Oct 312010

At the end of last week, LionBridge sent out an email to their “vendors” (freelance translators) demanding a 5% discount because of the economic climate and currency problems. It hasn’t taken long for people to comment in the blogosphere. Translators are understandably annoyed about this behaviour.

We’ve never been on the books of LionBridge as a vendor, but have received this kind of email from other large translation agencies in the past. What seems to have got on people’s goats about this particular email is…

  1. blatant inaccuracies in the claimed reasons for the demand
  2. the fact that LionBridge has recently reported record quarterly profits

Oops. Not very diplomatic corporate communications there. :no:

So, if the economic situation is still going down the tubes, why is there growth being reported in Europe and the US? If the dollar has depreciated by about 3% against the Euro in October, why does the email say it has gone down by 5%? (You could argue that profit is retrospective and they are projecting forwards, but it doesn’t really wash – I’m just playing attorney-at-law-to-the-fallen-angel :devil: here).

But even disregarding these inaccuracies, the point remains that, as a client, you can request a discount, but vendors are free to say NO. And in this case, I hope they do. Just say no to thugs!

Reference blog link 1
Reference blog link 2
Reference blog link 3 (includes full text of email)

If you haven’t seen this video yet, you’ve got to watch it. It’s really funny…
[stream provider=youtube flv=http%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DLeF7ykpRRc4%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded%23 img=x:/img.youtube.com/vi/LeF7ykpRRc4/0.jpg embed=false share=false width=550 height=310 dock=true controlbar=over bandwidth=high autostart=false /]

  20 Responses to “LionBridge upsets translators with 5% discount demand.”

  1. Good post, very interesting. Funny how the first thing they can think of is saving on their freelancer salaries, the very same people that make their business running, don’t they realize that a happy worker is a good worker?
    I also loved the video by the way!

    • Yes the video is priceless. It was put up on YouTube by Wendell Ricketts as part of the “No Peanuts” campaign. I’m not quite sure where it originally came from, but it’s very cleverly done. Must have been part of some comedy show or something (just guessing).

      “I’ll give you $8.50 today and we’ll make it up on the next one” 😛

  2. I couldn’t have said it better. Actually, I would have not been so polite at all ghghgh

  3. Just a bad marketing move from LB?


    Dear John,

    Thank you for being a Translation Workspace Subscriber! With every release of Translation Workspace and GeoWorkz, we’re committed to bringing you more value with improved translation tools and new ways to grow your business. And because you are a subscriber, you are eligible to participate in our new Job Posting Pilot and receive job posting invitations!

    About the Lionbridge Job Posting Pilot Program:

    On November 1st, Lionbridge launched the job posting pilot program. This program will allow Lionbridge project teams to invite Lionbridge suppliers to express their interest in new work such as translation, proofreading or any other task. The pilot program will be conducted by several Lionbridge offices. In early 2011, the program will expand to include our 30+ offices and 500+ project managers that are responsible for over 20,000 jobs per month.

    The Benefits to You:

    Until now, you may have worked with only a small number of Lionbridge offices, and that will continue. Going forward, you can also be invited to express your interest in jobs from all the Lionbridge offices and project managers. The Job Posting program eliminates the barriers between Lionbridge Project Managers and you – giving you more opportunities to work on new projects!

    Be Prepared for Job Postings:

    In order to take advantage of job postings, please take a moment to make sure your Lionbridge SPP profile is up to date. In particular, make sure that your email address is correct and that your “Translation Workspace Ready” flag is set to “yes”.

    We are really excited to bring you the Job Posting Pilot and look forward to hearing how it benefits you. Please send us your feedback through the “Contact Us” link or phone options on GeoWorkz.com.


    The GeoWorkz and Translation Workspace Team

    Key Facts on Lionbridge
    Job Postings:

    – Based on your qualifications, you may be contacted by Lionbridge project teams from around the world, not just your local office.
    – With over 20,000 jobs each month, you’ll have more opportunities to work with Lionbridge.
    – Receive job posting invitations to your email 24 hours a day, in real time.
    – The new job assignment process means fewer transactions and less overhead.
    – Everything you will need to know will be in the job posting invitation including languages, start date, due date, project size and more.

    • Thanks for that John.

      It looks like they’re trying to “leverage their assets” 😉
      Look where that got the banks 😯

    • Ooops….. I have been bombarded with mails from LB and GeoWorkz, except with translation assignments for more than a year….. After this situation I’d better think it over to stay in their database.


  5. The movie is hilarious.

    If you want to get paid 80% of what clients pay for your translation work, create your profile at ICanLocalize. Maybe not 20,000 jobs per month, but at least you’re making a living from the jobs that you do.

