Online fishy businesses: Dixit (end of story... for now)

Translation is the new lucrative industry to be in. As long as you're not a translator of course. That's why it attracts numerous leeches or "brokers" who don't contribute to society by adding value but instead figure they'll just get in there and take their piece of the cake, because what else are they going to do? Work? Haha. Develop "skills"? Nonsense.

Sorry, I'm already digressing and I have not even started my post yet. 

Today I would like to advise translation buyers to be cautious when they recruit a new agency. One never really knows who they are dealing with. As I mentioned before, any rate under 10 cents is a good guarantee you will get unprofessional work and clumsy sounding translations.

Dixit is a French company with no background in translation. It is basically one guy who sells bikinis on the side. Not really the kind of guy you should trust with your company's PR and image abroad though. 

Dixit was created in January 2013. Translators are paid 5 cents a word, which is absolutely outrageous: that's twice as low as the minimum wage for a translator. On a pragmatic level, it's like throwing your money out of the window. The quality will be poor and your company's image abroad will suffer from it. You'll most likely have to pay again to retranslate it from scratch.

A brand new company, Dixit are a bit lost in the translation jungle but find convenient solutions to make up for their total lack of experience. In fact they don't even bother recruiting. They just help themselves to a public database (ProZ) of freelance translators. 

Basically you (the translation buyer) could do it yourself  by going on Proz. With the advantage of being sure of the credentials of who you hire. By hiring DIXIT, you are paying them to:

1. find the cheapest (worst) freelancers on the market, 
2. make this needlessly complicated and opaque (untraceable pros)
3. ruin your end product and the industry by lowering standards

While as I said you could select the best yourself via LinkedIn or ProZ.

Here is what their website advertises:

ProZ"Human translation...

With Dixit your translation projects are carried out by professionals worldwide."

Very worring. This badge was bought from the website ProZ and I guess translators should know that it means absolutely nothing anymore. 
So my advice to translation buyers: if you hire the services of an agency, ask for the CV of the translator and get in touch with him or her directly. Ask them how much they get paid, if they are a certified Proz member, check their Proz profile or LinkedIn profile.


Dixit works with professionals in the ProZ.com Network. All our translators are certified, experimented and verified."

This implies that all ProZ certified translators accept to work for them and work for this rate. This is simply NOT the case. Dixit is basically demeaning some industry it doesn't belong to (Dixit belongs to the world of online discount sales, not translation). These guys have made an arrangement with the fishy website owners of ProZ to have access to the database of pros. The reality is they will spam these translators all day long until they find (or don't) someone desperate enough to accept really lousy rates. 

Read this conversation and you'll see that this arrangement was made in the back of the translators community.
But let's go back to the website.
Now quite interestingly here is the only customer testimonial they have on their website: 

Gian Marco G.
Manager of Brazilian Bikini Shop site
"J'utilise Dixit pour traduire mon site e-commerce et je suis extrêmement satisfait du service. C'est simple d'utilisation grâce à leur API et rapide, ce qui me permet de mettre en ligne mes produits dans plusieurs langues en un temps record. La qualité du travail effectué par leurs traducteurs natifs me donne un excellent référencement naturel pour une meilleure visibilité. Rapport qualité/prix imbattable!"

This person speaks like a real salesman (I wonder where that talent comes from?). It doesn't really matter what is being said here, you've guessed it's pretty positive stuff. What matters, though, is who is saying it. I'll tell you right now: it's the owner of DIXIT himself :) (BTW thanks for the translators who discovered this info and generously shared it in this Linkedin discussion forum.)
One may wonder how much credibility this Mister G. has in the translation world. Well the answer is zero ;). He is a complete newbie with no experience or background in languages. His main background is in real estate ventures and brazilian bikini sales, as indicated in this business directory.

