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Recurring problem with job offers
Thread poster: Tina Vonhof

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 00:18
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Sep 22, 2011

My guess is that I'm not alone with this recurring scenario: an agency (either a new client or one I've worked with before) contacts me (by name, not a mass e-mail) wanting to know if I'm available and what my rates are for a certain job (sometimes giving a word count, sometimes not even that). I reply asap (if it's a new client I look them up on the Blue Board and/or on the web) that in order to give any rates and make a commitment, I would need to see the document and know the deadline. They send me the document, I spend 10-15 minutes looking it over carefully (they are often fairly lengthy medical or legal documents) and I give them my rate and the minimum time I would need. Half an hour or an hour later they write back to say "sorry, another translator has already accepted the job". What this means they don't say, whether my rates are too high, I need too much time, or they have contacted ten other people and someone else was just faster on the draw. My biggest problem with this is: why can't they attach the document right away to speed up the process, why do I always have to ask for it first, when they know full well that that is the first thing any translator will need???

Thanks for letting me blow off a little steam and any suggestions on how to handle this differently are welcome.


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 08:18
English to Czech
+ ...
A thought Sep 22, 2011

Tina Vonhof wrote:

...they write back to say "sorry, another translator has already accepted the job". What this means they don't say, whether my rates are too high, I need too much time, or they have contacted ten other people and someone else was just faster on the draw.


Most probably a combination of all of the three above.


 

Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 01:18
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Are those clients from a particular country? Sep 22, 2011

Most cases I have experienced are from potential clients from two very specific countries. This rarely happens to me with current clients. I have come to distrust any potential clients from those two countries. They always ask for my rates, and sometimes send the files in question, but they always reply that "they will let me know upon client's approval". Now, I don't even bother to reply to agencies based there.

HTH

Elías


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:18
French to English
+ ...
Probably budget Sep 23, 2011

Tina Vonhof wrote:
would need. Half an hour or an hour later they write back to say "sorry, another translator has already accepted the job". What this means they don't say, whether my rates are too high, I need too much time, or they have contacted ten other people and someone else was just faster on the draw. My biggest problem with this is: why can't


I've had this a few times, and in some cases I've received an "urgent" request, replied within a couple of minutes, they've sent the document more or less immediately, and I've replied more or less immediately with my price, I'm then told 30 minutes later something to the effect of "Thanks, we've managed to place this one with another translator".

I'm no Sherlock Holmes, but I assume this is a euphemism for "We can't budget that much so have spent the last half hour e-mailing round for another translator".


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:18
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Neil is right... Sep 23, 2011

Believe it or not, some people will accept jobs without even looking at the files.
Earlier today, I saw an advert inviting people with any kind of knowledge of a foreign language to go on a website and start making some "extra money" as a translator.
It seems to me that some companies specialise in low rates and impossible deadlines, quality is not a concern.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 00:18
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It's not about the reasons Sep 23, 2011

Wow Paula, that's unbelievable! I can guess the reasons for being turned down, of course, and after all it is the agencies' right to 'shop around'. But what bothers me is that they never attach the document right away. Maybe there are people who accept a job sight unseen but as far as I can see, it can only lead to trouble later on for both the translator and the agency (e.g., reneging on the rate or failing to meet the deadline), so why waste valuable time and wait till I ask for it? Anyway, it just feels good to have vented my frustration - thank you all for listening and responding.

 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:18
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Attaching the document or not Sep 23, 2011

Tina Vonhof wrote:
But what bothers me is that they never attach the document right away. Maybe there are people who accept a job sight unseen but as far as I can see, it can only lead to trouble later on for both the translator and the agency (e.g., reneging on the rate or failing to meet the deadline), so why waste valuable time and wait till I ask for it?


I totally agree that if a potential client is asking for a quote, they should attach the document.
However, apparently there are people who find that (if the client sends the doc right away) strange, even suspicious.
See the discussion here:
http://www.proz.com/forum/lighter_side_of_trans_interp/195247-funny_or_sad_spam_received.html

Katalin


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:18
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Budget Sep 23, 2011

Based on the fact that 90% of new customers getting in touch did not hire me after a lot of emails and even tests because of my rate, some years ago I decided to report my base rate already in the first reply. This way neither of the two parties loses time sending/opening/checking documents, counting words, writing emails, doing tests, signing contracts that will not be needed, discussing long-term things... if in the end a cooperation will prove to be impossible as soon as we discuss the rate.

By declaring my rate upfront, I only have to spend time on customers who are willing to consider my rate as the starting point for a possible cooperation or negotiation. I think going straight to the main point is the best possible approach for both parties.


 

xxxkalap
It happened to me last week Sep 23, 2011

For a current client, a (medium-sized) agency I know for four or five years. The PM emailed me on Friday 17 o'clock for a small job to be delivered on Monday afternoon, I answered somewhat later, I got thank you and a PO on Monday morning, followed by: "sorry, the PO is cancelled, another translator just accepted the job". She is rather unexperienced or had not been instructed, because you cannot say that to people, but from that moment it was clear to me that even this client had been shopping around for some €-cents.

