When an agency stop giving you jobs
Thread poster: xxxihd

xxxihd
Local time: 09:32
May 4, 2012

Hey Proz users
I need your advice on this. I would really appreciate your help.

There's an agency that I have been working for a year.
In the beginning, the agency only gave me checking jobs. I was grateful for them in the beginning. But some of the translated documents I received were simply awful. After asking for translation jobs repeatedly, I started getting some from August. I asked them to give me only translation jobs in November because some of the documents were simply shocking. I still don't understand how these "translators" got the job :S

Toward the end of March, I had a project that was due on Tuesday. I also received a project that was due on Friday on that day; however, the agency asked me to send them a batch on Wednesday. The document itself was 12-page long. I handed them a page on Wednesday. On Thursday evening, they asked me to send them more pages, since a page wasn't enough (they said that the editor needed to start working). However, they sent me an e-mail at 10pm. At this time, I was already in bed. The following morning, I sent them another page. The second page contained charts and was the most time-consuming part of the entire document. I explained that to them. Although I had already finished all 12 pages by Friday morning, I wanted to proofread them. I sent the document much earlier than the deadline.

They stopped giving me any job after this incident. I understand their perspective, but I don't agree with it. I handed in my work on time. And I honestly had most of the documents done by Thursday. If they wanted me to send them more by then, they could have told me sooner. And again, I had just finished another project the day before.

I also did some trial translations (that weren't in my field) because they couldn't get any other translator to do them for the agency. However, they haven't gotten back to me with the result even though I asked them twice. I spent my time on them and I am sure that they were of passing quality.

Although they could be difficult at times, I really enjoyed working for them. How would you advice on proceeding with this matter so they will be inclined to give me more jobs in the near future? After all, I did go over horrible documents (for the checking jobs) for months.

Thank you for reading this.

[Edited at 2012-05-04 12:45 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:32
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I would look for other clients May 4, 2012

It is always sad when a good arrangement comes to an end.
I know the feeling. I have worked with agencies I was very happy with, and then for various reasons - I don't always know why - I have been dropped.

A couple have been in financial difficulties, and then it is a pity to end a good relationship by getting into debt. One agency did, others did not.

I suspect some agencies simply do not have so much work in my language pairs - they mail me when they have, but there can be long intervals in between.

I am not sure asking them why they dropped you is a good idea. If there was a problem about the last job, then as long as there is no issue about paying you, it is probably best to ignore it and let them forget it.

Send them a greeting at the next public holiday. (Christmas is a long way off...) Or send a little newsletter to say you are taking a break, even if it is only a long weekend, and tell them when you will be back at work. Here you could mention your normal working hours, perhaps in a signature along with your address and other details at the bottom of the mail, but large enough to be visible. Freelancers need sleep and time off like everyone else!

Make out a completely neutral expression of good wishes that you could send to most of your clients. Whether you send it to other appropriate clients or not is unimportant.

Simply wish them well and remind them of your existence. That or might not have the desired effect, but it will show them that you are still happy to work with them.

Meanwhile look for other clients. It is never wise to depend too much on one or two.

Best of luck!


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Rolf Keller
Germany
Local time: 02:32
English to German
That's the way the business world works May 4, 2012

indie_hunk wrote:

I still don't understand how these "translators" got the job


There are lots of translators who are "translators", many of these have certificates, long "experience" an even happy (but incompetent) clients.

This is one of several reasons why many clients are not willing to pay reasonable fees. "Probably I'll get a bad translation anyway. So, why not go right to a cut-price bidder?"

so they will be inclined to give me more jobs in the near future?


Regardless of what you do, they will continue to do what they want to do. You have to face up to that.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:32
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Stop May 4, 2012

indie_hunk wrote:
Although they could be difficult at times, I really enjoyed working for them. How would you advice on proceeding with this matter so they will be inclined to give me more jobs in the near future? After all, I did go over horrible documents (for the checking jobs) for months.

Drop them. Full stop. This "could be difficult at times" is unacceptable. We need professional agencies that are not "difficult at times".