SARL Brazilian Bikini Shop Gian Marco Guatteri
75 Chemin des collettes
Cagnes sur mer, 06800 France

And yes, the owner of DIXIT is the same person, according to the local business registry (Entry 91)

Nothing illegal in saying your company is amazing, but it's a bit like getting your mom to correct your school essay. We all know it's just too easy & definitely not appropriate in the world of grown-ups ;)

I don't mean to sadistically pick on Dixit but these elements show how ignorant and unprofessional the venture is.
Here are some final concerns about Dixit and the kind of companies it represents:

  • Dixit's portal is blacklisted by some search engines: 
  • Dixit's total lack of business ethics and casual attitude is very worrying. The association of a very low and "universal" fee of €0.05 per word and the Certified Pro Network logo  implies that such rate is perfectly normal. No it's not. This is a completely unacceptable rate.
  • With their insulting and idiotic concept of "unique price" Dixit spreads their naive commercial views, showing a real outsider's perspective on translation. It makes it sound so simple, and certainly is of great help to their accounts as well as compatible with their cognitive capacities but is as insulting as it is silly...
...since it doesn't take a genius to figure that translation is not a simple job, and that there are as many prices as there are translators and texts out there.

That's it for now but I'm sure there is plenty more to say. The idea of this post comes from a discussion on Linkedin that I thought was really worth sharing with a broader audience. Thanks to all the detective translators with a taste for investigating fishy businesses and speaking out :)

Update 06/01/14

Here is a response from the owner of Dixit, received yesterday by email:


I'am contacting you about the post you did about Dixit.
Thank you to have write an article about Dixt, but many thigs are not true.
I can give you many informations that can help you to do a post closer to the truth than this one.

I'am Guatteri Gian Marco, and yes as you wrote on the post I'am the owner of Brazilian Bikini Shop also.
We never hidden this informations. This information is used as an asset.
You can read an interview I did some times ago: 


I created Dixit with 4 co-founder that are working at full time on dixit from 2 years. I'am not the majority shareholder. I own more or less 20% of Dixit.
The company was created in January, but we was working on it from 2 years ago.

Off course, I'am not working at full time on dixit, I provide my experience as online retailer who need translations, I help them with my experience in international business.

So please review your article:

"Dixit is a French company with no background in translation. It is basically one guy who sells bikinis on the side. Not really the kind of guy you should trust with your company's PR and image abroad though. "

That it is not true, we are 5 share olders, I can send you the proof if you need.

About the quality and the pricing.
Our idea is to pay the translator at the fair price. Our power is to have the translators with us. Without translators dixit can't works...
Before fixing the price of 5 cents of Euro we contacted many translators on Proz, we tested the solution during 2 years with Brazilian Bikini Shop and other small websites.

The result of our study is that the most of professional translators are payed 8 to 12 cents of Euro or more. But more than 30% of the work is administration work.
So the Idea was to reduce the administrations works of the translators and also of the customers. Is what we did and many translators wokring usually at 10 cents are now working on Dixit and they are really happy with the service.
If they are not happy. Dixit can works only if the translators are at our side.
Another advantage for the translator is that there are no unpaid payments and the payments are very fast.

You can see the feedback that the translators let on Proz about Dixit.

But please let me know what it is better ? A translation agency that take 100% of margin over the translator (they buy 5 or 6 and they sell 12 to 15) or Dixit that take only 1 cents ?
Who is better for the translator ?

At the moment no member of Dixit won money with Dixit. We want to build a platform with the fair price for both translator and customer.

In your post you don't say that the 5 cents are Euro = 0,69 USD today.

"Basically you (the translation buyer) could do it yourself  by going on Proz. With the advantage of being sure of the credentials of who you hire. By hiring DIXIT, you are paying "

It is what I was doing for Brazilian Bikini Shop, but belive me, it was a crazy works !  There are 33 languages on brazilian bikini shop, for each translation order there was 33 invoices to pay.
There was more than 100 emails exachanged for each translation projects (because of the 33 languages).
Every months we had to find new translators because somes was stopping (for many human reasons as family, baby, busy, new job, etc...).

I think if you review the article with the informations I give you, it will be really better for your visitors.

I'am available for any question you have about Dixit.
I will tell you the truth.

