Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Personal Response to Lionbridge VP Didier Hélin’s Unilateral Demand of a 5% Discount


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a translation company of a goodly size must be in want of a discount from its freelance workforce. 
(Jane Austen) 

Another truth is that the bigger they are, the less you want to work for them.
(Cicero)
As if to confirm the wisdom of the classics, last Friday afternoon, as I was wrapping up my work week, I abruptly received the following email from someone called Didier Hélin, Vice President of World Wide Vendor & Supply Chain Management at Lionbridge, a rather large translation company (although not as large, perhaps, as that title). I transcribe it in its entirety:
Dear Miguel Llorens,

The global economic downturn of 2008 and 2009 affected all of us. Together, as translation partners, we weathered this challenging and uncertain economic environment and demonstrated our value to clients worldwide. Today, while some economies are showing some signs of improvement, the overall demand environment remains fragile and volatile:

·         This week, The Economist commented that “industrial production in the USA fell by 0.2% in September, the first decline in more than a year”;
·         In October alone, the US Dollar lost 6% of its value against the Euro. Year-to-date the US Dollar also lost 6% of its value against the Japanese Yen;
·         Most economists predict little or no growth in Europe and Japan for 2011.

In today’s uncertain economic environment customers expect all of us to deliver “more for less”. To remain competitive, we are all demanding more from ourselves to meet these challenges.

Against the backdrop of this negative economic context, effective November 1, 2010 through January 1, 2011 we require all our partners to provide a 5% discount on all Lionbridge projects. This discount is independent of any other agreements we may have in place with you.

Lionbridge is not taking this step lightly and understands the effort it represents. Please keep in mind the following points:

·         In most markets, Lionbridge bears the full burden and risk associated with exchange-rate fluctuations; as a USD denominated company this means we have effectively seen our outsourcing costs rise by approximately 6% in the last month alone;
·         Lionbridge continues to put tremendous effort into securing new and existing customers and markets, effectively providing for our and YOUR future revenue streams;
·         To meet customer demands, Lionbridge has taken extraordinary steps to reduce its fixed costs and we will continue to do so. We ask our partners to do the same.

In closing, I want to reiterate Lionbridge’s commitment to increasing market demand for translation services by providing the industry’s most innovative, efficient and high-quality services that enable clients to extend their global reach. As our translation partner, your success is tightly aligned with our success. I want to personally thank you for the services you are providing to Lionbridge during these challenging times and I look forward to extending our partnership in 2011 and beyond.

Thank you,
Didier
________________________________
Didier Hélin
Vice President
World Wide Vendor & Supply Chain Management
Lionbridge
1050 Winter Street
Waltham, MA  02451
www.lionbridge.com
Wow, right? The first thing I must highlight is the fact that Monsieur Hélin was classy enough to send this mass email from a dummy address that shows upon my sender tab as: “pmagyar_listsender@lionbridge.com

(The absence of Didier Hélin’s personal email address is indeed odd, since we are apparently on a first name and last name basis and “our success is tightly aligned.” However, a little googling allowed me to dig up Didier Hélin’s email: Didier.Helin@lionbridge.com. And his telephone number: 1 781 434 6000. Obviously, it is not a direct line, but I’m sure someone will patch you through. So if you want to reply to him personally, I am sure he is just waiting for your feedback.)

Dear Didier Hélin,

First of all, let me compliment you on the detail of addressing me as “Dear Miguel Llorens.” This in no way connotes that you simply made a mail merge from a database of thousands of people. It seems you were unable to figure out how to include just first names. So in addition to thrifty, you are really skillful with them newfangled contraptions, Didier Hélin.

Second of all, I must inform you that I do not work for Lionbridge. 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. I distinctly remember the experience of getting a project request with twelve of thirteen pages of incomprehensible instructions. I subsequently opened the accompanying Excel file and was faced with an impenetrable wall of characters that did not resemble any human language I speak.

Seriously, Didier Hélin, I’m a smart dude. I went to college. I read a lot. And I’m experienced. But I swear to God that getting that Excel file from your project manager was a little like getting a message from aliens. On one hand, you are glad that there is non-human intelligence out there, but, on the other, since you can’t crack the code, you don’t know if it’s a Christmas card or an ultimatum prior to an invasion by the pod people.

