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How do you respond to mass e-mails when you are not available?
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:35
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
May 17, 2012

More and more agencies sometimes send out mass e-mails like the following: "because of the tight deadline, I am sending this to several translators to see who is available..."

I am not talking about agencies contacting you out of the blue, but those you work with on a routine basis and that you want to keep as clients.

If you are not available for these projects, do you reply and say that you are not available or do you just assume that someone else will take the project and refrain from adding to the clutter of e-mail responses? In other words, do PMs only want to hear from those who are available and automatically consider your lack of a response to mean that you are not interested?

I feel like it's impolite not to respond, but it's easier not to when you are busy or at the end of the day.



[Edited at 2012-05-17 19:51 GMT]


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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:35
Member (2009)
French to English
Quick reply May 17, 2012

I usually send a quick "Unfortunately, I am fully booked at this time." or "fully booked until XX/XX." It takes so little time to do this that I have not even bothered to make a template. If I am extremely busy, I might not reply immediately, but I always will reply.

I even reply to agencies contacting me out of the blue because the present project will eventually come to an end. If the new agency replies asking for more info, I let them know honestly that my response will be somewhat delayed.

[Edited at 2012-05-18 04:24 GMT]


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 11:35
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Very briefly May 17, 2012

Like Jenn above.

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:35
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
The same as Jenn and Noni May 17, 2012

If I'm too busy with other work, I always reply briefly but politely that I can't take the project on now due to pressure of other work, but say "please contact me again when something suitable comes in".
J


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Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
better to reply May 17, 2012

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

In other words, do PMs only want to hear from those who are available and automatically consider your lack of a response to mean that you are not interested?



[Edited at 2012-05-17 19:51 GMT]


Hi Jeff,

From the point of view of someone who works for an agency as a project co-ordinator (and so am oftn the one waiting for the translator response), generally your lack of reply will be taken in one of two ways. Either the PM/project co-ordinator will take you not replying to mean that you are completely inundated, or will be taken to mean that you're simply not interested.

Personally, for what it's worth, I'd say just send a quick message back along the lines of what Jenn said: "Thanks for the offer but unfortunately am fully booked up until XX/XX. I look forward to hearing from you again should anything suitable comes up after this date." They'll then update your details on their system and, if you usually get a lot of work from them, then they'll get back to you after that date. That said, if they have a small job before that date then they may chance it and get in touch, but that's a sign that they are really pleased with your work


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Kjetil Holm  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 11:35
German to Norwegian
+ ...
... May 17, 2012

Maybe there is something I have missed here, but why should you really need to answer when you are NOT available/interested? I am trying to place myself in the role of the project coordinator. If one of my translators had NOT answered my request, then I would simply assume he/she was busy. I have to confess that I normally don´t answer such mass emails when I am too busy to be able to take on the job. I assume the coordinator has several translators on his or her list for each language, and is only looking to see who actually CAN take the job. In a busy world, do you get offended just because someone does NOT answer? Picture yourself in a room. A lecturer asks the students: "Who can do this job?". Ten people raise their hands, twenty people don´t. And that´s it. Now I don´t want to sound arrogant or anything, but is there really any need - apart from the "courtesy"?

[Edited at 2012-05-17 23:23 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-05-17 23:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-05-17 23:32 GMT]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:35
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My view May 18, 2012

If by "a number" you mean more than 15 or so, I really don't think a reply is called for if you are not available. I think it can be safely assumed that one of the others who have received the mail have replied, and if this turns out not to be the case, you can count on the agency contacting you personally.

I personally hate this kind of "cattle call" approach (even if it is limited, as in Jeff's example, to a more or less restricted herd). I do not want my being or not being contracted to depend on how fast I can respond, if I had a two-minute connectivity hiccup, or was in the bathroom when the offer arrived. I think this is simply an awful business model.

My view is, if you want me to do the work, contact me personally. If you don't do this, don't count on a response from me.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 17:35
Chinese to English
I used to not reply, but then... May 18, 2012

My approach was that if an email doesn't have my name on it, it's a bulk email, and to be ignored if I don't have an interest in its contents. But then I found out in later discussions with an agency that with one such email, they had been waiting eagerly for my reply. So these days if it's an agency that I know, I try to give a brief response.

I don't like it, though. I may be a grumpy young sod, but I've always liked how the internet brought us closer together and allows us to be a bit more friendly. Emails addressed to "Dear translator" or similar get my goat.


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Altrum  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:35
Italian to English
+ ...
I don't reply May 18, 2012

I'm with Kjetil and only reply if I can do the work. One of my agencies actually asks us not to reply if we are not interested. It just makes for extra work opening, reading and discarding refusals.

In the case that Phil mentions I would be wondering, "Well, if you were waiting so eagerly, why didn't you write to me personally in the first place?"


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 16:35
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Short Reply May 18, 2012

I always try to treat both existing and potential clients professionally and politely.

Therefore, even though I am extremely busy at the time, I will respond to the email with a short reply confirming my unavailability.

I think it will take less than five minutes.


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Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:35
Member
English to German
+ ...
I send a short reply... May 18, 2012

I send a short reply stating that I am fully booked and wish the company good luck in finding another translator for their rush job.

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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:35
Member (2009)
French to English
Master strategy May 18, 2012

Kjetil Holm wrote:

Maybe there is something I have missed here, but why should you really need to answer when you are NOT available/interested? I am trying to place myself in the role of the project coordinator. If one of my translators had NOT answered my request, then I would simply assume he/she was busy. I have to confess that I normally don´t answer such mass emails when I am too busy to be able to take on the job. I assume the coordinator has several translators on his or her list for each language, and is only looking to see who actually CAN take the job. In a busy world, do you get offended just because someone does NOT answer? Picture yourself in a room. A lecturer asks the students: "Who can do this job?". Ten people raise their hands, twenty people don´t. And that´s it. Now I don´t want to sound arrogant or anything, but is there really any need - apart from the "courtesy"?

[Edited at 2012-05-17 23:23 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-05-17 23:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-05-17 23:32 GMT]


The real reason has nothing to do with "cattle call" projects, but is instead so that when the PM has a job that only needs one translator and has the time to contact translators individually your name is on the top of his/her mind.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:35
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I dislike that practice May 18, 2012

If the mass email comes from an unknown customer, in general I do not reply unless I find the job especially interesting for some reason.

If it comes from a known customer, I would reply briefly to thank for the opportunity. Luckily, none of my customers sends mass emails of this kind. I had one customer who did it regularly and I profoundly disliked that practice.... as well as the terrible state of their translation memories over the years. I stopped working for them altogether.


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Nadezhda & Vatslav Yehurnovy  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 12:35
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Why not telling about expected unavailability? May 18, 2012

Several of our clients - agencies - have web portals, and the "reported limited availability" is one of the most convenient features there. And it works, so far the PMs almost always send the polite emails starting like "I have noted you are almost unavailable, but could you please..." and they even became more eager to provide the plans for keeping us busy with "their" jobs.

Well, sometimes we also inform the clients about our unavailability beforehand by email, for instance, telling about unavailability for translating into Russian when an intensive 2-4 week project into Ukrainian is expected.

As for the sudden emails on Friday late evening like:
Please, confirm receipt, word counts and the deadline as soon as possible. Please, do not start translating until we give you the go-ahead.
Many thanks in advance for your cooperation.

there is always another email following on Saturday morning about cancellation, so no need to count words instead of getting into bed


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Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
Member
English to Estonian
+ ...
Short reply May 18, 2012

I usually send a short reply to say I'm not available, it takes about 5 seconds the most and if I forget to reply e-mails that don't have my name on it, I'm not bummed either.

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