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Huge translation company
Thread poster: Bruno Depascale

Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:10
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
Apr 19, 2016

Hi everybody,
a couple of months ago a huge translation company located in the USA with branches all over the world contacted me via my proz profile.
Their PM asked me to join their pool of specialized medical translators. After having signed a impressive amount of agreements and Non disclosure forms, I was also requested to watch many mandatory tutorials about their workflow and about the translation of medical documents (which contained obvious things that a medical translator already knows).
However, I was really disappointed when another PM offered me to work at a lower rate than the rate previously agreed. If I knew from the beginning that they would have offered me a lower rate, I wouldn't have bothered to spend hours watching useless mandatory tutorials and signing and scanning dozens of agreements. And I was also lucky enough to have postponed the purchase of their preferred cat-tool.
But, as time passed by without receiving any job from them, I realized I had made a mistake: I hadn't watched proz blue board in the first place!
When I watched the blue board entries, I noticed that it is common practice for this company to act like this with translators: they agree on the translator's price, made him/her sign dozens of agreements and then "offer" him/her (like a gift made to a servant) a lower rate.
I think this is simply ridiculous and unprofessional. If you need more info about this company, please write me a private message and you may spare your time in the future.


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JL01  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:10
English to French
+ ...
Now there's a shocker! Apr 19, 2016

A translation company acting in such a despicable manner? With offices all over the world to boot?

I had no idea. I've never heard anything like that.

Look at the bright side: no money came out of your pocket.

A lucky man you are!


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:10
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Send them an invoice for your time Apr 19, 2016

Send them an invoice for your time

[Edited at 2016-04-19 23:02 GMT]


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:10
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I know exactly which agency Apr 20, 2016

I just "fired" them a while ago.

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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 11:10
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Videos Apr 20, 2016

I was also requested to watch many mandatory tutorials about their workflow

No, not even a single one, not even one minute long. You got a tutorial, you send me bleeping written instructions or images, no bleeping videos, thank you very much.


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 05:10
French to English
+ ...
Making you invest in the process Apr 20, 2016

I think that this is deliberate.

All they have to do is send you the previously prepared documents and videos. The incremental cost to them is a few seconds of a junior PM's time - essentially zero.

You spend hours watching the videos and filling out the documents with the incentive of the sort of rates you would expect as a member of their specialized pool of medical translators. The cost to you is those hours when you could have been working, looking for better customers, playing with your cat or reading a good book. Your investment in the process is considerable and very much greater than theirs.

Now the "real" PM enters the scene and offers you a lower rate than you were expecting. Normally, there is a high probability that you would have told them to go forth and multiply. BUT, you now have a significant investment in the process. You have invested time and effort. Aren't you just a little bit tempted to recoup at least some of that investment? Of course you are, and they know that.

In fact, there never was any intention of paying you the initial rate.


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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:10
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Huge agency Apr 20, 2016

An important thing to realize is that project managers are paid recruiting fees whether or not they use you for specific translations.
There is one company that contacts me once a year, every year, requesting that I fill out the same documentation (NDA, translator background, W-9, etc.) for "updating" purposes, thereby ensuring yet another recruiting fee for the PM.


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Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:10
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I think time is money Apr 20, 2016

JL01 wrote:

A translation company acting in such a despicable manner? With offices all over the world to boot?

I had no idea. I've never heard anything like that.

Look at the bright side: no money came out of your pocket.

A lucky man you are!


Yes, maybe I've been lucky to wait to purchasing their cat tool, but nonetheless I spent many hours for email exchanges and for signing all the paper work (which was incredibly long) and watching their video tutorials..
I know this is part of the business, but I had never faced a situation like this. It is ok to spend a couple of hours, but not more. Also, I feel deceived, since I agreed on a translation rate and afterwards I was offered a lower rate (for a specific client they said!)


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Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:10
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
a hidden side of the business Apr 20, 2016

Terry Richards wrote:

I think that this is deliberate.

All they have to do is send you the previously prepared documents and videos. The incremental cost to them is a few seconds of a junior PM's time - essentially zero.

You spend hours watching the videos and filling out the documents with the incentive of the sort of rates you would expect as a member of their specialized pool of medical translators. The cost to you is those hours when you could have been working, looking for better customers, playing with your cat or reading a good book. Your investment in the process is considerable and very much greater than theirs.

Now the "real" PM enters the scene and offers you a lower rate than you were expecting. Normally, there is a high probability that you would have told them to go forth and multiply. BUT, you now have a significant investment in the process. You have invested time and effort. Aren't you just a little bit tempted to recoup at least some of that investment? Of course you are, and they know that.

In fact, there never was any intention of paying you the initial rate.


Thank you for your post Richard,
Indeed, this part of the business is completely new to me! However, I never felt tempted to accept their lower rate, as I already have a stable base of clients (I can live without this particular new client). The reason why I accepted to do all the paperwork is that they contacted me! So I was pretty sure they needed my services!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:10
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
If the company is huge... Apr 20, 2016

Bruno Depascale wrote:
A couple of months ago a huge translation company located in the USA with branches all over the world contacted me via my ProZ profile.
...
However, I was really disappointed when another PM offered me to work at a lower rate than the rate previously agreed.


