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Agencies
Thread poster: Henry Hinds

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oct 29, 2007

I very seldom work with agencies, but a recent post caught my eye and I started thinking. This post was "Agencies: Tough application process equals little work?" I have also seen so many others regarding complaints about agency payment policies, non-paying agencies, agencies offering miserable rates, agencies requiring test translations, agencies that never bother to reply, agencies that dock translators for work with errors, and agencies with supposedly unfair practices of all kinds.

However, these are nearly all from translators; I have seen very few posts from agencies.

There are Proz members that are agencies.

To any that are out there, why is your voice silent?


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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
Good point, Henry. Oct 29, 2007

Why aren't the agencies putting in their 2 cents?

Quite a chunk of my work comes through agencies, and most have been (thankfully) good to work with and prompt payers. (I've only had a problem with one.)

I must say my experience regarding those that want you to "jump through hoops" echoes that of previous posters in that the resulting work is minimal if not non-existent.

It will be interesting to hear from them.



Best to all

Paty


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:35
English to French
+ ...
Just won a direct client over from an agency Oct 29, 2007

Without getting into any detail, let's just say that the direct client is one whose documents I translated through an agency client of mine, and they parted. The agency kindly referred the direct client to me. From what I understood, the direct client didn'T like the management of the agency, and the agency didn't like the stressful management of the direct client. I have since completed work for the direct client, and I agree that they are not easy to work with, but the difference in pay makes up tremendously for that.

I think that direct clients, not having much knowledge of our business, think that dealing with agencies makes things easier, whereas it is not always the case. For one thing, if a translator has questions or concerns about the job, communication with the end client is difficult and slow, even when the agency is very professional. This was a lesson to both me, the direct client and the agency.

But I also wonder why agencies don't defend themselves - I guess they don't want to look like the hat of accusations fits them...


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bmann
Local time: 22:35
English
Sorry Oct 29, 2007

I'm not a project manager but I'm a localization specialist at an agency so I probably shouldn't be seen as the "voice" of our agency or all agencies. I do, however, browse and participate in Trados and SDLX user groups on Yahoo and I've seen various complaints about agencies there as well.

Here's my 2 cents - we test translators to qualify them. Our clients review the translations or have them reviewed and can easily see a poor translation. We don't want to give them a product that is not of acceptable quality. If the translation is quality and you deliver on time we will use you more and our client may even request you for every one of their translations.

As far as payment policies, they are stated with each contract offer. If there are any issues with timely payments then we will take care of it.

As far as docking for work with errors, we expect complete and accurate work. If the translation we receive is filled with errors we have to either spend time fixing it or pay someone else to fix it. Often, if it's tag errors, I will be the one that fixes it otherwise it creates problems in the DTP stage. In addition, the time we lose may jeopardize the project.

With that said, please make sure you learn how to use your CAT tools, keep them updated, and proofread your work. We're here to work with you, not against you!

Ben

[Edited at 2007-10-29 02:59]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:35
Member
English to French
Rogue agencies, as well as rogue translators, are not interested in contributing to such threads Oct 29, 2007

They don't much care about what the community thinks of them.
The good ones don't feel concerned about the issues described.
There are many good agencies out there, who handle the sales/marketing/after-sale for you, bring you a steady stream of work and pay on time.

Note that my own definition of a dishonest/bad agency does NOT include those requesting CAT tools and discounts on repetitions/full matches, as long as my hourly revenue is the same or better than without CAT tools and I can work comfortably. I have the feeling that some people in these complaints threads associate CAT tools with poor business practices. Maybe they don't exactly know what they talk about, or they've only had bad experiences with them.

Philippe


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tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 05:35
German
+ ...
What exactly are you expecting? Oct 29, 2007

If somebody reports a bad experience with a particular agency, I don't see why I as an agency owner should voice my opinion.

First of all, I don't know what went on exactly and secondly, we all know that there are a lot of bad translation agencies (and bad translators, mind you) out there.

I have participated in various discussions of agency practices before and will continue to do so, just not in every single one of them.

Benjamin

[Edited at 2007-10-29 13:37]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:35
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The good, the bad, and the ugly Oct 29, 2007

There are agencies of all kinds.

The good ones do truly professional work. They find and select the most adequate translators for each job, provide support, intermediate the discussion of issues between end client and often translators into different languages (e.g. inconsistencies in the original spotted by one, but not by the other translators). These usually pay adequately, considering that their work in coordinating the whole job, sometimes including DTP, video subtitling, and other things is also worth some money.

The bad ones strive to make a quick buck by pimping translators. They try to find people who can wing a translation at rock bottom price, and demand sine qua non the use of CAT tools so they can apply price reductions on matches, as well as eventually automate a very similar job to get it done at almost no cost. Though they boast quality on the web site, all they demand from their vendors is low price.

The ugly ones are not experts in translation. They are experts in erasing their tracks on the web. They get a gig from an unsuspecting client, outsource it to any translator they find, deliver the poor chap's work, get paid, and their whole operation turns into thin air before it's time for the translator to collect their earnings. They are not so price-sensitive, as they have no intention of paying, but their payment terms are usually longer than 30 days, so they'll have plenty of time to vanish.

