New survey by JR Dias on Translator scammers

November 2014

Joao Roque Dias' survey shows us there is a new trend of scams emerging, endangering further the translation industry. 
These people seem hard to pin down. However they MUST be reported to the Translator Scammers Directory website as well as to the authorities.


Joao has communicated the results of his survey during the recent ATA Conference in Chicago and the conclusions are staggering.

It is now available here:



Anonymous: Conyac's test policy

Here is how Conyac makes even more profits on their innocent and oh so naïve "translators":
"Dear Translation Ethics:

I read your article on Conyac with great interest.

I would like to remain anonymous, but you will find below the description of what Coyac calls "level test." 6026 characters for free.

In addition to this, they have other features such as "contests," which pay little or nothing.

In a recent contest, the "winner" was awarded the privilege of translating 29701 characters for 400 US dollars.

The level test will now begin. Please make sure to submit the results before the time limit expires.

【Test flow】
Begin the test → Submit a translation within the time limit → Conyac grading process and feedback → Results notification

【Rules for taking the test】
  • The number of characters is 6026.The time limit will be 15 hours.
  • Once you begin the test you cannot cancel it.
  • There is a “save as draft” button during the test. You may edit the contents as much as you like within the time limit.
  • If you do not submit a translation before the time limit, regardless of the amount completed, this will result in a fail.
  • The result of the test will be sent within approximately one week to the email address you have registered on Conyac.
  • There is no limit to the amount of times you may take the test, however it is necessary to wait one month from the day of your previous test results in order to retest.
【Please take note】
  • If it has been determined that you have cheated during the test, there is a chance your account will be deleted.
  • In accordance with NDA, test contents are strictly prohibited from leaking to the outside.
  • Submitted translation results may be reused by Conyac without notification.
  • Please understand we cannot reveal any details regarding the grading process or criteria for passing.

I think this speaks for itself. Still fancy joining Conyac?  
I personally call that a scam.
It's true that once you let the cat in, there is no limits to the damage it can come up with. So how about shutting the door to this annoying cat?


Step by step method to stop low rates and end the agency epidemy

The solution is quite simple. The problem is that it's long term. And long term thinking is not so hot right now. Hence the mess we are in. But here is the solution anyway. It consists mainly of being an actor for change, by:

- Refusing the offer in a logorrhea of insults.
- Patiently reminding people that the appropriate rate is 3 times that.
- Ratting on your incompetent 'monkey colleagues' who are stealing your jobs by accepting peanuts and who should have chosen another career path, and thereby getting them off the pro market where they obviously don't belong.
- Speaking up about agencies who are parasiting the sector and making skilled and talented peeps an endangered species almost as cute as the panda;
- Talking directly to the often stingy but always 'innocent' end client to let him know where his money goes. Not in the right pocket that is.
- Group suing non paying agencies+blacklisting and trashing them. Go for it, don't be shy. They do really really deserve it after all.
- Stop being selfish, individualistic and greedy if you can.
- Stop using Proz and Tc. Don't give them your money, don't participate in demeaning downwards auctions. Don't use their crappy Blue board to find agencies.
- Meet you local fellow translators in person, create regional local coops of freelancers where everyone's identity, diplomas and tax are verified and where local promotion is done collectively.
- Ask your representing professional organization for stronger international legal regulations to finally protect this profession.

If everyone sets out to respect most of the above (number one mainly) translation as a skilled profession will survive and we'll all double our incomes within a couple of years. We will then be able to live half the year in Bora Bora, drink daiquiris under coconut trees while raising families of ten. It does not seem that impossible after all. See you there in 2 years.


Dangerously embarrassing liaisons

Despite all the negative publicity, some of the worst companies featured on my Blacklist are still going. Why oh why??  
Because there are always big translation companies looking for subcontracting. When they are overwhelmed by projects, who are they gonna call? No not you, freelancer. Let me give you a few hints:

It's a moldovan company, which has inspired a few of my posts.
It is known for being an unprofessional and unscrupulous agency pretending to have offices all over the world.
It pays 2 cents a word, provides low quality translations and paying peanuts (more details in my previous article). 
Its managers and staff barely express themselves in the tongue of Shakespeare which makes it hard to believe they call themselves languages professionals.
To remedy to the negative buzz it brought upon itself, this agency choses the cheapest option: threatening translators and bloggers who talk about their dodgy ways (but for some reason, these threats are not exactly taken seriously)...
They don't have the excuse to be located in Chindia but would rather die than admit they are based in Moldova either.