So that was the end of my cooperation with Lionbridge. The hilarious thing is that your company is so… alternatively enabled, shall we say, is that I still get these absurd project proposals periodically from Lionbridge PMs asking me to test-drive a rhinoceros for an hour or measure the acidity of my running water. I ignore them, the same way a creationist paleontologist ignores the fossils that periodically fall on his head.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that your company exists. Indeed, I believe that you exist, Didier Hélin, in all your Euro-American glory, your Boston red Sox cap and can-do, gung-ho, go get’em attitude.
No, I ignore Lionbridge not because I doubt your existence. I ignore you because I simply do not want to work for you. And it’s not just low rates. It is mostly the robotic nature of your company. Your project managers appear to speak English, but, regardless of nationality, they just behave in an incomprehensible manner. They still pitch me projects years after I informed the company I didn’t want to work for it. They send me purchase orders I never open for projects I never accepted, and then email frantically several days afterward screaming: “Where are the files!!!?” The amazing thing is no one ever picks up a phone to confirm whether I died. It’s like the 21st century version of the final scene of Is Paris Burning?

You email is indicative of this same, inimitable Lionbridge style. It’s not just the robo-email. Not just the dummy address. It’s the entire drive-by nature of your message: “Welcome to Losertown! Population: You! And if you want a rebuttal, I’ll see you in the funnies!”
Although it is a little more than that. The content of your email, as another unfortunate recipient of your flaming bag of dog refuse has very calmly explained, is just as flawed (see the response here).
You see, Didier Hélin, in addition to being the front man for a not-very-efficient and not-well-liked corporate hierarchy, you’re also not very smart. And transparently, almost delightfully, so.
You cite, in the scintillating prose of the douchy middle manager, the fragility of the “overall demand environment”.

And to support your claim, you proceed to cite the following factoid: 

This week, The Economist commented that “industrial production in the USA fell by 0.2% in September, the first decline in more than a year”;
Oh… MY… GOD!!!! Industrial production fell 0.2% in September! “I think we’re going to have to wake up the president for this one, Didier Hélin.”

I mean, Jesus Christ, industrial production fell 0.2%! Do you know what that means?

It means that if this goes on, within 500 months there will be no industrial production at all!!!!

But that is 41.6 years from now, Didier Hélin.

If we’re both still around by then, by all means, I will be more than glad to give Lionbridge a 5% discount as we scavenge around the ruins of civilization for a can of sardines and a non-radioactive reservoir of fresh water.

In the mean time, however, please refrain from sending me any further messages.
Happy Halloween.

Your translation partner,

Miguel Llorens

Miguel Llorens is a freelance financial translator based in Madrid who works from Spanish into English. He is specialized in equity research, economics, accounting, and investment strategy. He has worked as a translator for Goldman Sachs, the US Government's Open Source Center and H.B.O. International, as well as many small-and-medium-sized brokerages and asset management companies operating in SpainTo contact him, visit his website and write to the address listed there. Feel free to join his LinkedIn network or to follow him on Twitter.

59 comments:

Tom said...

You made my day!

Financial Translator said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Tom. Cheers

Susanne Heizmann said...

Hi Miguel,
Thank you, thank you, thank you! You made my day, and your post is absolutely delightful to read. Must I mention that I, too, received this request from M. Hélin? I even merited it by keeping it in my inbox, for further laughs, rather than expediting it into the dustbin at once.
Yours,
Susanne

Mikhail said...

Hi Miguel, thanks for a hilarious post!

Let me point out or rather repeat after http://workingathometranslatormum.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/discounts-required/ that a 0.2% decline in more than a year means that production has actually been *rising* the rest of the year, and thus Year To Date production is most likely higher than last year's comparable figures.

Anyway - rock on, dude!

Financial Translator said...

@Mikhail Yes, translatormum is correct. A 0.2% decline is even less dramatic when the backdrop is a year-long rise. Yet another reason to praise the communication skills of the Lionbridge team. Cheers.

Uldis Liepkalns said...

Hi Miguel,

thank you, you made my day!

I too replied to him, ( http://preview.tinyurl.com/33vlfm6 ), but your response
made me literally ROFL :D

María Eugenia Wachtendorff said...

