Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Unreasonable tests and other complaints.
Thread poster: Barbara Gutierrez Teira

Barbara Gutierrez Teira  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:47
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
Feb 17, 2017

Hello all,

I usually agree on doing test. I consider it as an interview and I find it reasonable that companies want to know the quality of the work of those they are hiring. I have done many tests and found good work with many companies after.

However, I also think that these have to be reasonable... like an interview. 30 min, an hour maximum. Perhaps different paragraphs from different text styles. Sometimes, if it is very technical it may a little longer, but between 200 and 400 words is OK for me.

A few days ago I applied to a subtitling job. Today I got a response; I had to take a test. It was a documentary and I had the text in English (to be translated into Spanish) in a word document. I had 24 hours since the reception of the email (9 hours since I saw it, it arrived last evening). It turned out that the test was 15 min long (this, for video subtitling is LONG), more than 2000 words in word, and to top it off, I had to figure out how to break the text in the subtitles so it matched the speaking, and then include it in the subtitles. That takes a lot of playing back and forth of the video. You need to know the requirements and rules of the end client, which were given to me, and edit and re-edit until the subtitle looks good in the movie. That is a full day job, or probably more. (Of course, I refused to do it)

I am sure it depends on every country, buy I am exhausted of fighting with companies like this. Rates are getting lower and lower, we are required to take jobs or tests under circumstances than most professionals wouldn´t even think about. We have to negotiate rates as if we were in a second hand market (which professional does that!?), many times we get paid three months after sending our jobs, sometimes, we don´t even get paid! And this goes on an on. I don´t know why this profession is taken so lightly. Has it been us? Have we degraded us involuntarily because of the competition we have to face? Is it that people don´t consider this to be a dignified job?


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes Feb 17, 2017

If no translators accepted these unreasonable requests, customers wouldn't keep making them.

So yes, it is us.

Or rather, some of us. It certainly isn't me.

(I've literally just refused to do a test translation... for an existing customer!?!)


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:47
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
The problem in a nutshell Feb 17, 2017

Chris S wrote:
If no translators accepted these unreasonable requests, customers wouldn't keep making them.

Some freelancers seem to have no idea what constitutes "unreasonable".

Dan


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 10:47
German to Serbian
+ ...
Yes, market dynamics. Feb 17, 2017

Barbara Gutierrez Teira wrote:
Rates are getting lower and lower, we are required to take jobs or tests under circumstances than most professionals wouldn´t even think about. We have to negotiate rates as if we were in a second hand market (which professional does that!?), many times we get paid three months after sending our jobs, sometimes, we don´t even get paid! And this goes on an on. I don´t know why this profession is taken so lightly. Has it been us? Have we degraded us involuntarily because of the competition we have to face? Is it that people don´t consider this to be a dignified job?




Say there are 200 translators in one language pair competing for a project. Guess how many of them need to offer a low rate for it to drop for the rest 199 of them? Only one. Each time you agree to a lower rate (even by 1 cent), each time you accept a free test translation, you are participating in it, or you are making it happen.

Rate are not getting lower by themselves. It's for the reasons described in the passage above, and for more and more translators entering the market, while demand remains the same or lower. Of course the rates will drop, that's inevitable. And so will the quality. The future generations may end up speaking like robots, because the content is dealt with in a robotic and automated way in mass quantities.

A lot of issues combined here.

[Edited at 2017-02-17 12:42 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:47
English to Portuguese
+ ...
On the contrary Feb 17, 2017

Dan Lucas wrote:

Some freelancers seem to have no idea what constitutes "unreasonable".


Some freelancers are so desperate, that they consider ANYTHING reasonable!
This is what gives some translation outsourcers the confidence to make abusive demands.

A few days ago, a prospective client told me they'd be sending me a 2-hour test.
I told them not to bother, as I wouldn't have two hours available to take their test.

What the overly confident and abusively demanding outsourcers fail to realize is that if they enforce such requirements, only the bottom of the heap will oblige.

Regarding the OP's subtitling test, a one-minute video is more than enough to ascertain a translator & subtitler's skill. Okay, then there is the issue of whether that individual can keep up the same quality over a 2-hour video. Well, this is just a matter of giving them enough turnaround time.


 

Melina Kajander
Finland
English to Finnish
+ ...
Amazed by some attitudes here Feb 17, 2017

Lingua 5B wrote:
Say there are 200 translators in one language pair competing for a project. Guess how many of them need to offer a low rate for it to drop for the rest 199 of them? Only one. Each time you agree to a lower rate (even by 1 cent), each time you accept a free test translation, you are participating in it, or you are making it happen.

Those accepting low rates, yes, but how exactly does doing test translations make rates drop? Don't see any connection there, to be honest.

Barbara Gutierrez Teira wrote:
I usually agree on doing test. I consider it as an interview and I find it reasonable that companies want to know the quality of the work of those they are hiring.

