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Agencies applying for large contracts - waste of time?
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:04
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 16, 2016

I was contacted today by an agency wanting to bid on a large government contract. I have never worked with this agency before. They claimed that in order to bid, they had to submit documentation from translators with at least a three-year university degree and four years of experience.

I wrote back that I have a four-year degree in the language and 22 years of experience.

She immediately sent me the government form to complete and asked for a copy of my university diploma (and that I please sign it). She also asked me to "please hurry" because they are running late on submitting the documentation.

I wrote back that I have never worked with the agency before and - that they don't even know what my rate is (not a question asked on the long form either).

Do you think this is just a scam to use my information and then they will never use my services if and when they get the project?

I could understand if this were an agency I have worked with before, but this is the first time they have contacted me.

[Edited at 2016-02-16 16:26 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-02-16 20:12 GMT]


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JL01  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:04
English to French
+ ...
Bingo Feb 16, 2016

You're getting wiser by the minute.

My résumé, which states that I am an independent contractor, is in the form of an image PDF, with a "copyrighted information - duplication prohibited" watermark, to make it difficult for such agencies to re-use it for their own purpose.


LegalTransform wrote:
Do you think this is just a scam to use my information and then they will never use my services if and when they get the project?

[Edited at 2016-02-16 15:48 GMT]


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 00:04
English to Croatian
+ ...
I always wary. Feb 16, 2016

Thanks for bringing this up.

I am always so cautious sending the copy of my degree in this kind of situations. What you describe is oh just so familiar. An agency manager approaches me in a big hurry wanting the copy of my degree for a tender, they are so keen, they send emails every other day, they phone me, they are so after my degree. OK I send my degree and other requested files, then they just disappear (no contact whatsoever, just full silence). It really gets me thinking they are going to use my degree in ways not known to me at all (and not nice ways I am afraid).

Are there any ways to protect ourselves, like sending the copy but somehow prevent the misuse and abuse?

A recent case: an agency following the same pattern for interpreting project saying that the direct client really needs to see the copy of my degree for me to be considered (never ever had similar request for an interpreting project). It was the kind of direct client that I found extremely strange they needed to see my degree, but I still send the files anyway. Afterwards, I find this agency on BB, extremely low rating, banned several times, but still back with new profiles (and happily posting jobs). They went completely silent after I sent the files, how can they use it now? Applying for some tenders with my degree without me knowing it?


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:04
German to English
+ ...
Government contracts/EU tenders Feb 16, 2016

have extremely strict regulations about who they will be awarded to, and proof of translators' qualifications is part of a very lengthy vetting process. It may or may not be a scam, but in my own opinion not worth the trouble of putting together all your documentation, submitting it and then maybe or maybe not getting any of the work. The temptation for the outsourcer/contract bidder is to show the gov't agency one set of qualifications, and have the work done by cheaper, less qualified people. However, that is just a possibility. It could all be above board, but it is still up to you if you want to jump through all those hoops, possibly for nothing in the end.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Not necessarily a scam Feb 16, 2016

Woodstock wrote:
It may or may not be a scam, but in my own opinion not worth the trouble

I'm sure some agencies are full of good intentions. But if they win, the temptation to switch to a cheaper translator will surely be very strong, maybe too strong to withstand.


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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:04
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Agency scams Feb 16, 2016

If an agency wants to see proof of graduation, refer them to the Transcript Department of your alma mater. Transcript departments handle requests like this all the time (at least in the US).

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Georgios Tziakos  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2011)
English to Greek
+ ...
Borderline scam and very low rates Feb 16, 2016

The rates the EU/EC offers to the agency or an independent translator are marginally decent; the ones a translator working for an agency gets, especially when added to the time and effort tender texts demand, are unacceptable. You may look up the criteria of the EU/EC for their bidding process; they care too much about price, if I remember correctly something like "40% price/60% quality". Those percentages don't make any sense to me, but I assume they use some kind of point system to come up with them...

This is an approximation of a negotiation for translating a tender went down between an agency and me, after I told them I wanted 0.1 EUR / source word.