Congrats, Miguel!

I cannot find the words to express my appreciation for your wonderful reply to Didier Hélin.

The few agencies in my client portfolio are doing fine, and none of my clients, including a few well-known agencies, have asked me to lower my fees, which, by the way, I plan to raise as of January 1, 2011.

Kind regards,

María Eugenia

Financial Translator said...

@María Eugenia Congratulations for weathering the "economic slowdown" so well and thanks for the comment.

The best thing for the freelancer is to not rely to much on the large multinational outsourcers. Direct and small clients know you and appreciate your value.

Financial Translator said...

@Uldis Thanks for the commnent. Love to hear that this cheered someone up! Rgds

Deus Ex tbw said...

Didier's well behind the times. If I remember rightly, when the original Credit Crunch hit Britain a certain LSP sent out a similar spam ultimatum demanding a rates reduction from its suppliers, albeit without the comedy stylings, of something like 10%. Shockingly, this prompted angry responses from suppliers who'd reduced their rates only weeks earlier. Simultaneously, the LSP decided that they could preserve their staff's remaining morale by banning the use of the word 'recession', removing the free newspapers usually provided in the lobby to avoid exposing them to negative messages, 'innoculating' them against 'whine fever', cutting down on staff travel to reduce costs and forcing all pay decisions to go via the board with a business case.

Pilar Bayle said...

Boy! I laughed so hard my sides are aching. Thank you for you clear message and that lesson of vocabulary.

Financial Translator said...

Thank you, Pilar. I love your website. Minimalist but elegant.

Ariadna said...

Wow! Brilliant, absolutely, absolutely great! Thank you, you made my day too.
I was thinking if I should get into this LB thing and here we are, I got the same mail. Funny thing is, our "partnership" is at rate discussion stage so I was puzzled to receive a robot mail "requiring" a discount.
They think they have idiots all round or what? I don't know how silly one has to be to believe this is an efficient way of running a business.
The sad thing is as long as they have cheap translators working for them, they stay afloat and can come up with even more absurd ideas that RUIN translation industry.

Suzanne said...

Thanks, Miguel. You are a funny, funny man. "Flaming bag of dog refuse." I ask you! Since I sent Lionbridge my information a few months ago, they have badgered and badgered me to buy their translation package so that I can work for them. What are they, the company store? Not gonna happen. Sad that I'm rarely translating these days, because of the poorly run companies. Hire "translators" for dirt, then ask me to edit their work, and get incensed that it took me several hours? Sounds like your problem, pal, not mine.

Financial Translator said...

Hi Ariadna,
I am not a financial analyst, but I saw their press release covering their quarterly figures and it was less than inspiring. They are making money, but nothing to write home about. Not surprising, considering the quality of their management (on show) and my hypothesis about how they treat clients (somewhat similar to the way they manage translators). Anyway, good luck and drive a hard bargain all the way.

Financial Translator said...

Hi Suzanne,
Thx for your comment. The translation market is huge. Despite their apparent size, Lionbridge and its brethren only control a small slice of it: servicing large corporations. And in that arena the translator cannot compete. However, the medium and small business is the freelancer's natural environment. That is where our efforts should focus.

And yes, Lionbridge's bid to force you to subscribe to their program in order to receive work is simply obscene. At least Didier Hèlin spices up his horror show with a little humor. But that is fodder for another day.

Carol Alfaro said...

Thanks Miguel, for a great time reading this. This is clever and hilarious, and above all so true! So many translators are so terrified to ever miss a work opportunity no matter how ridiculous it is, that they fall easily for this type of terrorizing message. In fact, the only terrifying aspect that the Vice President of World Wide Vendor & Supply Chain Management forgot to mention is that we'll all be out of work within 5 years because all translation will be made by computers - unless you work for Lionbridge maybe?
;-)

Maria Eugênia Farré said...

So funny!
And spot on, I still get emails from Lionbridge years after telling them to have my name deleted from their database. I guess they want me not to forget how much I hate them.

Andy Bell said...

Excellent posting Miguel - I thought it was hilarious. Does this justify inventing the word "Crowdscorning"?

Financial Translator said...