In short, they could well be the worst translation agency ever. 
Haven't guessed yet? Ok I'll tell you then. It's Travod.

Travod has some friends in the business, whom they can lean on : 

These friends are the same bunch of TRANSLATION SWEATSHOPS everyone is complaining about that is:

The Big Word, Transperfect, Translate Plus
Along with some agencies I've never heard about (maybe you have?): RWS, MCIS, Fox Service Czech,  Bio Doc, Alpha Translations, CCJK, PTSGI...

So if you are a translation buyer paying let's say 15 cents to transperfect for what you expect to be a 'perfect' translation (15 cents a word is not enough for a 'perfect' translation, it's not bad but not great either). Well there is a pretty good chance the 'translator' they hire is in fact someone paid 2 cents a word, 4 to 10 times less than a pro. God knows who does the job, but expect it to be worst than what google translate gives you.

Here is how Travod approaches its clients, promising no more than bottom feeder quality and prices, and 40 percent discount for big projects. I let you do the maths.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rita Gould <rita.g@travod.com>
Date: 16 July 2014 22:49
Subject: Translation rates and discounts - TRAVOD Int. UK

Dear Sir/Madame,

I am sending you an email with the details of our company to see if there is any way we can become a strategic partner in translations. 

We specialize in language translations for agencies, with experts for all the industries and languages on the market. With 3 offices opened in the US, Hong Kong and the UK we work for more than 400 agencies all over the world - translating in all languages mostly. So, whenever you get big and urgent projects hard to complete or you don't have a specialist to translate for a specific industry or language, you could assign the whole translation project to us (translation+editing+proofreading + DTP if needed). 

I can send you few names of some of our biggest customers that outsource with us - The Big Word, Transperfect, Translate Plus, RWS, MCIS, Fox Service Czech,  Bio Doc, Alpha Translations, CCJK, PTSGI etc etc

Attached you can see our regular rates, for your consideration, but of course I am opened to give you discounts up to 40% for larger projects and long-term partnerships that definitely should make you happy working with us :)

Looking forward to hearing back from you!

Rita GouldSales Manager
T: +13473541821
E: rita.g@travod.com
W: www.travod.com

Note: Certificates and reference letters proving the experience available upon request. Translators ready to start immediately if necessary, TRADOS or other related software available.

And talking about maths if you wonder how much they charge to their client, here it is (way too low and that's suppose to feed everyone):

Top pay: French, Icelandic, Swedish, Irish, English, Japanese, Dutch, German: 0.10 USD (basic) 0.11 (medium), 0.12 (Hard). 
The proofreading is extra : 0.05, 0.055, 0.06
Small tasks : 7 USD (0-50 words), 14 USD (50 to 100 words)

All other languages: take off one cent

Basically, when they pay you 0.02 USD, they keep 0,08 for themselves. Nice margin for doing nothing isn't it? Then Transperfect resells your translation and makes another 0.05 or more. That's quite probably what happens.

To view the price list contact Translation Ethics at translationethics@gmail.com

Guest post : Low Paying Agencies by S. Caller

Guest post, July 22d, 2014

Low Paying Agencies – bad for translators, even worse for their clients

by Steven Caller

The website you are currently browsing, aptly named Translation Ethics, promotes the fair pay of translators and other ethical considerations in the translation industry. As an owner of a translation company myself, I am only too aware of the stiff competition we face on a daily basis from translation firms claiming to offer a similar service to ours for a fraction of the price. If you thought this practice was bad for low-paid translators then you'd be right; and it's no better for their clients either.

When I refer to low-paid translators, I am of course talking about those that have the necessary qualifications but still find themselves over-exploited by greedy firms seeking to push down prices. I am fully aware that many firms, even ones you may have considered respectable, like to select under-qualified translators and pay them low rates. A translator must have a language degree as a minimum and be a proficient user of their native language; a professional translator should only ever translate into their native tongue. You should also have been asked to show a scan of your degree certificate or had your qualifications verified by your awarding institution.

Low pay, high output
So how can one firm undercut another by so much and why should clients care about how much an agency pays its translators when they're getting such a “good” deal? The truth of the matter is that even a professional translator can be pushed into rushing or performing at less than their best when asked to work for a low rate per word. The equation is incredibly simple: lower price per word equals more words per hour in order to maintain an acceptable hourly wage. This in turn equates to lower diligence and poorer quality work. When working for various agencies, I have seen evidence of machine translations being passed off as the work of a human, possibly by translators that have been pushed into translating too many words for too low a price. That brings me on to the second part of this equation: the words translated per hour. In many instances, an agency sets a target or expectation that they wish their translators to achieve on a daily basis which is, of course, entirely unreasonable.

