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Off topic: Do non-personal translation requests bother anyone else?
Thread poster: xxxLucyPatterso
xxxLucyPatterso
English
Sep 14, 2011

Recently, I have been receiving more and more general email requests such as:

"Hello,
How are you today?
Would you be available to translate a 2506-word newsletter for 5 pm on Wednesday?
Let me know within the next 30 minutes if you are available!
kind regards,
xxx"

These emails are from agencies I have been working with for years, but I am always reluctant to answer the requests when they have obviously been sent to 10 or more other translators and the quickest replier wins. I find it a bit rude but perhaps I am just being grumpy.

In fact, I do not even bother to such emails unless I am really bored and feel like doing the translation.

It also annoys me when project managers do not attach the source file with the request - how do I know if I can translate it until I have seen it? But that is another kettle of fish.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:58
Member (2008)
Italian to English
How are you today? Sep 15, 2011

LucyPatterson wrote:

Recently, I have been receiving more and more general email requests such as:

"Hello,
How are you today?
Would you be available to translate a 2506-word newsletter for 5 pm on Wednesday?
Let me know within the next 30 minutes if you are available!
kind regards,
xxx"

These emails are from agencies I have been working with for years, but I am always reluctant to answer the requests when they have obviously been sent to 10 or more other translators and the quickest replier wins. I find it a bit rude but perhaps I am just being grumpy.

In fact, I do not even bother to such emails unless I am really bored and feel like doing the translation.

It also annoys me when project managers do not attach the source file with the request - how do I know if I can translate it until I have seen it? But that is another kettle of fish.


Yes, Lucy. Any message that begins with the excruciating "How are you today?" goes straight into the trash.



[Edited at 2011-09-15 13:56 GMT]


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Stefan Blommaert  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:58
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Perhaps I am just getting old Sep 15, 2011

but I am also irritated beyond reason when I get these messages.

Especially the "rat race" aspect bothers me enormously, and not even in a polite way such as "Please let me know"...No, with a straight imperative: "Let me know"....I find this rather offensive, not to mention the "auctions" that some agencies think they can hold to get the "best rates"...I don't even bother any more....

Of course everybody has the right to do business as they see fit, but I think it is just downright rude. Everybody wants to make money, but basic "savoir faire" is not too much to ask for, or is it?


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 08:58
Chinese to English
I can't summon up the effort to be annoyed about them Sep 15, 2011

Agencies putting their interests before ours? Mildly insulting demands on our time? Check, check, check... If you're going to let it get to you each time this happens, then you're going to have a rough career. I'm thinking I might do this for another 30 years, and they're bound to come up with exciting new ways to take the mickey in that time. A little zen is required. I'm never going to get a job that requires a 30 minute response, because I refuse to be that glued to my email. So I just let them go and delete them en bloc at the end of the day.

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Britta Niggenaber
Germany
Local time: 02:58
English to German
Sometimes that is the only way Sep 15, 2011

I know, you do not feel particularly valued when receiving that kind of message. But, shame on me, I did it as well when I was working for an agency (of course I did not start with "How are you today?", that reeks of scam).

Sometimes PMs just have so many projects they have to find translators for that there just is not enough time and, admittedly, calling several translators and hearing "Sorry, fully booked this week" ten times in a row can be really frustrating as well.

However, agencies should be honest enough not to mask their mass-mailings as personal messages. That kind of thing just looks plain stupid.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:58
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It is discouraging Sep 15, 2011

LucyPatterson wrote:
These emails are from agencies I have been working with for years, but I am always reluctant to answer the requests when they have obviously been sent to 10 or more other translators and the quickest replier wins. I find it a bit rude but perhaps I am just being grumpy.

Indeed this is a very discouraging situation. Maybe we translators are very jealous people, but I don't think any translator would be happy with a mass email sent to all maching profiles in a large commoditised database of freelancers, making job assignment a kind of children's sack race.

We very much prefer the feeling that our customers are aware of our capabilities and send us their jobs because we are the best solution for them. We will always go the extra mile in flexibility and hard work with such customers, and will be quickly discouraged by mass emails. I wonder why some major agencies haven't got it yet after decades in business.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:58
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Then they are badly organised Sep 15, 2011

BritNigg wrote:
Sometimes PMs just have so many projects they have to find translators for that there just is not enough time and, admittedly, calling several translators and hearing "Sorry, fully booked this week" ten times in a row can be really frustrating as well.

I reckon that if this is the situation, the agency just does not have the right freelance resources. My in-house team of 4 works for nearly twenty US and European agencies on a weekly basis, and we very very rarely say no to jobs. For these agencies, taking care of their Spanish translation is terribly easy since they only have to remember one name, and their end customers know that it is always the same people who do all their jobs over the years.

