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Test translations - AGAIN!
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 13:38
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Jan 28, 2008

Well, the test translation issue was discussed a lot from various aspects, so not going to invent a bicycle. But just wanted to add one more situation that happened to me recently.

One agency wrote to me asking if I'd be interested to work for them, and when I replied "possibly yes", they asked me to do a test of 500 words and said it has to be done in 3 days. I said no: 1) not 500 words 2) not on an urgent basis 3) because was very busy. They managed to get onto my head convincing that they are really very serious, they expect big projects to come and they really need to sleep well knowing the translator can do needed quality level. I gave up on the condition that they will send the "results" before a fixed date (as not to get into the water as it usually is). They agreed that I will get those results (whatever the outcome) in a week at the latest + all and any remarks of their reviser and a professional substantiation of all and any "mistakes" (if) found. Spent over 3 hours with their 500 words (a very technical text taken out from the context), delivered 1:1 as agreed (let alone got a reminder - "Dear Marius - please do not forget about our test job - it is due for tomorrow").

What next? Tomorrow will be the 4th week waiting for their "evaluation" or, at least, ANY reaction to my previous 2 emails asking "What is the situation with my test translation?".

Do you think it is serious? In my personal opinion, they are time wasters who do not respect other people and the time they spent on their tests. I really hate that! AND NO MORE TEST TRANSLATIONS!




[Edited at 2008-01-28 03:56]


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ivo abdman
Indonesia
Local time: 17:38
English to Indonesian
+ ...
I agree only 150 words max. Jan 28, 2008

Test is necessary, but make it as simple but tricky test with 150 words maximum

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xxxVdeMoor  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:38
French to Dutch
+ ...
no more test translations Jan 28, 2008

A good way of solving this problem is by agreeing them to send a excerpt of one of your translated texts. This way you don't spend hours of work for peanuts. I heard strange stories of agencies requiring test translations but in the meantime they send you real translations and tell you that the quality not what they expected, so no pay.

I refuse to send test translations and never had a problem with that

frederic


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:38
Italian to English
How did the agency propose to pay for the work? Jan 28, 2008

Hi Marius,

What agreement did you have about payment for the work? Many agencies are happy for translators to charge for test translations with the invoice for their first PO.

It is also fairly rare for good agencies to be looking for new translators in a hurry. If possible, they prefer to take their time - and for aspiring translators to take theirs. Five hundred words in three days isn't unreasonable for a job but the passage is a bit long for a test.

FWIW

Giles


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 13:38
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Put a note on the Blueboard Jan 28, 2008

This as a hint to other possible culprits.

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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 13:38
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
BB - good, but Jan 28, 2008

Does that mean that I have worked for them? I have a free-test in mind, not a real translation. A couple of years ago I have tried to make that - received some feedback for one test job that was already not funny (black humour is not funny) - the reviser managed to insert 14 grammar mistakes when correcting my texts I tried to make a post on BB about this and their "professionalism", however the agency protested...

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Michelle Grace  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:38
French to English
+ ...
End clients can request agencies to carry out test translations Jan 28, 2008

Hello Marius

Sometimes, a company will have a potential large project for translation, and they approach several agencies, asking whether they are willing to carry out a test translation for free on the text.

It is at the agency's discretion to decide whether they wish to carry out the translation for free, in the hope of securing a large job at the end of it.

The end client can still request a deadline on the test translations. This is something like a bid, as the translation company will also need to submit their best rates to the client for the project.

This can be very time-wasting for the agency, as they are usually competing with other translation agencies for the work, and it is possible they will not be awarded the job.

Furthermore, the agency may not hear anything further again from the end client, or receive any feedback.

I am not sure whether this was the case with your particular translation agency, but agencies should be honest with the translator from the outset. It is also not good practice to ignore translators' emails. I can understand your frustration.

Michelle


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 13:38
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes, but to ensure oneself a quality... Jan 28, 2008

Michelle Grace wrote:

Hello Marius

Sometimes, a company will have a potential large project for translation, and they approach several agencies, asking whether they are willing to carry out a test translation for free on the text.

It is at the agency's discretion to decide whether they wish to carry out the translation for free, in the hope of securing a large job at the end of it.

The end client can still request a deadline on the test translations. This is something like a bid, as the translation company will also need to submit their best rates to the client for the project.

This can be very time-wasting for the agency, as they are usually competing with other translation agencies for the work, and it is possible they will not be awarded the job.

