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Agency wants more paperwork. Am I being picky ?
Thread poster: Faustine Roux

Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:11
English to French
Dec 27, 2012

I need your advice on a little « issue ».
I contacted an agency a little while ago (July 2012 or something) to be part of their translator base. They made me fill out a questionnaire and demanded a translation test and a grammar/punctuation test, which I passed. It took them a good month to get back to me to let me know that I passed everything and that I was now included in their database of translators.

Today, they contacted me to ask me to provide a CV and copy of my degree, fill out a specialisation questionnaire, and sign their agreement. They claim they need all that because of an ISO norm, and without these documents, I can’t be included in their database….
Now, I think this is a bit over the top.

Also, their agreement stipulate that translation « must be faultless » in terms of style, grammar and spelling. While I always make sure I provide perfect work, I can’t always guarantee that one comma will not be missing somewhere. I don’t like this « must be faultless », it sounds like a threat.
They also impose Trados discount (I don’t have Trados) and if I understood well, they provide « pre-translated documents » to translate. The agreement actually include a tutorial to learn how to translate such files.. I already have a headache.

So my questions are : do you think, like me, that being asked to provide more documents after having passed a test is over the top ?
And is it very common to receive pre-translated files to translate ? As I specialise in subtitling, I’m not that familiar with « proper » translation procedures such as weird formats like « trados files ». And I don't really feel like having to learn how to translated this type of document, while I could just put a Word file into Wordfast...

I actually don’t feel comfortable with all that, but maybe I’m just being picky. Your input will be much appreciated and I thank you all in advance for your help.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:11
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Forget them Dec 27, 2012

They're just a bunch of time-wasting bureaucrats. I would advise you to have nothing more to do with them. If this is how they want to set up a working relationship with you, just imagine what it would be like if you actually started working with them !

Walk away !


 

Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:11
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
... Dec 27, 2012

OK, that was my first reaction, to be honest. I also don't like to be imposed an agreement after passing a test. They don't leave any room for any negotiation.

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:11
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Lots Dec 27, 2012

Unfortunately there seem to be a lot of agencies like that. I can't imagine who would ever want to work for them. Or indeed, who would ever be able to deliver a good translation to them that they wouldn't wreck.

[Edited at 2012-12-27 15:35 GMT]


 

Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:11
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Who would work for them ? Dec 27, 2012

Loads of people who gave them a 5 on their BlueBoard.

*Sigh*...


 

Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:11
English to German
+ ...
Completely with Tom. Dec 27, 2012

The more you have to sign, fill in etc. the less (paid) work they have for you.
This seems to be a general rule of thumb.

Gudrun


 

Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:11
English to German
+ ...
I just had payment problems Dec 27, 2012

with an agency that had the best (5) ratings in the Blue Board. No negative entry at all. Sometimes this does not mean anything.

What is even more: Some people remove their negative BB entries after being paid, therefore the BB does not always reflect a realistic image.

Gudrun


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Typical Dec 27, 2012

Sounds very "French" to me, in that (in my experience) they always seem to be very picky and demanding (I hope I haven't broken any guidelines with that comment). I'd tell them in no uncertain terms them where to get off...

 

Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:11
English to German
+ ...
Did you already agree on rates? Dec 27, 2012

I always recommend that translators insist on discussing rates and finding an agreement on rates before even accepting any test.
There might well be a requirement for them to get a copy of your CV and degree etc. but I would not waste any time on it before you agreed on rates. If you don't use Trados or a compatible CAT tool, it makes no sense to accept any Trados discouts as you won't be able to benefit from an existing TM they might provide.


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:11
Member
English to French
End-of-year low season Dec 27, 2012

Faustine Roux wrote:
...Today, they contacted me to ask me to provide a CV and copy of my degree, fill out a specialisation questionnaire, and sign their agreement. They claim they need all that because of an ISO norm, and without these documents, I can’t be included in their database…

They have to keep their trainees busy.
Free time can be used to clear filing cabinets and sort paper clips by size, or to print out database listings and update/maintain records.
Yours probably had a few unticked options.

Philippe


 

Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:11
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
oups... Dec 27, 2012

Siegfried,

The rates were agreed before I was given the tests and the questionnaire.

But you're right, I accepted to do the test before asking to have a look at their agreement, which was a mistake. Well, that will be my 2013 resolution no 12: always ask to see the agreement before accepting (or not!) to do any test or to undertake any job.


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 02:11
English to Czech
+ ...
My experience Dec 27, 2012

My experience is that there is usually some space for negotiation. I've seen many similar agreements and when I wanted to work for that agency, I informed them that I'd like to propose some changes to some of the stipulations. If they replied that this was not possible, I let them go. But if they were open to negotiation, I took that contract to my lawyer, we proposed some changes to make the contract less one-sided and I usually managed to reach an agreement.

In your particular case, I would – for example – question the "translation « must be faultless » in terms of style, grammar and spelling" clause. While grammar and spelling are pretty clear (at least in my target language; Czech is very prescriptive), the style thing always leaves some space for discussions.

My advice would therefore be: try to negotiate and if they are not open to discussion, let them go.

ETA
Regarding CVs, diplomas etc.: I always charge a one-off fee for them, because the agency is likely to be using them to win tenders from which I probably won't see a single word. If they do send me enough work in future, I will probably decide to return this fee to them.

[Upraveno: 2012-12-27 16:48 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:11
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's all OK and acceptable.... Dec 27, 2012

....if they already have a job you can take care of.

My office is also ISO 9001 and EN 15038, and when we have a real need of external help we can qualify a person in under one day, or maybe two if we feel a test is necessary. Paperwork required is really minimal, so anything other than an up-to-date CV is just the agency's prerrogative if you ask me, but not required by the standard.

I never understood why a translation job has almost the same requirements as a permanent visa in a foreign country. As others have pointed out, the agency seems to have little work to do now and they fill their time by chasing translators around with paperwork and red tape... with no actual intention of hiring them for the time being.


[Edited at 2012-12-27 17:43 GMT]


 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:11
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Blame the ISO consultants... Dec 27, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
My office is also ISO 9001 and EN 15038, and when we have a real need of external help we can qualify a person in under one day, or maybe two if we feel a test is necessary. Paperwork required is really minimal, so anything other than an up-to-date CV is just the agency's prerrogative if you ask me, but not required by the standard.


[Edited at 2012-12-27 17:43 GMT]


Exactly. In a past life, I spent over a decade dealing with ISO auditors. Standards are usually fairly general and only require that your vendor qualification system be "effective", and that you document whatever methods you use.

The problem is that many companies (and also some auditors) view "thickness of the file folder" as a good proxy for "effectiveness", and it's easier to make the translator fill out sheets upon sheets of paperwork than to put any real thought into the qualification process.


 

Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:11
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good to know it, Tomás Dec 27, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

....if they already have a job you can take care of.

My office is also ISO 9001 and EN 15038, and when we have a real need of external help we can qualify a person in under one day, or maybe two if we feel a test is necessary. Paperwork required is really minimal, so anything other than an up-to-date CV is just the agency's prerrogative if you ask me, but not required by the standard.

I never understood why a translation job has almost the same requirements as a permanent visa in a foreign country. As others have pointed out, the agency seems to have little work to do now and they fill their time by chasing translators around with paperwork and red tape... with no actual intention of hiring them for the time being.


[Edited at 2012-12-27 17:43 GMT]


A current client is asking me to re-register in their website and have ready copies of my credentials, besides my CV. This is for their ISO certification as well.

BTW, the amount of work I receive from them is insignificant.




[Edited at 2012-12-27 19:17 GMT]


 
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