Not enough to feed the monkey and bad manners to boot: A Canadian translator lets loose!

A few days ago, a Montréal-based English-to-French translator came home late at night and checked her email one last time before heading to bed.

Among her messages, she found one from a certain Untel Nigaud asking for a translation of two Word documents totaling 606 words. Deadline: the next day. Payment via PayPal “conditional upon the client’s acceptance of the translation.” The documents were not attached and there was no description of the subject matter. What’s more, the message contained no company name, no street address, no telephone number — only a email address. The rate imposed by Ms. Nigaud was $0.06 US/word.

It happened to be one of those days when a translator just couldn’t take it anymore, and she fired off this priceless message to Ms. Nigaud. Even if you don’t read French, you’ll certainly get the gist of her disdain!


Bonjour Ă  ce tarif lĂ  je peux faire des mĂ©nages, prendre un emploi de secrĂ©taire ou jouir des festivals Ă  MontrĂ©al, Peut-ĂȘtre trouverez-vous un traducteur dĂ©butant ; non merci.

1) On ne travaille pas avec une adresse Ă©lectronique comme seule rĂ©fĂ©rence surtout une adresse gratuite; c’est qui c’est quoi Untel Nigaud???? Du toc?

2) mon Client c’est vous ; votre Client final n’intervient pas dans l’accord entre vous et moi, donc il n’a aucune influence sur la chose.

3) Je n’ai aucune idĂ©e oĂč vous ĂȘtes situĂ©s avec un numĂ©ro de tĂ©lĂ©phone qui permettrait au moins de se prĂ©senter l’un Ă  l’autre.

4) 21h 40 n’est peut-ĂȘtre pas vraiment une heure raisonable pour espĂ©rer une rĂ©ponse pour quelque chose dĂ» demain alors que le texte Ă  traduire n’est mĂȘme pas envoyĂ© pour que j’ai une vague idĂ©e de quoi il retourne. Sujet, est-ce dans mes compĂ©tences ????? Je ne peux mĂȘme pas vous rĂ©pondre Chimie, mĂ©decine, droit, comptabilitĂ© autre????

5) Pourquoi le dollar US alors que nous sommes au Canada? Pourquoi PayPal et des frais alors que nous sommes au Canada et qu’un paiement par chĂšque conviendrait trĂšs bien Ă  tous?

6) En d’autres termes, No Monkey No Peanuts.


Ms. Nigaud, the translator confirms, was “outraged.”

To say nothing of how we feel.


About No Peanuts! for Translators

No Peanuts! supports professional translators & interpreters in demanding & receiving fair pay for their work.
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5 Responses to Not enough to feed the monkey and bad manners to boot: A Canadian translator lets loose!

  1. Magec Borges says:

    Congratulations to that colleague! I donÂŽt think I need to specify which one of them… 😉 And thanks for sharing your experience. Greetings from the Canary Islands

  2. Marco Spinello says:

    Kudos to the translator!
    And both thumbs down so such a rude client.
    Translators are not commodity items — No Monkey No Peanuts!
    Greetings from Amsterdam,

  3. Krzysztof says:

    I received similar e-mail several days ago. It said “My client wants to bid on a …” and as he doesn’t speak Polish she wants me to find requirements of bids, translate it and send. I am a freelance EN>PL translator.
    At first sight I thought: ok. seems to be a long cooperation. The next e mail said: we would pay you 0,04$ for PL>EN. Then, I reckon, EN>PL would be lower. I was really concerned about this proposal, as there was no information about this “lady”. Just her e-mail address, no phone no… I googled her e-mail and there was nothing at all.
    I wrote back and said I’m not available for this project. She mailed me several times since but I ignored it.

  4. Congratulations!!!! Although my French is not good, I could understand her rage and indignation. We must unmask these unscrupulous people! Greetings from Argentina.

  5. Bertrand says:

    Interesting testimony!! I am glad to hear about such situations and mostly to see how colleagues go through these. However, I will like to point out the fact that in my country, LOW RATES proposed by scammers are found on daily basis. It is so common here that I wonder if there is any translator who has not yet been contacted by one of these scammers. I think the problem is much more important as it is not surprising to find a translator being paid this type of rates even by European and American agencies. Personnaly, I think the problem is elsewhere.

    My language combination is English > French. I live in Cameroon. Our country has inherited these two languages fom colonisation. We therefor use them in the same standard as it is in UK and France. However, most agencies will rather get to us because it is cheaper than because we use this languages on daily basis. We even study in both languages here. You will have a French-speaking student going to Anglosaxon universities and institutions and vice versa with no surprise. Just to illustrate that, my colleagues and I are frequently contacted by Indian agencies to translate documents into French. I always wonder how these agencies got these jobs. Often, the translator is informed about the client’s nationality. And you will have an American company subcontracting with an Indian agency to translate a document to be used in Algeria. The Indian agency will then turn to low rates markets in the best case or will do machine translation and send it to us for DTP. I think there should be more direct relation between job providers and translators. Too much intermediaries can only lead to poor results coupled with ridiculous rates. Trust me, many translators are suffering from low rates and scamming because they have no choice than to expose themselves expecting that 1 out of 5 of these types of agencies will pay for the job done.

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