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Agency offers low pay initial assignment to 'test an applicant skills and work attitude'. New trend?
Thread poster: Mohamed Mehenoun

Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 23:04
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
Apr 13, 2009

Hello,

I received this email from an agency...I really turned them down in worst possible way I could think of...I just wanted to know if some of you received the same email...

"Dear Sir/Madam,



This is XXXXXX. Thanks for your patience while we processed your information.



We at XXXXX have discovered that the best way to test an applicant skills and work attitude, while being ***fair to him***, is to send him/her a job to do, at a flat rate, slightly lower than our minimal rates for translation ($ 2-3 per 100 words). This job will be one of the projects we receive from our clients, and for which we normally have a deadline. ***Rest assured that this will be the rate for this project alone.***



You will be contacted by me and offered a project request. We will give you all the necessary details provided to us by our client.



We prefer specialized translators who are very familiar with their subject of expertise over translators who work in a wide range of subjects without sufficient grasp of any of them.



For those of you who have mentioned several subjects of expertise in their information sheet, please revise that information and let us know if you feel more comfortable being offered projects in one or two specific subjects. If you are comfortable working in a wide range of subjects, then you do Not have to do this step.



Also, please inform us if you think you can work in translation in one direction (e.g. from English to Arabic) and not the other. If you feel comfortable working in both directions, it is fine.



Your accuracy will help us channel the right projects in your direction, which will ensure a high productivity and in return will secure a good position for you within our company.



If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me anytime. In all cases, please confirm your reception of this email and your agreement.





My Kind Regards,

"

Like hell I'll do a total project at such an insignificant rate !!!!!

Is this a new trend, I wasn't aware of ?

Regards,

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-04-13 13:31 GMT]


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 17:04
German to English
Better off taking a short test Apr 13, 2009

This stinks to me. Sounds like someone wants a steep discount for a larger job.
"***Rest assured that this will be the rate for this project alone.***"

Of course that's true, as it will be the only job you'll receive. Don't even try to negotiate with these people. You're really better off spending an hour doing an unpaid test translation with an agency that's willing to pay a proper price for a real job.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:04
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Sure deal, up to 250 words Apr 13, 2009

Here is what you can do:
Tell them that you would give them the first 250-300 words of the text for their low rate, and the rest is going to be billed at your regular rate. You will send them the first 250-300 words, and they can check it (this is their test of your translation ability). The next step is, they pay for the test and send you a PO for the rest of the job, payable at your rates. As soon as you get the payment and the PO (this is your test of their ability to keep their word), you to start working on the rest of the job.
This is the only way I would consider such an "offer".

Katalin

[Edited at 2009-04-13 01:14 GMT]


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 23:04
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
turned them down Apr 13, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

Here is what you can do:
Tell them that you would give them the first 250-300 words of the text for their low rate, and the rest is going to be billed at your regular rate. You will send them the first 250-300 words, and they can check it (this is their test of your translation ability). The next step is, they pay for the test and send you a PO for the rest of the job, payable at your rates. As soon as you get the payment and the PO (this is your test of their ability to keep their word), you to start working on the rest of the job.
This is the only way I would consider such an "offer".

Katalin

[Edited at 2009-04-13 01:14 GMT]


I turned them down directly. I said I'm not running a charity and that my rates are fixed. I even went as far as asking them to delete me from their data base...


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Right on Apr 13, 2009

The more people send them to hell like that, the quicker they will get there!

Of course, a new trend it is not.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:04
French to German
+ ...
Whether new or not... Apr 13, 2009

Henry Hinds wrote:
Of course, a new trend it is not.


the trend setters or trend users act as if translators were interchangeable and disposable items/tools. This is what I would call an industrial mentality and is one of the reasons why I so much despise the expression "translation industry".

What do these people basically want? If they have nothing except low prices, combined with fast TAT's, to offer to their clients - then they would better be selling junk food which they could call McTrans.

But we should not be fooled either: the main responsibles for the current situation of our profession are renowned companies bearing shiny names, with huge and ultra-modern headquarters located in Western countries and which sell their products or services as if they were 999/1,000 gold.

I think this is what could be called decadance (with reference to the Austria singer Falco, commenting his song Titanic: "In any case, Titanic deals with our society in a critical way, a society which believes it will grow wings while it falls... and I think we all belong to that society!")

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-04-13 06:44 GMT]


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Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:04
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Someone will always say yes Apr 13, 2009

Hi everyone,

Sorry to say that unfortunately there will always be someone who accepts these ridiculous conditions, I have seen it happen in other "industries" I have worked in. There is always someone who will do the job for a pittance. This has the unfortunate effect of perpetuating, in the minds of these so called "translation agencies", the idea that these are reasonable rates, after all "some one wants to do the job for this rate" is what they say.

You can't even count on the translator doing a bad job, they may in fact be an excellent translator, and they could be accepting these ridiculous rates for any number of reasons.

All you can do is turn down the job in no uncertain terms (like you did) and get on with your life, continue offering quality service at reasonable rates and you will always find someone willing to pay your rates.


