Working for a pittance

Mainly for Surfing, really, as she seems to be intrigued about the “weird and wacky world” I work in….

This e-mail pinged into my tray about 2 minutes ago:

Dear colleagues,
We have a file to be done in DE>EN by tomorrow noon (word count 2000+), low budget! Please send your CV to [details deleted to protect the guilty] if you are interested.
[A particular nationality] preferred!
Payment: Via PayPal!

Fabulous, isn’t it? The email arrives after most people have knocked off the weekend.  Not only does the esteemed Project Manager want the translator to churn out a full day’s work before noon GMT tomorrow she is not even going to countenance a living wage let alone the thought of a rush fee or overtime bonus. Having seen this sort of “offer” before, I can imagine how low the trumpeted “low budget” is. (The preferred nationality deleted is one where the cost of living is significantly lower than anywhere in the West). The country in question is approximately 5 hours ahead of the UK so the person who takes this job on (sent at a time when s/he was thinking of hitting the hay) will have to work all night to get it done in time for the GMT deadline set.

My outraged readers will also note that there is no indication of what the job entails… is it perhaps steel production processes or a corporate newsletter or a set of annual accounts or a document dealing with the finer details of cattle breeding?

I shall never know for being a Westerner, I know my modest rates will be too expensive and without any information about the subject area it is just too dangerous to even start negotiating (even if I wanted to).

The sad thing is, there will be some underworked/incompetent/unassertive translator in the country in question who will take the work on thus perpetuating this cycle of jobs being offered for peanuts. (And before you write loads of comments, believe me, the rates will be considered peanuts even in the low cost of living country). Meanwhile, the agency will cream off a healthy profit and the end-client will drift along in his misapprehension that 8-page translations can be churned out in a couple of hours. And don’t start me on issues of quality….

(…partly because I must turn my thoughts back to translating the bathroom catalogue I was doing before being so rudely interrupted!)