Responding to criticisms of Lionbridge, an ex-project manager reveals some startling truths….
I am a former PM from similarly minded gigantic agency (which purchased the small agency I had been working for) that also ruthlessly demands discounts of its vendors while making ever increasing profits. I thought such tactics of negotiating in bad faith and freely lying to its suppliers was uniquely exercised by my former employer, but I can see it has some comrades in arms in Lionbridge. I have no experience with Lionbridge, but I would like to share some insights from the other side from the PM stuck in the middle at such an company that regularly pulls this crap as well.
I remember reading in our vendor database how a large group of Dutch translators had resisted their attempts to work down rates and I remember thinking “Go Dutch translators! Unite!” I can tell you such companies usually treat their employees with equal disregard. And talk of “quality” under such conditions is truly laughable. I have no idea how my former employee got away with it except for the fact that by and large the client has no idea what they are getting.
We regularly had translators say “I asked you long ago to take me out of your database! I will not work for you ever again!”. But of course, the staff was stretched so thin all around that the vendor managers never accomplished this seemingly logical task of cleaning up the vendor database.
We were also asked to get as much for free from our vendors as possible while still charging the client full price. And making translators wade through incomprehensible instructions and perform extra free steps of formatting and sorting through text was par for the course. The agency was gunning to eliminate minimum fees for everyone but themselves. On the whole, I felt it was tantamount to vendor abuse, the Walmart approach of making vendors completely dependent on you by offering them loads of work at tiny prices – “well, you can make a good living if you work at least 18 hours a day!” And then, should the translator have the audacity not to accept another discount? Blacklist them until they learn! Nice way to treat your “partners”, huh? (Our agency always used such inappropriate niceties as well.)
The salespeople promised the clients the moon and the stars without bothering to check how much such things cost at wholesale. They were encourage to separate the cost of the project from the price quoted – and to let the PM manage to work over the vendor so as to still achieve the full mark up price. When I could finally break free, I felt like someone with PTSD. The PM turnover was at least 70% a year and I was one who hung in there way too long. It’s a wonder I stayed in the translation business at all.
I say too: Refuse the discount! Refuse their jobs!
There is actually not an enormous number of translators, especially those with special skill sets who know how to use the technology you use, are talented at their jobs and pleasant to work with. How many times I had my pathetic offers as a PM turned down with the comment “My other clients have no problem paying my full rate”. This has been confirmed now that I am a freelancer myself. My time is worth more than that. My full-price customers keep me quite busy! Why on earth would I ruin my evening/weekend/holiday to give you a rush job at 1/3 of my normal rate? Delete! There is a whole other world of agencies that pay fairly and respect vendors as human beings. I prefer to work with them.
(Anonymous because I know first hand my old company is quite vindictive indeed.)