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Different translation agencies have different policies regarding translation memories (TM). For some of them, the translation memory belongs to the client, and for others, the translation memory only belongs to them.

Certain agencies will always deliver TMs using the TMX format to their clients, at the end of a project. Others will send it for free, but only upon request. Others still, add the TM on the bill or simply do not accept the idea of sending the TM to the client!

Why all these differences?

CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools allowing the use of translation memories have been around for a while, and if the original goal was to help translators produce consistent translations, it soon became apparent that these tools could also save money for those who know how to use them.

One of the first CAT tools on the market required each translator to buy his or her own license to be able to use it. It’s true that the translators had to make a big personal investment, but it’s also worth noting that a CAT tool can help those translators gain time and money without any repercussions for the translation agency or for the final client.

Very quickly a large number of translators started working with these tools and it became a requirement to have CAT tool know-how if you wanted to work with a translation agency, as well as accepting lower rates for repetitions when it came to large projects.

These days, the translator doesn’t have to buy his or her own license. Programs like MemoQ allow agencies to buy project-based licenses for translators. So they just download the tool and use the license provided by the agency as needed.

Consequences for the TM? As the license for the tool belongs to the translation agency, the TM associated with a project also belongs to it, and the agency can choose whether to add costs or not when delivering the TM to the client.

The issue we’re raising is that many agencies work with these tools without informing their clients. Why is that a problem? This opacity detracts competition because these agencies can propose very advantageous rates to their clients thanks to a comprehensive TM, rates that other translation agencies can’t match right from the start.

What is the solution?

Two solutions exist:

  • Here at TradOnline we believe you have the right to ask for your TM, as it belongs to you.
  • If your translation agency doesn’t agree to provide it to you (for free or otherwise), we can still try to recreate it by aligning your files, and thereby applying better rates from the start.

To conclude: don’t feel trapped by your translation agency. If you’re not 100% satisfied, we can help you change that, and the rates won’t be scary!