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Looking for feedback - my terms and conditions for test translations
Thread poster: Johan Jongman

Johan Jongman  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 21:20
English to Dutch
+ ...
Sep 6, 2005

Hi all,
What do you all think of my T&Cs for test translations?

TERMS & CONDITIONS FOR FREE-OF-CHARGE TEST TRANSLATIONS

1) Test translations, which are provided free of charge, shall not exceed 500 words in length;
2) The test translation, or any part thereof, will not be sent to your client(s) as part of a 'live' project;
3) If the test translation is successful, you agree to my rate which is currently [insert rates here], or any local-currency equivalents thereof;
4) You will send me the results of the test translation within 10 business days of completion of the test; if the test translation is unsuccessful, you will send me explanation and/or feedback outlining the reason for the failure.

Thanks for any feedback,
Johan Jongman


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
German to English
+ ...
Looking for feedback - my terms and conditions for test translations Sep 6, 2005

Point 3) strikes me as being fairly pointless: you are committing yourself and likewise expecting the agency to commit to a rate for a purely hypothetical job in the future. Since the agency is not obliged to send you any work in the future, even if you do "pass" the "test", and you are not obliged to accept any work from them, there seems little point stipulating a rate, particularly since you have no way of knowing whether it will be suitable for whatever work does appear.

Points 1), 2) and 4) all sound quite reasonable, but ultimately it's a personal decision. I would have to have good reasons for working for free, such as a more immediate prospect of receiving some paid work. But it's up to you.

Marc


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:20
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Looking for feedback - my terms and conditions for test translations Sep 6, 2005

1) 500 words max is too long. 200 words max.
4) this is a bit optimistic, although not unreasonable.

Giovanni


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:20
French to English
How are you going to enforce it? Sep 6, 2005

Johan Jongman wrote:

Hi all,
What do you all think of my T&Cs for test translations?


T & C are all well and good, but what do you do if they break them?

1) Test translations, which are provided free of charge, shall not exceed 500 words in length;


Ok, you can word count that, and just refuse to do it.

2) The test translation, or any part thereof, will not be sent to your client(s) as part of a 'live' project;


How are you going to find out if that happens? What are you gonna do about it exactly, if they DO use it in a 'live' project?

4) You will send me the results of the test translation within 10 business days of completion of the test; if the test translation is unsuccessful, you will send me explanation and/or feedback outlining the reason for the failure.


Once again, what exactly do you propose to do about it if they don't comply? The sad truth is that, as freelancers, I don't think we have much recourse as regards test translations - you either do them, and accept that advantage may be taken and/or you never hear from the agency/client again, or you simply don't do them. I really don't see how you, or any other freelancer, can lay down the law about test translations. At best, you're going to appear slightly obstreperous and aggressive, and you run the risk of being passed over by agencies who just want an easy life. I'd forget it, if I were you


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
German to English
Feedback - forget it Sep 6, 2005

1) 500 words is reasonable, actually; depending on the subject areas and level of expertise required, this may be the right size per subject area, or even per highly specific sub-domain.

2) Definitely.

3) Do not confuse the issue. Price negotiations *follow* successful completion of the test pieces. I think that many customers, faced with such a demand, would probably think twice about sending you test pieces in the first place (it does sound rather arrogant).

4) No. Firstly, the potential customer may not have the resources to turn round the test translation in 10 days, especially if they have to handle dozens of them. Secondly, if the test translations are unsuccessful, nobody's going to risk getting into a long and ultimately pointless argument with a failed candidate. Period. I think that if you include this condition, you're ruling yourself out ex ante; plus, it makes you look pretty argumentative. And it does sort of beg the response "You failed because you're crap". But of course the potential customer could just ignore this condition anyway - it's not as if you have any sort of comeback, is it?

Personally, I'd just stick with 2) only. A good potential customer knows exactly what they're looking for in any case.

Robin


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Steven Sidore  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
Member (2003)
German to English
Can you reconcile that with the points made above? Sep 6, 2005

RobinB wrote:

2) Definitely.
...

Personally, I'd just stick with 2) only. A good potential customer knows exactly what they're looking for in any case.

Robin



Interesting analysis, Robin, since you're on the outsource end, but coming back to the point made above--how do you as a freelancer actually intend to verify such a thing, and what recourse would you have by non-compliance anyway?

I'm curious to hear your reply.

