Sometimes They Come Back: Is Eurostreet Seeking Translators or Vu Comprà?

The Eurostreet Società Cooperativa (Via Losana, 13, 13900 – Biella, Italy) is on a new hunting expedition, this time looking for native English speakers it can underpay, undercut, and abuse economically.

Their most recent offer, sent in a mass email blast in February 2013 to Italian>English translators culled from a data dump of the Langit City site, is even more reprehensible than usual.

Because “alle volte ci capita di dover rinunciare a lavori importanti perchè non abbiamo abbastanza traduttori di madrelingua Inglese” (“at times, we have to let important projects go because we have too few native-English-speaking translators”), Eurostreet has made a gigantic sacrifice in order to offer ... wait for it ... 11 lousy Euros per cartella.

But there’s more. On Planet Eurostreet, a cartella is 1500 keystrokes MINUS THE SPACES. And the offer is BEFORE taxes (which, for Italian freelancers, are now up to around 35%). Oh, and yes, you’ll be required to take a free translation test first.

Il Segno di Caino simply cannot understand why Eurostreet is having trouble finding native-English-speaking translators, can you?

Not only have things not changed since Il Segno di Caino wrote about Eurostreet three years ago, they’ve evidently gotten much worse. Eurostreet’s prices have dropped more than a third from the price list they posted in 2010.

How could Eurostreet possibly still be in business? Well, you could write and ask Claudio Ranghino, who is supposedly Eurostreet’s “legal representative” (

When Mr. Ranghino wrote to threaten a lawsuit against the individual who brought Eurostreet’s latest outrageous offer to Il Segno’s attention, however, he promised to sue for “diffamazone” instead of “diffamazione.” So draw your own McConclusions about where he got his McLaw degree.

(Actually, an internet search suggests the probability that Mr. Ranghino isn’t a lawyer at all. In that case, he might like to know that impersonating a lawyer is illegal, whereas calling an offerta al ribasso di merda an offerta al ribasso di merda is not. Meanwhile, if you read Italian and you’re interested in Eurostreet’s extremely inflated opinion of itself, you can find it here in this message offering the agency’s services as language experts to poor, defenseless Italian school children.)

In any case, here’s the answer to the above rhetorical question. Eurostreet keeps its doors open because:

·               a) exactly like other single-celled organisms at the bottom of the food chain, Eurostreet is a perfect fit for customers who don’t mind sifting through mud; and

·               b) self-harming idiots continue to accept Eurostreet's translation rates, though they'd be a tough sell even in a third-world country. Hey, translating for Eurostreet probably beats wandering the piazzas of Italy muttering “Vu comprà?”

Eurostreet clearly has no intention of being ashamed of itself. So let’s shame the translators who work for Eurostreet instead. There’s a word for what they are, and that word is “scabs.”

What’s more, if you are a legitimately qualified Italian>English translator, they and Eurostreet have their grubby hands in your pocket.

Are you angry yet?

_TL: Really, Hermès? $2,050 for a belt, but your interpreters only get $40 bucks an hour?

In the run-up to the big Hermès Craftsmanship Fair at Union Square in San Francisco in the third week of September, the Salt Lake City, Utah-based agency, Translation One, has been prowling the membership directories of such organizations as the American Translation Association and its affiliate, the Northern California Translators Association, in the search for interpreters without an ounce of self-respect.

Here's the offer in full:
Because of the number of interpreters and duration of the event, and because they are doing this throughout the United States, in a lot of different locations, the budget is $40/hr, with a $25 per diem for 5 days (not the first day). Please let me know if you’re available and interested. Please note that the client will not be able to pay for travel or accommodation (some of you maybe live too far or you may your own accommodation near San Francisco ). If you are unavailable for this event, would you have some other interpreters to recommend (we need 7, one for each craftsman)? 

September 19: 6:00pm-8:00pm Opening EventSeptember 20-24: 11:00am - 6:00pm FOC open to public (please note, craftsmen will only be given 30 minutes for lunch).
Translation: They're going to be making an enormous amount of money by hosting these Fairs across the U.S. That means they don't want to miss out on a single penny of possible profit. As a result, they're offering a pay rate that is, as one professional interpreter put it, "laughable, degrading, beyond human decency!!!"

Not to mention that, in San Francisco, a $25/day per diem (not the first day) will get you lunch or supper (but not both) and a BART ticket, and precious little else. Let's not even joke about whether you could get a hotel room for that amount.

Translation One is just the latest of the mega- or "wish-we-could-be-mega" agencies (think TransPerfect and its evil spawn) to expect language professionals to eat ... well, apparently they don't expect us to eat at all.

In this particular case, they're apparently hoping an awful lot of French>English interpreters live right there in San Fran and are going to be willing to hop on MUNI for the unrivaled pleasure of interpreting for seven hours a day (with a half-hour lunch -- though how much do you want to bet interpreters don't even get that?).

