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Clients requesting a quotation in a lazy way
Thread poster: Tjasa Kuerpick

Tjasa Kuerpick  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 13:35
Member (2006)
Slovenian to German
+ ...
Jul 10, 2009

In the last two months I realized that some people are using strange ways to get a quotation.
Some examples:

Example 1:

I need this (address of a webpage) translated. What is your rate?
Best regards
Jo

Example 2:
We are an international translating agency based and seek cooperation with professional translators and translating agencies abroad.
Right now we have an order for translation of 70 pages of documents from x into y, the required delivery date is in 5 days (date, hour). The documents will be attached as soon as you are seriously interested.
Please send us your best quote in EUR per word. Note that as we are addressing many vendors at the same time there will be little room for negotiation and we are likely to accept the best quote from the first round. In any case we will welcome a comprehensive price list of all language combinations you offer.

Ana xyz

Comment: Note that these 5 days include Saturday and Sunday.

Example 3:

As we are expanding and our customers demand translations into x ,we are looking for experienced translators. Currently we have a job for you. If you are interested in a long-term cooperation, please reply asap.

Peter

Example 4:
We are looking for professional translator who will work for us for our clients who need translations into x. Please fill out the attached data sheet and our agreement. We will get back to you as soon as we get a job from that client.
We also have attached our General terms, and payment conditions.
bla .. bla
______
What they all have in common:
1) They use free emails
2) Mention only name (Jo, Max, Alice, ... ) without family name
3) Do not mention any company name, or other contact details.
4) No country.
4) There are never any documents (the one to be translated) attached.
5) None of them mentions which field in particular they need a translation (or)
6) None of them mentions from (or in to) which language they need a translation (or)
7) They mention only "a text" or either pages without mentioning the amount of words, or even bader - nothing
8) They are forcing lowest market rates for professional service
9) If you answer one of them asking for more details, or
10) point out that they can get a translation by respecting our general terms, typically you dont hear from them anymore. (usually my feedback on a bunch of attachments, like agreements, etc.)
______

FAZIT: Waste of time answering such emails.

How do you deal with such requests? Ignore them or do you have a typical way to reply such requests? Are people too lazy to write a good business letter/request? The emails are getting shorter and shorter, which in fact makes it far more difficult to reply to, as it contains nearly no information.


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:35
Member (2005)
English to Japanese
+ ...
You already have an answer to your question Jul 10, 2009

"FAZIT: Waste of time answering such emails."

Let me add a few points.

In my opinion, people (or agencies) who contact in ways mentioned above are basically unprofessional and incompetent. Okay, maybe they're not in their office at that moment and accessing you from their home computer or at a cafe using a freemail account, I could understand that. But if that's the case, they should at least tell the other person the situation and say that I'm out of the office right now, I work for a company called XXX, and all the other necessary details.

It takes quite a lot of time and energy exchanging emails asking for sample text, what's your company name or your last name, my rate is so and so, etc.

And last but not the least, after answering to these emails, I found out that 8 out of 10 don't reply, or are banned from Proz, trying to disguise their identity just by stating their first name so that they don't get detected.

[Edited at 2009-07-11 05:10 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:35
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just give them the rate Jul 10, 2009

In these cases I write a short email informing about the rate. That saves me from all the rest of the conversation... unless it is a serious customer in the end.

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:35
French to German
+ ...
Run-of-the-mill e-mails Jul 10, 2009

Hi Tjasa,
run-of-the-mill e-mails deserve only standard answers. These requests are vague and should be answered accordingly - this is at least what I do.

A polite answer would be something like "I fear your requirements do not match the lack of seriousness you show in your correspondence. Please feel free to get back to me once this point has been improved. Wishing you a nice day."

Period.

HTH
Laurent K.


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conejo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:35
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Some people just don't know how to communicate Jul 10, 2009

I agree that if it is from a hotmail account, the person's name only says "John", and there is no company name listed, my alert bells go off. Because this sounds like some kind of a rip-off artist.

But I also get a lot of emails that sound like the ones you wrote about, that are actually from companies that are listed on ProZ and seem reputable. And sometimes if you get enough information from them, they can be good payers and good clients. So if a company name is stated I wouldn't necessarily write them off immediately.

In any case with these emails, I typically send back a list of questions. (It can be helpful to have a file already made up in your computer with the list of questions, so that it saves time.)