Best,

Steven


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:20
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
feedback in 10 business days? Sep 6, 2005


You will send me the results of the test translation within 10 business days of completion of the test; if the test translation is unsuccessful, you will send me explanation and/or feedback outlining the reason for the failure.


Well, I've never seen that happen yet, normally they could take just 10 days to confirm receipt. Feedback is even less likely to happen... I'd skip this part and let them decide when to give you feedback...

Actually the same goes for your current rate (3), don't put it in writing anywhere!, I usually agree on a rate every time I see a new text from a client, depending of deadline and difficulty...
Some clients take a year or longer to contact you for a job...

Greetings
Ed


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 21:20
English to German
+ ...
100 words test is enough Sep 6, 2005

Hi! Once in a while an old known agency changes it´s concentration and would like to know, whether the standard translators go along with the change. In such a case a free testing is normal. Otherwise an unknown agency ( may have a big profile or a website etc., ) comes overnight and demands 500 words( believe me, the way you are worried to deliver good quality translation, this free test creates some unwanted stress in the mind). In such a case I normally inform that I charge a minimum €25,- (whether it is pre-processing and making the file fit for the translation, which we all normally do, such as loading a new piece of software and reconfiguring your comp.)even for a lesser number of words to be translated say around 100. Beyond which a price discount can be reorganized on the volume. But a totally new agency and free testing is something I do not encourage. Here I normally send parts of (about 10-15 of them) translations from various fields of knowledge for the purpose of quality check or even inform the agency to compress their test in order to reach a 100 word length, so that the minimum charge can be maintained. If you are into cobbler or shoe maker´s or dress maker´s business, you would not do this testing as it costs time, energy and term check, resources and above all all kinds of materials to make it a success.Best regards, Brandis

[Edited at 2005-09-06 14:14]


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Advice from an old hand! Sep 6, 2005

Johan, you are quite right to get your ideas straight, but it's difficult, if not impossible to "crack the whip" with potential customers.
You can refuse to do free tests longer than xxx words. That's your option.
Personally I don't do tests any more because I'm (luckily) always busy with paid work, but even when I have done, it's never been longer than a page (250 words or so) and there are evident reasons for that.
However, all the rest is difficult to put into practice.
I'm very flexible on price because it's not a question of how long the job is, but how long it will take to do it. That gives me leeway to take work that may be prestigious but not well-paid (like books that are interesting and put your name in the credits), but hike up prices for boring, anonymous but vital things like user manuals.
The more rules you make, the more difficult it is to get on people's wavelengths and get them to offer you jobs.
And once the customer has your work - how do you stop them doing what they want with it? Of course, if they infringe a law and you catch them, you can sue - but is it worth it for 250 words?
Remember - you need the customer (probably) more than s/he needs your good self.
Angela


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xxxNicolette Ri
Local time: 21:20
French to Dutch
+ ...
No Sep 6, 2005

How can you state terms & conditions for something that you are doing for free, i.e. that you don't sell? I wouldn't even mention point 2. And this for two reasons: at first, the "test" translations that I receive (and I don't receive very much) make part of the normal workflow of the client and are normal jobs that I can invoice and that are being sold to the end client. And secondly, I think that translators (in general) receive lots of information about their future client if they look how these clients handle thse "tests" (are they looking for the most qualified translator or the cheapest? is project management correct or a mess? are they kind and helpful?). So do tests if you have time, send your general information and prices for this kind of translation with the translated test, and observe what will be happening. Later on you can decide if you accept a translation for this client or not.
Good luck.


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
German to English
Reconciliation Sep 6, 2005

Steven Sidore wrote: Interesting analysis, Robin, since you're on the outsource end, but coming back to the point made above--how do you as a freelancer actually intend to verify such a thing, and what recourse would you have by non-compliance anyway?

I'm curious to hear your reply.


Firstly, of course I'm not just on the outsource end, and we only work together with a very small number of colleagues.

Of course it's difficult to verify that the test translation isn't actually an ongoing translation project. You could certainly ask for a statement to that effect, but the value of such a statement will necessarily be highly subjective. Ultimately, it's going to have to be a trust thing. If the potential client wants test pieces back in a hurry, though, I think that's a warning sign. We always state explicitly that our test pieces are standardised for all applicants, for example. Similarly, we ourselves are now through to the final round of a substantial competitive tender involving one of Europe's most prominent companies. The test pieces (2x G-E, 2x E-G) sent to us before we were invited to tender were explicitly marked as being "old" translations.

