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Pay to receive work?
Autor da sequência: Thayenga

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Alemanha
Local time: 22:40
Membro (2009)
Inglês para Alemão
+ ...
Jun 17

Today I saw a very interesting job post, a call for subtitle translators who where to receive lots of work from this intended long-term collaboration. Since this sounded very promising I read on until I reached the requirements.

In order to work with this agency, the translator must buy or lease a particular subtitling software. The licence costs only USD 420.00 per year.

I can't pinpoint why this raises a flag, since the owner is well settled in various types of enterprises, also having worked in sales.

So I am very interested in your thoughts.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 21:40
Membro (2014)
Japonês para Inglês
It could be genuine Jun 17

Thayenga wrote:
So I am very interested in your thoughts.

The problem is the stability of the revenue flow. About a year or so ago I was approached by an agency I had never heard of to work on automotive texts. The workflow was complicated and required - and this was a dealbreaker for them - a specific CAT tool, which is mandated by the end client. No other tools permitted.

I mulled it over, and looked into the agency's background. I came to the conclusion that the conditions were onerous enough that they would discourage/constitute a barrier to entry to other translators, which is presumably why this agency was having difficulty finding freelancers. They were desperate. So it seemed to me that, if I could stick it out, competition would be limited. Eventually I decided to go ahead and give it a try. The CAT tool costs about €500 a year, but initially I bought a short-term licence for much less than that.

Looking back, it has been a mutually beneficial collaboration. The workflow took a while to get used to and was the cause of much irritation. The work is very specialized, often challenging and sometimes boring, but frequently educational. Jobs last hours rather than days. The personnel are professional and decent but there is no feedback. It is hard to tell (because I bill on a different basis) but it is probably not as lucrative as work from my major clients, so I use this line of business to fill the time between other projects. Some months I'm too busy to take on more than a few projects for them.

Nevertheless, if I make a determined effort to snatch the projects that come along on a daily basis I can usually generate €1500 or more in monthly revenue from this client. Compared to that, the annual cost of the software that is required to do the job is peanuts. So in my case there was a genuine reason for the client mandating the use of specific software, and the flows of business have been good, but I had to take that initial leap of faith based on the composite impression I received from the people I talked to before signing up.

As far as I can see, you're in similar circumstances. The question in your case is whether, once you have invested in this software, the flow of work will be strong enough and consistent enough to generate a good return on that investment. That is where the risk lies and this where you have to take a view.

Regards,
Dan


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
República Checa
Local time: 22:40
Russo para Inglês
+ ...
It may well be genuine, unless there is a conflict of interest Jun 17

If it's the prospective client itself that wants to sell you the software, then it's obviusly unfair. On the other hand, if the software comes from a different vendor, I would ask the prospective client to confirm they are neither affiliated with the vendor nor receive any commission on sales of this software. If they don't balk at confirming it, they are as legitimate as the next guy.

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:40
Francês para Inglês
Valid point Jun 17

Anton Konashenok wrote:

If it's the prospective client itself that wants to sell you the software, then it's obviusly unfair. On the other hand, if the software comes from a different vendor, I would ask the prospective client to confirm they are neither affiliated with the vendor nor receive any commission on sales of this software. If they don't balk at confirming it, they are as legitimate as the next guy.



I agree. If the client is selling the software, that's fishy. If they are looking for a competent translator with the specific software, then as Dan points out, then it may be worth thinking about. The risk is obvious: that the client goes elsewhere anyway and that you've invested for nothing. If you think you may be able to use it with other clients, then it may be more than worth it!


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 04:40
Membro
Chinês para Inglês
+ ...
Specific software Jun 18

If a company needs me to use specific software, at least one of three things need to be true:

1. They're providing the software
2. There's something specific and concrete that they're offering - e.g. here's a 10,000 word project for Nowhere Travelers and here's the PO if you say yes. No promises of ongoing work.
3. I've worked with the company for some time and know them to be legitimate


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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos da América
Local time: 16:40
Membro (2003)
Japonês para Inglês
+ ...
pay to receive work Jun 18

A few years ago I received a request for translation from a company in Mexico City. The catch was that (1) I had to buy their proprietary software; (2) had to pay them for training on their software; and (3) had pay them royalties each and every time I used their software.
I'm sure you can imagine what my response was.