If this is a huge agency, then it's likely that they'll have different PMs in different locations working on different projects that have different budgets. And it is therefore very likely that you'll receive job offers for a whole range of proposed rates. If you don't want to work for lower rates, simply reply courteously with your preferred rate.



[Edited at 2016-04-20 08:08 GMT]


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Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:10
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Branches all over the world Apr 20, 2016

Samuel Murray wrote:

Bruno Depascale wrote:
A couple of months ago a huge translation company located in the USA with branches all over the world contacted me via my ProZ profile.
...
However, I was really disappointed when another PM offered me to work at a lower rate than the rate previously agreed.


If this is a huge agency, then it's likely that they'll have different PMs in different locations working on different projects that have different budgets. And it is therefore very likely that you'll receive job offers for a whole range of proposed rates. If you don't want to work for lower rates, simply reply courteously with your preferred rate.



[Edited at 2016-04-20 08:08 GMT]


Dear Samuel, of course this is completely acceptable.
But the PM to which I talked in the first instance told me that he would have passed my details to another 2 PM, named fictitiously Robert and Maya.
I only received 1 offer from Robert and such offer included a lower rate. Is this a coincidence? By the way, the agency of Robert was located in the UK and offered me a lower rate than the one previously agreed on with the USA main branch.
Robert said that this lower rate concerned only a particular client of them (a pharmaceutical company based in the USA) and the rate was in US dollars instead of UK sterling.
My questions is: why a USA pharmaceutical company should contact a translation agency based in the UK and pay in US dollars??!!! This is too strange to me.

However, I'll wait a couple of months more and let you know if I receive new "job offer" (or liberal gifts granted to a stupid translator).


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:10
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
My experience with the same agency Apr 20, 2016

is that, very often, they are just attempting the trick - if you ask for more, you will get it in many cases. That is, if you are well-established with them, they know you are good and really want you. I started working for them when I was desperate for work. Then when I had enough work and they asked me to do something I didn't really want to do, I asked for 30% more - and was very surprised to get it. I must admit that I live in Eastern Europe and my idea of an acceptable price is probably not the same as yours, but the general markets for your language pair(s) and mine are different - you are in competition with people in a situation similar to yours.

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Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:10
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
an unfair behavior Apr 20, 2016

EvaVer wrote:

is that, very often, they are just attempting the trick - if you ask for more, you will get it in many cases. That is, if you are well-established with them, they know you are good and really want you. I started working for them when I was desperate for work. Then when I had enough work and they asked me to do something I didn't really want to do, I asked for 30% more - and was very surprised to get it. I must admit that I live in Eastern Europe and my idea of an acceptable price is probably not the same as yours, but the general markets for your language pair(s) and mine are different - you are in competition with people in a situation similar to yours.


Dear EvaVer,
thank you for your post.
We are talking about a translation agency "specialized" in the medical sector.
They surely charge their clients (at least) 0,20 usd per source word and they "offer" to translators (a maximum of) 0,07 usd. This is simply unfair from my point of view, irrespective of your country of residence.

[Edited at 2016-04-20 08:42 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:10
Member
English to French
Something I still don't understand Apr 20, 2016

Bruno Depascale wrote:
...I realized I had made a mistake: I hadn't watched proz blue board in the first place!

Why does it seem to be so complicated to do your homework in a logical sequence?

You receive an e-mail out of the blue.
FIRST MOVE: if the name doesn't ring a bell, search it in your computer, and on the internet, and on the Blue Board.
Then you weigh how sensible it is to engage with them.
It takes 5 minutes and can save you hours.

And everytime I've accepted "we'll see the rate issue after the free test/after you fill in your "vendor" sheet", I felt like an idiot afterwards.

As an aside, I keep all prospective e-mails I receive and/or reply to, so I can retrieve all info already exchanged with a prospect even if I don't remember their name. When the outcome is unsuccessful (vast majority) with a prospect, there is no point in my spending more time with them. A company that expected 0.06 10 years ago will certainly not accept my rate all of a sudden.

Use your time wisely!

Philippe


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:10
Member
French to English
+ ...
Jumping through hoops - and business size Apr 20, 2016

I had a similar experience with another big agency years ago, except I stopped short of doing a test translation or filling in any forms. When I asked the PM to confirm whether the agency would accept my rate for a large potential project, the PM persistently avoided the issue and kept encouraging me to jump through more hoops ("just fill in the forms and do the test first, we'll talk about rates later").

Terry is right. They're using a bit of psychology here - they're calculating that once you've jumped through a lot of hoops and spent time on the process, you will be more willing to accept a lower rate so that you haven't completely wasted your time on the admin. After this experience, I suppose you will be on your guard if you find yourself in a similar position in future.

You mention the size of the agency in your original post. Contrary to what people might expect, size doesn't necessarily equal respectability or plain dealing in our business. In fact, in several cases that I can think of, the bigger agencies are the more manipulative ones! Many times, I have read in these forums that translators prefer working for small and medium-sized agencies, and so do I. I believe we need to support them because if the bigger, more disreputable ones take over the whole of the market and acquire all the smaller agencies, we'll have no decent clients left to work for.


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