Agency backs out without informing you
Thread poster: Kristina Cosumano

Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:25
Member (2015)
German to English
Aug 27, 2015

Hello all,

I am new to ProZ and this is my first question in a forum here. This may be more suitable in the Agencies category, but ProZ will not permit me to post a question there.

I answered a recent advert for translation work in the jobs listings. The (highly-rated) agency rep wrote that she'd be happy to have me, that she was still in negotiations for the delivery times, and after a back and forth of e-mails (my signing an agreement with their Terms/Conditions, and confirming my rates), but no contract signed for this specific project, I waited.
The evening deadline came and went, and the next morning I wrote to ask if there had been a misunderstanding. Oh, the client apparently got a better offer somewhere else, she replied. Apologies for the confusion.
My question is: is this unusual? Is it my job to push for a concrete agreement in writing right away, or is this just something that happens and is part of the business? Was her response the non-confrontational form of "thanks but no thanks"? (I have been living in German-speaking countries for so long, that I suspect I no longer recognise the "codes" of English-language business correspondence.) I would have just chalked this up to lack of organisation on the agency's part but they come very highly rated here.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Sounds reasonably normal for nowadays, I'm afraid Aug 27, 2015

KristinaC wrote:
This may be more suitable in the Agencies category, but ProZ will not permit me to post a question there.

That particular forum is a private one FOR them, not about them.

a back and forth of e-mails (my signing an agreement with their Terms/Conditions, and confirming my rates), but no contract signed for this specific project

Is it my job to push for a concrete agreement in writing right away

It sounds as though they've registered you as a potential supplier. They also had you down for this particular job, should they be awarded it. Of course, in an ideal world, they should keep you informed and contact you the moment the job falls through. But a busy PM will be busier on the principal tasks of landing jobs and finding suppliers. Lost jobs don't get any priority.

The bottom line is that until a job is confirmed you should only be allocating it the bare minimum of time. And never assume there will be a job at the end of the form-filling tunnel. If this agency pays on time then it will have a good reputation. If it pays sensible rates and provides large volumes of work as well, it will have a great one. Being inconsiderate won't be a big enough sin to warrant negative entries.


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Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:25
Member (2013)
Chinese to English
Never commit until confirmed Aug 27, 2015

In the future, make sure you let the agency know that you cannot commit either until they've confirmed the project/issued a PO. This way you'll be free to accept other work that comes in. There's nothing more frustrating than turning down other jobs only to wind up with nothing because of this sort of thing.

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 19:25
Chinese to English
Agency certainly *should* tell you whether the job is confirmed or not Aug 28, 2015

I have a couple of agency clients who seem not to do much business in my pair, so when they get a potential job, they ask me for a quote, then submit their quote to the end client, then we have to wait to see if we are awarded the job. They're very transparent with me, and I appreciate their business. Of course, we don't always get the contracts, and it's annoying to waste time on a job that doesn't come, but overall it's a healthy and good relationship.

Sometimes the communication just isn't as clear. Perhaps this agency thought they had the job, then the client switched on them at the last moment. Perhaps they know from experience that you get a better response from linguists if you don't tell them that the job isn't confirmed yet. That's not great business practice, but you can understand why it happens. I would say this is a "known risk".


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Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:25
Member (2015)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Aug 28, 2015

Ah, yes, a forum for the agencies themselves... thanks!

It sounds as if what I was told was what actually happened then. I had suspected that the agency had not lost the job at all, but that I may have been underbid by another translator, and that this was the rep's polite, taking-no-responsibilty way of turning me down.

In fact, that may still be what happened, but I'll never know, and the end result is the same.

Thanks for these bits of advice. The request to sign their terms and conditions had made me assume for some reason that I was committing myself to this particular project.


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Elizabeth Joy Pitt de Morales  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:25
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It wasn't an actual project... Aug 28, 2015

...it was a potential one, and if the posting didn't say that, then the PM should have informed you from the start.

Agencies will have you fill out all their paperwork whether they actually plan to give you the project in question or not. The good thing is that, should you hear from this agency again, that part is already taken care of.

I wouldn't let this incident get in the way of establishing a relationship with the agency if they have a good rep.


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