Perhaps "crowdscorning" might be apt for describing an arrogant mistake so severe that your message on social media is totally marginalized by the sheer wall of protest from disgruntled providers. And the surprising fact is that most of the irate respondents don't even work for Lionbridge. The level of protest has more to do with the carelessness with which the whole unpleasant affair was conducted.

alicia agnese said...

Miguel
Excelente, brillante, espectacular, sensacional y todos los otros calificativos sinónimos de los anteriores. Has expresado con altura, clase y tremenda elocuencia todo lo que siento y pienso respecto de estos pedidos (que por lo general son telefónicos!)
Nunca he trabajado para Lionbridge y hace mucho ya que no lo hago para las grandes agencias cuyos dueños, carentes ya de conocimientos lingüísticos (si alguna vez los tuvieron) pero llenos de seudoaptitudes comerciales o empresariales (por así describirlo en forma rápida y escueta) se esconden tras sus PM y sólo dan la cara para exigir (demand @#$%&*!!) descuentos y sacrificios a quienes les permiten seguir existiendo como empresa.
Gracias!

PD. My apologies to any non-Spanish speaker... I just realized that I switched to Spanish for my reply! I can translate it free of charge if you ask me to do so! :-)

Sergio said...

Apparently The Economist does not read Lionbridge's corporate reports:
http://www.lionbridge.com/lionbridge/en-US/company/news/lionbridge-reports-highest-quarterly-profit-in-its-history-2010Q2-earnings.htm

Dominique Jonkers said...

For those of you who'd like to share their thoughts with Didier Hélin directly, here are his contact details, found on www.gala-global.org


Name: Didier Hélin
E-mail: Didier.Helin@lionbridge.com
Telephone: 1 781 434 6000
Website: www.lionbridge.com

English-Russian Translator said...

So many people speak about this today that it makes me think it was just a marketing move, not a good one though. I see translators' revolution is coming (:

Uldis Liepkalns said...

Hi Miguel,

thank you, you made my day!

I too replied to him, ( http://preview.tinyurl.com/33vlfm6 ), but your response
made me literally ROFL :D

Uldis

Raffaella said...

I've never (deliberately) worked for Lionbridge. I've been laughing for the past 15 minutes - I shared this on my FB profile, hope you don't mind. A big THANK YOU!!!

mmw said...

What a great reply! We're on the other side. We're a smaller translation firm that is competing against them with one of our large clients. One of my arguments was all along going to be that we choose the best linguists for their projects and in doing so, we align it with our core value of "Respect for our Linguists" - we pay a fair wage and do not barter. It is also part of our social corporate responsibility platform. It amazes me that the client still thinks they can get quality with using an LSP that sets translation prices, forces a proprietary tool and then charges for the translator to use a tool - why aren't more of you suing them for unemployment or benefits??? They have crossed the line of Independent Contractor vs. Employee!

céline said...

Brilliant. You have one more fan.

Dmitry said...

Thank you for the hilarious on-the-spot reply to those guys! I was first at a loss when i saw this lolcraft email from l10n handed in to a l10n subcontractor i used to work for - it made me fear i'd lose my job over hating it so much. Now i don't fear over it. I'm a little sad for my former boss because he is a good bloke, but there is no way l10n should be able to screw translators over. Translation is a hard living, and i am no partner to anyone who deals this thing ever again. Sorry, l10n, i just can't accept the pot you are selling! It is bad for overall pot and... "it's bad for ya"

Arvids Baranovs said...

Well, at least the whole Lionbridge thing woke up some humor in this somewhat boringly-geeky industry :)

Financial Translator said...

Thank you, Céline. You are too kind. But I prefer friends. People like Didier Hélin have fans.

Financial Translator said...

Ah, you see. Geekiness and humor are not mutually exclusive. I believe that they are actually mutually reinforcing.

Financial Translator said...

Hi, Dmitry. It's incredible how far-ranging this email was. Didier Hélin truly has a worldwide reach! Sorry to hear about the subcontractor, but the world truly is a very large place. It is possible to wean yourself off the Death Star agencies.

Milena said...

