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If an agency ask you to sign an agreement before you discuss the job
Thread poster: Taha Amin

Taha Amin  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 02:53
English to Arabic
+ ...
Feb 14, 2014

Recently, I received an answer from 3 agencies, after I replied to their job offer on proz.com. The problem is that they asked me to sign an agreement even before a translation test, or before discussing the project itself. Is it normal? In such case, would you sign the agreement before you know anything about the job?

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Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:53
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Not problematic per se Feb 14, 2014

But generally I find that the more hoops an agency wants me to jump through (tests, forms, agreements, etc.), the less likely they are to have real paying work. These processes waste a lot of my time as well their PMs' time - I don't understand why they go through this junk with people they aren't actually interested in working with.

Nowadays, I only do such bureaucracy on a slow day, and even then I usually regret it.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:53
English to German
+ ...
On your terms Feb 14, 2014

Tim Friese wrote:

But generally I find that the more hoops an agency wants me to jump through (tests, forms, agreements, etc.), the less likely they are to have real paying work. These processes waste a lot of my time as well their PMs' time - I don't understand why they go through this junk with people they aren't actually interested in working with.

Nowadays, I only do such bureaucracy on a slow day, and even then I usually regret it.


If anyone should sign anything, it should be on your terms and after you know everything about the project, and they should sign as well.

[Edited at 2014-02-14 17:38 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:53
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What type of agreement? Feb 14, 2014

It's quite normal to sign an NDA very early on in the process, if one is considered necessary, as they can't send you the source file until that's been done, nor reveal too much about the text. If the test they're proposing is actually from the file that needs translating then clearly it would have to be done in the correct order.

But you can discuss other things before signing anything. Why sign an NDA if there's no way they will accept your rate, or if they refuse to pay you within a sensible period, or if they want you to spend hours reading and signing long agreements of all sorts that are biased towards them, or if they want you to send references, certificates, tax identification papers, plan of your office (it's been done!), etc., etc. before they'll consider giving you any work? In that sort of relationship, you'll find yourself doing an hour's admin for every hour of paid translation, and as Tim says such clients are usually best avoided.

So, in summary, I might sign a simple NDA (and only an NDA) before seeing the text, but only if they said in writing that my terms were acceptable, and only if I felt comfortable with the client.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Even NDAs are usually a waste of your time. Feb 14, 2014

You have to print them out, sign them and initial each page, scan them and send them back. One very large translation company whose name begins with T makes you sign a ten-page agreement before they'll even let you look at a job.

A simple exchange of emails would be a legally valid contract - the customer says "do you agree not to disclose any information that comes into your possession while working for us", and you say yes.

[Edited at 2014-02-14 18:08 GMT]


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:53
French to English
+ ...
Not a problem per se but... Feb 14, 2014

Taha Amin wrote:
Recently, I received an answer from 3 agencies, after I replied to their job offer on proz.com. The problem is that they asked me to sign an agreement even before a translation test, or before discussing the project itself. Is it normal? In such case, would you sign the agreement before you know anything about the job?


In principle there's nothing wrong with signing NDAs, general agreements etc before actually being assigned a job. Obviously, you can't agree to anything *specific* (deadlines, rates, whether or not you agree that you can consult other colleagues and hence disclose material for that purpose, etc) about a job/document that you haven't actually seen.

Just be wary of wasting too much time with agencies that get heavily paperwork-oriented before they've actually assigned you a job -- unless you've got a lot of time on your hands that can't be put to better use, try and really ascertain that a job actually exists for you.


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Saeed Abedini
Iran
Local time: 04:23
English to Persian (Farsi)
+ ...
Signing an agreement wouldn`t prove anything... Feb 14, 2014

If the company or the agency wants to work on agreed conditions, they will not waste your time on signing anything. They usually give you a test and respond in no time, if they really NEED YOU.
But in case you are a beginner with a few clients, you would better take any chances to find more, signing any acceptable contract.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 02:53
English to Polish
+ ...
... Feb 14, 2014

There is no need to go through the process of inspecting, negotiating and revising and otherwise processing a contract before you even know that you're actually being taken on.

On the other hand, requiring a signed NDA before showing you the real text, rather than before you start working on it or before your first payment is made, is actually the more correct way.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:53
Member (2008)
French to English
Adobe Reader XI Feb 14, 2014

philgoddard wrote:

You have to print them out, sign them and initial each page, scan them and send them back. One very large translation company whose name begins with T makes you sign a ten-page agreement before they'll even let you look at a job.

A simple exchange of emails would be a legally valid contract - the customer says "do you agree not to disclose any information that comes into your possession while working for us", and you say yes.


It's no longer that big of a deal nor is all that necessary, with Adobe Reader XI. It has signature tools that allows you to add your signature (which you have previously scanned and saved as a jpeg) and send it straight back. Only takes a few minutes and no need to print or scan anything.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:53
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree the rate first Feb 14, 2014

Agreeing the rate is something you can do before you sign anything or look at any of the customer's files, so make sure they have expressly agreed to a reasonable rate before going any further.

Now, once the rate is all OK and nice, if the customer needs you to sign an NDA before sending you files to examine and quote on, I think that is pretty reasonable and is no big deal.

However, my suggestion is that you only sign a cooperation agreement of any kind once the first job and PO is in your hand. This way you will avoid having dozens of agreements with agencies who never hire you, as can happen in our industry if you do not avoid it.


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Taha Amin  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 02:53
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all Feb 15, 2014

Dear colleagues,
I do thank you for your replies... It has been a wonderful help. Best wishes


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Little Woods  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Member
English to Vietnamese
Asking about a nearly similar situation Feb 15, 2014

I now have a similar situation. I scored really high on a test and was asked to be the editor in a project. I try to tell them let me be the translator but was told the client personally selected me to be the editor and set a low rate. I got the feeling that they tried to persuade me to accept the job without telling me much if I dont carefully ask for it and try to avoid the questions about the payment terms, only that it would be by PP or wire. They dont send me PO or any hard evidence of confirmation and told me there will be a server page served as PO for me to confirm. No such things appeared. Now that after requesting the samples and seeing them, I realized I would put much effort to make them good and build a totally new TM for them that if without my hand-on experience, no one would know.
We didn't sign anything and I believe still in negotiation time but I was told It just a few days to the start of the project.

My question is should I just call off my part in the project at such short notice, which is what I really want now? Or accept to work on the project for the time being when I dont have many projects?

[Edited at 2014-02-15 16:08 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-02-15 16:08 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-02-15 16:09 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-02-15 16:10 GMT]


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:53
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Call it off Feb 15, 2014

I would let them know that you cannot agree to anything until you have seen the material and know the price and other payment terms. If you don't get that immediately, call if off. Never take on a job without seeing the source file(s) and without a proper PO.





[Edited at 2014-02-15 17:09 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-02-15 17:09 GMT]


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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:53
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
I agree with Sheila Feb 15, 2014

someone wrote:

For difficult editing jobs charge at least 3/4 of your translation rate or the same hourly rate as you would for any other work.

I'd say an hourly rate is the only option, otherwise it's like buying "a pig in a poke".

[Редактировалось 2014-02-15 17:15 GMT]


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Little Woods  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Member
English to Vietnamese
Thank you, Tina and Natalia! Feb 15, 2014

I am considering the same thing and would do the same. I really dont want to leave them unprepared but I dont like bullying myself either.

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