Clearly they did not want to use you as a translator in the first place (probably for cost reasons), and they used their first slightest opportunity to drop you. Forget about them and move on. Look for more customers.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 08:32
Chinese to English
You may have to drop them May 4, 2012

As my colleagues above say. But you can educate clients, and if the work is interesting, it can be worth it.
Say to them what you've said to us. Don't apologise for the fact that you didn't reply to an email after 10pm (I mean, be polite. In English I'd start that email with a "sorry", as in "sorry I missed your email late last night", but that's not a mea culpa apology). Be positive and tell them you enjoy working with them.
If they've had a few months of the good stuff with you, some of their clients will wonder why the quality drops off suddenly. They will want to work with you again. You just have to be firm, professional and polite.

But be prepared for it not to work. You may just have to chalk this one up to experience.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:32
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Precisely! May 4, 2012

Rolf Keller wrote:
This is one of several reasons why many clients are not willing to pay reasonable fees. "Probably I'll get a bad translation anyway. So, why not go right to a cut-price bidder?"


... and quite often they lack reliable means to ascertain the quality they receive.

Once I took a translation test from an agency, and they were quite nice to send me feedback on it. Though I passed, it became obvious from the annotations there that the person they were using to assess such tests in my pair was NOT qualified to work on such material as a translator.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:32
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Why do you want to work with them? May 4, 2012

indie_hunk wrote:
In the beginning, the agency only gave me checking jobs. I was grateful for them in the beginning. But some of the translated documents I received were simply awful. After asking for translation jobs repeatedly, I started getting some from August. I asked them to give me only translation jobs in November because some of the documents were simply shocking. I still don't understand how these "translators" got the job :S


I'm sure these "translators" were paid peanuts for their translations then the agency paid a real translator to retranslate the texts for the rate of proofreading

they sent me an e-mail at 10pm. ... I sent the document much earlier than the deadline....They stopped giving me any job after this incident....If they wanted me to send them more by then, they could have told me sooner.


They expect you to be at their beck and call 24-hours per day whenever they want to change the terms of your contract - and then THEY are upset with YOU even though you fulfil your obligations?

I also did some trial translations (that weren't in my field) because they couldn't get any other translator to do them for the agency. However, they haven't gotten back to me with the result even though I asked them twice.


There are thousand of translators in your pair - doesn't it seem strange they couldn't find anyone? Have you asked yourself why nobody wanted the job?

Although they could be difficult at times, I really enjoyed working for them. How would you advice on proceeding with this matter so they will be inclined to give me more jobs in the near future?


Please let us into the secret of the appeal of this company - did they pay twice the market rate within the hour? Why else would you want to continue working with them?

I'm sorry, but your business relationship sounds more along the lines of a dog that fawns around the master who's beating it. Wouldn't you do better putting your efforts into looking for other clients before you lose your self-respect?

Sheila


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kmoonwalker
Local time: 02:32
English to Polish
small example May 4, 2012

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Rolf Keller wrote:
This is one of several reasons why many clients are not willing to pay reasonable fees. "Probably I'll get a bad translation anyway. So, why not go right to a cut-price bidder?"


... and quite often they lack reliable means to ascertain the quality they receive.

Once I took a translation test from an agency, and they were quite nice to send me feedback on it. Though I passed, it became obvious from the annotations there that the person they were using to assess such tests in my pair was NOT qualified to work on such material as a translator.


From almost a decade I’m watching decrease of translations quality which is most probably caused by plenty of people who call themselves “professional translator” or somehow alike. They do very bad thing for our “market”. Let’s say you put advertisement that you need somebody to translate (technically) manual for lift computer (which basically contains also lift operation, etc.) and it has about 20 pages of text. Total manual is 30 pages with pictures, drawings, etc. some of those “translators” offered 200 zloty (Sic!) for this job. (usually for technical is 30 zł + VAT tax per standard page and it’s very cheap offer). How anybody can expect something good in return?

