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Your test translation was very good, but your rates are too high for us...
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 13:58
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Apr 5, 2008

Recently I had quite a strange situation. I was contacted by one really professional agency (at least it appeared to be so from their approach, communication, etc.). They said they needed me to do one rather big project and asked me to do that "test translation". I said, sorry, I do not do these any longer and then we agreed that they will send me 1800 words to do as a "test", but under my usual rates as a real paid job. I did that test, invoiced them, got the cash even earlier than agreed. They soon came out with their evaluation, said they were very happy about the quality and that they will soon send me that job (and even asked to prebook my schedules). OK, waited, the time was to send the job, asked them what is the status of it as needed to plan my time, and...I got I reply that they have changed their mind because "my rates are too high for them". Well, but I wrote about the rates at the very beginning and they said "that is fine". All communication was friendly, of a professional agency. BUT I wonder what was the sense to pay for that "job-test", waste time, etc., and say "no" to the agreed rate...

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Saleh Chowdhury, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Bangladesh
Local time: 16:58
Member (2004)
English to Bengali
+ ...
May be they just used your test translation Apr 5, 2008

May be they used your translation to convince the end client and win the project. Now they want you to do the translation at a lower rate or else they would use a "cheap" translator to complete the project.

I'd stay away of them.

Soon they'd realize that, "you get what you pay for".


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yanadeni  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:58
French to Russian
+ ...
? Apr 5, 2008

Marius, what's the reason that you don't do any more test translations?

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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 13:58
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Why no free tests? Because there is no sense in that Apr 6, 2008

YaniQC wrote:

Marius, what's the reason that you don't do any more test translations?


Why - can give you a very long list of reasons (but not today). And the main reason is that those free tests make no sense. Same no(n)-sense as asking for a "free test drink" at a bar or a CV of a cook, or some sample stakes, or the book of "hounourable guests/clients of the restaurant"). You can also read other topics on proz about that If you are not convinced, try that in practice. But, believe me, best of all is to learn from mistakes of others than from own mistakes



[Edited at 2008-04-06 00:33]


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 13:58
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
who knows? Apr 6, 2008

It could be indeed that they've used your test translation to win the project. It also could be that they agreed with your price hoping the end client will be fine with it but it turned out the client got scared of the price (or something else happened) and withdrew the project. Agencies can act in mysterious ways sometimes (just like their clients). Id say its not really a loss situation for you since they paid for the test, however its not really nice they made you pre-book your time for them. I wouldnt bother too much if they are not your regular client. It could be your gain they disappear if they tend to act like this constantly.

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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
Test translations are useless Apr 6, 2008

MariusV wrote:

YaniQC wrote:

Marius, what's the reason that you don't do any more test translations?


Why - can give you a very long list of reasons (but not today). And the main reason is that those free tests make no sense. Same no(n)-sense as asking for a "free test drink" at a bar or a CV of a cook, or some sample stakes, or the book of "hounourable guests/clients of the restaurant").



[Edited at 2008-04-06 00:33]


New clients keep on coming and asking for free test translations, and our answer is always the same: "Why should we work for free?". You can't go to a new dentist whose services you would like to test, and ask him for "a free treatment", or to a new lawyer and ask for "free advice" and so on. I can't go to the local pizzeria and ask for a free pizza because I haven't tried out his calzone yet.

I think that many translators will have to strengthen their pride in their own craft and refuse to do free test translations. If test translations, they have to be paid for.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:58
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Prebooking the schedule - where was your contract? Apr 6, 2008

MariusV wrote:
I said, sorry, I do not do these any longer and then we agreed that they will send me 1800 words to do as a "test", but under my usual rates as a real paid job. I did that test, invoiced them, got the cash even earlier than agreed.


I think you did very well with this situation. Many agencies flat refuse to pay for test translations, so I think you did very well with negotiating this. You got paid, so all is well here.

They soon came out with their evaluation, said they were very happy about the quality and that they will soon send me that job (and even asked to prebook my schedules).


Now, at this point you should have gotten a contract signed. When somebody asks you to prebook your schedule, they reserve your time, they are requesting you to refuse all other jobs that would be conflicting with that schedule. You should not do that without a proper agreement that has a clause about cancelled jobs.
I use the ATA model contract, with slight customization, and it has a clause about cancellations. I have min 50% in it, that means if they cancel the job after signing the contract, I get paid proportionally to the degree of completion, but not less than 50%. That means if they cancel before I even started, they owe me 50% of the total contract fee.
This clause helped me at least 2 times in the past to make the client change their mind about canceling a job. (In both cases they wanted to cancel because all of a sudden they wanted the translation faster than the previously agreed deadline - I told them what I can do but their new demands were impossible - they said they will find somebody else then - I pointed out the clause in the contract - at which point they decided that after all they could do with the deadline I gave them - which was faster than the original, but not their new demand.)

Anyway, what I am saying is that if you really reserve your time for potential projects without a contract that has a cancellation clause, you have no way of recovering your loss, no matter what the reason for cancellation is.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Great point, Erik Apr 6, 2008

Erik Hansson wrote:
I think that many translators will have to strengthen their pride in their own craft... ... and refuse to do free test translations.


Too many translators need to strenghten their pride if they want the profession as a whole to have the status it deserves. It is one occupation where amateurs can thrive, just like photography. Both crafts allow ample room for pros and amateurs alike to cover the whole quality gamut. Most other professions won't allow it; an amateur surgeon's work could be quite similar to what a professional hit-man does for a living.