Thank you

Guatteri Gian Marco

Note: This email was sent via the Contact Form gadget on http://translationethics.blogspot.com.br  

Thank you for this information,

Translation ethics

14/01/2014 End of story (for now):

Email from DIXIT:

"Dear Translation Ethics, 

Regarding the use of the ProZ.com logos on our website, we have their permission to use the logos on our site. 
Our goal in putting the two logos on our platform, was only to show that we work with translators who are members of this network.  
Who then? Name them, privately if you want, so we can verify they exist...

I invite you to have a look at our ProZ Blueboard, where you will see many positive comments left by Proz.com members and members of the Certified Pro Network
To avoid any further confusion about Dixit and the CPN logo, we will remove it because once again, the translators are as important to us as our clients and we take into account your concerns and comments. 

Thank you that's a good start...
The purpose of Dixit is not to hire full-time translators, but to offer them the opportunity to earn extra income.  The projects on the platform are mainly E-commerce product descriptions, relatively easy and fast to translate.  

On ProZ.com, translators are able to set their minimum rate on their account if they do not wish to be contacted by agencies offering a lower price. 

Our pricing policy and low margin is aimed to encourage e-commerce customers, usually using automatic translations, to use translations made by professionals instead. 
According to our market research and also to 8 years experience in e-commerce,  we came to the conclusions that having an e-commerce website translated by professionals improved its image, referencing and increased sales. But unfortunately with a higher cost, the e-retailers could not afford having their sites translated. 
Yes I know, tell me about it... I go to three star restaurants but they have to charge me nothing because otherwise, I could not afford to eat. Ha.

Hoping that these last details will help you change your mind about our company.

Kind regards, 

The Dixit team.

So it looks like Dixit is finally removing this controversial badge. This is a first step towards respect. Another would be to start paying half decent fees to their staff, but that's another story.

I choose to trust Dixit regarding the authorisation by Proz to use the CPN logo. It does seem like a plausible thing, judging by ProZ's COMPLETE SILENCE since the beginning of this story 3 months ago. 

What I personally keep from all this is that Proz is definitely not a recommendable organisation, and I encourage the Members of the Certified ProZ Network to just drop the Z and become their own Certified Pro Network (or join a real association such as ATA, ITI, CiOL, SFT...) and stop fuelling the pockets of these Pro crooks.  Yes it's a harsh word but I guess facts are proving more and more everyday that that's what they have become...

UPDATE NINE MONTHS LATER: September 19th 2014

M. Guatteri apparently realised that business didn't pick up without the CPN ProZ logo. So he sneakily put it back on his website!!! Hoping only clients would notice. Mister Guatteri: you are not ALLOWED to do that, just like you are not allowed to pretend on your own customer satisfaction reviews. I mean, who does that??? People are not complete fools. The community and ProZ told you to take it off months ago. Please go back to the BIKINI industry or go try and play businessman somewhere else. Thanks.


The End of Capita: greediness doesn't pay off after all

Artist : http://www.levalet.org/la-chute

Some good news today: massive boycotting works wonders. Capita, major interpreting agency, featured in our list, is facing some serious difficulties, as a result of its poor decisions and lack of business ethics.
It looks like this company is finally getting the backlash it deserves for its greediness. The boycott started as a reaction to its decision to stop paying for transport costs. Interpreters have also been fed up for too long with the low rates Capita offers (about 20 pounds an hour). The boycott has had a serious, immediate effect on their reputation and they are now on the verge of collapsing. Despite the absence of collective union for freelance interpreters, the mobilisation was unanimous and the sanction radical:
Their history so far:
"Capita is the company that acquired Applied Language Solutions in Dec 2011.They subsequently were granted the exclusive interpreting contract for British criminal courts, and then bungled the job to a fair-the-well through poor decisions (cut interpreter rates, refusing to pay travel) and management, resulting in the current mess in court interpreting in the UK. I refuse to work with them on those grounds alone.They also have a poor payment record (to be fair, some of which was inherited from ALS) but there have also been several negative reports on Payment Practices and other forums since the takeover." Subscribers can see details on:

Some further revelations from a former Capita employee can be found here: 
I personally read that as a great encouragement for translators to keep communicating and networking, in order to bring down such irresponsible and disrespectful companies. To view companies worth boycotting, please check our updated blacklist.
In your opinion, which are the translation companies damaging the profession most, and which one would you like to see professionals boycott?