Wow! Thank you all of you translators for standing up against such despicable treatment. Here in Washington State, USA, interpreters have been dealing with such companies for way too long. We finally unionized in 2010 under the Interpreters United/WFSE banner. It is quite the story. You should visit their website.
Lionbridge is the provider for Microsoft translations. That must be a juicy contract. And it is the exclusive provider of interpreters for ICE (the immigration department in the USA). Due to their low rates,appalling working conditions and the Gestapo nature of ICE, they have a hard time attracting court certified interpreters. Accordingly, anything goes. Thought you needed to know.
On the other hand Washington State sports a handful (less than 5) of really good language agencies who of course are very small, do a decent job and are quite nice to work for. These companies must compete against sleazy big companies. I find this very unfair. And quality always suffers. And the consumer is oblivious. Maybe we should come up with our own rating for language agencies, the Michelin Guide for language agencies.
Stand firm! Boycotting works. We have done it here in WA.

Ines PP said...

I am SO glad to hear all these reactions... I thought that we translators and localizers were an atomized industry, but it seems that we can agree about what it really matters.

I also see translators' revolution is coming, even in Facebook there is this "NO PEANUTS movement"

http://www.facebook.com/NoPeanutsMovement

They say "As trained professionals, translators deserve a living wage for their work. If you are NOT a monkey, stop working for peanuts!"

I have posted your letter in this group, I hope you don't mind. If you do, please tell me and I will delete it immediately!

Congratulations and thank you very much to all of you for defending our rights and dignity so well!

Financial Translator said...

Thank you, Inés, for your message and the link. Go ahead and post away. There is no better compliment for a blogger than to reach a wider audience. Organizing translators can certainly be a challenge because of the atomization you describe, but it is certainly not impossible. Cheers and thanks for the repost.

Financial Translator said...

Thank you, Milena, for your message. Here is the link for the Washington State union mentioned in her feedback: http://interpretersunited.wfse.org/.

Milena said...

http://www.lionbridge.com/lionbridge/en-US/company/news/lionbridge-reports-highest-quarterly-profit-in-its-history-2010Q2-earnings.htm

Year-on-Year Revenue and Profit Expansion Reflects Strong Sales
Execution and Positive Earnings Conversion

WALTHAM, Mass. - August 4, 2010 - Lionbridge Technologies, Inc.
(Nasdaq: LIOX), today announced revenue and earnings for the second
quarter ended June 30, 2010.

Financial highlights for the second quarter include:

Revenue of $104.9 million, an increase of 7% compared to the second
quarter of 2009.
For the six months ended June 30, 2010, the Company reported revenue
of $205.7 million, an increase of 10% compared to revenue in the first
half of 2009.

Ines PP said...

Hello, Miguel (mi son is also a Miguel)

It looks that you are becoming quite famous thanks to this letter, you have been quoted here http://www.translationtribulations.com/2010/11/dancing-in-lions-den.html.

Cheers!

Claudio Porcellana said...

Hello

I play the devil's advocate:
I understand that you're angry as Liox announced a phenomenal revenue, and at the same time it asked to you a discount, but did you accept without saying a word the tax (Translation Workspace) wrung out by Liox to receive work?
If so why are you so surprised now?

Financial Translator said...

Actually, the Dider Hélin catastrophe is apparently only a brief rest stop for lunch and the loo on the Highway to Hell. The Translation Workspace brouhaha is in many ways just as disturbing. For a more detailed description of the roadtrip with Satan, see this entry on the lively (albeit strictly censored) ProZ.com forum on the issue:

http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/184162-hows_this_for_nerve%3A_major_lsp_will_require_a_5_discount_from_their_translation_partners-page4.html#1616522


This particular company has been squeezing their vendors for concession after concession for the last two years. First, it was their QA tool (Localization ToolBox - LTB) which we were required to run on all jobs from that agency, in order to increase quality. Strangely enough, nobody thought to offer their vendors extra pay for the extra time spent to ensure extra quality.

Next, they demanded a hefty price reduction about a year and a half ago. I suppose it's easy to slash your prices if you can just pass the buck to somebody else, like a freelance translator, but apparently nobody in the company considered that freelance translators don't have subcontractors they can pass the loss to. To us, a price reduction means a salary reduction; it doesn't mean we have to write to our vendors and demand that they take their share of the loss (meaning: that they take the loss) when we dump our prices.

