Friday, February 20, 2015

Stacking the Deck

Watch Out for Translation Companies That “Stack the Deck”

Several years ago a large translation company, which we won’t name, acquired smaller niche translation companies to basically buy a rolodex of their clients. However, said company, acquired these smaller competitors but maintained the individual identity of that company – name, logo, web site. The client roster of that company saw no change. And unless you had somehow been made aware the acquisition happened you wouldn’t have known any different. And things all seemed the same, at first…
Now the twist. All of these acquired companies were now operating under the umbrella of the larger company and began to bid on the same RFPs as if they were all separate entities. Doing this in order to “stack the deck” to ensure one of them would get the work.

In one case, 10 shortlisted translation providers were asked to bid and 5 were operating under the umbrella company. Yes, half of the bidders were technically all part of one main organization. This defeated the purpose of even using an RFP because the client’s main goal was to deviate from the using the umbrella company to begin with.
Now you might feel that this “stacking the deck” is an unethical way of doing business. And we couldn’t agree more. When the larger company bought the smaller ones, they implemented a different set of business practices which then affected the quality and delivery of the translations to their core customers. So the acquired companies actually started to lose their base clients. This umbrella company is known to use sub-par linguists for translation and skip on proofing and checking the final deliverables, which was not normal practice before the umbrella company took over.

On the vendor side, translators are actually boycotting this umbrella company because of low pay, ridiculous turnaround and the splitting of work between too many translators to meet unrealistic deliveries. However, these same translators were still working for the acquired companies. But, word was quick to spread and so has this boycott.
Now it seems that other translation companies, rather than taking a stand, have decided to fight fire with fire and are engaging in the same practices of acquiring or merging and maintaining a separate identity. Confluent has been approached on several occasions because we are known in the industry for quality work and have long time client retention rate of 97%. But, we refuse to sacrifice our ethics and commitment to our clients and will not sell out to these larger companies and destroy the confidence our clients have in us.

So, when choosing a translation service, it helps to do some homework. There are many types of translation agencies: single-language, multiple-language, full-service, ISO certified, etc. And all of the companies should be able to explain their translation procedures. A quick internet search can also tell you if they are actually part of any larger organizations as well. That way you know who you are dealing with and can avoid companies that are not on a level playing field.

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