I really don't think you can do any more than that, to be honest. I'm acutely aware that there are a lot of crooks out there who rip off translators left, right and centre. The same applies to the "this is a large job and we'll pay you peanuts, but there's more coming down the line sometime later" merchants. OTOH, as far as translators are concerned, there's one born every minute, I think. Never in my life have I come across such a collectively naive bunch of people.... - not that I'd want to generalise, of course


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Johan Jongman  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 21:20
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your comments Sep 6, 2005

Some of you confirmed what I was afraid of: appearing agressive and/or arrogant.

I don't know if you're familiar with Andrei Gerasimov's articles about test translations:

http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/291/1/-Marketing-Your-Translation-Services:-Test-TranslationsTo-Do-or-Not-to-Do?
and
http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/326/1/Test-Translationsan-Update

What I'm trying to achieve with these T & C's is to be able to tell whether doing a particular test piece is likely to lead to fruitful collaboration with the agency in question. Lots of them send out test pieces while they don't really need any more freelance translators, and if they ask you to do free work for them they are wasting your time. If they agree to point 4) at least they seem to be willing to show some commitment to the work you give away to them for free and isn't that the least we can expect in return?

I'm not really thinking about 'enforcing' any of this, just to see how many will say they agree with it. But of course I don't want to seem arrogant or agressive, so I may forget about it.

Thanks again

Johan


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:20
Member (2004)
English to Polish
One more idea... Sep 6, 2005

How about a note emphasizing that all copyrights for the translated text are retained by the author of the translation? That way, if they do use your test in any way (and you are able to spot it) it is no longer a matter of just not paying for the translation, but breaking copyright laws.

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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
German to English
+ ...
Let's be honest... Sep 6, 2005

... at the risk of offending, which I hope I won't:

The best thing about your T&Cs is that you'll save yourself the trouble of dealing with armies of agencies who are unlikely ever to send you any work, but want to feed their databases. These outfits are a nuisance. On the other hand, I think agencies who get real work done for free under the guise of a test are probably very rare indeed.

I think you've identified a real issue, because although they are the exception rather than the rule, there are good customers who will request a free test. What you're trying to do is differentiate between them and the time-wasters.

Unfortunately, your T&Cs are too blunt an instrument. Robin's comment about translators' being collectively naive is interesting: he has a point, but I would say that it is more a case of a lack of business acumen. A great many translators seem to think that their business relationships can be neatly contained by T&Cs, regulations, Blue Board comments, and similar instruments. These things may have their place, but they are no substitute for talking to your customers and finding out what their needs really are (or whether they actually have any).

100, 200 or 500-word limits then become somewhat academic. For a really good customer, I'd even hop on the next plane, at my own expense. So what's an hour or two.

So if you're serious, I'd get into the habit of picking up the phone when you receive a request for a free test. Talking to potential customers has a dual benefit: you can find out how interesting they are to you, and you can take the opportunity to sell yourself. I'm often baffled, in fact, by how reluctant translators are to talk to their customers, whether potential or existing, whilst at the same time complaining about how difficult they find it to get work. If a company has requested a test from you, you already have a foot in the door; you might as well make use of the fact.

Marc


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:20
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
reduced flexibility Sep 6, 2005

The more you spell out general conditions, the more you restrict your own flexibility to pick and choose.

By spelling out all your conditions beforehand in the sense that: if you don't want to work with me on these conditions, don't bother, you put the decision of a possible collaboration exclusively into the hands of the client. You leave yourself no room for negotiations since the only alternative you have is to retract your conditions. If it even comes to negotiations, since the potential client might already have been put off by too many/restrictive/inflexible conditions.

I want to be the one who makes the final decision whether to accept terms and offers or not. I want to have the option to say, OK, I do the 500 words translation if you...
True, you probably will be spared offers you might not want to accept anyways, but you probably will also not receive opportunities where you even might be willing to make allowances just because the job or client in question is worth it.

I think flexibility in negotation or in general in all dealings with clients is very important as translator. We're after all service providers. I have a some regular clients with good rates and great projects where the rate for the initial project maybe wasn't that great or I had to do a lengthy test translation. I don't think they would have approached me if I had told them from the beginning: if these conditions are not met, forget it.


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