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Unacceptable information demands by agencies
Thread poster: Krys Williams

Krys Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:24
Member (2003)
Polish to English
+ ...
Feb 24, 2006

I am wondering whether anybody else feels as irate as I do about the information some agencies request for their database.

Today, an existing, although fairly minor client, asked me to register with their database and provide information. They asked for my date of birth and made this a compulsory field. Quite honestly, I do not think my age is any of their business. They asked for the times during which I work each day. Well, one of the reasons I am a freelance is so that I do not have set hours. On some days I work 18+ hours, on others I mooch about town, and if I decide I've had enough, I go away for a week or a long weekend. Similarly, questions about my capacity in words per day are unhelpful. Not only does this vary with the type of material, but also with the number of other jobs I have active at the time. With 30+ clients, it is almost impossible for me to predict this. I negotiate my work on a job by job basis... and so on, and so on, with other questions I do not wish to answer.

I have just replied to say I am not willing to provide the information they seek. This is about the fifth time I have done this to a previous client. Emails from new agencies asking for similar registration are simply deleted without response. Since I am receiving more work than I can do anyway, I'm not too bothered about cutting myself off from awkward clients like this.

Is there anyone else refusing to jump through such hoops? Perhaps if more of us did so, the agencies would finally see that this is not a useful way to proceed.


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Lindsay Sabadosa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:24
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Agree 100% Feb 24, 2006

The age question really bugs me too! I've been known to write "none of your business" (albeit for surveys and such, not for clients). But yes, if a potential client has these questions on their registration form, it makes me think that they don't have the slightest clue about what translation entails and that they are more interested in producing a lot of work without much regard to quality. How could it possibly matter how much a translator can produce a day? Are they going to give me enough notice so I can clear my schedule for a week, turn away my regular clients, and pay me enought to merit dedicating my maximum number of words a day to them? Probably not. With decent clients out there (and provided you are working for them), why bother filling out registration forms for clients who don't have a clue? My favorite, the ones who only accept you if you *specialize* in at least ten areas. Sort of a loose definition of specialize, huh?

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Krys Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:24
Member (2003)
Polish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
too much, and also too little information requested Feb 24, 2006

LSabadosa wrote:

My favorite, the ones who only accept you if you *specialize* in at least ten areas. Sort of a loose definition of specialize, huh?


The opposite, but a problem for me, are the forms where it is only possible to input two or three source languages. I work with six. Now, before anyone leaps in to say that this is too many, let me add that I limit my work to medicine and drug registration documentation, because I have specialist subject knowledge and work experience in these areas and thus have not only the terminology but also the contextual understanding to cope with this material in all those languages. Again though, this is not a matter that it is possible to clarify in the preset input fields of a registration form.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 10:24
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Don't bother Feb 24, 2006

To my experience the more information an agency gathers the less they provide jobs.

Regards
Heinrich


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Graciela Carlyle  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:24
English to Spanish
+ ...
useful delete button Feb 24, 2006

I guess it might be the same agency that has been sending emails to everyone lately requesting details...
Anyway, when I get this kind of requests I make good use of the delete button and discard the email straight away

Grace.


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Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:24
German to English
+ ...
ignore Feb 24, 2006

It sounds to me like someone has gotten carried away with the idea of automating their agency operations by acquiring enough information about their freelancers to allocate and schedule the work by computer instead of developing personal contacts between their PMs and freelancers.

IMO ideas of that sort are doomed to failure anyhow, so you can safely ignore the requests on the assumption the agency is not sufficiently in touch with reality.


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:24
I would not ignore, I would reply... Feb 24, 2006

... just like you did, telling them you are not willing to provide personal information irrelevant for professional purposes. Maybe one day they will receive sufficient negative responses to make them rethink their strategies.
If we just ignore them, they will never know how much these things bother us.


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:24
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Depends on the information requested Feb 24, 2006

Krys Bottrill wrote:

They asked for my date of birth and made this a compulsory field.



Asking this is actually illegal in a number of places (as this could imply age dscrimination).

They asked for the times during which I work each day.
Well, one of the reasons I am a freelance is so that I do not have set hours. On some days I work 18+ hours, on others I mooch about town, and if I decide I've had enough, I go away for a week or a long weekend.


Did they ask for the times when you work, or how long do you work each day? If the former, I would guess this is information that could be needed in order to see when you can be reached or not; if the latter, I also would say none of their business.

Similarly, questions about my capacity in words per day are unhelpful. Not only does this vary with the type of material, but also with the number of other jobs I have active at the time.


On the contrary, I believe this is useful information for an agency: I would normally indicate my normal total output per day (e.g., 2500 words), that way, they should know that if they call with 10000 words for tomorrow I would not be able to help them. And I think agencies are aware of the fact that if I state 2500 words/day, but have already accepted work from other customers, I am going to refuse or to suggest a different schedule.


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Abdellatif Bouhid  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:24
English to French
+ ...
Name+DOB=potential trouble Feb 24, 2006

In North America nowadays, with a name and date of birth, the amount of information that be uncovered on someone is just staggering. You add to that your SSN and phone number, and the potential for trouble goes up exponentially. Unless there is a reason for asking (i.e. legal requirement), give only the strict minimum.

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IONADFOGHLAMA  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 08:24
English to Irish
+ ...
Are agencies entitled to demand that you to refer clients? Feb 26, 2006

Hi Krys, and everybody else!

What you (Krys) write sounds very much like a form I was asked to fill in after simply answering to a plain old job post. It looks now more like they are looking for professional translators in my language / field in order to enter a very restricted and specific market (I don't want to explain here). The worst demand by far was this in my opinion - what do you think?

If a client contacts the translator who was hired by this agency for a specific job personally after the job contract with the agency is finished, (within 12 months of the translator working for the agency) the translator is required to refer the client back to the said agency.

