobs to different nationalities? I am searching for these types of jobs – which do not turn us in slaves – for more than 2 years. Any information would be highly appreciated.

12. Robert Rogge - May 13, 2012

Hi Magda, I have such a company. Our website is http://www.ricaris.com, and we have a really good online company culture. Please send your CV to me at robert@ricaris.com. I will check it out, and keep you in consideration for positions that I feel match our criteria. Thanks!

13. Chris - November 22, 2012

When will freelance translators start boycotting companies such as Lionbridge, Transperfect, translations.com, proz, etc. all the giant incompetent translation agencies? Because if they do they will clean the translation business and it does need to be cleaned.

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