So let's see. If you worked the entire event, you could take home (after taxes) ... um, not quite half what it would cost to buy this lovely leather "Collier di Chien" calfskin belt.

For a company as venal as Hermès, this isn't exactly a surprise. What is surprising is that they found an agency willing to serve as their stateside representative in their project of sticking it to interpreters. 

Translation One, in the person of Isabelle Bastian, ought to be ashamed of itself. Write her and tell her so:

As for Hermès and its big-deal Craftsmanship Fair: Why not just take a little stroll out onto Union Square and bring in some of the folks wandering around who don't have roofs over their heads. They'll be glad for the $25 per diem, and they'll probably do better with French than the interpreters you rope in for the insulting amount you're offering.


_TL: Faligi Editore: If the Shoe Fits, You Must Admit

Reposted from the No Peanuts! for Translators blog

Last October, No Peanuts! published an editorial, “There Oughta Be a Law! – Faligi Editore Finds a Whole New Way to Cheat Translators,” in which we criticized this Italian ePublisher for practices that are, let’s just say, “adverse” to the interests of translators and of the profession.
To wit: The requirement that in order to be “selected” by Faligi, translators must pay €160 to take a seminar (called, disingenuously enough, the “Creative Meeting”), which gives them the possibility of being assigned a translation by Faligi which then gives them the possibility of being paid in royalties if a) Faligi accepts and publishes the book and b) the book ever earns any money.
To complicate things, Faligi publishes exclusively in eBook format. Most of their books retail for between €0.99 and €9.99 a copy, which means that a translator earning a 5% royalty on the cover price (nearly unheard of, but let’s dream) wouldn’t be adequately paid for a book length manuscript until somewhere between 6,000 (at the high end) and 60,000 copies (at the low end) had been sold.
Keep in mind that these are not terms negotiated in good faith between translator and publisher: they are the mandatory conditions of the job.
Faligi’s proprietors also insist that, because “we live in a multilingual world,” there’s no need to entrust translations to translators who are native speakers of the target language. That’s why the vast majority of their translators are Italian, translating into every language in the world (including, sometimes, even Italian). Now there’s a guarantee of high-quality literature if ever we’ve heard one.
But we digress.
There Oughta Be a Law! – Faligi Editore Finds a Whole New Way to Cheat Translators” was translated into Italian by our esteemed colleague, Isabella Zani, and posted under the title “Ci Vorrebbe Una Legge! (Il caso Faligi Editore).”
In February, Faligi hired an attorney and sent Ms. Zani a letter threatening her with criminal and civil penalties if she did not remove the post in Italian, which Faligi claimed was “defamatory” and constituted “unfair competition.” (Wait. What? Faligi undercuts professional Italian translators by hiring newbies essentially for free, but “Ci Vorrebbe Una Legge” constitutes unfair competition?) (If you read Italian, you can review this paragon of legal prose here in .pdf format.)
It’s helpful to know, by the way, that truth is not a defense against libel or slander in Italy.
Initially, as we circled the wagons and considered options, we removed the translation, but not the original version in English. Today, because Isabella Zani is not only a crackerjack translator but also an extremely courageous woman who doesn’t appreciate being messed with, we’re fighting back.
Ci Vorrebbe Una Legge! (Il caso Faligi Editore)” is once again online. If you’re interested in all the inside shizzle, you can also read: 1) No Peanuts!’ 7 March 2012 letter to Faligi’s attorneys (in English), written before we’d decided to put the translation back on our blog; and 2) Isabella Zani’s 23 March 2012 letter to Faligi’s attorneys (in Italian) announcing the re-publication of her translation on the No Peanuts! site and making clear her refusal to be intimidated.
Please lend your solidarity to Ms. Zani and to Italian translators who contend on a daily basis with what is perhaps the most unfavorable translation market in Europe. In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted.


_TL: We Get Letters: TransPerfect is Still TransAwful

Since we first wrote about TransPerfect more than three months ago, we’ve heard from numerous translators who have their own stories of horror to tell.

Liz Elting = the Dark Lord of the translation industry?

Well, there's a lot of competition for the title actually....

TransPerfect’s new “strategy” for cheap, quick translations is crowdsourcing (as a translator makes clear in one of the comments below, TransPerfect now breaks up virtually all translations and sends pieces of them to multiple translators at the same time) coupled with a demand that translators provide deep discounts for CAT-tool “matches.”

As a business model, it sounds like utter panic to us. Does anyone actually still think TransPerfect is capable of providing quality translations?

