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Why are some agencies making it all so complicated?
Thread poster: Sorana_M.
Sorana_M.
Romania
Local time: 23:06
English to Romanian
+ ...
Oct 18

I believe this topic has been discussed before, but I can't seem to find the thread.

So why are some agencies making it all so complicated?

In order to work for us, you have to:

1. fill in OUR resume template.
2. use OUR own CAT tool.
3. sign up with OUR portal - where you have to create a profile, wait for projects to be assigned to you, confirm your availability, complete the project, upload the invoice (and possibly other things as well).
4. use OUR own invoice template.
5. agree to translation tests which you have to complete in (...) minutes using the same portal.
6. ...
7. ...
8. error! Due to..., your information could not be submitted.

etc.

Congratulations! You are now registered with us. We will keep your records on file and contact you when a suitable project matching your expertise comes up.


I find this whole process time-consuming, even exhausting, and discouraging.

Moreover, does this whole process contribute to an agency's credibility? I mean, those agencies applying this process are more reliable than other agencies, which do not require any of the above?


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Gitte Hovedskov
Denmark
Local time: 22:06
Danish to English
+ ...
Simple enough Oct 18

They have spent time and resources setting up systems that serve THEIR purposes perfectly. Now they want to put translators into that system so that they can easily find translators when they need them, assign jobs to them and get the jobs processed with as little work (and cost) for themselves as possible.

You have several options:

1. Ignore such agencies
2. Do what they want
3. Tell them what you are prepared to do to 'sign up' with them

There are lots of variations on the theme, depending on how helpful, polite or rude you want to be.

But don't get frustrated about this. It's just people running businesses to achieve their own goals, not yours. You run your business your own way...


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Just fire them Oct 18

Once I worked for a pretty important and big agency, which paid well and assigned jobs from prestigious end clients, but I had to fire them because of all their bureaucracy (I even told them that). Never repented it!

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:06
Member (2008)
Italian to English
The personal touch Oct 18

I prefer small agencies that have the personal touch. I don't get on well talking to machines.

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Christophe Delaunay  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:06
Member (2011)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Moreover, does this whole process contribute to an agency's credibility? I mean, those agencies... Oct 18

Seems like you already have an answer to both questions.
There are plenty of fish in the sea... as Tom says, a small agency is always the best. Or direct clients!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not at all Oct 18

Sorana_M. wrote:
Moreover, does this whole process contribute to an agency's credibility? I mean, those agencies applying this process are more reliable than other agencies, which do not require any of the above?

In my experience of 23 years as a freelancer, the best agencies (in terms of pay, reliability, and good sense) are those that demand very little at the beginning, for instance, just to sign a reasonably long NDA.

The more an agency insists in me filling up forms, register in their system, sign long documents, the more I lose interest, since experience shows me that they will send very little work, if any, and not necessarily well paid.


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:06
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Perfect Oct 18

[quote]Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT wrote:

Sorana_M. wrote:
In my experience of 23 years as a freelancer, the best agencies (in terms of pay, reliability, and good sense) are those that demand very little at the beginning, for instance, just to sign a reasonably long NDA.

The more an agency insists in me filling up forms, register in their system, sign long documents, the more I lose interest, since experience shows me that they will send very little work, if any, and not necessarily well paid.

You definitely won't hear from them again. The ones I filled in the beginning of my translation career, never sent anything while those I never signed up with or/and never did tests for, found me and sent me work. The simpler the process, the better.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:06
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Move on Oct 18

I give them feedback on the Blue Board if I can - 'pay on time, low rates, but their portal is too much hassle' - and rate them at 3.

It breaks their chain of 5-ratings, but does not get removed.
Unfortunately you can't do that if you never get as far as working for them. There are other websites...

You don't get paid for the time you spend trying to break in to their system. I sometimes send a mail to someone as high up as possible, and tell them firmly why I will not work for them (any more). I also tell them that these systems CAN be set up to work to everyone's advantage.

One of my favourite clients has one, and the flow always starts with a personal mail from a PM. The login works instantly, so I can download the files in seconds, and then I can say 'yes, fine' to the job, negotiate, or turn it down by answering the e-mail. There is always a sensible PM in charge...
Uploading the translation goes just as smoothly.

Of course, it is a medium-sized agency - 'big enough to cope, small enough to care', as another client once put it.

Another of my slogans is 'my CAT tool or no CAT tool'. Other translators are much more tolerant than I am, but a CAT tool you are not comfortable is distracting and tiring. I found they seriously affected the quality of my work. I have fine-tuned my CAT tool and it really helps. Agency CATs without the glossary function and without the concordance from my own TMs cut me off from all my earlier experience, and I have to do all the terminology work again and again instead of just finding it in the TMs or wherever I stored it. Given the tight deadlines these agencies often run on... and their so-called QA procedures... I pull out fast!


[Edited at 2017-10-18 10:10 GMT]


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 05:06
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Inverse law of red tape Oct 18

Once you have a certain amount of experience, you start to get a feel on what sorts of communication are likely to result in long-term work. Short-term work often evolve into long-term relationships.

That said, I do respond even if I don't like the chances. First, it's good business etiquette. Second, there's no harm in being wrong once in a while.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:06
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Inverse Oct 18

I'd be willing to bet that the amount of bureaucracy and learning bespoke systems required by an agency is in inverse proportion to the amount of work they actually give you.

I just don't think an algorhtym can match a translator to a job.


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Sorana_M.
Romania
Local time: 23:06
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Some more requests Oct 18

And I haven't mentioned the frequent

1. reasonable requests - copies of diplomas, certifications, sworn translator authorization, references (my diplomas a.o. are in Romanian, so I have no idea if the agency actually understands them), proz.com (or alternative) profile link, affiliations

and the

2. unreasonable requests - copy of ID/passport, bank account + branch + swift code the very moment you are signing up, PayPal account

+

3. unnecessary requests (in my opinion) - photo, date of birth

I don't know where to put the
samples of your previous work
request.


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Myungjin Koh  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 06:06
Member (Sep 2017)
English to Korean
There are plenty other agencies Oct 18

Tom in London wrote:

I prefer small agencies that have the personal touch. I don't get on well talking to machines.


If you're not comfortable with agencies that have their own process, find other small agencies which can keep it simple. There are plenty other fish in the sea.


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:06
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Bureaucracy as a quality badge Oct 18

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Inverse law of red tape.


Funny how "the system" turned this around by creating 'standards' of all kinds based on processes and piles of paperwork, that agencies then proudly wear as quality badges...


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:06
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
One agency saw the point Oct 18

I did a job for such an agency once, and told them I would not work for them again unless I could deal with the project manager exclusively. They have sent me a couple more jobs since then, on my terms (their payment record has been erratic but good for the last two).

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:06
Member (2008)
Italian to English
To quote Peter Lorre in "The Maltese Falcon".... Oct 18

...I fear I may not have expressed myself clearly enough.

Myungjin Koh wrote:
If you're not comfortable with agencies that have their own process, find other small agencies which can keep it simple. There are plenty other fish in the sea.


Thank you for rewording what I said.


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