The questions basically fill in any information the person did not state. Such as:

1. What is your company name?
2. Please send the file so that I can look at it. If this is not possible without an NDA, send me one and I'll sign it. (Alternatively, ask them the field the project is in.)
3. Word count?
4. Deadline (date/time/time zone)?
5. Normal payment terms of your company? (net 30, etc.)
6. Payment method? (check, PayPal, bank transfer, etc.)

And just tell them you need the above information to make a quote. Which you do. And, usually, if they are flaky or a rip-off artist, you will never hear from them again.

Sometimes, the person will send back an email with all the answers. If so, great.

Sometimes, the person will answer 3 of the questions. If that is the case, I send them back another email with the remaining 3 questions. If they don't answer it, I don't work with them.

If they can't answer the above questions within a reasonable amount of time, they are going to be a hassle to work with anyway. So... take it as a communication test.


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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:35
Russian to English
+ ...
Don't be too hasty Jul 10, 2009

I recently received two emails of the sort described, i.e., only first name used, free e-mail service, no company identified, subject matter not described. Since I was between jobs, I responded -- albeit somewhat curtly -- asking that they identify themselves more fully and send me the documents to be translated for me to examine before quoting.

Both provided enough information for me to check them out in ProZ.com, and they sent me the documents for review. In one case, the query had come from a translator who outsources on an occasional basis. In the other case, the query was from a company with an extensive Blue Board record.

Since I was between jobs from my regular customers, I figured I had little to lose. I ended up accepting a small assignment from each of them. Both were very responsive during the translation process, and the translator who outsources asked me some follow-up questions that showed real concern with the quality of the translation.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some answers Jul 10, 2009

Tjasa Kuerpick wrote:
Example 1:
I need this (address of a webpage) translated. What is your rate?
Best regards


Here's a good opportunity to educate the client about how to ask for web site quotes. Tell him your per-word rate and tell him that you can only give a final quote if he sends you the web pages to the translated. Explain to him that you might miss pages or count pages that he had not intended.

We are an international translating agency based and seek cooperation with professional translators and translating agencies abroad. ... Right now we have an order for translation of 70 pages of documents from x into y, the required delivery date is in 5 days (date, hour). The documents will be attached as soon as you are seriously interested. ... Please send us your best quote in EUR per word. Note that as we are addressing many vendors at the same time there will be little room for negotiation and we are likely to accept the best quote from the first round. In any case we will welcome a comprehensive price list of all language combinations you offer.


This is a wonderful mail -- it gives you all the information you're looking for without wasting your time, and explains to you (in case you're dull) how you can answer in a way that would not waste the client's time. I don't see what's wrong with it.

Comment: Note that these 5 days include Saturday and Sunday.


This should really only matter if you're a Jewish Christian.

As we are expanding and our customers demand translations into x ,we are looking for experienced translators. Currently we have a job for you. If you are interested in a long-term cooperation, please reply asap.


Again, a wonderful mail. The ball is entirely in your court. You can answer this mail in a single paragraph in which you state your usual rate, your payment terms and a description of the services you offer.

Example 4:
We are looking for professional translator who will work for us for our clients who need translations into x. Please fill out the attached data sheet and our agreement. We will get back to you as soon as we get a job from that client.
We also have attached our General terms, and payment conditions.


This is a good opportunity for you to get some experience in reading contracts and crossing out sections that you disagree with. And how long does it take to fill in a data sheet? Surely you spend a few minutes each day on marketing and admin, and this would be the time to fill in such a document. Filling in forms also helps you being ready to fill in more important forms (from more promising clients) with better wording in a shorter time.

3) Do not mention any company name, or other contact details.


When this happens, I ask for it in my reply (but I do reply and I do reply in a professional manner as if the client is worth gold).

4) There are never any documents (the one to be translated) attached.


In some parts of the world it is regarded as rude to attach files without getting permission first, even if you're asking for a quote. I agree that it is useful to see the text as soon as possible, but it's not the end of the world if it aint available immediately.

Some clients want you to sign an NDA first, and perhaps some other clients are afraid that you might be the dull type of translator who starts translating immediately.