I fully agree with you on this, and am contantly amazed by the totalitarian attitudes of some people here (like for example Chris S above). The fact of the matter is, if you flat out refuse to do any (obviously unpaid) tests, ever, you will not get any work. Period. Easy for those with lots of already established clients to tell others to refuse everything they consider unreasonable, but that's simply impossible for others.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
@Melina Feb 18, 2017

Perhaps, no one is ideal, yet Chris is talking for... How about free "test" goods, products, and services? Free "test" payment, anyone? A "test" wedding, no? Exactly.

Say, a client has a 1000 word project, so some four (4) free test translations for 250 words would do.
If it's about 100K, then whatever the amount of test volunteers--they will dump even further.
Demand meets... missed supply,

Most reliable and fair clients prefer portfolio (examples of previous related works) and references, not freebies.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:47
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
A small test can pay dividends Feb 18, 2017

DZiW wrote:
Most reliable and fair clients prefer portfolio (examples of previous related works) and references, not freebies.

I am always ready to do a limited test of up to about 300 words/characters if I feel a client is sincere and is likely to give me work. I do not do tests for agencies who are just adding freelancers to their database willy-nilly without a specific project in mind.

I have several clients who regularly give me monthly business that hits four figures (euro/sterling). Each and every one of them required me to do a test and I complied with each and every one of those requests. It has proven an excellent investment of time. Not all tests are a wasted effort.

Conversely, these clients have a very strong focus on privacy and confidentiality. They would be disturbed if I gave them examples of past work I had done for other clients, or even the names of other clients. It would be counter-productive.

And as for references, well, I would not ask for them, and never have. It is not the client's job to help me find new clients that will, if I am successful, compete for my time and attention with the client giving the reference!

(I do accept that client attitudes to confidentiality and references may vary according to industry and culture.)

Regards,
Dan


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Dumping Feb 18, 2017

Dan, may be you're right.

First, how could one know for sure whether a client is sincere beforehand? Second, why don't one ask the clients before adding some extracts to the portfolio to avoid awkward situations? Third, besides translators, which other service providers are required to free "test"?

And the most important--
IF a client would require for some project, say, M translators, what would cost (P*M).
IF he finds some K free "test" translators, then he would need (M-K) translators, saving the funds.
. . .
IF it's not a rush job, then it's just a matter of time to find free "testers" or bottom-feeders, and pay a decent editor afterwards (if any).
In all, the need falls, and ALL (including prospect) translators are dumped.
Why serve the servants?

Furthermore, such an attitude anchors and shapes the market as if it's ok.

Here come the tears...


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:47
Member
Italian to English
Each to their own Feb 19, 2017

DZiW wrote:

First, how could one know for sure whether a client is sincere beforehand?


Once you've been doing this job for a while, you get a fairly good idea. The customer's website, for example, the Blue Board (to be taken with a grain of salt), the quality of the customer's communication with you.

I don't think free tests are bad by default. I normally have no problem doing them, and they often lead to further work. But each to their own. Like Melina, I see no connection between free tests and bottom feeders.

The bottom line? If you want to do a free test, do it. If you don't, don't. But let's not make free tests the scapegoat of horrible working practices by agencies - things are a little more complicated than that.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
dumping vs investment Feb 19, 2017

Fiona, though decent specialists improve their skills, routines, and (hopefully) business, so do wrongdoers and mere fraudsters, alas. Even best risk-management approaches ever may only diminish, not prevent it completely. I really do doubt that one can surely tell a legit proposal from another bunco scourge.

How come clients MUST test prospect translators free, but translators MUST take on trust?
How come ONLY translators MUST prove their education and proficiency doing “free tests” to prove the credentials? Name a few OTHER “free test” professions, anyone? That's it.

As for the translation marketing—I strongly believe every “free” test is but (1) an unpaid/unwanted translator and (2) lowered demand, causing dumping. It’s no rocket science.
In fact, that’s why I work mostly as an interpreter with direct clients only--and I always get paid.

Why, there certainly must be good and fair examples too at the translation market, yet mostly it's “black”, because it’s based on a blind-eye ”free test”-centred abuse and habitual malpractices... and natural consequences.

IMO


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:47
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
sincerity Feb 19, 2017

In the case Chris cites, a paying client suddenly asking for a test, they are obviously not sincere since they already know what kind of work he is capable of doing.

It may be that his client is an agency bidding for a job and needing to supply a test. The agency I used to work for would pay for these tests, I know a lot try to get them for free.

A client wanting you to do more than 300 words is being unrealistic. Once, I had to assess dozens of tests for an agency needing heaps of new translators for a huge job they had just landed. So many translators made one very basic mistake in the test, I decided not to bother looking at the rest of the test unless they got it right. I was not surprised to see that those who got it right did far better in the rest of the test. So just that one sentence was enough to determine whether there was any point working with a translator or not.

"besides translators, which other service providers are required to free "test"?"
Plenty. Caterers and wine merchants offer a taste of their food and drink. I know graphic and layout artists often have to provide sample bits. With most yoga classes, sports and loads of other activities you can attend a first class for free. Doctors and engineers are less likely to offer freebies", but translators are not in the same league much as we'd like to kid ourselves.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:47
English to German
+ ...
My take on it - don't do it Feb 19, 2017

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

Each to their own


Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:
DZiW wrote:

First, how could one know for sure whether a client is sincere beforehand?