[Edited at 2009-04-13 10:09 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:04
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I have no general objection Apr 13, 2009

Mohamed Mehenoun wrote:
"We at XXXXX have discovered that the best way to test an applicant skills and work attitude, while being ***fair to him***, is to send him/her a job to do, at a flat rate, slightly lower than our minimal rates for translation..."


So, it's like a free test except that you do get compensated for it. That seems fine to me. If the amount of work is roughly what I would normally consider acceptable for a free test translation, or even slightly more than that (seeing that there is compensation), then that would be fine by me. Of course, the entire question is whether you do free test translations.

"...($ 2-3 per 100 words)."


So what I wrote above is about the principle. Now we get to the practical bit -- their rate. If this rate is what you normally accept, then go for it, I say. It is not the rate I would normally accept, though, and I would therefore have ignored the mail.

Like hell I'll do a total project at such an insignificant rate...


It is becoming more acceptable to use bad language on ProZ.com forums.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:04
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A wannabe agency seeking amateur translators Apr 13, 2009

A 100-word test is often done at no charge. Even if it were paid at market rates, the payment would probably vanish in transfer fees.

The remainder of the instructions gives me the impression that this is someone who heard about a stepcousin-in-law's neighbor who is making a bundle as a translation outsourcer, visited their web site, and is attempting to emulate what he saw there.


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Elodie Bonnafous  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:04
German to French
+ ...
Why answering at all ? Apr 13, 2009

Oh, really, why do you bother answering at all ?
Just delete the e-mail and forget about it.
Answering such an e-mail means spending time on a pointless issue.
My personal advice: do NOT work for them.
Have you checked them on the Blue Board? If they do not appear at all, do not try to negociate with them.
Just ignore this e-mail.


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Alexandra Krah  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:04
German to Romanian
+ ...
suspicious letters Apr 13, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

So, it's like a free test except that you do get compensated for it. That seems fine to me. If the amount of work is roughly what I would normally consider acceptable for a free test translation, or even slightly more than that (seeing that there is compensation), then that would be fine by me. Of course, the entire question is whether you do free test translations.


I wouldn't refuse them because they want an almost free test translation from me --- of course, this should have resonable limits.

I would refuse them because of the suspicious language they use in their letter. They're actually not saying anything. In one sentence they say that they prefer translators in one language combination. In the next sentence they contradict themselves, and say that if you are confident in 2 language combinations, then it's ok, you can still candidate for the job. An they do this repeatedly, in the whole letter. This is what I call a "stinky" or suspicious letter -- no serious people could have written it. It's like those winning games and letters one receives pe e-mail/post - you're always winning, but never getting anything.

My advice: Beware of such companies! They're not a trend, they exist in all activity sectors, and they have always existed. Yet, this is no reason to let us fooled by them.


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 23:04
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
you're right Apr 13, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

Like hell I'll do a total project at such an insignificant rate...


It is becoming more acceptable to use bad language on ProZ.com forums.


Sorry I was just upset to receive something like that...


Oh, really, why do you bother answering at all ?
Just delete the e-mail and forget about it.
Answering such an e-mail means spending time on a pointless issue.
My personal advice: do NOT work for them.
Have you checked them on the Blue Board? If they do not appear at all, do not try to negociate with them.
Just ignore this e-mail.


You're absolutely right I shouldn't have bothered to answer...


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:04
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Educating the client Apr 13, 2009

How about taking every opportunity to educate the client, while you're at it?

Prepare a rates sheet on a luscious-looking PDF, complete with hourly rates, minimum rates, rush rates, overtime surcharges, service types (if you do interpretation, for example), file type breakdowns, your name, address and tax registration number... (you know, this is a business) and respectfully indicate that's what it takes for you to lift a finger.

You might want to add working conditions as well.

It'll have the same effect anyway (you'll never hear from them again).

And it also works for getting good clients


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 23:04
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
!+! Apr 13, 2009

[quote]Samuel Murray wrote:

Mohamed Mehenoun wrote:
"We at XXXXX have discovered that the best way to test an applicant skills and work attitude, while being ***fair to him***, is to send him/her a job to do, at a flat rate, slightly lower than our minimal rates for translation..."


They ask you to do a complete project at this rate and you have no general objection ? even for a test this is ridiculous (5USD which will be gone in the transfer) if you consider that we as professionals apply a minimum rate...


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:04
French to German
+ ...
Near enough, Parrot Apr 13, 2009

Parrot wrote:

How about taking every opportunity to educate the client, while you're at it?

Prepare a rates sheet on a luscious-looking PDF, complete with hourly rates, minimum rates, rush rates, overtime surcharges, service types (if you do interpretation, for example), file type breakdowns, your name, address and tax registration number... (you know, this is a business) and respectfully indicate that's what it takes for you to lift a finger.


Near enough. I now have some trilingual (EN, DE, FR) PDF's at hand and attaching them to an e-mail - or sending them via YSI to "impress" such outsourcers - takes only a few minutes of my time. Same thing for the template reply I write, I just have to hit "Reply" and to paste them in the e-mail... et voilà!

Laurent K.


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