And the winner of the 2018 Agency Red Tape Awards is...
Thread poster: philgoddard

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Jan 25

Yesterday, I accepted jobs from two new agency customers.

The first made me open an account on their translation management system. I **hate** these, because they're designed for the convenience of the company, not the translator. I had to create a password and username and enter my details, all of which are available on my ProZ profile and website.

They asked me to sign a nineteen-page agreement. The longest I'd seen before was ten pages, from a certain well known and very much larger company whose name begins with T.

They wanted copies of my driver's license, and the degree certificate I lost ten years ago when I emigrated to the US and haven't needed since.

I've had to create a whole separate folder for the 27 emails we've exchanged so far.

The job consists of seventeen files. I have to swear seventeen affidavits. Apparently one is not enough.

And I now have to learn their online TM system, despite the job being non-repetitive.

The second company emailed saying: "Can you do this, and if so for how much?'. I said yes, and named my price. They said: "Go ahead".

I told them about the first company, and thanked them for keeping things so simple. They said: "We like simplicity. We prefer to take our chances when we use a new translator, and it usually works out."

Guess which of the two customers I will give preference to in future...


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Why handicap yourself? Jan 25

philgoddard wrote:
I told them about the first company, and thanked them for keeping things so simple. They said: "We like simplicity. We prefer to take our chances when we use a new translator, and it usually works out."
Guess which of the two customers I will give preference to in future...

Many agencies seem to not understand that certain behaviours constitute disincentives for translators. If I were an agency struggling to find and retain talent, I would be going out of my way to make them translators feel welcome, such as by reducing red tape. Why do agencies like the first one you mention stack the decks against themselves?

Dan


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:01
Member
English to Italian
Actually... Jan 25

philgoddard wrote:

Guess which of the two customers I will give preference to in future...



I'm rather wondering why you jumped through all those hoops with #1 in the first place...

When I looked at all the paperwork the "company whose name begins with T" was asking on their portal, I just raised the white flag and stopped right there.


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:01
Member
English to Italian
Same old same old Jan 26

Dan Lucas wrote:

Many agencies seem to not understand that certain behaviours constitute disincentives for translators. If I were an agency struggling to find and retain talent, I would be going out of my way to make them translators feel welcome, such as by reducing red tape. Why do agencies like the first one you mention stack the decks against themselves?


But it's nothing new, is it? Same goes for rates: if an agency really wanted "top" translators, they should be ready to pay top rates, right? Unfortunately we all (or many of us) know that's not the case and that, in addition to honest and quality-driven agencies, what many other agencies understand all to well is that (in many pairs) there is an almost endless supply of people offering translation services, so there will always be someone somewhere willing to accept whatever rates, conditions, red tape, etc. the agency dictates.

Additionally, in my opinion there also are many good and capable translators out there accepting all of that simply because they don't know any better and/or because they just need the money (any money). The fact we operate in a rather opaque buyer's market doesn't help much.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:01
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I just do not bother with those agencies... Jan 26

A pity you are not allowed to name them, but never mind.

I have fired several of them, and at least one was very unhappy about not getting a 5-rating on the BB.

Of course, I can afford it, but I have not got to that point by sitting around doing a lot of unpaid and unproductive administrative work or struggling to break into portals that refuse to acknowledge my passwords.

One that inevitably works, funnily enough, is on the lines of LeT#*Me23In!

Stay with the clients that like to keep it simple - then everyone has time to concentrate on the things that matter!


 

Christophe Delaunay  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:01
Member (2011)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Phil, you are no beginner... Jan 26

Just like Mirko, " I'm rather wondering why you jumped through all those hoops with #1 in the first place..."icon_eek.gif

 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You know how it is Jan 26

Quiet day, big job, natural desire to keep the customer happy...

 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:01
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
"Taking chances" Jan 26

philgoddard wrote:


The second company emailed saying: "Can you do this, and if so for how much?'. I said yes, and named my price. They said: "Go ahead".

I told them about the first company, and thanked them for keeping things so simple. They said: "We like simplicity. We prefer to take our chances when we use a new translator, and it usually works out."


This is the way I prefer to do business as well. In the end, any agency that uses a translator for the first time is "taking its chances" - no matter if it has some pre-qualifying certificate-granting program (like the "T" company) or requires completion of an unpaid test. The combination of the translator's formal qualifications, online profiles and footprint (i.e., through forums such as Kudoz) and e-mail communication provide some reasonable basis upon which to decide if a translator is suitable for a given type of work (as well as giving occasion for the raising of one or more red flags indicating lack of suitability).

I intensely dislike any requirement that I complete forms and sign papers simply in order to be "entered into a database." My MO these days is "when you have paid work for me, I will be glad to complete your [unpaid] paperwork."