Agencies who need to bombard numerous freelancers with their job proposals are either paying too little to promote a sense of priority among their freelancers or are unable to grasp the benefits of a trusting long-term cooperation with a narrower band of translators.


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xxxkalap
Off topic: Do non-personal translation requests bother anyone else? Sep 15, 2011

Yes. Especially if they are followed by "Thanks, here is your PO", followed by "The PO has been cancelled, another translator just took the job".

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:58
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
When the cows stop coming home, the bells will stop a-ringing... Sep 15, 2011

Knowing that I am receiving a mail that has been sent to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of persons, many of whom have the most shaky of qualifications as translators, produces a feeling of disdain, and I never respond to such messages. In behavioral science terms, these mailings are common because they obviously have in some way worked for the agencies that engage in them. For such practices to cease to work, a critical mass of qualified translators would have to refuse to play this game.

It's as simple as that.

[Edited at 2011-09-15 15:13 GMT]


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:58
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Another possibility Sep 15, 2011

I often receive emails from one PM who starts off "hello," (without my name) but I know the email has only been sent to me. She has simply forgotten to add my name when using an email template.
I sometimes forget to attach the translated file when I deliver a job, so I don't think I can complain


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Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:58
Dutch to English
+ ...
ooh Sep 15, 2011

Years ago I had an agency that employed me as a freelance teacher and also did that kind of thing. I mean, it was a riddle to me how you were supposed to actually get a job if you were supposed to be out teaching. Naturally, the busier you are as a freelance teacher, the less you are at home...
And that was before the iPhone era.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:58
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
30 minutes? Actually, that's pretty good ;) Sep 15, 2011

Actually, 30 minutes is pretty generous as far as the "first-come, first-served" shops go, many times even 3 minutes is too late if the job is otherwise desirable. It's one of those games you can't ever really win, like trying to get a job by being the cheapest - just as there's always somebody cheaper, there's always somebody who's faster on the send button, willing to reply without even looking at the files, and with no work at the moment.

On second thought, maybe you could win by always keeping your E-mail autoresponse on: 'Yes, I'm available!! And I'm $.01 cheaper than your lowest quote!


BritNigg wrote:

However, agencies should be honest enough not to mask their mass-mailings as personal messages. That kind of thing just looks plain stupid.


Particularly when your name is a different font/color...
or
when the message comes through with a merge field code after the salutation instead of your name...
or
when it's addressed to someone else.


I find it hard to get worked up over these, though. Just ignore them, and delete if you find it bothersome. No reason to take it personally, or take it out on the PMs for their company's business model or lack of resource provision.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:58
French to English
+ ...
I tend to ignore them Sep 15, 2011

I tend to just ignore this type of request from agencies. I'm really not looking to enter into some kind of "arms race" to be the first to respond to an e-mail.

If the agency has decided that *my* expertise and experience most closely matches what they require for the job, then they can wait 15 minutes or so for a response.

If they don't think I specifically have actually got anything to contribute to the project, and other people want to play at who-can-send-the-mail-the-fastest, then fine, I'm happy to let them get on with it...


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TranslateThis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Time wasters (group messages). I usually tell them to take me off their list Sep 15, 2011

Especially if I respond immediately to two or three "urgent job" offers and there is no answer from them whatsoever for a day or two. If that's the case, I just tell them not to bother me and to please take me off their list.

I am a busy professional and I have no time for these games (group messages - one job sent to many translators). If they have a serious offer they are more than welcome to contact me, but I am in no mood to chase after the worm. And no time to waste. There are many agencies out there that understand this and are much more pleasant to deal with.

If they keep sending me these messages, I just create a filter and all these urgent e-mails end up in the trash bin, which is where they belong.

Fortunately it's just a couple of agencies in my experience and now that I have filtered them I can focus on agencies who communicate better, respond to my job confirmation e-mails and simply don't waste my time.

[Edited at 2011-09-15 23:49 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Tit for tat Sep 15, 2011

BritNigg wrote:
Sometimes PMs just have so many projects they have to find translators for that there just is not enough time and, admittedly, calling several translators and hearing "Sorry, fully booked this week" ten times in a row can be really frustrating as well.


I work often for an agency which - to make a long story short - we do care for each other. The PM there, out of the blue, asks me via e-mail or Skype, "How´s it going? Will you be available for a 3,705 words job?. When I tell him ´yes´, he´ll usually say, "OK, I´ve got 19 projects to assign here, then I´ll send that one to you." On the other hand, when we are both idle, we´ll chit-chat over Skype.

However there are some agencies that couldn´t care less about me, and conversely I couldn´t care less about them, that come in exactly in the same way. I have no means to find out if that PM is really hassled or just plain lazy.

Bottom line is that it depends on the existing business relationship - if any.


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