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Poll: Do you perform free test translations?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 01:17
SITE STAFF
Feb 24, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you perform free test translations?".

This poll was originally submitted by Julianne Rowland

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
Can I get free meal at a new restaurant in my neighbourhood? Feb 24, 2009

- Would your taxi driver agree to take you for a free drive because you don't know his abilities?
- Would you get a free consultation at a lawyer's?
- Would your newly established hairdresser be happy with charging nothing for a haircut?

Just like translators, they are service providers. There are no commodities which you can store and use later for other purposes. Needless to say, I do not perform free test translations. There is no reason to work for free, or what do you say, folks?

Erik

[Redigerad 2009-02-24 12:55 GMT]


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:17
English to Dutch
+ ...
Other - specified Feb 24, 2009

Yes, I do free test translations, but with some limitations.
No more than 300 words, not without discussing regular rates first, and preferably not on a tight deadline. Much depends on the communication too.

To me, this is an investment in a potentially fruitful business relationship, but I am not wasting time on clients who are not willing to pay my rates anyway. Free test translations cost time, but may give a good idea of what to expect from a new client (and they get an impression of me too, of course).

By setting a limit of 300 words, I make sure it does not cost too much of my time and chances are small that is is a 'real' translation disguised as a test.

I usually ask to see the results, which is also a good way of getting to know who you are dealing with, whatever the answer is.


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:17
German to English
+ ...
No. Feb 24, 2009

I can understand those that do, but I have not, do not, and will not do free test translations; I simply don't have the time or will for that and would rather earn money for the work I do.

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Barbara Turchetto  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:17
Member (2008)
German to Italian
+ ...
It depends Feb 24, 2009

I mean, only the few line test translation requested on proz com. I have never been asked to perform a free test translation by a company or an agency (so far).
I have always been paid for my job even when I understood it was just a test!


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:17
Member (2005)
English to Japanese
+ ...
I used to... Feb 24, 2009

Before, I used to do free test translations, but the conclusion that I got was that free test translations led me to nowhere. 99% of the time, no feedback from the client and I feel it's a complete waste of time regardless of the number of words. And of course, they don't lead to potential clients. And most of the time, and the worst part is that free translations are given out for potential jobs, i.e. the client has not confirmed or materialized the project, but is on the process of bidding or competing with other translation agencies to get that job.

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Hani Hassaan  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 10:17
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
My experience is the standard not doing tests Feb 24, 2009

I completely agree with Erik Hansson, I perfer to give samples of my previous work or references not wasting my time in doing free tests, I have done about 3 free tests this month and never heard any feedback from these clients, I think my experience as a translator should speak for me, and not my performance in a test.
I really do not understand what is the point of a translation test for a translator spent his age in education!!!!


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
As long as we play into the industry's bad practices, they will continue to be the norm Feb 24, 2009

This is just an example of a bad practice that is considered by many to be the norm in the industry, along with 60 day payment terms, for example, and continues to be perpetrated because we, the translators, allow it.

If agencies want to test translators, they should pay for it, just like a real job, it's just part of doing business. Then, if they don't like the product, they should tell the translator, and give him or her feedback, just like a real job. And, just like a real job, they should just not work with them if they aren't satisfied.

I am convinced that if we refused en masse to do translation tests for free, translation agencies would pay for them. Or quit doing them at all, which would certainly say something about the industry.


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Miroslav Jeftic  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:17
English to Serbian
+ ...
It depends Feb 24, 2009

Usually I agree if the request is reasonable. Kind of supporting "try before you buy" option which I find very useful when, for example, have to choose software..

[Edited at 2009-02-24 13:37 GMT]


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:17
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Depends Feb 24, 2009

Looking at it from the client/agency point of view, I can understand why they sometimes require a test, since there are a lot of incompetent translators out there offering their services.

I have very rarely done a test myself, but I wouldn't refuse to do a short one if the job offer really interested me.