Furthermore, the agency may not hear anything further again from the end client, or receive any feedback.

I am not sure whether this was the case with your particular translation agency, but agencies should be honest with the translator from the outset. It is also not good practice to ignore translators' emails. I can understand your frustration.

Michelle


... is the "homework" of the agency itself. In other words - the rescue of the sinking is the most important issue to the sinking themselves.

Dear Michelle,

Yes, I fully understand in what a big job done into a dozen languages of hundreds of thousands words can end if there are quality problems. But isn't it the task of the agency to collect "the team"? Like in any other business area - if you want your business go well, it is YOUR OWN task to have the best people for it.

And I do not think that free tests is the only way to do that. If the quality is so important, and the agency is serious, it:

a) shall have all and any texts supervised by an independent reviewer before these translations go to the client - even if there are problems with quality, these can be noted before the worst happens;

moreover,

b) they can send a small not so very responsible job, see how the new vendor is doing with it, and then decide whether they want to continue cooperation or not,

c) even if they (or their/end client) is so insisting on some tests, why these tests shall be done for free? maybe, if they are so serious, they can pay for those 200-500 words instead of having huge losses later? And if the translator gets paid for the test, there will be no reluctancy to do it, nor any negative emotions - if we do all those tests what we get, I do not think we will have time for our real work...

Now it appears like a certain mania (not even a tendency) in translation business - every agency 1) has those online application forms of dozens of sheets (where they themselves hardly know what is to be filled in), then 2) all those free tests ending in nothing, 3) let alone all those NDAs, "framework contracts", etc. Translators database is again the "homework" of the translations agency (they do not ask their clients to fill in same sheets?), testing the skills of the future team is again the task of the agency, and all those "framework contracts" can be dozens of pages long - if the vendor is not reliable, a piece of paper will not help - the best contract is the mutual trust, and as long as you do your job well, you get work, if you do something wrong, you lose the client (i.e. do not get any more work from this client) - this the MAIN contract. And those "force majeure" - what for?












[Edited at 2008-01-28 11:41]


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Milton Guo  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 18:38
English to Chinese
+ ...
Not a complete article Jan 28, 2008

check the test translation to see whether it's a complete article or just a short excerpts....

If they did cheat, the loss of time you sufferred is minimal.......once I translated about 50 words without any reply, I just laughed and walked away from it forever..


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:38
English to Dutch
+ ...
Positive experience Jan 28, 2008

Just for the record, so far, about 80% of the test translations I've done resulted in a serious working relationship with the agency involved. Of the remaining 20%, I turned some offers down myself because I did not like the agency's attitude or final rates; once there was a contract issue and I refused to sign.

In fact, I prefer test translations (max. 500 words) to providing references and all that. Also, I usually do not fill in all these online database forms before my test translation is accepted. Most agencies I've dealt with so far haven't asked me to, either. For good reason, why contaminate their database with translators they don't want to work with anyway?


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 13:38
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes, but ... Jan 28, 2008

Milton Guo wrote:

check the test translation to see whether it's a complete article or just a short excerpts....

If they did cheat, the loss of time you sufferred is minimal.......once I translated about 50 words without any reply, I just laughed and walked away from it forever..


50 words here, 500 words there, one hour wasted today, two hours wasted tomorrow, and all that adds up. OK, would still understand that there is no obligation, like a test translation deadline, etc. and no one goes up onto the head asking "How is it going?" (many agencies gave me a lot of work even after I refused their tests). And to keep insisting, rushing someone (well, had to sit till 3.00 am to do that test where I could be sleeping) and then no reply at all, it is not ethical...

> Margreet

My "tendencies" are different - about 80-90 % of clients simply give jobs without asking all those tests and all of them come back. If they have work, and they think they can trust, they simply give it. And the remaining ones - my test translations are OK, but in most cases no jobs come or jobs that are not worth wasting time...


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Alfredo Fernández Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
DEFINITELY NO MORE TRANSLATION TESTS Jan 28, 2008

Dear All,


I do very much agree with Marius....

In this last 3 years, I have carried out sooooo many translation tests, and over 90% of those produced no reply, not even an answer. Not a word. And if they did, no corrections, or no reasons at all.

And, coincidentally, most of the agencies I worked with and I still work for, never asked for one.