From a July 27, 2010 job offer for English to Spanish (rush – same-day delivery):
I have an new translation job for you for, EN> ES.
2213 words
This is due 7/27 by 8am EST
I could pay $100 for this job.
So: less than $0.05 per word for a rush job (and, of course, TransPerfect will provide a transaltion memory and will insist that fuzzies and 100% matches be discounted or subtracted from the word count).

“How low can we go?” the translator asks. We can't be sure yet, because TransPerfect is still digging.

Another translator tells Il Segno:
[Y]our blog helped me finally make a decision regarding my relationship with TransPerfect....

When I first began working with TransPerfect, it seemed to be a very serious company. Their rates were low, but not as low as many other companies, and within what I considered the "bare minimum" I would be willing to accept.... My first jobs with TransPerfect were smooth ... and I received a check within 30-45 days. I worked with them a few times and was happy with their professionalism.

Unfortunately, much of this has changed. My first negative experience was last fall, when they wanted some help with a huge project they were distributing among translators. I took some files and translated them, I believe, well. A few days later, I received a startling e-mail stating there were some quality issues with my work and to look over the comments of the proofreader. When I looked at the documents, I realized that the majority of the documents with which they had a problem and which they wanted me to review were a)not the files I had translated and b)proofread by someone with no knowledge of the document's subject. TransPerfect wanted me (reduce my invoice) because they had associated my name with files I had not translated and with which an unqualified (for that field) proofreader had issues.

This is when I began to realize there was a problem, especially with distributing files among several translators, getting the assignments confused, and ensuring that the both the translator and the proofreader understood the subject of the translation....

Since this incident, I have noticed many other things that indicate the company's commitment to quality is not what it once may have been. There are many mass e-mails sent asking for availability; sometimes these blast messages seem personalized, but, when you write to give your availability, you receive no reply. The translations being offered are many words in a short amount of time (sometimes only hours), for very little money..... The company continually tries to lower the rates being offered, wants translators to complete impossible translation feats in little time (all jobs seem to be rush jobs now), now requires WordFast for most jobs, and has a habit of splitting jobs (even those that are large but not huge) among translators in order to complete them more quickly, rather than giving one translator a couple of more days to ensure uniformity in the translation....

My biggest complaint with this company is the lack of respect for the translator. Recently, I was sent a mass e-mail about a job. I answered and offered my availability. The project manager responded, sent the files for me to approve, and we had a discussion via e-mail to confirm rate and deadline. Everything seemed agreed upon, so I set aside the time and waited for the Purchase Order, which never arrived. After an hour, I e-mailed the project manager to ask him to send the PO or to let me know if he had given the job to someone else so I could accept other jobs. Two days later, I am still waiting to hear from him. I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but, unfortunately, this is the second time this has happened, with two different project managers, and I am afraid this will mark the end of my association with this company.
And, finally, a former employee offers this insight:
As a former employee, I am in agreement with your article on TransPerfect; however I don't think putting up the names of individual project managers in the comments serves your purpose.

With the exception of Amy DiTrani, none of the others have been there longer than 3 years. They work 12+ hour days and are often called in over the weekend. They are underpaid ($35-$50K in one of the most expensive cities in the world). They themselves are unlikely to make excuses for the company. The sales people undersell the jobs and hand them over to the project managers, who then have to find someone to translate it. They have to meet a stated mark-up of 2.1 (or the sales people get no commission) and an implicit markup of 3.1 (or the project managers get no bonus, which many count on to balance their checkbooks at the end of the quarter). Their profit centers (which is where their bonuses come from) are docked $300 for every faulty PO and other slip-ups.

While it may not seem like it from the outside, most of the project managers who work at TransPerfect are victimized by the company at least as much as the translators. For one, they can't say no or press delete when a new message comes in, asking them to turn 40K words around overnight for a budget that leaves only 4 cents per word. Linking their names to TransPerfect makes it seem like they are the problem, but they are but cogs in the machine.
We have no difficulty believing that TransPerfect treats its sales people and project managers badly, using punishments and “incentives” that sound like a cross between the robotic excesses of 1980s Japanese-style corporate management and the personal charm of Gordon Ramsay (the “F-Word,” indeed). But that doesn’t get them off the hook.

No more “we were just doing our job”; no more “we’re just foot soldiers.” If they have direct experience regarding the rot in TransPerfect’s human and business model, they should stop helping the business exploit translators.

Or, better yet, they need to mount a serious media campaign to let the public know what TransPerfect is, what it stands for, and how it is harming translators and the translation profession.

So we say again, write them and make your position clear:

Liz Elting, CEO: / Amy DiTrani: aditrani@transperfect.comAnne-Claire Lord: / Cristina Farelo: / Hyojin Park: / Jennifer Adie: / Jennifer Bucci: / Michael Petrigliano: / Pearl Leo: / Sara Hutchison: / Sung Ha Lee: / Zachary Eldridge: