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Client with good and bad blue board entries: what would you do?
Thread poster: Inga Jakobi

Inga Jakobi  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:00
Member (2006)
Chinese to German
+ ...
Oct 31, 2006

Hi there,

I received an inquiry via my profile page. An agency asked me to join their database and do a small test translation. As I am quite new and need clients, I am basically interested in all kinds of collaboration, but in this case I checked the blue board as usual and the opinions there were sort of half to half. Half of the entries said it was a very professional agency, prompt payment and gave 4-5 points. The other half said it was very unprofessional, they never got paid etc. I am not sure about what to do now. Maybe I do the test translation and take a small job when they assign one to me to make my own experience, but I would be interested in what others would do.
Thanks in advance,
Inga


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:00
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Who gave which ratings? Oct 31, 2006

Dear Inga,

You could try and have a look at the persons who gave those ratings: Do you know some of them? How did they rate the agency? Could you contact them and ask them about their personal experiences? Do others who gave ratings look dubious (look at their profile pages), and do negative ratings come from them?
Generally, I tend to weight ratings according to my personal impression of the person that gave that particular rating.
This might give you a better impression than just the figures of positive and negative ratings.

Good luck!
Erik


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Angeliki Papadopoulou  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 20:00
Member (2006)
English to Greek
+ ...
The truth is usually somewhere in the middle Oct 31, 2006

Hi Inga!

Also, there may be various reasons why a collaboration goes wrong, and you must remember that... it takes two to tango!

If you are new to the profession, or the site, you may want to try a small job for them to see how it goes, then you can make up your own mind. I have been translating for 30 years, but I only recently came across this site and have only had one job come my way since last month when I became a member. Fortunately the experience was good - but there is always a risk when you work for someone you don't know. So start small!

I wish you all the best!

Lina

[Edited at 2006-10-31 10:57]


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:00
English to German
+ ...
Tests only for jobs Oct 31, 2006

Did they offer you a job? Then, and only then I'd say, you might consider to do a test translation.

If they just want you in their database, I would not bother.

As someone said in this forum before:

There are agencies that have tests and there are agencies that have work.

I did some test translations when I started working freelance. And though I passed, I never received any work through them!

Regarding the ratings, I look at them the same way Erik described.


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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:00
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Ask for prepayment Oct 31, 2006

Claudia Krysztofiak wrote:
Did they offer you a job? Then, and only then I'd say, you might consider to do a test translation.

If they just want you in their database, I would not bother.

...

I did some test translations when I started working freelance. And though I passed, I never received any work through them!


Very true, Claudia. I have made exactly the same experience with many agencies: I was asked to do a test, received positive feedback, and never heard from them again. Now I tend to be very hesitant when it comes to tests.

On the other hand, if someone wants to gain experience and has some spare time, why not work on the test translation? Afterall it will be another chance for practising, and maybe the agency will offer a real job eventually.

Regarding the BB question, if an agency has some good comments and some bad comments, I'd ask them for prepayment when it comes to the first job. Unless the amount is rather small. In this case, I'd take the risk, do the work and see if they pay the full amount on time.

HTH,
Stefanie


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 20:00
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
I would regards negative feedback more important Oct 31, 2006

Some agencies seem to encourage freelancer to make a positive entry after a small job. If there are more than one recent negative substantiated feedback I surely would be very careful. But it all depends of course who were the freelancers involved.
You might also view mailing lists about agency behaviour.
If you are new making short tests will not be a waste of time, as you get used to researching new subjects.
regards
Heinrich


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:00
French to English
+ ...
when was the negative feedback left? Oct 31, 2006

Sometimes an agency starts well and then gets into financial problems - this will result in initial good feedback and then more recent results will be negative. In such a case, the agency is best avoided unless and until they turn the situation round.

I have found it very useful to contact those who leave negative feedback privately and see what their precise experience has been. You can then tell if these people are serious and if there is real meaning behind the negative feedback.


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Inga Jakobi  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:00
Member (2006)
Chinese to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks so far Oct 31, 2006

Thanks so far everybody,
I found that they have even more bad comments under another outcourcer's name. Maybe I'll cancel the test ...


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Steven Sidore  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:00
Member (2003)
German to English
Don't forget to weight the users Oct 31, 2006

When I see a mixed entry, I tend to weight the entries based on A) ID verified and b) proz membership. The first one in particular is key for me because it shows that the translators involved are not just aliases and that its a reasonable bet that they are serious-minded translators (which isn't the same as good ones, I know). Proz membership tends to then reinforce that, since the monetary commitment is a further filter against non-serious contributors.

So, 4 good entries from non ID-verified and 2 bad ones from ID verified members is a no-go for me, let's say, but the reverse (4 good with ID verified and 2 bad, no ID verified) would probably be worth a look.

Good luck!


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Inga Jakobi  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:00
Member (2006)
Chinese to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
good point! Oct 31, 2006

I'll check about all the users and decide then what to do.

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Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 01:00
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
Many other good agencies out there Oct 31, 2006

Hi Inga,

I agree with Angela. You have to see the date of the entries. Probably the company was doing well in the beginning but got into financial problems and hence the payment issues.

I'm not sure if it is worth it to do a test translation for a company with such mixed BB entries. I was in the same situation once, but with a real job. The client has some really good BB entries and some really bad ones. The job had about 20,000 characters, and I had to reject it. Too much at stake...

There are many other good agencies out there. You don't have to take the risk with this agency.

Take care,
Denyce
PS: See you on Thursday.



[Edited at 2006-10-31 12:36]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:00
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
A note of caution Oct 31, 2006

I would second the points of Steven and Efreitag regarding the need to pay attention to who is saying what. But I think that Heinrich makes the most important point of all regarding the need to pay special attention to negative feedback.

Heinrich correctly points out that many outsourcers ask for feedback after a small job. Most likely, the freelancer asked for such feedback will give a high rating, which points to a general flaw in the Blue Board system: that giving a good rating is often used as a means of courting future work from an outsourcer. This certainly leads to vastly inflated ratings of many outsourcers. I wonder how many agencies that offer mediocre rates and no real project support, and that pay after 58 days, are given ratings of five accompanied by accolades worthy of a love sonnet....

Thus, highly positive ratings are not always based on highly positive experiences. On the other hand, it is my general impression that negative ratings are usually based on truly negative experiences.

So, Inga: Do pay attention to who is saying what, and espcially to those who say negative things--but beware of inflated ratings by hungry freelancers eager for more work.

Bob

[Edited at 2006-10-31 14:57]


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Luciana Capisani  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:00
English to Portuguese
contact translators directly Oct 31, 2006

Hi Inga,

I agree with what was said before, but I would also recommend you contact the translators who gave bad ratings directly. My experience is that these translators are willing to provide detailed information on their problems when their complaints are valid.

I would be VERY CAREFUL with accepting jobs above a minimum value (which will be different for each translator). I am owed 4,000 Euros by a company whom a I worked for in 2004 and got paid then, so up to April 2006 I would have given a good rating on them...but things change, as was noted here.

All the best


Luciana


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IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:00
Member (2005)
French to English
The soundest advice of some very mature contributions Oct 31, 2006

Denyce Seow wrote:

"
o much at stake...

There are many other good agencies out there. You don't have to take the risk with this agency."

I think that makes the best sense among some very interesting and mature views: it's not because a translator is not established yet that he or she has to take whatever comes, regardless of the conditions.

As the French say, "il faut commencer par où on veut finir," in other words, you must start out setting objectives you want to be guided by, and not be deflected from them by the false allure of expediency. The hard work you put into researching your market will pay off in the long run.

With kind regards,
Adam.


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Ana Kardum  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 19:00
German to Croatian
+ ...
Difficult question Oct 31, 2006

Well... I was in the same situation a few times and I still decided to work for some of these agencies with mixed ratings. It turned out that they were not that bad at all...but I cannot, of course, claim that this would apply to every agency.

Steven's advice is very sound. Take into account that translators do not tend to be more sincere than outsourcers themselves. I am generally more suspicious of the 100% positive entries as I had more negative experience with so highly rated agencies that those with mixed marks!? Plus, some translators have entered positive comments about the client long ago and meanwhile, the client turned out not to be reliable, but they are afraid to change that comment...if you know what I mean.

Strange? Maybe, but some outsourcers also complained to me about bad quality translations that were not paid for at all. I guess that is where some of negative translators' comments come from (in case of non-payment).

Contacting a translator directly is a good idea. I have been contacted in this way a few times over proz.com and I have always tried to provide a sincere reply.

In the end, it is up to you to decide, it does not hurt to make a short test if you have time and do not have many clients. I suggest that you do not take very large jobs in the beginning before you are sure that the client is paying.

Good luck!


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