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"Firing" agencies for lack of results?
Thread poster: grigua

grigua
English
May 4, 2012

How many contracts and NDAs do we sign every year with agencies?

Personally, a lot. Some clients would not even send me their translation test without signing a bit of paper before.

Although most of agencies finally lead to some work, I would say a good 20% of these contacts lead to nothing but promises.

That got me thinking. Why should I keep those contracts in place?

I can understand the reasons for the agency: the more their vendor database is detailed, the more they appear valuable to the clients.

But what's in it for me? These contracts burden me with obbligations and responsibilities. At the very least, they take my time every year in order to be updated.

So I started thinking about "firing" the old and least productive of these agencies, with a simple email.

"Dear XXXX, as per mail below,

I signed a vendor agreement with your agency this past YYYY. However, no project has followed since.

For this reason, I would prefer to sever the contract and thus be freed from its obbligations according to the policy in chapter Z.
For the same reason, I would kindly ask to be removed from your database too.

Should a specific project need my services in the future, feel to reach me anew.

Regards, Joe Freelance


What do you think? If any of you has worked in an agency before, what would be your feelings towards a similar message?


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 08:08
Chinese to English
Are they really getting benefit from us? May 4, 2012

If I thought that an agency was using my name/reputation to attract clients, and then no passing the jobs to me, I would be very irritated, and would probably try to do more than just sever the contract. But past that, I'm just not sure it's worth the hassle. Life's too short!

 

Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:08
German to English
What responsibilities? May 4, 2012

Just what are these "obligations and responsibilities" that you feel burdened with? It's unclear to me how you can have any responsibility at all towards someone for whom you haven't done any work - I certainly don't feel any.

I agree with Phil - unless there's any reason to think otherwise, I would just regard it as part of the normal busines process and focus on the work I actually did have.


 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:08
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The contract was non-binding May 4, 2012

I can't remember an agency contract ever binding both parties if no work has been contracted.

There is always a clause to the effect that the agency has no obligation to give work and the translator has no obligation to do work, at least until a specific job comes up which both parties agree to.

So the contract only kicks in if you are offered a job and you accept it.


 

Rolf Keller
Germany
Local time: 01:08
English to German
I wouldn't do that May 4, 2012

grigua wrote:

These contracts burden me with obbligations and responsibilities. At the very least, they take my time every year in order to be updated.


??? Just put them in a folder, alphabetically ordered, and forget them.

what would be your feelings towards a similar message?


The reactions will range from "Last week a rice sack fell over in China" to "Seems to be a 'difficult-to-deal-with' person."

(BTW, you want to revoke a written signature via a simple e-mail? What about the demonstrability.)


 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:08
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Agree, but do what? May 4, 2012

Phil Hand wrote:

If I thought that an agency was using my name/reputation to attract clients, and then no passing the jobs to me, I would be very irritated, and would probably try to do more than just sever the contract. But past that, I'm just not sure it's worth the hassle. Life's too short!


Many years ago I filled in a form for an agency, it even required a photo, no skin off my nose so I attached one. Fast forward a few years and an employee of that same agency moved to another, contacted me to do a translation and then recognised me as being the person used on their former agency's promotional material. I hadn't done a single job for that agency and forgotten we'd ever even been in touch. I wrote to them expressing my dissatisfaction, no reply, not a peek - what to do? Sue them? Agencies know most translators haven't got the resources or time for this and most of them get away with it. A lot of them will use your face, name and credentials to secure the job and then farm it out to the lowest bidder.


 

Tina Colquhoun  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:08
Member (2005)
Danish to English
+ ...
Vindictive May 4, 2012

It just seems a little vindictive. As if you want somehow to 'punish' these agencies/potential clients for not providing you with projects. Forget it. Sending out e-mails, signing contracts, etc. is surely just part of general marketing. You win some. You lose some.

If you are worried about wasting time, why do you want to spend even more time on this pointless exercise?


 

Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:08
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Don't mind doing it once but no updates though May 4, 2012

I wouldn't go so far as contacting them to have them remove me from their databases, but if they contact me for nonsense I will.

Actually just last week I had an agency contact me telling me they had changed their "paperwork" and I had to send a signed terms and conditions agreement, a signed NDA, a signed "Translator Info Sheet" and go into their website and enter some details in the website, and all of this ASAP. I hadn't heard from them in 3 years after passing their test.

This is what I answered:

"Thank you for sending me this info, unfortunately since I registered with your company and passed the test in April 2009 (3 years ago) I haven't received a single job offer from your company, therefore I see no point in signing these new documents, if that entails being removed from your database that’s OK as being in it hasn't produced any results anyway.

Best regards"

They didn't answer back

[Edited at 2012-05-04 10:27 GMT]


 

christela (X)
Pointless for everyone May 4, 2012

Tina Colquhoun wrote:

If you are worried about wasting time, why do you want to spend even more time on this pointless exercise?


Sometimes I get the impression that it is even a pointless exercise for the agencies. Something to keep trainees and PMs busy in calm periods.