Now... 'There is something fishy going on here'....
Funnily enough, I have also heard of some manager from a translation manager, trying to be clever by half, splitting a translation in chunks, and handing it out to translators in the form of tests... Luckily, these translators somehow were in the know and found this out, and didn't provide the work for free, but instead something like a 'not-so-correct translation test'.

I am just quite sick and tired of anyone thinking we translators should work for free, because anyone who has some knowledge of languages can translate, and languages is a part of every day's life.
Who asks for a tast of fish when you go to the fishmongers, or ask for a read of a book before buying it, or of a movie before actually watching it?

Guys, If they want to check the quality of a translator, as someone stated earlier, they can ask for a piece of previous translation.
Or ask for a review.

Do we ask them a proof that they are solvent, pay on time, keep their word as for rates, conditions, etc?

Remember: It takes two to tango!

If we ALL refuse, they will get someone to do the whole text.. and not sending out pieces of texts to dozens, if not hundreds of translators freelance working alone from home, isolated and just doing all this work for free ...

I say!

All for one!

Alfredo


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 13:38
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Outcome Jan 28, 2008

Yesterday, I wrote one more email asking them about the status and if it is still (and when) possible to get the results (the results had to come on Jan 11th at the latest).
Let alone they seem to be insulted because they got a free translation as "a free test translation" just because of my reminder.

The answer - copy pasted:

"Hello Marius,

Unfortunately I was out of the office last week for a few days with an
illness which I am still recovering from today.

Also, I am contacting our reviewer to see why she has not contacted me
with the results as she was supposed to already.

I do take into account that our potential resources spend time working
on the tests, thus why I always get back to these resources with updates
and results. However, because of the lack of disrespect you have just
demonstrated, I am having doubts about our potential collaboration."

Shall I go for a BB now? Well, really no more tests - do not want any accuses for a disrespect because did work and asked about their promises

P.S. All in all - a test in this case was a good thing - maybe I avoided one more fraud - if they cannot keep their word on small things, how can one be sure they will keep their word on big things...


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 13:38
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
:) Jan 28, 2008

Alfredo Fernández Martínez wrote:

Dear All,


I do very much agree with Marius....

In this last 3 years, I have carried out sooooo many translation tests, and over 90% of those produced no reply, not even an answer. Not a word. And if they did, no corrections, or no reasons at all.

And, coincidentally, most of the agencies I worked with and I still work for, never asked for one.

Now... 'There is something fishy going on here'....
Funnily enough, I have also heard of some manager from a translation manager, trying to be clever by half, splitting a translation in chunks, and handing it out to translators in the form of tests... Luckily, these translators somehow were in the know and found this out, and didn't provide the work for free, but instead something like a 'not-so-correct translation test'.

I am just quite sick and tired of anyone thinking we translators should work for free, because anyone who has some knowledge of languages can translate, and languages is a part of every day's life.
Who asks for a tast of fish when you go to the fishmongers, or ask for a read of a book before buying it, or of a movie before actually watching it?

Guys, If they want to check the quality of a translator, as someone stated earlier, they can ask for a piece of previous translation.
Or ask for a review.

Do we ask them a proof that they are solvent, pay on time, keep their word as for rates, conditions, etc?

Remember: It takes two to tango!

If we ALL refuse, they will get someone to do the whole text.. and not sending out pieces of texts to dozens, if not hundreds of translators freelance working alone from home, isolated and just doing all this work for free ...

I say!

All for one!

Alfredo







Yes, we also have the right (you know, to ensure that the agency is a reliable one too) to:

1) ask for their CEO's home address, marital status, even a detailed CV, CVs of all PMs?
2) fill my "Online Client Application Form" (a shortened version - some 8 pages only)?
3) ask for their client lists/databases and/or samples of translations?
4) their latest bank statements just to be sure they can pay?
5) ask for a test money transfer - just to be sure their accountant is professional?

Sounds a little bit absurd, doen't it? So, why the "vice versa" does not sound absurd?

All of us have to do our own work - we have to get sure our clients will do what they have to do, the clients (not US) have to be sure that they will get from us what is requested.


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RWSTranslation
Germany
Local time: 12:38
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
ProZ profile Jan 29, 2008

Hello,

since some weeks we use ProZ Connect for searching for translators. ProZ connect takes the information from your profiles. It is very helpful for finding qualified translators in a special situation, but we see, that a lot of ProZ profiles are not up to date and there is not enough information stored.

If you fill the profile with more and good information, it could be possible, that the number of test translations can be reduced.

Regards

Hans


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