I’ve posted several times that there’s a lively discussion going on around TM ownership. This discussion exists mainly because agencies claim ownership to a TM when it’s the translator who purchased the CAT tool, learned how to use it, and generated the TM. Actually, they don’t claim ownership, but they request that translators send the TM, or ask for discounts based on TM matches after analyzing the file for a new project. These requests spark discussions on TM ownership. (I’ve already explained what TM matches are in my post called Understanding Translation Memory, so I won’t explain it again.)
Agencies usually design their website for the end client. Some agencies will teach their end clients what TM is and state that the TM belongs to the end client, so they should claim it. The end client usually doesn’t know what TM is even after they receive it and don’t know what to do with it. Agencies do this to gain more clients, but translators don’t like agencies that do this. Until the courts decide who owns TM, the fight for ownership of TM between agencies and translators will continue.
Until the courts decide who owns TM, the fight for ownership of TM between agencies and translators will continue. Click To Tweet
Some people ask me what it means when agencies request discounts based on TM matches and how they should respond. Agencies usually ask, “Do you offer CAT tool discounts?” First of all, the wording in that question is incorrect. It makes it sound as if the translator sells or buys CAT tools, creating more confusion. The correct phrase is “TM match discounts”. But there’s not much I can do if they all refer to it as “CAT tool discounts”. So I just end up using that same phrase.
Below, I’ve listed a few things to consider when you receive such a request.
1. First of all, I want you to know that not all agencies request this. Thus, if there’s an agency that asks you to provide your rate, you can give your basic rate (base rate, minimum charge, hourly charge, rush fee, etc.) without the CAT tool discount. There’s no need to offer a CAT tool discount first when they haven’t asked you for it.
There’s no need to offer a CAT tool discount first when they haven’t asked you for it. Click To Tweet
2. There’s no right answer for whether you should offer discounts or how much of a discount you should provide. You should decide on this based on your preferences, opinions, and strategy because this is a business decision for a master contract between you and a specific client. You will use this master contract to engage in continuous business translations. No one will say anything if you don’t provide discounts at all. If they don’t like the fact that you don’t offer discounts, they’ll just go to another translator. It’s also up to you to decide how much of a discount you want to provide.
3. Even if you decide to offer a discount, there’s no need to offer a large discount from the beginning. You’ll regret it if you do. Even a small discount will probably allow you to provide much lower rates than other translators. Try a small margin first, and if the agency requests a bigger discount, you can reject them or provide a greater discount then. You can even offer a greater discount if they agree to a higher base rate.
4. Some people ask me what other translators are offering, but I don’t know the answer to that either. That’s a business secret of the freelance translator or agency, so there’s no data available for it. I don’t have a set CAT tool discount rate. I keep changing mine based on my mood and how much I like an agency. I looked up my CAT tool discount rates for a specific agency, and this was my rate chart:
- Repetitions: 50%
- 100% matches: 50%
- 95% – 99% matches: 40%
- 85% – 94% matches: 35%
- 75% – 84% matches: 30%
- Below 75%: no discount
I don’t remember if I offered the same discount to other agencies. I don’t think so. And I’m not interested in finding out, because my discounts probably aren’t that different from agency to agency. There’s no need to provide a discount chart exactly like that. You can try this chart:
- Repetitions and 100% matches: 60%
- 95% – 99% matches: 50%
- Below 95%: no discount
However, I’m not sure if providing discounts is a wise decision either. It’s probably not… Maybe I should contact this agency to adjust my discount rates…