Does this mean that the agency uses the translator's name and credentials for marketing purposes or how does the client ever find out about the translator? I would assume that a client who contacts the translator after the assignment for the agency is finished, does this independenly, as a result of other information / marketing by the translator - not because he or she knows the translator through the agency, or am I wrong?

Thanks for your opinions!

Regards

Dorothee

Krys Bottrill wrote:

I am wondering whether anybody else feels as irate as I do about the information some agencies request for their database.

Today, an existing, although fairly minor client, asked me to register with their database and provide information. They asked for my date of birth and made this a compulsory field. Quite honestly, I do not think my age is any of their business. They asked for the times during which I work each day. Well, one of the reasons I am a freelance is so that I do not have set hours. On some days I work 18+ hours, on others I mooch about town, and if I decide I've had enough, I go away for a week or a long weekend. Similarly, questions about my capacity in words per day are unhelpful. Not only does this vary with the type of material, but also with the number of other jobs I have active at the time. With 30+ clients, it is almost impossible for me to predict this. I negotiate my work on a job by job basis... and so on, and so on, with other questions I do not wish to answer.

I have just replied to say I am not willing to provide the information they seek. This is about the fifth time I have done this to a previous client. Emails from new agencies asking for similar registration are simply deleted without response. Since I am receiving more work than I can do anyway, I'm not too bothered about cutting myself off from awkward clients like this.

Is there anyone else refusing to jump through such hoops? Perhaps if more of us did so, the agencies would finally see that this is not a useful way to proceed.


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Imad Almaghary
Local time: 10:24
English to Arabic
+ ...
Consider this reason Feb 27, 2006

Good morning

I an a leading member in the board of governors of ELCC agency of translation and language teaching. Before than I was working a lone so I witnessed both experiences.
What happens is that I ask for details and boring details because I need them for selecting a good translator. I need them because , for instance, I want to make a test whether the applicant is patient or not since translation requires a great deal of patience. This is one point, the second point is that I prefer those who work early at the beginning of the day rather than working late this is because of the fact that those who start work early achieve more excellent work than those who work late. You freelancers do not know this information unfortunately. There more facts behind those details and I just gave you examples.
What must make you angry is that whether you receive a reply to your emails or not. Really the most annoying thing is not to receive a reply even though when the job is closed. When I close the job I make value for my client and reply to those who quote late and I tell them that the job is closed and we selected a bidder. I do create a database for agencies and freelancer albeit not important for some people.

Yours
Mr. Imad


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Claire Titchmarsh  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:24
Italian to English
+ ...
Just don't tell them Feb 28, 2006

Everyone's entitled to their privacy, if you don't feel comfortable with the standard form just send them an e-mail instead.

Strictly speaking it is none of their business how old you are, but in this job age is a definite bonus and something to be proud of. I occasionally outsource jobs and I'd never give a job to someone younger than me (32, for the record) because I've had too many bad experiences with people just out of university (This is just my experience - I am not making a generalisation about people under 30!!!).

Personally I'm happy to tell people anything they want to know, within reason - it's normal for an agency to want to know basic information about their freelancers so they have an idea of who they are working with.


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:24
Member
English to Turkish
Testing freelancers' patience? Mar 4, 2006

These are very interesting points:

Imad wrote:
I need them because , for instance, I want to make a test whether the applicant is patient or not since translation requires a great deal of patience.

Not sure if this is the right strategy. You may want to consider that the translator would need their patience for translation. And hope you won't meet a translator interested in testing the gibberish tolerance levels of outsourcers


...the second point is that I prefer those who work early at the beginning of the day rather than working late this is because of the fact that those who start work early achieve more excellent work than those who work late.

This is highly questionable, IMO. I, for one, am freelancing precisely because I, being an adult, do know when to start working and when to finish.

You freelancers do not know this information unfortunately.

Now we do. Another good thing forum interaction provides us with


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 09:24
English to German
+ ...
Ignoring will not help Mar 4, 2006

Because a new service buyer cannot know. I have learnt to set limit to tests, not exceeding 200 words only when the sampling material from former issues are not welcomed, which is to say I normally send about 10-20 various tests, before undertaking any further test, and make clear one word beyond 200 word limit, the test will be charged €25,- and I need a written agreement for this. This does not always work though, but it has impact. Then the new customer, if a private one, comes with 50% upfront payment and the balance while picking up the work, currently I am not enjoying this situation, so the agencies get 10 days payment limit, and none beyond in the first round, this is only as a matter of getting to know! Then all the information they need can be directly had from proz.directory link ( my profile) beyond which communicating never harms, and one should be able to say "NO" or "Wait" too. This infact increases your personal importance in the eyes of a potential cusotmer. Arguments must be. Best to you all Brandis

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Hepburn  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:24
English to French
+ ...
selecting a good translator Apr 5, 2006

Imad Almaghary wrote:
I ask a lot of boring details
because I need them for selecting a good translator. I need them because , for instance, I want to make a test whether the applicant is patient or not since translation requires a great deal of patience. This is one point, the second point is that I prefer those who work early at the beginning of the day rather than working late this is because of the fact that those who start work early achieve more excellent work than those who work late. You freelancers do not know this information unfortunately.


Do you ever give a thought to the fact that a GOOD translator's time is too reduced and valuable to spend more than 10 minutes on filling an application form? You may think that it shows how much you care about the quality of the work you are going to pay for. But I think it borders on rudeness and it certainly denotes a tendency to believe that one's fallacious ideas are necessarily true.
Only one example: A lot of people are at their best not only in the evening but at night. You may be at your best in the morning, but it is not so for everyone in the intellectual world.

Since you have worked as a freelancer yourself you ought to show more sympathy and understanding of the job.


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