But on the other hand customer in most cases is looking for cheapest solution. It of course ends when he damages accidentally something expensive like couple thousand € worth machine (I’ve seen such situations). I’m also seeing frequently translated manuals from which you cannot be sure if to grease (and where!) that machine...
Problem we’re facing is that customer doesn’t have enough knowledge to recognise proper price tag. I’ve been laughing very loud last week when somebody told me that technical translation should be cheaper since it’s not the poetry. Cheaper maybe but not for proposed price which was below normal translation charge and not even speaking about technical level... :/

As for person checking... – I have knowledge for. ex. how different machines operate (with usage and years of servicing them) and 99% doesn’t have a clue so may correct general language, etc. but not technical things. I had claims because while making corrections sb changed things because I’ve translated them wrong so same day I’ve received email from him with (not so nice comments) and second one from office in agency that customer is very unhappy because I’ve written some nonsense...


[Zmieniono 2012-05-04 23:04 GMT]


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:32
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
A possible reason May 5, 2012

Your charge for translation is too high for them.

In the past couple of years, hundreds of new agencies were created by former freelancers. Many of them charge a very low rate to their clients.

I once worked for an agency, who later replied to a job I posted, with a rate that was even lower than I charged them on their previous jobs. I guess their marketing staff didn't know that I was working for them.

The point is that some agencies are desperate to get jobs at any rate, and then use very cheap translators to get a draft, and a better translator to make the draft acceptable.

In your case, I guess your translation rate is higher than they expect but your editing rate is within their range.


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xxxLucyPatterso
English
It can be a matter of luck finding decent agencies May 9, 2012

I would forget about this agency for now. If they are successful, they will be able to identify the talent and will come back to you eventually with new jobs. I have had a few agencies go quiet for a while - probably trying out some new and cheaper translator - but they must have had a disappointing experience as they started contacting me again after a few months.

It does not sound like you have done anything significantly wrong. Proofreading can be awful, as you have discovered - so refuse to do any or charge a high rate to make it worth your time. If the agency needed half of the document by a certain day, they should have said so. "A batch" is fairly value (although I would usually consider this to be more than a page to be honest).

Stick to your guns and apply to reputable-seeming agencies who appear to be doing well in the market. They will value your professionalism, expertise and reliability.


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Rebecca Lyne
France
French to English
+ ...
Theory vs Reality Jul 5, 2012

[I'm sorry, but your business relationship sounds more along the lines of a dog that fawns around the master who's beating it. Wouldn't you do better putting your efforts into looking for other clients before you lose your self-respect?

Sheila [/quote]


Sheila, In theory I totally agree with you. I too am having issues at this time with agencies. However, the reality is that people have to eat. When an otherwise important client drops you for reasons that have nothing to do with quality, it can be difficult and near impossible to recover financially at least in the short term. And short term financial issues can be devastating if you are on your own.

Best,
Rebecca

[Edited at 2012-07-05 08:55 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:32
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Harsh, but business IS harsh Jul 5, 2012

Rebecca Lyne wrote:
Sheila, In theory I totally agree with you. I too am having issues at this time with agencies. However, the reality is that people have to eat. When an otherwise important client drops you for reasons that have nothing to do with quality, it can be difficult and near impossible to recover financially at least in the short term. And short term financial issues can be devastating if you are on your own.


Maybe the words I chose were a little harsh, Rebecca, and for that I apologise to the OP, but I stand by the message I gave.

I understand that it isn't always possible to pick and choose jobs or clients. If you are the sole breadwinner in the family and/or freelance translating is your only source of income (we don't of course know whether that's the OP's position), then you may need to accept less-than-perfect working conditions when a client is offering work. But if that client stops offering, then it's time to start putting all your time and energy into finding new, and hopefully better, clients.

Also, being so financially dependent on a client (be they good, bad or indifferent) that you find it near impossible to recover if the work dries up is a highly dangerous situation to be in. A full-time freelancer should have several clients on their books who send regular work and form the foundations of their client base, plus several other less-regular ones. If you are spending a significant portion of each month working with one client, then you risk financial disaster if they go under, or even if they simply find a different supplier. That doesn't make business sense.

Sheila


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