Third step was this spring when payment terms were changed from net 45 to net 60 days (in other words, freelance translators are supposed to act as banks, lending out money - interest-free - to multimillion dollar companies). Right after this came the demand that vendors should pay for the privilege to work for the same multimillion dollar company.

I predicted at the time that if they got away with imposing a "rent" for using their proprietary tool, it would be a matter of months before they were back in our inboxes with demands for even more concessions. Which is why I finally had had enough and refused to buy into this pay-to-work scheme.

As long as they keep getting away with demand after demand, they will keep squeezing their vendors.

Financial Translator said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Financial Translator said...

Actually, the Dider Hélin catastrophe is apparently only a brief rest stop for lunch and the loo on the Highway to Hell. The Translation Workspace brouhaha is in many ways just as disturbing. For a more detailed description of the roadtrip with Satan, see this entry on the lively (albeit strictly censored) ProZ.com forum on the issue:

http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/184162-hows_this_for_nerve%3A_major_lsp_will_require_a_5_discount_from_their_translation_partners-page4.html#1616522


This particular company has been squeezing their vendors for concession after concession for the last two years. First, it was their QA tool (Localization ToolBox - LTB) which we were required to run on all jobs from that agency, in order to increase quality. Strangely enough, nobody thought to offer their vendors extra pay for the extra time spent to ensure extra quality.

Next, they demanded a hefty price reduction about a year and a half ago. I suppose it's easy to slash your prices if you can just pass the buck to somebody else, like a freelance translator, but apparently nobody in the company considered that freelance translators don't have subcontractors they can pass the loss to. To us, a price reduction means a salary reduction; it doesn't mean we have to write to our vendors and demand that they take their share of the loss (meaning: that they take the loss) when we dump our prices.

Third step was this spring when payment terms were changed from net 45 to net 60 days (in other words, freelance translators are supposed to act as banks, lending out money - interest-free - to multimillion dollar companies). Right after this came the demand that vendors should pay for the privilege to work for the same multimillion dollar company.

I predicted at the time that if they got away with imposing a "rent" for using their proprietary tool, it would be a matter of months before they were back in our inboxes with demands for even more concessions. Which is why I finally had had enough and refused to buy into this pay-to-work scheme.

As long as they keep getting away with demand after demand, they will keep squeezing their vendors.

Walter Popp said...

Great, hilarious and to the point. Thanks for your creativity.

The beat goes on.

Best,

Walter

Financial Translator said...

Thanks, Walter. Cheers.

Financial Translator said...

Luckily, we happen to represent a small language group. Here they will have problem to find a qualified translator at all, not to mention one willing to install their CAT, pay for it and then yet pay for job opportunities. In short- as far as Baltic languages are concerned, the diagnosis for Lionbridge is "TOTAL FAIL". Sure, they are welcome to Google translate :D (Just this evening- mind you, it as Sunday here as well as elsewhere) received from 2 different sources even two such translations (originally made by Google, Babelfish or like) into English from God knows which languages with request to translate them further to our languages. For understandable reasons I will not quote my responses here :D (They were polite, sure, but expressing my thoughts on that matter very honestly).

Uldis

Paula said...

A little late to the thread, but I got the e-mail during the ATA conference. Extreme disconnect.
Shortly afterwards, I was contacted for a translation assignment, which I offered to do only if my PO included a statement (countersigned by a certain LB official) that the invoice would not be unilaterally reduced.
The PM tried, but could not get an exception, so I refused. Be kind to the PMs -- they're in the hotseat between angry translators and expectant clients. (I'm not saying give in, just treat them as future fellow freelancers).
My theory is that LB instituted this policy with the knowledge that the PMs would become ineffective -- perfect justification for firing them. Who needs project managers when translators can "self-assign" on a pay-to-play basis?

Financial Translator said...

@Ellen
Thank you, Ellen, for stopping by and leaving a comment (and for getting this entire subject into the public arena).

Actually, the Lionbridge shareholder is, in my view, another victim of the company (albeit less innocent, since he or she can sell at any moment). Check out the company's stock chart over the past ten years and it is enough to make a grown man cry. The real beneficiaries of mediocre management of mediocre companies can be explained by something called the "agency problem" or the "principal-agent problem," but that's a whole 'nother topic.