 

Nani Delgado  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2010)
German to Spanish
You are lucky, Tina, at least you got to see the document! Sep 23, 2011

Well, that was ironic from me. So they found in a few minutes someone else to do the job, I would not bother to work with clients like this anyway, I think you didn´t lose anything. My regular clients ask someone else when I say that I am not available. But if I am, then I get the job. They ask me first (or maybe second, I can´t really know), but they are always fair enough to wait for my response before they continue looking for other available translators.

Tomás approach is a very good one, and I always state my rates as soon as possible too, but at the same time I always try to find out whether the job suits me or not. It also is a waste of time if they accept my rates and later on I eventually got to see a legal text which I definitely won´t translate. icon_smile.gif

I had something similar just yesterday. I got an email from a potential new client looking for technical translators to handle an urgent project mentioning neither the subject nor the length of the document. I answered within a couple of minutes telling the client that I would need to know at least the subject of the text (techniques are a very wide field and I am not familiar with absolutely everything just because it might be technical) or even better, I would like to see the document if possible, so I could deliberate about whether I would accept the job or not, and in which time frame I could be able to deliver it. The client wrote me back saying that she had not only one but several documents and that she already had distributed some of them to other translators. However, she was still looking for help, so I just should only tell her how much I could translate and in which time I could do it. Hmmmm... how much of what actually? OK, so there were several translators that had accepted within a few minutes something that could have been anything possible. That´s not the way I work and I wonder about the quality of the final translation.

However, I wrote back saying that I cannot give any estimates if I don´t even know what we are talking about because she still had not even mentioned the subject of the project, I also stated my rates and told her that when I would be available after seeing the text. She replied that that was too late for her. Well, I would have not accepted any job anyway without seeing the text in advance (except from regular clients from which I always know what to expect from them without seeing everything first).

[Edited at 2011-09-23 09:22 GMT]


 

nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:18
English to French
+ ...
speaking of bizarre offers... Sep 23, 2011

I received this one a couple of days ago. Names changed, of course, but please note that the sender and the "signature" have nothing in common.

Sender: pete.xxx@gmail.com
Title: 4200 words job

Text:
I have a project of about 4200 words on home schooling.
I am in need of a translator who can deliver within 2 weeks.
Email me estimate and process to achieve this. Let me know what language you are based on.
tom267@yahoo.co.uk


So I suppose it's up to me to decide which is the source language and which is the target... maybe I should have asked for the text after all before deciding to ignore it.


 

Graeme Waller  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 09:18
Finnish to English
+ ...
Quite common Sep 23, 2011

Elías Sauza wrote:

Most cases I have experienced are from potential clients from two very specific countries. This rarely happens to me with current clients. I have come to distrust any potential clients from those two countries. They always ask for my rates, and sometimes send the files in question, but they always reply that "they will let me know upon client's approval". Now, I don't even bother to reply to agencies based there.

HTH

Elías



I counted at least five countries from my recent 'potential' clients that have done this.


 

Olly Pekelharing  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:18
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
Rate and deadline first Sep 23, 2011

I agree with Tomás; I always start by sending back my minimum rate/word and the minimum time I would require for x words, depending on the document, format, etc. (without having seen the document). Apparently I'm too expensive and/or too slow, because many of them never reply and it hardly ever results in a match.

 

Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:18
Member
French to English
+ ...
OT - Me too! Sep 23, 2011

nordiste wrote:

I received this one a couple of days ago. Names changed, of course, but please note that the sender and the "signature" have nothing in common.

Sender: pete.xxx@gmail.com
Title: 4200 words job

Text:
I have a project of about 4200 words on home schooling.
I am in need of a translator who can deliver within 2 weeks.
Email me estimate and process to achieve this. Let me know what language you are based on.
tom267@yahoo.co.uk


So I suppose it's up to me to decide which is the source language and which is the target... maybe I should have asked for the text after all before deciding to ignore it.


Funny, I just this minute received the exact same email... but from two different people (not your Pete and Tom, but a Nick and "Sh"). Maybe they want you to translate it into French and me to then translate it into English?! It's worth noting that the email didn't come from Proz but was sent directly to me.

In any case, they forgot to attach the source file, but - like Nordiste - I don't think I'll chase after them to see it! (Otherwise, when interested, I do ask to see the source file before quoting.)

Edited for a typo.

[Edited at 2011-09-23 11:16 GMT]


 

Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 07:18
German to English
+ ...
Quick off the draw Sep 23, 2011

I am amazed at the speed of translators who we are told have apparently already been assigned a job when: I have seen such a request the moment it lands in my mail box; typed a quick reply and sent it straight away. Not 30 minutes later, I am advised that the job is no longer available.
Assuming, say, 10 people have replied to the job query, that would give the agency 3 minutes to assess each application. I take longer to read my own ProZ profile - and I know what is there!

This has to mean that the cheapest rate is chosen, irrespective of qualification of the translator who gets the job, and that some translators are offering to do work at sub-minimum rates and meet unrealistically demanding deadlines (even if they do have CAT tools, which I do not). We will never know how their performance on any given job matches our own theoretical performance.

What we can deduce is that the agency in question most likely accords more importance to lower rates and quicker turnaround than, possibly, to better quality for a slightly higher rate - and to establishing a professional relationship with the translator as a human being, as opposed to a vehicle through which the agency can maximise their cut of the job. These are not agencies with which I would care to work. I do not see how such agencies can maintain this sort of behaviour and be successful for very long.


 
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