test translations - legit or bogus?
Thread poster: Tom Feise

Tom Feise  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 12:54
Member
English to German
+ ...
Aug 28, 2013

I sent the following email as a reply to an inquiry for a test translation to an inquiry via ProZ (new member, no address etc. given n the email, and none posted on ProZ). Any legit agency would respond to that, in this case they didn't. They will be watched, however.

Below the reply email to an inquiry requesting a 200 word test translation, but without company details, the website associated with the sender was only in Chinese, yet they claim to be able to provide services in all languages. I may be wrong, but there are so many test translation scams about...

>>>snip
By all means, send the translation test, which I will pleased to process under following conditions:

For the test I will charge the same rate as offered. When the first translation project purchase order is issued by you and completed, the fee for the test translation will be taken into account as a deposit on the fee for the first translation project and shown in the invoice.
This fee for the test translation is payable within thirty days via Paypal, and will be deducted as a deposit on the first subsequent translation project.

When you send the test translation, please include a purchase order indicating your full company address, location, contact details with full names and a non-disclosure agreement.

Test translations may not be used for any ongoing project work, unless these are paid in full.
The translator reserves all usage and transfer rights on the translation until it is paid for in full, and after full payment has been effected the translator shall retain the right of authorship.

Looking forward to working with you, and with best regards


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:54
Member
Italian to English
Generalisations Aug 28, 2013

Each translator is free to do as they choose regarding test translations.

Personally I don't see the harm in them, as long as they don't exceed 300 words or so. I don't think it's fair to generalise; if I were an agency owner, I would want to know my translators were capable of turning out professional level work. That's not to say that test translations are the only way to do this; I just don't believe it's fair to demonise the practice outright.

Once you have been in the field you a while, I think you do develop a feel for the agencies who are serious, and those who are simply fielding texts out to different translators to get a text done. Call me naive, but I doubt an agency who uses similar working practices would last very long.

One option is to put a sample translation on your profile, and direct agencies to that.


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
are there? Aug 28, 2013

Tom Feise wrote:

there are so many test translation scams about...




I would question that. There are certainly lots of scams about that target translators as people who generally enter into business remotely, but I don't think that there are many scams about involving test translations.

The only claims that there are test translation scams I've seen are dubious to say the least.
These usually involve claims by translators that a company has purported to be sending them a test translation when they suspect it was actually a real job.
I don't see the logic behind this. If this is an agency's usual practice, it would only ever save them at most about 30€ a time since most translators wouldn't accept a test translation of more than 300 words.

Equally, I always tell agencies that I can't accept a deadline for a test translation because I need to fit them around my usual work.

I don't really think any viable business could thrive on every now and again saving 30€ on the occasional job with no deadline while potentially putting the relationship with their client under threat by not having any idea of the quality of the work that will be returned.

Most of the time, these claims of test translation scams simply arise when translators don't get any feedback from their tests. This is most likely to be because
a) the agency didn't like their test
b) the translator had expectations as to how quickly they would receive a response, which weren't the same as the agency's intention
c) some agencies are simply rubbish at getting back to people


I would personally take a stance as to whether or not to accept test translations and stick with it.
Sending an e-mail with a load of conditions is likely to antagonize the person on the other end because you're setting conditions without first having convinced them of the benefits of working with you.

That's in my mind why you probably didn't receive a response.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:54
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Well, I don't know, Tom. Aug 28, 2013

We often complain here about "high maintenance" clients, those who are going to take up too much of our time on things they aren't directly paying for, and they aren't the ones that we like working with. When you write this type of email in response to a simple request for a test, I would think it would scream "high-maintenance supplier!" to the agency. I doubt that very many legit agencies would bother you with a reply.

Do you really ask for a PO before every job, and an NDA even when they don't specifically request one themselves? Most of my best clients, once we've become settled in our relationship, simply send a file with a few words e.g. "Can you do this for EOB Monday, please?". I reply "No problem" and we have a contract. As for NDA, I take that as given - I don't ask my lawyer or my doctor for one, after all. But I guess we all have our different ways of working.