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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:17
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Bad experiences - no more Feb 24, 2009

It's usual in the literary field to do rather voluminous test translations or giving samples but apart from that why should I? Been there, done that, but now I'm totally cured.

Why on earth is a sample not enough?

Amy Duncan wrote:
Looking at it from the client/agency point of view, I can understand why they sometimes require a test, since there are a lot of incompetent translators out there offering their services.

But why not testing it with little orders.
300 words for example?

Reluctant regards
Steffi


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sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 09:17
German to English
ditto Feb 24, 2009

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

Before, I used to do free test translations, but the conclusion that I got was that free test translations led me to nowhere. 99% of the time, no feedback from the client and I feel it's a complete waste of time regardless of the number of words. And of course, they don't lead to potential clients. And most of the time, and the worst part is that free translations are given out for potential jobs, i.e. the client has not confirmed or materialized the project, but is on the process of bidding or competing with other translation agencies to get that job.


My last experience took the cake: I hadn't done a test in years, but an agency that claims to specialize in advertising copy found me over my website and asked me to work with them. I was given an advertising piece as a test. I did a great job paraphrasing to make it punchy, modifying it to the US audience, breaking up a run-on sentence. Changing the headline to an equivalent double entedre to match the product, not the German original. As you do.

The text came back "Rejected" with German comments handwritten in the margins. The "editor" was obviously German, faulted my omissions (the paraphrasing for the US audience, German ads are unnecessarily wordy -- a no-no in US advertising) and changed the headline as a word for word translation of the German! (no lie!)

This "agency" trusted the "editor" because they admitted that no one in the agency understood English(!).

=>The puzzling part is they asked if I were interested in doing editing for them!

But sweet revenge came last fall, I was approached by a reputable Berlin advertising agency. He mentioned they had tried a translation agency located in Hamburg, but the quality was so dismal they decided to forgo the middleman. The translation agency? You guessed it, the one I had done that test translation for.

sylvie
www.einmalich.net


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:17
German to English
+ ...
No freebies Feb 24, 2009

Erik Hansson wrote:

- Would your taxi driver agree to take you for a free drive because you don't know his abilities?
- Would you get a free consultation at a lawyer's?
- Would your newly established hairdresser be happy with charging nothing for a haircut?

Just like translators, they are service providers. There are no commodities which you can store and use later for other purposes. Needless to say, I do not perform free test translations. There is no reason to work for free, or what do you say, folks?

Erik


Hi folk

Absolutely. I would direct interested parties to my portfolio which is reasonably eclectic. They are permitted to read this free of charge.

I ask to see the files first and then say whether I feel confident about the job. If the end client were to require a small test, then I think the agency should bear the cost which they can then attempt to recover from the client.

Chris


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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:17
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
it depends but i said yes Feb 24, 2009

Only if they're very short. I can understand why some companies, especially larger ones, want to weed out the bad ones.

However, i find that sometimes, i don't do that well in tests...and it's usually the ones who don't test me where I end up with a connection. I do much better when just asked for a sample.

Recently I saw a job advertised where they asked for a 750 word test. Yeah, right!!!

A couple of agencies have given me very short first assigments to assess me but they were paid assignments. In those cases i am still working for them!


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:17
Member (2008)
English to Italian
Usually yes, but... Feb 24, 2009

I did it in the past, and it led me to a job only once. The potential new clients who really wanted my service asked me to work for them based on my CV and, sometimes, a telephone interview. As some said on this forum, it can be worth it sometimes, but only if you understand that it's going to be a serious test, and you're going to get a feedback or maybe a job!

This is a very bad experience I had: I was asked to to a test translation and I did it, after a few days, the client asked me to do a translation, but when I asked about rate, P.O. there was no answer. So I didn't do it. Basically the test translation was part of the translation sent a few days later, and because of the structure of the test and the numbers of paragraphs I understood they had given small parts as test translations to a lot of colleagues in order to get a complete translation.


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