5) None of them mentions which field in particular they need a translation (or)
6) None of them mentions from (or in to) which language they need a translation (or)
7) They mention only "a text" or either pages without mentioning the amount of words, or even bader - nothing


Let's think about why this might be so:

* They are uncertain about how translations are generally quoted for
* All their previous translators charged per page, not per word
* All their previous translators accepted all work, so there's no need to know what the work entails beforehand

Or even... legislation in their country does not permit them to solicit via e-mail unless prior permission has been obtained (this is true of much of Europe, by the way), which means that their first e-mail must appear as an enquiry, or a request for continued communication, and not a solicitation.

8) They are forcing lowest market rates for professional service
9) If you answer one of them asking for more details, or
10) point out that they can get a translation by respecting our general terms, typically you dont hear from them anymore. (usually my feedback on a bunch of attachments, like agreements, etc.)


These things are both in your hands. No-one is forcing you.

Are people too lazy to write a good business letter/request? The emails are getting shorter and shorter, which in fact makes it far more difficult to reply to, as it contains nearly no information.


If too little information is given, reply with more generic information. If specific information is requested, reply with that information. If the client had neglected to mention certain information (e.g. the name of their company), ask for it politely.

What do you think?


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Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 20:35
Japanese to English
Proz could set some standards for this Jul 11, 2009

International standards are used in lots of industries to save time, money and aggravation.

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Suyash Suprabh  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:05
English to Hindi
+ ...
It depends... Jul 11, 2009

Generally, I send them a reply asking for "missing" information. If they send me a satisfactory reply, I think about working on their projects. Some clients seem to be unaware of the importance of the "first impression".

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Tjasa Kuerpick  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 13:35
Member (2006)
Slovenian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Just imagine Jul 11, 2009

Imagine getting an e-mail about a change in a product order ... without the name of the product! While it may be hard to believe, all too often e-mails concerning orders —placing, changing, acknowledging, delaying, and apologizing — omit crucial information. The reader is obliged to reply with a request for the omitted data. And you have to send a second e-mail containing what you forgot the first time around. And this takes additional time — the clients and yours.

All the more reason to pause to verify the name of product, number of units, confirmation numbers, shipping information, shipping address, and applicable dates before sending. Or better yet, use a template.

Same is in our translation industry. Far to often emails are send by clicking too fast on the send button, without taking time to read it over once again. Sometimes emails are written on the go. "Give me a minute ... I just have to send an email!"

I certainly understand that emails are different from old postal letters, or that there are some among them who prefer coming straightforward to the point. Nevertheless it should contain essential information to avoid a lot of follow-up emails, namely expressing an interest for example
What – Wants to receive a quotation
What for: a translation of a French text into English on (specific field) eg. Farming
Additional info: amount of words, suggested/desired deadline
Requested info: rate and conditions

Dont misunderstand me, even if the email lacks crucial information, I politly remind the person, to provide these missing information. No problem, as you never know, who is the reader on the other side or who else will read the email? I even considered that it might be person, who never asked for quotation for a translation. Why not beeing polite and take time to answer their questions.

Lately when I checked my last emails, I was in fact starting to think about a way to better communicate with such "forgetful speedy writers" Who knows, may be one of them wont need my service this time, but the next time.


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:35
English to French
+ ...
just an example received on Saturday Jul 12, 2009

From out of the blue.
I translated the message as it was received in German.
I have no track so far of having even exchanged mails or quotation with this person in the last 2 years.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Hi Dominique,

I have a new job. CLient : XXX(end client)

Source language : German
Target language : French
CAT: Trados
Rate:XXX Euro
Deadline: 15.07.2009
PDF-file as reference only.

Regards

X Y (Name and surname, but no address/company details)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Attached to the message (11 Mo !) : 1 huge PDF file (17 000 words) and various ttx, mdf, wmf, iix ... which I suppose are Trados formats. No source file, Word or Excel.

I don't have Trados, I use Wordfast. I can't even read any of the files, only the pdf ...
Am I supposed to translate a "pretranslated" file ? To proofread a bilingual file ? The rate (in the area of 0.02 eur/w if I consider the pdf material) suggests it is proofreading.

One positive point though : the person uses my name, not my username on Proz, so I suppose they checked perhaps my CV... who knows... I made my investigations too and found that the person is on the Blueboard with a high rating.

Well ...the 14th of July is a bank holiday in France (Bastille day) ... the weather is fine ...


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Clients requesting a quotation in a lazy way

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