I can imagine many translators reading this post and nodding their head in agreement or shared experience, however I would also like to leave an impression on those clients that pay for budget translations. The quality produced under such circumstances is simply unacceptable. The majority of professional translators will tell you that they have been asked to perform a translation for a client who has already had the same document translated, only to a very low standard. In essence, if you opt for a budget translation, you are not only financing the poor treatment and low payment of translators, but also wasting your money. I hasten to add that many translation clients only realise that they have been separated from their money in exchange for a poor service once they receive complaints from their own clients struggling to understand the translation produced.

What strikes me as simply absurd, is the fact that many large firms happily spend many thousands of pounds on product development and marketing materials yet seem to tighten the purse strings when looking for translation services. The translation community can sincerely hope that the new EU legislation on product documentation will sting a few of these firms.

How translation should be done
So what should you expect from a translation agency in order to perform an acceptable translation and how much should you expect to pay? Firstly, they will assign a project manager to each client personally who is qualified in the languages involved and capable of performing quality control. You should expect to pay at least £0.10 per source word for translation and this price should include monolingual proofreading and quality control. You should also expect to pay an additional 50% of this price if you require the translation to be reviewed by a second qualified translator. This price accurately represents all of the work an agency must carry out in order to provide a professional translation and pay their translators accordingly. If you are paying less than £0.08 per source word, the agency will be working at a tight squeeze and may be skipping important tasks. Anything less than this is likely to involve underpayment, or worse, non-payment.

Low prices, even lower quality
So there you have it. If you opt for a budget translation option, you may be funding the underpayment of highly-qualified professionals as well as sabotaging your public image. Either way, low-cost translation simply isn't worth the pennies you pay for it.

Moreover, the thought that large and seemingly reputable companies are contributing to the unfair treatment and low payment of highly-qualified professionals should be of deep concern to us all. In this light, I commend the efforts made by the Translation Ethics website and all those that have contributed to its blacklist. By bringing the issues represented by this website to the attention of those large firms seeking to cut costs regardless of the consequences, we can collectively ensure that their reputation will be damaged by their involvement in such practices, and rightfully so!

This post has been contributed by Steven Caller who is Managing Director at Verto Languages. Our policy of treating our translators with respect and paying them a reasonable rate is part of our promise to clients and is a contributing factor in the quality of our work. 



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.


Business tips for translators #1: CV vs Service offer


This week, our guest Alain Marsol is giving a few tips on freelancing for translators, focusing on how to approach clients and collaborators in a professional manner, showcase your skills and protect your business and reputation (Part 1)

A native speaker of French with a background in computer science, Alain Marsol has been developing his skills according to his desires and goals by working and providing services in computer programming, information systems design, corporate communications, marketing, copywriting, and translation.
Besides his activity as a translator, Alain has created the Guerrilla Marketing for Translators group on LinkedIn, where language professionals can find ideas and advice to do better business, and ask questions to solve specific marketing issues.

TE: Many job offers ask for a CV. You defend the idea that sending a CV to clients is a wrong business approach. Can you explain why and what do you suggest as an alternative?

AM: A classic CV (or résumé) as we know it is a document used by job seekers all over the world, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, when you are a freelance translator, you are not looking for a job, but you offer solutions to the translation needs of your clients in a business-to-business environment. Because of this difference, even though you have a good CV, it is not the right tool to use. Even more so on today’s translation market, where many so-called ‘agencies’ are in fact translation brokers who will use every trick to fleece business-unaware translators. And when you are a freelancer, using your CV alone sends a clear signal about your lack of business awareness.

What you need is another slightly different type of document that I call a ‘service offer’.

As its name tells, your service offer focuses on the services you offer to your clients and present all the key information your client needs to know about what you can do for them. No more, no less. Typically, your headline will tell what you do, you will list your source and target languages, services, areas of expertise, professional organizations and affiliations, and you will briefly address your readers to explain them why they should chose you over your competitors. All this in one single page.
Typically, your headline will tell what you do, you will list your source and target languages, services, areas of expertise, professional organizations and affiliations, and you will briefly address your readers to explain them why they should chose you over your competitors. All this in one single page.

Have a look at what it could look like: http://textworks.biz/files/service_offer/Service_Offer_SAMPLE.pdf

Besides your service offer, it is also essential to send a few other documents. I’m thinking of your terms of service, your portfolio, and your fee schedule, the latter being sent to agencies only.

