But doesn’t that just mean you deserve to go out of business?

No Peanuts! could not possibly improve on the articulate, clever, outraged, genuinely fabulous commentary that has been shooting around the web and on Facebook in response to Lionbridge’s recent request demand that its “partners” provide the company with a 5% discount over its already bargain-basement translation rates.

What we can do is stand back and be awed.

And then we can provide a quick archive of some of the best responses, in case Didier Hélin or Lionbridge’s other executives need to be reminded of the reason why what they have done is … let me see if I can find the right word … scummy.

First of all, as Ellen Westenbrink so clearly points out, the statistics used to buck up Didier Hélin’s claims of dour financial times are, not to put too fine a point on it, a pack of lies.

Second of all, Lionbridge’s most recent press releases boasts of record quarterly profits.

No matter how you feel about capitalism, then, what Lionbridge is up to has to rankle. In the end, Hélin is saying something both very simple and profoundly repulsive: “We intend to earn more money next year. The way that’s going to work is that you will earn less.”

But perhaps the most loathsome sentence in Hélin’s email is the one in which he says: “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.”

Translators’ pay is not a “fixed cost” that they can simply reduce as an austerity measure. It’s their income. We do have fixed costs, of course. I call mine “rent,” “groceries,” and “monthly internet charges.”

But let’s assume everything Lionbridge says is true. Let’s assume they really can’t make ends meet these days.

Our question is: If Lionbridge is managed so incompetently that the only possible solution to its alleged financial woes is to cut translators’ pay, doesn’t that mean it should just go out of business? I mean, if I ran my store like that, I’d have to declare bankruptcy.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: If every translator who currently works for Lionbridge refused to translate another discounted word …

Bravo and thanks to the courageous bloggers who are standing up and fighting back. We are inspired by it. And we need it. Especially now.


A Personal Response to Lionbridge VP Didier Helin’s Unilateral Demand of a 5% Discount – Miguel Llorens, Financial Translation blog

Dancing in the lion’s den – Kevin Lossner, Translation Tribulations blog (including links to other articles about the Lionbridge fiasco)

Urgent and Important – Eugenia Tumanova

Discounts Required – Ellen Westenbrink


An anonymous but extremely revealing comment from the ex-project manager of a mega-translation agency.

Lionbridge CEO Rory Cowan Explains Didiergate and the World of Freelancing to Analysts — Miguel Llorens puts his finger on it, yet again! (6 Nov)

The Empire Writes Back: A Response to Lionbridge’s “Alan Walsh” — another brilliant (and hilarious) analysis from Miguel Llorens (11 Nov).

About No Peanuts! for Translators

No Peanuts! supports professional translators & interpreters in demanding & receiving fair pay for their work.
This entry was posted in Resistance. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to But doesn’t that just mean you deserve to go out of business?

  1. John Bunch says:

    If I go into a mechanic’s shop and he boasts that he had a record profit quarter, but he is cutting the money he gives to the mechanics who work on my car, I am going to run for the hills !

  2. Wenjer says:

    But doesn’t that just mean you deserve to go out of business?

    You don’t say it!

    I see some sharks and vultures circling.

  3. Pingback: Comment ne pas parler de Lionbridge cette semaine ?? « Translator in progress

  4. Walter Popp says:

    Thank you for taking this up. This is my reply to dear Didier:

    Dear Didier,

    In reply to your urgent request, I just want to subscribe wholeheartedly to the answer you must have received from our excellent colleague Ellen Westenbrink.

    I may add that your mail is highly detrimental to the image of the language industry as a whole.

    Accordingly, I regret not to be able to give suit to your request. I do hope that most of my better colleagues will react in the same way.

    Best wishes for a quick and thorough correction of your policy,


  5. caraboska says:

    Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. This is all great reason not to take agency work at all 🙂 I have worked for perhaps one agency which treated its translators reasonably well – so that if they found a customer from abroad who was paying higher rates, the surplus would be passed on to the translators… Unfortunately, they no longer do much in my language pair, and I have ended up so specialized that no agency would have jobs in that field anyway 😛

  6. Pingback: A MisTranslation Thanksgiving: Berlin to Waltham : : Translation Guy

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