Crowdsourcing: Conyac pay their slaves 10 USD per day (2000 words)

Conyac pay their slaves 10 USD per day (2000 words)

According to this online PR article, Conyac, a Tokyo based company founded in 2009 by Naoki Yamada, is a young booming company, with promising profits of 50.000 USD a month. It is a startup funded by big japanese firms and its total number of corporate users "exceeds 1,000". It is providing crowdsourced translations online within unbeatable deadlines.

"Since launching in 2009, Conyac’s base of translators has grown to 10,000 individuals around the world who work in 60 languages. Prices range from $3 per translation to a $100 per month packages, and clients usually get their completed projects back within an hour."
"Conyac (pronounced like cognac) is named after the special konjac jelly in popular Japanese cartoon “Doraemon” that gives characters the ability to speak and understand any languages after they ingest it". Read rest here...

Its Crunchbase profile states that its goal is purely to replace translation agencies, and its representatives like to describe its activity as "social translation" (remember this expression, it's the next big thing). Here is another really positive article online:

"Founded in February 2009, Japan-based Conyac matches skillful translators with users who need help in translation. In short, it is a social translation network matching translators and users in one single platform.
To ensure high quality translation work, co-founder, Naoki Yamada told us that Conyac has an evaluation system between translators to maintain the quality. The evaluation work became more efficient after Conyac launched a Facebook application which helps translators to communicate with each other better.
“Our translators are really open to communicate and share information with other translators. We are trying to build up a huge number of translators on Conyac,” said Yamada." (Read rest of article)

According to my own research though, Conyac is a scam agency which does not hire "skillful translators", but non-pros. These so-called "translators" (Conyac uses that word a lot, quite inappropriately) are just random people found on Facebook (no degrees needed to work for Conyac).

A quick search on the net will show you that, like the guys at Dixit who also warmly invite you to become a translator (see blacklist on this blog), the Conyac peeps have the power to turn anyone into a translator, by the magic of a mere click:

Conyac for Business - Translation Solutions

https://conyac.cc/Traduire cette page
Conyac is the Simplest & the Fastest Human Powered Translation Service. You are about to experience a new way of translation.

Become a translator

What do you do when you're on a train, or when your kids are ...

Monthly Plans

Source Language, Target Language, Points(per character ...

Conyac for Personal

( Receive 1 free credit! ) » Register as a Translator / » Conyac for ...

Unlike Dixit though, Conyac don't retribute their slaves with peanuts but with "points" (precisely 500 signs, 5 dollars) while promising to be the fastest agency in the world. Incredible!

So, just like I did it with One Hour, I checked the official website and discovered a few things: first, there is no email or address to contact them.

Here is how these guys introduce themselves: 
"What is Conyac? > Conyac is a human-powered translation service that anyone can join.
Guess what, it's true! It is not selective, anyone can work at Conyac. So I signed in 2 seconds without showing proof of my degrees.
 "Simple and Fast Translation:  >Where normal translation agency and online translation takes more than 3 hours to get your results back, "Conyac" can provide you with your results 15 minutes, the fastest. "
" There are thousands of translators from all over the world ready to process your request."
 Mail received one week only after I signed in:
Thank you for signing up with Conyac.
We've noticed that you haven't logged in for a while.
Have a little spare time?
Why not translate at Conyac and earn yourself some extra money.
Link: https://conyac.cc/translators
Why translate at Conyac?
You can work as often as you want during your spare time.
If you have a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone, you can work from virtually anywhere.
Use your language skills to earn a little extra money during your free time." 
So this is what translation sounds like to Conyac: a little job on the side for anyone with a tablet and vague notions of 2 languages. You have a little spare time, why not earn some wee pocket money? Pretty insulting... 

If you are looking for "pocket money" here is what you'll get with them (I have received about twenty mails since last week and can't get rid of them, but that is another story). Blunt mails, without even a Hello message or goodbye, they like to get right to the core of things:
"you got a new translation request on Conyac.