  6. One way to possibly escalate this concern for fairness is to make more powerful stakeholders who will care what this mean for the future of the company.

    Identify all the research analysts that cover LIOX and inform them in a clear and dispassionate tone how this move will very likely cause the best translators to refuse to work with LIOX and result is lower quality for many services provided by LIOX thus resulting in customers leaving and a lower stock price. Remember that these are the guys who publicly quiz the executive management about how things are going every quarter and also write reports to inform interested investors what they think about the company and its future. Here is a start:
    • Vafi, Joeseph of Jeffries & Co
    • Baldry, Richard of Signal Hill Group LLC
    • Hynes, David of Canaccord Genuity
    • Liu, Kevin of B. Riley & Company, Inc.
    • They also have coverage by Friedman Billings, Matrix Research, First Albany and Piper Jaffrey so find the analysts and let them know why you think LIOX has a shaky future
    Identify the Investment Officers at their largest institutional investor firms and inform them why LIOX may be a bad investment and why their stock price is likely to fall, again in a dispassionate and clear way so that they understand that there is a real risk of the stock price collapsing and staying in the gutter.

    This link provides a list of all their largest Institutional Investment holders http://finance.yahoo.com/q/mh?s=LIOX+Major+Holders
    Find their addresses/emails and make sure they hear about this from you and all your best friends who disagree with this policy.

    Write them all an email explaining the role of the translator in the localization supply chain making sure they understand that quality comes from good translators who are likely to work best when they feel fairly compensated. You could also explain how alienating good translators will undermine LIOX quality in the long run. LIOX will probably have a story on how easily translators are replaceable – it is important to explain that like in any other profession, the best translators are not so easily replaced. Give them examples of how bad translators undermine product and services offered by LIOX.

    Then attach a link to all the blogs that explain why this is unfair / bad strategy etc.. There is a good summary of the LIOX Crowdscorning with many links at http://t.co/ArVJtc7 I suggest that an even and considered tone like the one employed by Kevin Lossner will be the most effective way to make your point. Angry people are tiresome and best ignored.

    Make sure that you and a 100 of your best friends send some form of this summary to anybody who is interested in investing in LIOX stock or currently owns a significant amount of LIOX stock.

    Make it clear that this is likely to cause the following:
    • Loss in service and product quality
    • Increasingly lower quality translators working for Lionbridge which will be reflected in their deliverables
    • Imminent and sustained drop in LIOX stock price (i.e. it will be very hard for the stock to rise again)
    • Continued losses as some large customers realize that they have so much ill will that it is going to affect their ability to deliver services and choose to find other suppliers who have better relations with the supply chain
    • Perception of LIOX as a sweatshop which will make many blue chip customers shy away and avoid LIOX as a supplier

    If you do this, I think you will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you have done everything you can to let the authorities know about this. If you are lucky this will even cause Rory and Didier to get a severe hand slapping from the investors and possibly even issue an apology to all the people who received the infamous letter. Even if there are no visible signs of remorse I suspect there will be some back room chats that will make the boys tread much more carefully in future.

    But my real advice to all of you is that you are probably best served by finding new people (SLVs too) to work with, who treat you with more respect and fairness and realize that in this industry quality is accomplished through human partnerships. Working with people who recognize and acknowledge your value always makes for a better life. Right?

    Good Luck.

    • Yes – I agree. There’s been much comment and some very well written and witty posts about this and other LionBridge related issues in the last two weeks. The plain and simple fact remains though. If you want to earn more, you’ve either got to do more work or charge more for what you do – not less. 🙂

  7. […] The other ‘eventful happening’ this month was a hugely popular blog article I wrote about LionBridge. In case you haven’t heard about the 5% discount controversy, the blog post is here. […]

  8. I thought some of those lines sounded familiar and then it twigged …..

    “… because we are expecting a lot of work for you from this client in future.”

    Remember that old line as an excuse for the crappy rate for this job today?

    May St Jerome smile on us all – rgds Michael

  9. Cheeky sods. I’m sure they tried this before a few years ago, or maybe it was Bowne, anyone remember? It was one of the reasons we ditched them after a hugely successful relationship with Berlitz over many years.

  10. […] make money, you need to have that HUGE vision. How long you can make business just by screwing translators? Are you thinking out of the box? Are you really asking what your customers need? Are you really […]

  11. I strongly suspect that Lionbridge’s much vaulted “Job Posting Pilot” will (at least in part) turn out to be a “bidding system” where jobs go to the lowest bidder. So much for commitment to quality…

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