- That's too much, would you be okay with 0.05?
- Too low for such serious texts, how about 0.08? (that was actually too low already, but I was willing to make less since I had some free time and I wanted to get experience in what "should" be considered serious legal texts).
- Our other translators are getting 0.05, it wouldn't be fair to pay you more.
- Uh, actually, what's not fair at all is that those poor buggers are already getting paid so little.

At the end, they begrudgingly accepted another offer of mine, until we had to end our otherwise great collaboration, because the money I was getting from them per hour was peanuts compared to even the simplest jobs I got from other companies. A real shame, but that's how businesses work, and we're supposed to be a business too.

My suggestion to anyone: avoid tenders like the plague, unless you're for some reason desperate or willing to handle this as an "experience gathering" self-training investment. The EU/EC are not respecting their own texts enough to pay freelancers well for translating them (or are simply being too lazy to do their own project management). This way, agencies make a LOT of money (because the volume is enormous, and that's more important than an extra cent or two for them), with similarly bad results for the quality of the translations and the freelancers.

[Edited at 2016-02-16 18:11 GMT]


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:04
German to English
+ ...
Tenders Feb 16, 2016

Georgios T. wrote:
...
This is an approximation of a negotiation for translating a tender went down between an agency and me, after I told them I wanted 0.1 EUR / source word.
...


Thanks for going to the trouble of describing it at length. It's very interesting to read about the actual process, instead of just speculating about what it might be like. I don't know anyone who actually completed the "journey", so that was very enlightening.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 00:04
English to Croatian
+ ...
Thanks, Georgios. Feb 16, 2016

For posting it publicly, much helpful and appreciated.

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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:04
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Response was: Feb 16, 2016

"Rates for Spanish into English translations are standard for agency work"

My response:
"Great, so 0.24 then?"


[Edited at 2016-02-16 21:08 GMT]


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Not a scam Feb 16, 2016

But a total waste of your time.

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Maria S. Loose, LL.M.  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 00:04
German to English
+ ...
Financial offers originate from bidders Feb 16, 2016

[quote]Georgios T. wrote:

"The rates the EU/EC offers to the agency or an independent translator are marginally decent."

The EU doesn't offer rates to anybody. It's the independent translators or agencies who are in charge of submitting financial offers. Let's assume the agency offers EUR 0.20 per word. The EU then has no influence on the rate the agency is paying its translators. The agency could pay EUR 0.15 or EUR 0.05 to their subcontractors. It's entirely up to the agency and to its vendors to negotiate a price. The contractual relationship only exists between the EU institution and its contractor. So why are you charging the EU with only talking the talk and not walking the walk? I don't get it.

Be that as it may, any translator wanting to work for the EU would be much better off participating directly in the tendering process. And by the way, all EU institutions have project managers.

[Edited at 2016-02-16 20:29 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-02-16 23:27 GMT]


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 18:04
Romanian to English
+ ...
suggestion Feb 16, 2016

I am posting a list of all agencies that have or have applied for govt. contracts. You can check if your agency is on the list and what they charge the gvt.

http://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/ElibMain/sinDetails.do?executeQuery=YES&scheduleNumber=00CORP&flag=&filter=&specialItemNumber=382%202


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:04
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for this Feb 16, 2016

I find it interesting how one of the companies that claims not to pay rush rates or minimum fees, charges the government a 100% rush rate (or 0.50 a word) for over 10,000 words a day....

One company, that I used to work for, charges 0.37 a word for French.


liviu roth wrote:

I am posting a list of all agencies that have or have applied for govt. contracts. You can check if your agency is on the list and what they charge the gvt.

http://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/ElibMain/sinDetails.do?executeQuery=YES&scheduleNumber=00CORP&flag=&filter=&specialItemNumber=382%202


[Edited at 2016-02-16 21:30 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-02-16 22:04 GMT]


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:04
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
If you summit your resume to them Feb 16, 2016

It is quite possible they will not use you even if they are awarded the contract. On the other hand they may suddenly need your services for some other jobs even if they are not awarded the contract. Nothing is guaranteed. It is all part of a normal business process. Personally I won't be involved. It is a potential job anyway. I don't have a minute to waste on anything related to a potential job.

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