And, yes, you are right. We cannot single out Lionbridge. It is just an egregious example of a generalized problem that has generated one too many headlines in a matter of days. Indeed, it makes me a little uneasy how I'm getting these underhanded winks and nudges from competitors of Lionbridge who aren't that much better (and you know who you are).

English-Russian Translator said...

The Lion and the Bridge

There was a Lion
The Lion had a Bridge
That lead right to the island
Through which it could be reached.

The lion had a lot of friends
Who filled his life with glee
Until he started charging them
For crossing over sea.

There is a lonely island
Across a lonely bridge
Where lives the lonely lion
Unwilling to be reached.

Edith TAPIA said...

Wonderful answer, Miguel.

Mr Hélin could be interested in the following article: http://uepo.de/2010/10/15/eu-studie-belegt-ubersetzungsbranche-krisenfest/

Sorry, it's in German, but the title roughly means than the translation sector has resisted to the global crisis. And on the same page, you find a link to a very interesting 2009 study, in English, of the European Commission about the language industry. You can read this figure: average annual growth rate of the language industry in Europe (forecast until 2015):10%

Edith

Alan Walsh said...

Hello,

I thought that the initial post was entertaining, but I don't understand the need to stigmatize a translation company that keeps several thousand translators busy full time. Although the tone of the request could have been improved, there is nothing wrong with asking providers to make an effort during difficult times:
=> the announcement preceded the company's Q3 results, which were quite poor. Why refer to the Q2 results, irrelevant at this time?
=> although the company receives revenue in USD and EUR, it outsources mostly in EUR, so the weakening dollar will have a huge impact on its bottom line during Q4
=> large software companies are asking for 10% discounts to all its providers. There is nothing wrong with asking translators that receive work on a regular basis if not full time to temporarily make an effort (this is only a 2 month initiative!). Companies across many other industries are doing the same thing. Lionbridge invests huge amounts to secure business that keeps thousands of translators working.

Granted, the tone of the email could have been improved, but translators can simply choose not to accept the discount...

Financial Translator said...

Hi "Alan,"

I've just replied to your comment in a new post, since I felt it needed a more lengthy reply than was warranted by a comment:
http://traductor-financiero.blogspot.com/2010/11/empire-writes-back-response-to.html

Susanne Schmidt-Wussow said...

Miguel, you made my day! Once again! I'm so glad I never had to deal with those morons. Keep it up! :)

Stefano KaliFire said...

The Lion and the Bridge
by Mykhailo Voloshko, from proz.com:
http://tinyurl.com/2wonvkh

...

There was a Lion
The Lion had a Bridge
That lead right to the island
Through which it could be reached.

The lion had a lot of friends
Who filled his life with glee
Until he started charging them
For crossing over sea.

There is a lonely island
Across a lonely bridge
Where lives the lonely lion
Unwilling to be reached.

Financial Translator said...

Hey, English-Russian. Thanks for the excellent contribution. You know you are an unloved company when people express how crappy you are in iambic quatrains.

Anette Herbert said...

Very well expressed Miguel, and the argumentation on your part really put in to words what so many of us are feeling. I have to tell you that your response to Didier partly fuelled the setting up the Facebook group Dear Lionbridge, I'd rather give my 5 % to...



Keep it up, fellow translators!

All the best to you all,
Anette

Rory C said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aga Gordon said...

Dear Miguel,
Very impressed with your response, more and more fellow translators will firmly refuse such radiculous offers. Also thank you for sharing the knowledge of bad business practices displayed by Lionbridge PM. Let's hope it will be a good lesson not only for them, but also for all those who display such unprofessional behaviour.
Best wishes, Aga

Anonymous said...

Thanks, made my day.
The British company mentioned far up the thread, the one that demanded a 5% or 10% unilateral discount during the recess ... sorry ... downtu ... sorry, under-optimised financial environment a couple of years ago, was the Big Word. I don't touch them any more than I touch Lionbridge. Trying to conduct a sane commercial relationship with these people is like trying to nail jelly to the wall.
Regards,
John Kinory
(kinory[at]appleinter[dot]net)