From: English
To: French
Letters: 662
Reward: 66



Many translators are waiting for your review. Review for them now  
  English => French
Finally some tangible info. Intrigued, I took out my calculator. Turns out my intuition was a good lead, and that it is indeed, objectively, a total ripoff:
10 points for each 100 letters, that means you'll need to translate 5000 letters to get the 500 points which are worth 5 dollars. So 5000 signs = roughly 1000 words, that's about 5 dollars per 1000 words instead of 120 dollars (normal pro price). 

Looks like Conyac invented the first job ever to be less profitable than watching TV all day.



Newsletter november 2013

Thank you for joining translationethics

This blog is now reaching translators all over the world and finding new audience each day. Our blacklist is growing with about 170 blacklisted companies now. Many thanks to the translators who publicly shared their bad experience and expressed their support.

If you wish to suggest some ideas or publish articles on this platform I will gladly welcome and examine your submissions.

A page was created to publish petitions or open letters on this blog, so please contact me at translationethics@gmail.com to add yours!

Kind regards,



  • Petition against crowdsourcing (to Facebook and Twitter)


  • Petition to reform/close down proz: 

There is, as far as I know, no such thing at the moment. There has been in the past, but if you wish to suggest one, feel free to do so here. 

Alternatively, if you are not satisfied with Proz's services, you can get a REFUND at any time during the first year, according to their customer satisfaction policy. They should be able to afford it. Proz.com claims to have 300000 paying members and if each one pays 166US$ a year, it makes 49.800.000 US$ a year
If you don't regret your membership, you can still write to Henry Dotterer (proz profile and email) to let him know you wish to see some of this income displayed on the actual site. Because I don't know about you, but I find it looks like it was designed 20 years ago by some trainee IT student and has not been modified since, unlike their code of ethics, quality standards, customer service, rules for posting (outsourcers), or Blueboard entry requirements and notation system.


Translators : 10 effective ways to stop the flow of spams, scams and nasty offers, and start over on clean grounds

  • PLAY HARD TO GET (& disappear from Translation Directory). Personally, I was fed up with these agency emails and closed my account with TD. Since then I am receiving way less crappy offers and no more scammers. TD is feeding this by making your CV available to absolutely anyone including crooks. Translators have to be more selective with those websites and set their own limits. Trust me, putting your CV all over the web is not going to provide you with more work, but will rather cause a lot of nuisance.  
  • STOP GIVING YOUR MONEY TO PROZ : I only got one offer from Proz as a paying member, but am still working on a project I found on it when I was a non paying member. On top of lowering the rates and respect standards, this company is oblivious to the interests of its paying members, serving those of unscrupulous agencies. It refuses to listen to translators and their code of ethics is very suspicious, according to this insightful report. No need to stress that I deeply regret the 120 euros membership which ended up in Henry Dotterer's fat pocket. I guess shutting down websites like Proz and Translation Directory would be the best thing that can ever happen to the translation industry.
  • LOOK and be professional, show that you are not a "sunday translator" or looking for a new fun extra job. You have hard earned degrees and credentials, excellent language skills and are your own boss. Ideally, don't position yourself as a job seeker but as a service provider. Don't do anything for free, including tests, or only accept free tests (under 200 words to serious companies). Know the law, and have terms & conditions and a price list.
  • SECURE YOUR CV: make a PDF, with watermark and copyright. Don't put it all over the web if you don't want it to be unknowingly used or if you don't want someone else to ruin your reputation.
  • SET YOUR PRICE LIMITS ON PORTAL OFFERS : set yourself a minimum price and STICK to it. You won't receive anymore disappointing offers. 
  • START CHARGING REAL MONEY FOR YOUR SERVICES : that means always try to negociate higher rates. If you know you are valuable to a project and sense that it does not compute with what you are getting paid, RAISE your prices, with the attitude that goes with it. Instead of asking for a raise, state that your prices are increasing from next month on, and only accept compromise if it is substancial enough. This worked for me. I increased my rate by 50 percent over one year working on the same project, despite the allegedly "fixed budget" of the project. To help you negociate, make a list of arguments susceptible to make them think twice about it (they might not find someone as qualified for the same price, will have to interrupt the project for some time while looking for another translator, not providing the same quality, the client will leave and so on...) I personally could rely on the fact that another language team was fired from the project (book translated into 3 languages) by the end client, so my team was still holding it together.
  • OBEY STRICT PROFESSIONAL RULES when answering offers: before accepting anything, one must have : a PO stating deadline and total price, number of words (Do your own word count :), do not start anything without the PO. If a NDA or agreement is given to you, make sure it does not work against you.
  • CHECK the agencies (cf this blog "Looking up agencies") and look for them in Black lists, then tell them why you refuse to work for them (low rates, non payment or disgracious spelling or grammatical mistakes...).
  • COMMUNICATE, explain things to PM (that they should know, aka your performance is 2000 words a day), and ask questions so you are not held responsible for anything later on and so that your translation fits the needs of the client. If you have to go through an agency, remember that the PM does not know much because he doesn't know what questions to ask, but that you on the contrary need to know everything -or as much as possible.
  • START A COOP with trusted fellow translators : If instead of spending our time and energy slaving away for agencies, we were spending it getting rid of them and promoting ourselves via cooperatives, we could get out of this situation and enable good translators to stay in the business. I think this is possible via a lot of PR and communication about our status. Letting end clients (when you know them) know about the reality of this system is also important, but also writing blogs and informing companies and the media. We just have to think of new ways to save our profession and share our ideas through social networks. 