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DZiW
Ucrânia
Inglês para Russo
+ ...
Mitigation Jun 18

Mr Hui is talking for if a company requires some *special* software, they should provide it on special terms (e.g. a floating license with generous deductions and on account of future payments).

I did work in private "inner" networks and with "custom" software, which was rather clumsy and irritating, yet challenging. The point is modern pieces of software are both tightly adjusted to specific needs and hardwired to a dedicated server--provide a client's frontend only, what renders it less than useless for other projects.

That's why I always attempt to assess and balance costs and risks)


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Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Letónia
Local time: 23:40
Membro (2014)
Alemão para Inglês
+ ...
In my book, Jun 18

Thayenga wrote:

Today I saw a very interesting job post, a call for subtitle translators who where to receive lots of work from this intended long-term collaboration. Since this sounded very promising I read on until I reached the requirements.

In order to work with this agency, the translator must buy or lease a particular subtitling software. The licence costs only USD 420.00 per year.

I can't pinpoint why this raises a flag, since the owner is well settled in various types of enterprises, also having worked in sales.

So I am very interested in your thoughts.


it's Russian roulette with 5 bullets and 4 chances of losing and only 1 chance of winning. "Receive lots of work" most likely shall be translated as "you will never hear from us again".

[Edited at 2017-06-18 10:44 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-06-18 16:33 GMT]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos da América
Local time: 16:40
Membro (2003)
Espanhol para Inglês
+ ...
Seems like a big gamble Jun 18

While I can appreciate that in Dan's case such a gamble paid off, I tend to agree with Maija here: it seems like a big layout of cash to ask of the translator for a tool that can only be used with the agency requiring the purchase, and with no guarantee of return on investment.

I personally don't think it would be out of place for Thayenga to propose an arrangement whereby the agency fronts the money for the license in question and then credits half the amount of each of her initial invoices toward the purchase until the full amount is paid.

After all, $840.00 dollars doesn't amount to a lot of work, and if the agency balks at such an arrangement, that would for me be a big red flag.

[Edited at 2017-06-18 15:33 GMT]


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 21:40
Membro (2014)
Japonês para Inglês
More upfront investment Jun 18

Robert Forstag wrote:
While I can appreciate that in Dan's case such a gamble paid off

It was as you say a gamble, and I was fortunate in that the software vendor offers quite granular licences, so the initial investment was, I think, something like €90.

If I had been asked to pony up €500 in advance just to get the work, I would not have taken the risk.

In Thayenga's case the circumstances appear a bit less promising - unless the software can be used for other clients?

Dan


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Itália
Local time: 22:40
Membro
Inglês para Italiano
+ ...
Free trial Jun 18

Thayenga wrote:

In order to work with this agency, the translator must buy or lease a particular subtitling software. The licence costs only USD 420.00 per year.


No free trial?


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
França
Local time: 22:40
Membro (2014)
Francês para Alemão
+ ...
My thoughts Jun 19

If the customer himself sells the software, I'd refuse.

Otherwise I'd might get it but would probably propose them a contract which makes the agency agree on taking you a certain amount of work with that software during that year.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Alemanha
Local time: 22:40
Membro (2009)
Inglês para Alemão
+ ...
Autor do assunto
A gamble indeed Jun 19

My dear colleagues,

thank you for your valuable input.

I've checked into that agency and discovered that the owner has extensive experience in sales. So I am wondering whether this might be a conflict of interest.

As most of you had recommended, I will contact the agency and inquire about shared costs for the tool, e. g. they pay for it and then deduct installments from what they owe me for the work I will do for them. And if they don't respond or in a negative way, then my interest in working with them will vanish.

They do offer a free 7-days' trial of the tool, but I believe that by the time the first project will arrive, those 7 days will be over.

Best,

Thayenga


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Tailândia
Local time: 03:40
Partial member (2004)
Inglês para Tailandês
+ ...
Not customary Jun 19

Many clients provided me with jobs and new software free of charge.
I understand it is customary to offer the software package the client wants us to work with.

Dr. Soonthon Lupkitaro
Bangkok, Thailand


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Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Gana
Local time: 20:40
Japonês para Inglês
Wait and see Jun 20

Thayenga wrote:

They do offer a free 7-days' trial of the tool, but I believe that by the time the first project will arrive, those 7 days will be over.

This can be easily resolved by waiting till a PO arrives before downloading and activating the software. If you finish the first project and have no problems with the software and the agency AND the agency gives you more work, THEN you can spend money on the program.


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