Before I get misunderstood about CAT tools, unless there are strict terminology issues involved, they should be the translator's choice. It's just like choosing a car with automatic or manual transmission. If the driver is good, the passenger won't feel the difference.

I've seen ads for translating birth certificates, scanned PDFs, handwritten letters, and similar stuff demanding that the translator should "have Trados, or keep out!". Actually one of the best translation agencies I work for says that sometimes WordFast makes a mess on formatting, but they tolerate the use of CAT tools.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:35
English to French
+ ...
I guess you just answered Henry's question Oct 29, 2007

Philippe Etienne wrote:
Rogue agencies, as well as rogue translators, are not interested in contributing to such threads


I only wanted to add that I can micro-manage, but the agency can't. This is where a lot of agency problems are stemming from.

About CAT tools, Philippe Étienne may be right, but in my experience, "wise" agencies first ask for your rate (which by default is the rate that will allow me to be paid $XY per hour), and when you give it to them, they propose their own CAT scheme (which in the end equals $XY - 30% per hour, which is unacceptable). I am not saying they are all like this, I have serious agency clients who do use CAT schemes but they are also being reasonable. I am just saying that many agencies are wielding CAT tools like a sword - and guess who they aim it at?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Rogues Oct 29, 2007

I am sure the rogues are not interested in showing their face here. However, it appears that most Prozians get most of their business from agencies, so from that there must be many good agencies and many good translators out there, otherwise the business would not work.

It's just that I see so many complaints from translators about agencies, and of course some positive comments as well, but I see very little feedback, positive or negative, from agencies.

It would be good to see more comments from the agency point of view.


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Helena Koželj  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 05:35
Member (2006)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Indeed Oct 29, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

There are Proz members that are agencies.





And I just happen to know that there are Proz members that "are" agencies but appear as "freelancers only".
I do not know why exactly, perhaps it's just a way to get some valuable insights


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onanong
Thailand
Local time: 11:35
English to Thai
+ ...
How to get direct client? Oct 30, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

I very seldom work with agencies, but a recent post caught my eye and I started thinking. This post was "Agencies: Tough application process equals little work?" I have also seen so many others regarding complaints about agency payment policies, non-paying agencies, agencies offering miserable rates, agencies requiring test translations, agencies that never bother to reply, agencies that dock translators for work with errors, and agencies with supposedly unfair practices of all kinds.

However, these are nearly all from translators; I have seen very few posts from agencies.

There are Proz members that are agencies.

To any that are out there, why is your voice silent?





I did my work most with agencies, that's true many agencies they're not honest, about agency payment policies, non-paying agencies, i think many translators have the same problem with me, but how to get direct client? any suggestion?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Direct Clients Oct 30, 2007

Onanong, I could not give you much advice there at all. It all depends on your own situation with which I am totally unfamiliar. It does take a lot of networking for sure.

I was able to do it because I started many years ago before the Internet and I live on an international border between the largest English-speaking and the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world (my languages, of course).

Even with all that, it took me 15 years to become independent.

But I can say that being in the proper location can really help. Maybe you can think of where that could be. When people see your face, they will work with you directly.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:35
Italian to English
+ ...
For the record Oct 30, 2007

About 90% of my work comes from agencies. In my experience (which I imagine is nothing out of the ordinary), the number of decent, honest agencies out there far outweighs the rogues. Sure, a lot of them might not pay what I'm willing to accept, but that doesn't make them bad at what they do - we just work at different levels of the market, that's all. I've "shed" a few very good, professional agencies along the way, as I've gained experience and increased my rates out of their price range.

WRT to the "more bureaucracy = less work" theory, I have to say in my experience it's often true. However, one of my major clients got me to jump through hoops before they gave me any work- CVs, their own standardised forms, translation samples (although no translation test), three references to whom they sent a questionnaire asking about my translation skills... so it's not necessarily the case. Or maybe they're just the exception that proves the rule.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:35
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Pareto's Law Oct 30, 2007

Applying Pareto's Law, one could say that 80% of the translation agencies are good, honest enterprises, while 20% of them are rogues.

Conversely, it could be said that 80% of what is voiced about translation agencies as a whole refers to those 20% that make up the "bad" ones.

After all, there isn't much one could tell about a good agency: was hired, did job, got paid. A translator's routine. What could be so interesting to tell other people without breaking a NDA?


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LoyalTrans
Local time: 12:35
English to Chinese
+ ...
cannot agree more Oct 31, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

I am sure the rogues are not interested in showing their face here. However, it appears that most Prozians get most of their business from agencies, so from that there must be many good agencies and many good translators out there, otherwise the business would not work.

It's just that I see so many complaints from translators about agencies, and of course some positive comments as well, but I see very little feedback, positive or negative, from agencies.

It would be good to see more comments from the agency point of view.



That is my feeling too. Where are the agencies? Considering so many negative feedbacks from translators about agencies, whether justified or not, it is weird that no agencies stand out and defend. Or they just don't care?


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