These are just a few basic ideas, but what would be your priorities and solutions to improve the future of translators?



Transperfect's redefinition of proofreading

SWEATSHOP alert.... 
There was so much to say about the translation agency Transperfect that I decided to create a special entry for them. The complaints from translators seem endless. As a matter of fact, this company has very unethical methods and its business model seems to revolve solely on the systematic exploitation of its translators, who get paid under 4 cents per word. Their greediness knows no bounds and they have made a huge fortune finding ingenuous new ways to pay their contractors less. Even ProZ Blue Board cannot manage to salvage TP's reputation as the "likelihood of working again" earned by TransPerfect from its translators between January 2009 and the present is barely 24%. They even sometimes go as far as banning them. What on earth do they do to deserve such radical measures from such an unselective portal? It appears that in fact, they sometimes have trouble paying their translators.

Reading all these reports, one wonders who still wants to work for them and what benefit they get from it. And above all, who still hires this company but unaware clients who have been told translation is a cheap, quick and automated process? But even if they end up collapsing under the weight of their shame, Liz Elting and Phil Shawe wont die of starvation like their cheap labour, since their gross profits amounted to $221 millions just for 2009, and $300 millions in 2011.
TP is actually the 4th biggest language services company in the world, see this report on the profits made in 2011 : 

However, their generosity has limits.

A translator's comment : 
" The other day, a newbie PM called and said that another PM (one who has been around for a while) had suggested me for a "fun and exciting" job writing the narration (in English) for a 40-50 second advertisement ordered by a major U.S. retailer (not WalMart or K-Mart, but not an upscale place). The offered price? $25. Yup, US$25 for writing the script for a 40-50 second video.The PM told me that writing advertising copy was a new field for Transperfect. This was my reply: "Thank you for your inquiry, but $25 for copywriting for a large company like X is ridiculous. They'd pay an advertising agency much more. If TransPerfect is really accepting $25 plus company's overhead plus profit margin (=$100 or less?), then there is something seriously wrong with its account executives. In any case, I'm very busy this weekend." Like many of you, I received better rates from Transperfect in the 1990s.
" I just did some googling to find out what the going rate for advertising copywriters is. For free-lancers, the average is about $83 an hour. That's a useful bit of information to have."

Now one aspect of their recruitment really bugs me and it concerns the proofreading. For TP, proofreading is something else altogether. They just reinvented the concept.