TE: What is the crucial info to feature in your terms of service and at which stage do you give them to your clients? Some translators are afraid it might scare off customers if it comes with the introduction package.

AM: According to the normal rules of business, the provider sets the rules, not the client. A translator’s ‘terms of service’ document is used for that purpose. Many people will argue that the terms of service are a general document, but my view is a bit different: on mine, I always make clear who is the translator, and who is the client, then I set the rules under which I am happy to work. Within one page, I address matters such as copyright, confidentiality, amendments made once the work has begun, cancellation, translator’s liability, payment, and credit limit granted to the client.

The terms of service are best given at the very beginning of your business relationship, along with your service offer and other documents.

A terms of service document will very likely scare off any potentially problematic client or translation broker, especially the ones who have the intention to take advantage of you from the very moment they meet you. Unfortunately, there are lots of them on the market nowadays, so you may have the impression that the ‘terms of service’ document is pretty much counter-productive. This is not true. I have clients (both end clients and agency clients) who have accepted my terms, and with whom I have excellent business relationships. Typically, my terms of service allow me to filter out nine potential bad payers before meeting one such client.

You can work without terms of service, but you have to be prepared to the possibility of losing your time and your nerves in hunting bad payers, sometimes end up working for no money, and even worse, miss better opportunities.

TE: What about the fee schedule? Why is it for agency clients only?

AM: Once you have given your price to agency clients for a first assignment, and more often than not under the pressure to give your ‘best price’, most of them apply it to anything they will ask you to do in the future. Since different types of documents require different types of skills and effort, and may need different amounts of time to be handled, it is necessary to let your agency clients know that every extra service you provide besides standard translation has a price, and make it clear from the very beginning. In the ‘extra service’ category, I include tricky formats, formats that require not so common technical knowledge, as well as weekend and rush jobs.

Agencies are clients who typically ask you to quote by a quantitative unit (word, character, line, or page) and often in ‘blind mode’. In such a context, your fee schedule helps you not to be tricked into doing difficult and time-consuming jobs for some other service’s (low) price.

With end clients, it is better to quote by project (even if you may do your own word or character-based math in the background), so you do not need a fee schedule, but you definitely need a portfolio.

TE: Do you judge useful to add credentials on your introduction (professional organizations and affiliations, blogs, coops).

AM: Credentials are always good, as long as they are related to your offer. If you are a member of a national translators association, or a member of a professional organization related to one of your fields of expertise, this is something worth mentioning. If you are writing a blog about topics related to your fields of expertise, let your prospects know. But if you have an activity or hobby in a field that is far away from your offer, it is better to avoid advertising it, because it would only weaken your message.

Always keep in mind that a professional translator is always strongly focused on one specialty field or a few of them. The more focused you are, the more prospects will trust your expertise.

TE: What memberships would you recommend to translators starting their career?

AM: Once you have some experience as a professional translator (one year at least), it may be a good thing to become a member of one of the national translators’ associations of the country where your business is based (for example, the SFT in France, the ITI or the CIOL in the UK), or if there is no such association, an international association such as the IAPTI. Being a member of such an association will give more weight to your service offer, especially when dealing with potential end clients. 
At the beginning of one’s career, lack of experience is the (normal) issue. To start gaining this necessary experience, you will typically do some voluntary (unpaid) translation work, for non-profit organizations and/or for a cause close to your heart, which is a good first step to start training your language skills in a professional context, and you will also do paid work for translations agencies. Both types of opportunities will be found on portals such as ProZ, TranslatorsCafé, or TraduGuide.

It is important to keep in mind that bidding on these portals should remain a temporary activity, because the process of bidding itself harms the whole profession in the long run.

Ideally, you would bid a little at the beginning, see which of these portals works the best for you, and possibly purchase a paid membership on this portal in order to make it work for you later.

Let me explain through my own experience: I found my first regular client after answering a job post on TraduGuide, where I had a basic (free) membership, but this is the only ‘catch’ I ever had there. My (free) profile on TC never yielded any result, and I purchased a paying membership on ProZ after a few months of basic membership. Seven years later, I rarely bid on jobsnever at a low feeand my profile attracts a few new clients every year.

Your own experience may be different. The important idea to remember is that translation portals must only be a way to gain some experience at the beginning, and not a system in which you remain trapped, because there is a lot of competition over there, and most of the time, it’s not a fair one.