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:01
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
For me, the winner of the 2017 Agency Red Tape Award… Jan 26

… was a well-known translation agency which after asking for a test, a photo, a signed NDA and a long list of other requirements sent me a so-called welcome pack having 34 pages for me to read, fill, sign and return… My answer was: thank you but no thanks!

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Let's not forget Jan 26

Robert Forstag wrote:
"Taking chances"

In the end, any agency that uses a translator for the first time is "taking its chances" - no matter if it has some pre-qualifying certificate-granting program (like the "T" company) or requires completion of an unpaid test. The combination of the translator's formal qualifications, online profiles and footprint (i.e., through forums such as Kudoz) and e-mail communication provide some reasonable basis upon which to decide if a translator is suitable for a given type of work (as well as giving occasion for the raising of one or more red flags indicating lack of suitability).

Let's not forget that we are also taking a chance with a new agency! Unless we extract payment in advance, there's always a slight risk of not being paid for our work. And as we're one-person businesses who get paid our hourly fee or precisely zero for each hour of our time, I reckon we're taking more of a gamble than they are!


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:01
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, a gamble on both sides... Jan 26

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Robert Forstag wrote:
"Taking chances"

In the end, any agency that uses a translator for the first time is "taking its chances" - no matter if it has some pre-qualifying certificate-granting program (like the "T" company) or requires completion of an unpaid test. The combination of the translator's formal qualifications, online profiles and footprint (i.e., through forums such as Kudoz) and e-mail communication provide some reasonable basis upon which to decide if a translator is suitable for a given type of work (as well as giving occasion for the raising of one or more red flags indicating lack of suitability).

Let's not forget that we are also taking a chance with a new agency! Unless we extract payment in advance, there's always a slight risk of not being paid for our work. And as we're one-person businesses who get paid our hourly fee or precisely zero for each hour of our time, I reckon we're taking more of a gamble than they are!


Timely payment is of course the greatest concern. And there are any number of other circumstances that might result in an unpleasant experience for a freelancer working with an agency for the very first time: having to deal with a clueless project manager or an overzealous, incompetent, and/or malicious proofreader; receiving a revised document to translate after having already completed a considerable portion of the project; being expected to engage in time-consuming e-mail exchanges, Skype chats, or phone calls to resolve real or imagined "issues", etc.

All the more reason for agencies working with experienced translators not to subject the latter to unnecessary and demeaning "onboarding procedures."

[Edited at 2018-01-26 18:06 GMT]


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Me too Jan 28

Robert Forstag wrote:
I intensely dislike any requirement that I complete forms and sign papers simply in order to be "entered into a database." My MO these days is "when you have paid work for me, I will be glad to complete your [unpaid] paperwork."

That's the approach I take. No job, no paperwork.

Dan


 

ph-b
France
Local time: 07:01
Member
English to French
+ ...
Time is money Jan 29

Christine Andersen wrote:

Stay with the clients that like to keep it simple - then everyone has time to concentrate on the things that matter!

Exactly.

I agree with all that's been said about unpaid admin (and that includes invoices) and would add two things:

1. I tell agencies that ask that I register my details on their site that a) my direct clients are happy with the standard info I give them about my services when they contact me and that b) I'll be happy to answer any questions that they may have with a short email but they will have to do the registering themselves;

2. A Dutch agency that asked last year that I process my invoices through its portal was told that it would be charged EUR50.00 per processed invoice. I'm glad to report that agency now finds the time to do it itself from the PDF invoices it receives from me. After all, if French tax authorities are happy with my invoices, then surely EU-based agencies should find all the info they need in them to process them through whatever system they choose, as do direct clients.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
There is internal red tape too Jan 29

Some years ago, I was contacted by a PM from that agency whose name starts and ends with a T.
I'd had my share of troubles with them before, and had them on my personal black list.

However that specific PM seemed to be special; she managed to exude pleasantness by e-mail, which is not such an easy thing to do. As she had a sizeable demand for sworn translations for Brazilian authorities. As these are strictly regulated by law here, I decided to give them a second chance.

However their red tape procedures could not be waived, in spite of the Brazilian law on the matter. So she sent me a NDA/Vendor Agreement to sign. I read it through, and spotted 19 items that visibly clashed with the Brazilian law and regulations on sworn translations.

I wrote a report covering all these points, explaining why they would not be enforceable in our specific case. She wrote me back, saying that she had forwarded my report to their lawyers, who would be considering it.

And those brave lawyers are still analyzing that report of mine.... since December 2008!!!


 


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


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

And the winner of the 2018 Agency Red Tape Awards is...

Advanced search







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 »
SDL Trados Studio 2017 only €435 / $519
Get the cheapest prices for SDL Trados Studio 2017 on ProZ.com

Join this translator’s group buy brought to you by ProZ.com and buy SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance for only €435 / $519 / £345 / ¥63000 You will also receive FREE access to Studio 2019 when released.

More info »



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