When I started as a translator I filled in an application with them. But then they realised that I only had one year experience in the business. Therefore they offered me another  job : proofreader !!!! (Yes, the one who corrects the 10 years of experienced expert translator !) 
The test was incredibly long (but short in time), incredibly impossible and seemed only to focuse on spotting formatting problems. A real robot job. I failed by their standards.The pay was 15 euros per 1000 words but I had managed to obtain 20. But since, I have heard such back feedback on this company that I am glad I never worked for them. 
Big problem there: how do they expect a newby to correct the translation of an expert? What is he gonna do but add problems to the text or check the formatting? 

So yes, Transperfect finds its own solutions to cut down on costs and time. They just reinvented the concept of proofreading: it no longer implies the verification by a translator of a source doc and its translation, the research and checking of certain tricky terms in dictionaries and glossaries, or the reworking of clumsily built sentences, as we fools may have believed. None of that nonsense. For TP, proofreading is a highly speedy reading operation, purely visual, consisting of a "spot the difference" fun little game. A space missing, a double dot, a line out of the box? TP hires you to solve that. It doesn't really matter if you don't speak the source language, you won't have the time to check the original text anyway ! Just take the 5 euros an hour and agree on the officious principle that the faster you go, the more money you make, just keep quiet about the quality, nobody needs to know;).

The rate seems indeed to be approximately 5 euros per hour, provided you don't pay tax. Here is one of their offers (kindly forwarded to me by a fellow translator)

"Diana Chemparathy (she can be found on LinkedIn) offered me bi-lingual proofreading for US$ 0.01 per word, telling me that "2,000 words per hour is the norm in this industry"! The proofing/editing/reviewing (she never really clarified what she meant by "proofreading") was to be done over the weekend and came with very detailed formatting instructions as well as two separate style guides. The work was highly specialised and not to be undertaken lightly, as it consisted of pages of faxed medical case notes, pathology reports and culture results, some handwritten.Needless to say I turned the job down flat. The agency she works with/for is TransPerfect. I complained directly to their head office but never received a reply. Well done you for initiating this blog and list and thank you!"

Now this is seriously taking the pxxx. This person needs to be educated about her own job. She is is completely wrong and knows it. A translator can proofread maximum 1000 words per hour if the translation is top notch. Then, it depends on the technicity of the text, the deadline, etc. 
In any case, a translator should not accept less than 20 euros per 1000 words for proofreading, and should charge  according to the amount of errors and corrections they had to make. I charge a minimum, plus a certain amount per correction made. That is the only way to not undersell yourself. 
Another crucial point: poor quality translations should not be proofread, they should be retranslated from scratch, and there is a big difference in price. You should check the text before they send the PO, then make an offer (in hours) and if it took you longer, complain about the quality and ask for compensation for extra time. I always do this and it has always worked. 

Finally, I have no problem saying to project managers that a job is shoddy since I don't consider these people as my "fellow translators" but as incompetent amateurs. This may sound harsh but these people are damaging the profession and dragging it down. They obviously should be doing something else, which is anything but translation. I haven't proofread in a while and am far from missing this ungrateful activity. Someone is responsible for these nasty translations and it ends up being your job to save the day (and rescue the agency's reputation). 
Don't let this happen. Ask yourself : does this agency deserves to be saved or shall it pay for its avidity and loose their client? If you find a collaborator seriously incompetent, say it (and justify it!). They are probably taking the place of someone who is actually qualified but asking for a fair rate. There are always interesting returns after these complaints, such as "you're not the first one to complain", "that's a non professional's work", "one of the client's employee" and so on...
Very negative blogs solely focusing on them (lots to say):
Read more about Transperfect on LinkedIn
Read more on Transperfect on Ripoff report
Interesting article about Transperfect :


Welcome to Translation Ethics

This website is intended to keep track of the multiple online agencies and identify quickly what to expect from some of them, regarding quality and pay.

It serves as a useful ressource for translators looking to hear more about agencies before they sign anything or accept a contract as well as for translation buyers who are not familiar with the industry and wish to carefully select translators for their project.

It is difficult to get open information about translation agencies and this blog aims at rectifying this, by naming and shaming companies which engage in malpractice and business attitudes that are threatening to become the norm in the translation industry.

Bad practices may cover a broad range of actions, and whether buying cheap intellectual labour qualifies as one or not is for you to decide.