I say this because I just filled in a form and sent all my details to an agency I work with on a regular basis since two years. I even got a 'warning' reminder after 24 hours. It seemed so bizarre to me, they know me very well, and have enough other translators.


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:08
German to English
two issues May 4, 2012

I agree with everyone else about the "Who cares?" aspect. And I certainly doubt that agencies give clients access to their database of translators or that dishonest agencies really consult their data bases before promising potential clients the moon and stars. (That is to say, I think that the agencies don't generally have any more advantage from your presence in their databank than you have obligations and responsibilities.)

On the other hand, there may be a real problem with agencies committing fraud and related crimes or unethical practices by systematically including information from one group of translators in their bids (or using their photos on image brochures!) but giving the actual work to less qualified (or less photogenic), cheaper translators.

Theoretically, having your information removed from their database or making a written request that they do so might make it easier for their victims to prove fraudulent intent ... but I still don't think that this theoretical possibility has much real relevance.

Sincerely,
Michael


 

Tina Colquhoun  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:08
Member (2005)
Danish to English
+ ...
On a more positive note... May 4, 2012

...perhaps you should focus on the fact that you seem to have an 80% success rate in your applications. Not bad!

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:08
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
If you want to do anything at all, send a friendly greeting May 4, 2012

If you contact them at all, send something friendly.

Last summer, I took my break at short notice, so I sent a hasty mail to my best clients before I set off... and kept an eye on my mails while I was away.

Work was a little quiet when I came home, so I sent a 'postcard' - a photo of where I had been - to several of the friendlier PMs from agencies that pay well icon_biggrin.gif including some who had not sent any work for some time. I simply wished them a good summer and said I was back at work...

I will certainly do that kind of thing again. Several of their regular freelancers were still on holiday, and I soon had plenty of jobs!

A friendly reminder of your existence might not bring in any work from agencies you have never worked for, but it might help. I guess 'firing' them is a sure way of discouraging them. It is a free market. Clients are entitled to collect information about service providers, but not obliged to work with them afterwards.
(Just as you look around before buying a car or a house, or choosing a builder to carry out repairs...)

Most NDAs I sign are long-term - I agree not to pass on anything confidential ever, even after I have stopped working for the agency. So they cannot be revoked.
I archive them and only refer to them again if the agency contacts me later.

Best of luck!


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:08
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I can relate to the poster's irritation May 4, 2012

There is a time to be friendly, and there is a time to be a surly SOB....

Although I understand that such wasted time is, as others here have essentially stated, "just part of doing business," I also don't like it when I'm not contacted by an agency after I've done tests, filled out forms, and submitted paperwork.

One thing I've done in the past is send an e-mail to agencies I registered with (usually in cases when I actually had to do a test) after six months or so, asking them to remove me from their databases unless they had a reasonable expectation that they might have work to offer me within the next six months or so.

In related cases, in which at least three years have passed since I've done work for an agency, and I continue to receive their Christmas greetings, notifications of change in its management, invitations to drop by their booth at the next ATA Conference, etc., I've asked to be removed from its database if they did not intend to offer me work in the near future.

Rarely have these actions actually resulted in getting work from these agencies, but at least I no longer have to see messages from them in my Inbox, so I count it as a win.

I receive enough junk e-mail as it is. I have no interest in correspondence from agencies that don't offer me work over a period of years or (a related sore point) in continually receiving offers that are low-paying and/or require software I don't use.

I truly see no point in moldering in someone's "database" for years (presumably, as some sort of backup option in the event of the recurrence of a Black Death that wipes out all of my cheaper competition).

[Edited at 2012-05-04 14:31 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:08
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A neutral message terminating the contract May 4, 2012

Yes, I am in this situation too. I have about half a dozen agreements that did not lead to a single word translated. I have cancelled some contracts already with the adequate notice, and am trying to find the time to take care of the rest.

Since I noticed this could happen, I only sign the agreements when I have the first PO in the hand. A vast majority of customers have found this a sensible thing to do, and if someone has insisted in having the contract signed before even considering me for jobs... then I do not sign the contracts and wish them all personal and professional luck.

You must be careful with the method of communication for the termination notice, which is normally stated in the contract. An email might not be enough. As for the tone of the message, a neutral message is enough. No need to be vindictive, just practical.icon_smile.gif


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:08
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Terminating is best if the contract serves no purpose May 4, 2012

Tina Colquhoun wrote:
It just seems a little vindictive. As if you want somehow to 'punish' these agencies/potential clients for not providing you with projects. Forget it. Sending out e-mails, signing contracts, etc. is surely just part of general marketing. You win some. You lose some.

To me, this attitude does not reflect the fact that every translation professional considers all agreements to be worthy of consideration and binding. If a contract in the drawer does not mean anything after a certain period of time, i.e. clearly did not serve its purpose, it is best to kindly terminate it, since you do not know whether the other part has a different opinion and this could have negative consequences in the long run.


 
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