It goes all the way from doing free translation tests, to accepting absurdly low client-imposed pay and delivery time, as well as bowing to payment terms (like 45, 60, or more days) that no other freelancing profession in the world would take.

Why are translators so lacking in professional pride?

Is it for fear that if we demand a bit more, the client will shift the job to a friend's nephew who has just passed to Book 2 in a language course? Amateurs like to hire their peers. Who'd want an amateur for a client? After all, their accounts payable department may be just as amateurish...


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festinalente  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:28
English to Korean
+ ...
Good to know Apr 6, 2008

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:



Anyway, what I am saying is that if you really reserve your time for potential projects without a contract that has a cancellation clause, you have no way of recovering your loss, no matter what the reason for cancellation is.


Katalin, I totally agree with you.

Actually, this misfortune happened to me recently. An agency had an urgent project that needed to be done within a few days while I was already in the middle of other big projects. Then they asked me to retain my time - 5 days -so I agreed since the correspondence sounded nice.

But then the next week, they did not even bother to drop me a line to tell me it was cancelled. Furthermore, when they contacted me with another job again, they ignored my enquiry about the previously promised job, only talking about this new job.

The more year I spend in this industry, the more I learn that I have to be careful.

At least, I am learning through this community and from my own mistakes.


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Nadejda Vega Cespedes  Identity Verified

Local time: 12:58
Spanish to Russian
+ ...
Test translations are a must Apr 6, 2008

Guys, you've obviously never checked other people's test translations for agencies. You wouldn't believe the amount of crap they get. Just a couple of days ago an agency I've been cooperating with for years told me they recently had been able to find only two acceptable candidates after testing 500 (sic!). Now imagine they have to pay every single person who is smart enough to supply a colorful CV followed by an MT product. How long would they survive in the market? Are you really suggesting you should be hired exclusively on the basis of your self-assessment? True, you are not offered a free test meal at a restaurant, but in the translation world the agency is not the person sitting at the table waiting for dinner to be served, the agency is the restaurant and you are the cook. If they don't test your skills, how would they know if you are up to par? Should they simply believe you are terrific because you say so? Besides, to continue the analogy, at a respectable restaurant you certainly take a sip of wine for free before you buy the bottle.

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Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:58
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A sip? Apr 6, 2008

Nadejda Vega Cespedes wrote:
at a respectable restaurant you certainly take a sip of wine for free before you buy the bottle.


A sip, yes. A full glass of wine, they will certainly charge for it.

A test may be 200-300 words, not 1,800.


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Valery Kaminski  Identity Verified
Belarus
Local time: 13:58
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
They get crap when they ask for it Apr 6, 2008

Nadejda Vega Cespedes wrote:

Test translations are a must

Guys, you've obviously never checked other people's test translations for agencies. You wouldn't believe the amount of crap they get...



So what kind of recruiting process do they have? "We are expanding our database""??
And then they pay a proofreader for 500 tests??? I believe it is much cheaper to 'hand-pick' a dozen or two candidates - this is not so hard, just needs investing a few hours into research - and pay them for the test.
Another point - how can they be sure the test was done by the candidate?
Besides, there are proofreaders and proofreaders. I met good ones. I met some types who feel they won't be able to go to bed before they 'play synonyms' or find some other way to 'mark the territory' red.

My best clients never asked for test translations. They just send you a small job, which they have proofread. And that's it. Then the jobs get bigger and now I proof translations of others, too. With these agencies - it' a pleasure as their translators have been hand-picked. There was only one occasion, when the translation was of poor quality. I had to ask to extend the deadline. My PM sent me a message saying that was 'the second click' as another proofreader had the same problem with this translator. Not only the deadline was extended, they also increased the rate!

So I can't agree that test translations are a must. There is more than one way for an agency to find translators.

[Редактировалось 2008-04-06 14:05]


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:58
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Ridiculous practices Apr 6, 2008

Nadejda said:
"Just a couple of days ago an agency I've been cooperating with for years told me they recently had been able to find only two acceptable candidates after testing 500 (sic!)."

With internal practices THAT efficient, an agency DESERVES to go bankrupt.

I'm all the way with Valery on this one.


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Kathryn Litherland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:58
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
look at it as a marketing strategy Apr 6, 2008

Erik Hansson wrote:



New clients keep on coming and asking for free test translations, and our answer is always the same: "Why should we work for free?". You can't go to a new dentist whose services you would like to test, and ask him for "a free treatment", or to a new lawyer and ask for "free advice" and so on. I can't go to the local pizzeria and ask for a free pizza because I haven't tried out his calzone yet.

I think that many translators will have to strengthen their pride in their own craft and refuse to do free test translations. If test translations, they have to be paid for.


Actually, you can get "free samples" from a number of providers of goods and services (for example, many lawyers *do* in fact provide a free initial consultation, as do many private-practice counselors and therapists--even certain dentists *do* offer a free cleaning as a marketing strategy!, food manufacturers push free samples of new products all the time, etc.)

I think part of it boils down to "how much" is a reasonable amount of "free work" to give away as a marketing hook? If it's 5% of the value of the sale you hope to make (and you're looking to increase your sales), it might be a sound investment. It all boils down on whether you can expect a sound ROI for your marketing investment. if you've got as much work as you can handle and you're happy with the rates you're getting, then there's no need to invest anything in marketing.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Test translations Apr 6, 2008

Tests are a reasonable process, but 200 to 250 words is almost always sufficient.

That's the most I agree to for a free test, and I *always* make sure they agree to my general fee structure before I'll even look at the test text.


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