Once you've been doing this job for a while, you get a fairly good idea. The customer's website, for example, the Blue Board (to be taken with a grain of salt), the quality of the customer's communication with you.

I don't think free tests are bad by default. I normally have no problem doing them, and they often lead to further work. But each to their own. Like Melina, I see no connection between free tests and bottom feeders.

The bottom line? If you want to do a free test, do it. If you don't, don't. But let's not make free tests the scapegoat of horrible working practices by agencies - things are a little more complicated than that.


To each his or her own, yes. So here is my opinion on it.

I understand people who want to do free tests, especially when they are new to the profession. All I can say is that if an agency makes the effort to engage with you based on your tiniest professional background, even a small test should be paid. That is the sign of a professional agency. No matter how long you've been in the business.

If you're new, it seems there is no guarantee you get the job based on a free test (there really never is and even experienced translators can run into walls later when it comes to the rates for actual projects), and that goes for all the free tests you are willing to take. I don't see the point of it. It's a waste of time and you're giving away for free something into which you probably put a lot of effort in order to win the project or a continuous flow of projects from the agency. Bottom line: if you start out cheap, that's how, most likely, this relationship will continue.

As far as evaluating agencies is concerned before one agrees to a test, there are plenty of agencies with 5 star ratings on Proz.com's Blueboard that will follow up your test with cheap offers or ask ahead of the test how little you are willing to charge for any and all projects later. Nevertheless, checking the Blueboard is an important part of your due diligence efforts. If the agency is already rated badly for payment practices or rates, don't bother. Also look at the translators who commented on Blueboard.

I recommend that translators request that their test is paid. At least for an amount that doesn't make you feel like you've been had if the agency decides to reject you.

It is very hard today in this industry, especially for newcomers. Checking out an agency first and reading between the lines of their communication with you is most important. Before you agree to a test, ask important questions about the number of future projects that you can expect, don't agree on charging low rates or specific rates before you have even done anything for them, etc. There are indeed lots of "players" out there that can't wait to exploit you. And that really is my main reason why I don't do free tests anymore.



[Edited at 2017-02-19 15:05 GMT]


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:47
English to German
+ ...
Just saying Feb 19, 2017

Melina Kajander wrote:

Lingua 5B wrote:
Say there are 200 translators in one language pair competing for a project. Guess how many of them need to offer a low rate for it to drop for the rest 199 of them? Only one. Each time you agree to a lower rate (even by 1 cent), each time you accept a free test translation, you are participating in it, or you are making it happen.


Those accepting low rates, yes, but how exactly does doing test translations make rates drop? Don't see any connection there, to be honest.


It is my experience that those agencies that are willing to pay for a test (10 Cents a word or more) are the ones that are also willing to pay more than that for the actual translations. On the other hand, free tests are often rejected because many translators' free "bids" will naturally go to the lowest bidder, i.e. the applicant that best fits the agency's low-rate approach. Consequences for the industry are quite likely.

Melina Kajander wrote:

Barbara Gutierrez Teira wrote:
I usually agree on doing test. I consider it as an interview and I find it reasonable that companies want to know the quality of the work of those they are hiring.


I fully agree with you on this, and am contantly amazed by the totalitarian attitudes of some people here (like for example Chris S above). The fact of the matter is, if you flat out refuse to do any (obviously unpaid) tests, ever, you will not get any work. Period. Easy for those with lots of already established clients to tell others to refuse everything they consider unreasonable, but that's simply impossible for others.


I don't agree with that. That approach is IMO wishful thinking and opens one up to being exploited. You don't know on which grounds the person doing the test is really picked, how many translators you are competing with that also submitted free samples, and what happens with these free samples anyway. I am not saying they will cobble together a translation from 20 tests, but do you know? And it is not true that you can't get any work when you simply reject doing free tests or that you can't find agencies that will pay for the test. Not doing free tests will weed out many bad seeds.

[Edited at 2017-02-19 15:22 GMT]


 

Bryan Crumpler  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:47
Dutch to English
+ ...
I reject test projects... Feb 20, 2017

...from unsolicited agencies or agencies that don't have a track record for doing business in my primary language pairs.

My approach to testing is as follows:
- If I reach out to you seeking your business, fine... test me. Gladly.
- If you reach out to me, no free tests - work only (no database expansion requests – add me to the database AFTER you've sent me some work).

The foremost reason for this:

I have had periods where I would receive dozens upon dozens of project requests each day from direct clients who were ready to book my services immediately. If I consented to all of the free tests that agencies request, I would be spending all of my time doing unbillable work and cheating out my other clients who are paying for that time.

There is only one exception: where the test is specifically for the project being assigned. I am quick to reject tests just to be included in some database of a company that will rarely, if ever, send me a steady stream of work.


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Unreasonable tests and other complaints.

Advanced search







memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search