I'm not saying I would have provided that test, though. I like to know who I'm working for, whether I'm being paid or not. And I do prefer being paid for tests, but I don't think that's always practicable - the most relevant tests are the ones that are sent to several translators, and I can't see how one can expect the client to pay for all of them. Providing a small sample of your work can be seen as an investment in a potential good client relationship, just like the time we spend preparing quotes. But, as you say, scams do exist and we need to do all we can to avoid being abused.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 12:54
English to Polish
+ ...
... Aug 29, 2013

I agree with Sheila on the value of not being a 'high-maintenance supplier'. I believe in minimising the hassle for my clients and agencies, especially as I want them to minimise the hassle they create for me.

Regarding test samples, I believe they're the single most effective form of direct marketing in existence. IMHO, they're better than ads, while you don't need to pay for them. Okay, it's an outrageous thought that you should be charged rather than paid for doing a job for someone else, but an opportunity to show off your l33t skillz is a different matter altogether.

Besides, I want them to take my sample, evaluate it, and expose any ignorant proofreaders, revisers or reviewers they may have. Or any other amateur that feels like correcting the pros, or any other source of trouble. They get a sample of my work, but I get a sample of their own procedures, and I get them to escalate any differences and dissatisfaction before running up a large bill rather than after.


 

Jacqueline Sieben  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:54
Dutch to English
+ ...
Urgent test translation... Aug 29, 2013

When I responded to a job offer from a Chinese agency here at Proz, quoting $ 0.15 per source word, I received an email with the urgent request to provide a sample translation for a large end-client if I wanted to be considered for their project. The sample contained less than 300 words but I was required to return the translation within 8 hours - AND the company did not mention the rate per word for this potential project.

After replying that the agency had not confirmed acceptance of my rate to begin with, and that I would gladly provide the sample translation if the rate per word was equal to the rate quoted above, I never heard from them again...


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agreeing terms beforehand Aug 29, 2013

of course, while I agree with the concept of test translations, I wholeheartedly agree with agreeing rates prior to agreeing to doing a test. (That's lots of agreeing I know).
In some cultures, answering 'no' is seen as ruder than not answering.
I understand that this may sometimes happen when trying to agree terms of business but it's all really part and parcel of the work.
I imagine that if a company does not answer me, they didn't want to work with me/couldn't afford to work with me in the first place. No skin off my nose.


 

Tom Feise  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 12:54
Member
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your thoughts, but... Aug 29, 2013

Thanks for your thoughts, but I think that what may have been overlooked, i.e. the part of my original posting:

"inquiry requesting a 200 word test translation, but without company details, the website associated with the sender was only in Chinese, yet they claim to be able to provide services in all languages"

would justify my "high maintenance approach".

I have been working for some agencies in Europe, the US and the Far East (some even with "only" gmail or hotmail addresses) for many years, and I do not require NDAs or POs for every single little bit they order, because I know "where they live and who they are".

The point is that a request for a test translation sent by a basically anonymous entity is, to my mind, almost as suspicious as the the "please send your full CV and cheapest rate together with the test translation" scam mails that have been polluting the market.


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
If that's the case Aug 30, 2013

Tom Feise wrote:

Thanks for your thoughts, but I think that what may have been overlooked, i.e. the part of my original posting:

"inquiry requesting a 200 word test translation, but without company details, the website associated with the sender was only in Chinese, yet they claim to be able to provide services in all languages"

would justify my "high maintenance approach".

The point is that a request for a test translation sent by a basically anonymous entity is, to my mind, almost as suspicious as the the "please send your full CV and cheapest rate together with the test translation" scam mails that have been polluting the market.


I agree with you that dealing with an agency that does not reveal any company details is not advisable to say the least but from what I can tell, you didn't actually ask for more information on their company, you laid down a set of rules on the basis of which you'd accept a test translation.

In my mind, that doesn't really address the fundamental point, which is that you were hesitant to embark on a business relationship with them unless they provided you with more information on their company.
Equally, you stated that any legit company would have responded to your e-mail and that is what some people have questioned.
I don't think that their legitimacy is called into question simply by the fact that they didn't respond to your email.

Perhaps if you had simply written something along the lines of: "Before I go ahead with this request, please could you provide me with some further information about your company and background? Thanks"
you would at least know that their lack of response indicated an unwillingness to reveal who they are.

As it stands, there is no way for you to know whether their lack of response is an indication that there is something dodgy about this company, or whether it is an indication that they are unwilling to comply with and/or unable to understand your instructions.


 


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