Charlie Bavington

French to English Freelance Translator - I.T. specialist

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November 7th, 2010 | Categories: agencies, business

(Posted on Sunday 7 Mov 2010, written on Friday 5 Nov 2010)

The saga rumbles on, as Quarter 3 results came out on Nov 4, and it does not make for joyful reading if you are with Lionbridge, looking at the news from Yahoo! and their own announcement.

They mention currency losses, to be fair. The share price has taken a pounding. I would only expect more cost-cutting and revenue-raising measures. And assuming they eschew the route of asking their customers to pay more, I think we can all see where this is leading. Indeed, since I guess the senior execs would have had this info available some days before it was made public, I think we can now see the cause behind the 5% email (see previous post). They have also announced another scheme to squeeze money out of their suppliers, of which more some other time.

As I have always said, they are free to make such decisions as far as I am concerned, subject to the contractual arrangements being crystal clear (i.e. for anyone taking on work from 1 Nov. the new rate is explicitly stated in the offer/purchase order, which is then explicitly accepted by the translator) rather than there just being some reference to, say, a rate “as per the general T&C” (or something similar) being the rate that has just been unilaterally reduced and notified in the “no reply” email. In other words, subject to what what English law (inter alia) refers to as a new “offer and acceptance”. I don’t like it, but fully respect their right to do it.

I think it would have been easier to swallow if they had waited until the day after Q3 results were announced, and then just said “In the wake of yesterday’s annoucement re: Q3 results [with link to same], we have to ask you for a 5% rate reduction”. It would have been more straightforward and more honest. Slightly tougher administratively, perhaps, losing the convenience of new rates applying from the first of the month, and starting on a Monday to boot (I’m sure the computers are up to it; I’m thinking of the staff). But there would have been less webrage and discussion and rebuttal of some of the statements used to ‘justify’ the “no reply” email, such as all that hard work demonstrating their exchange rate losses were probably only 2%.

They are unlikely to win any popularity contests no matter what. But how much (extra) damage to reputation has been done by all this? And how much extra attention drawn to their underwhelming Q3 figures? How many translators who might have sucked up an imposed rate decrease have been given pause and decided not to work with Lionbridge in future, or minimise their involvement? How many translators who would have remained oblivious to the financial news are now aware that all in the garden is not rosy, and just as importantly, how many of their clients?

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