In the meantime, all so called "brokers", "sweatshops" or "bottom feeders" wishing to pay peanuts for intellectual work requiring several years of study will also be included in this list under the low pay criteria. Low pay includes any imaginable offer under 5 or 6 eurocent per word, which is about twice as low as recommended european prices for translation. (See associated article on "Today's translation market").

We provide here a collaborative and dynamic blacklist and any contribution from dissatisfied translators or buyers is welcome. If companies mentionned would like to add their comments, they are invited to express them by e-mail and their comments will be published on this blog.

Today's translation market (for translation buyers)

In 2013, translations are STILL HUMAN-MADE. All true professionals will tell you that despite the technological progress, no program has successfully yet managed to produce a translation one can pass for the product of human intelligence. This is simply impossible. In the meantime I'm still waiting for someone (or rather something) to prove me wrong.

This cliché is probably the result of poor communication by translators about their activity, as we fail to convey the message loud and clear. We are meticulous workers, we don't just come up with those sentences as we type them down at a record pace. We research extensively, hesitate, and choose. As humans we can indeed make decisions computers cannot make. We feel the subtleties of language and the complexity of each sentence. We try to convey metaphors and figures of speech, or double meanings and irony, subtleties programs will not even spot in the first place. Finally we read those translations to ourselves and hear their melody. We are therefore irreplacable.

Agencies find us work sometimes, and keep a substantial commission, with little or no transparency. Without information, we are often incapable of negociating with them. We fight blindly and the risk of loosing everything is generally pretty high. The problem is, agencies often forget who's doing the bulk of the work. Finder's fee is normal, as long as we can make a living. But nowadays, our share of the cake is being drastically reduced by middlemen negotiating unrealistic targets and budgets with their client, and in consequence passing the burden to us and involving us in those risky schemes.

The rise of global competition has put our profession in peril, since we are not able to survive at the rates practised today in the industry, imposed upon us by brokers exploiting intellectual work that they trade as a random commodity.

Big work platforms like ProZ have promoted that downward spiral of rates by letting anyone offer bottom rates and any so called professional apply for those "jobs". Those websites are ruining our business by acting against the profession. They are getting paid by translators to represent them but instead treat them like service providers rather than clients. They are not willing to defend our interests, refusing to set a minimum rate under which a recruiter is not allowed to advertise. Besides, there are serious doubts about the transparency of their Blueboard, a rating system which reflects in no way the reputation or good practises of agencies. I paid the membership one year and this for me was a total waste of money. I never get replies from any recruiter via Proz. The only job I found on it was when I was not yet a paying member.

According to SFT (survey in French) and the ATA, the average sustainable rate per word for a professional living in the EU is 12 Euro cents. Most job offers on ProZ target a budget comprised between 1 and 5 Eurocents. No translator in Europe can survive with those rates. Their hourly production is on average 250 words, so their rate per hour would be 5 euros, before tax. A professional working legally pays at least 25 percent tax. Therefore, if he or she accepts a 2 Eurocent offer, the remaining hourly salary is 3.75 euros per hour. Exciting isn't it?
Other threats to the profession :
  • The opening, via large unselective platforms, of the market to non professionals looking for extra cash, creating unfair competition.
  • Poor selection by recruiters who only seek profit, hiring non native "translators" desperate for money. A translator normally translates into their native language, and has one or two, three max language pairs. More than that would be highly suspicious.
  • CV and identity theft, by agencies or scammers. They offer a job to the translators and ask for their CV, which they forward to the client to win the contract. Then, they hire someone much cheaper (and often incompetent).
  • Non payers, late payments (a lot of "reputable" agencies pay 45 to 60 days after reception of the translation), ignoring completely the following directive : DIRECTIVE 2011/7/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
    of 16 February 2011, according to which the minimum interest in case of late payments (> 30 days) is EUR 40.00."
It is only with the cooperation of translation buyers willing to ackowledge the importance and value of quality translations, and ready to pay them for what they're worth that this beautiful profession can be salvaged. 
The translation market, despite its apparent health and growth, is actually collapsing, while with it, language, intellectual rigor, and overall quality of communication are endangered.