Working with an outsourcer - good or bad experience?
Thread poster: Andrea Schwam

Andrea Schwam
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:53
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
Mar 23

Hi everyone,

I am curious to find out what other freelancers think of outsourcing.
By this I mean freelancers who hire other freelancers to do work that they, for whatever reason, cannot. The outsourcer has the client and potentially some related admin work, so they take a cut, which is never made known to the freelancer.
I have normally had great experiences with outsourcers and I do not begrudge them the money they are making off my work.
However, I have recently had issues with an outsourcer who has glowing reviews from his clients here, but he shows a total lack of respect for the people who do his work.
The story is too long to tell here....
Should I post a comment on his blue board, so that other freelancers will be warned?
He assures me his lies, empty promises, ignored emails, and late payment are an industry norm.
But it is also the norm that he gets his work to clients on time, which means he would not accept such behaviour the other way round.
Is that your experience?
The great outsourcers I work with say it is not.
So I'm just curious here......


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 19:53
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No problems at all Mar 23

I have experience of both sides, as I have been very occasionally an “outsourcer” and an “outsourcee” with no problems at all so far…

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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 20:53
English to Croatian
+ ...
Blue Board. Mar 23

Yes, do share on Blue Board, of course. No difference between him and an agency, they do the same job.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:53
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
People change; maybe he's changing Mar 23

Andrea Schwam wrote:
He assures me his lies, empty promises, ignored emails, and late payment are an industry norm.

The great outsourcers I work with say it is not.

They've said it for me: of course it isn't the norm. There are loads of great pairings of outsourcers and translators where, with mutual respect to bind everything together, things go perfectly smoothly in 99% of cases, and both sides put in extra effort to make the other 1% work out okay. But it is unfortunately far too common.

Should I post a comment on his blue board, so that other freelancers will be warned?

Well, that depends on a lot of things. But it would certainly be a helpful thing to do if he's treated you really badly.

Maybe it's because this person is outsourcing more and more work nowadays -- morphing into a one-man agency. There are a lot of freelance outsourcers who go down that route and turn into really stressed-out, penny-pinching brokers who simply pass work down from bigger agencies. They lose control of the finances, and as a self-employed person that's a massive risk to take.


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Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 20:53
Member (2002)
English to Russian
Great pairings of outsourcers and translators Mar 23

Sheila Wilson wrote:

There are loads of great pairings of outsourcers and translators where, with mutual respect to bind everything together, things go perfectly smoothly in 99% of cases, and both sides put in extra effort to make the other 1% work out okay.



This is exactly the story of my relationship with a highly skilled veteran translator who became my primary business partner in due course. It started out with overflow jobs that I occasionally outsourced to him at about 80-90% of the total amount due to me from the end client. I deducted 10-20% for the time and effort associated with subsequent reviews of his translations (the latter were always as good as they come, but as they say there is no limit to perfection...).

-------------------------------------

Here starts the bit that is slightly off-topic.

Now, 4 years later, we work together taking turns as translator and editor. Some of our clients stopped sending separate emails to us. Instead, they send the same job offer to both of us asking whether we can take it on. We discuss the job offer on Skype and decide whether we are willing to get involved. If positive, we decide who does what. One of us (the would-be translator) advises the client accordingly (a copy goes to the other partner).

Afterwards, the translator sends the translated file(s) to his partner acting as the editor on that project (a copy goes to the client as well). The editor returns the revised file(s) to the translator for finalization (a copy goes to the client). The translator delivers the final file(s) to the client (a copy goes to the editor).

Understandably, the clients love this arrangement, as they just monitor the progress without any involvement on their part, other than occasional help with abbreviations and other terminology, plus assistance in dealing with possible technical issues. One of the clients calls us their "dream team". From what I know, the two of us handle about 95-98% of their incoming English-to-Russian translation projects (€2,000-4,000 per month).

Edited to correct a typo in the subject line.

[Edited at 2018-03-23 14:14 GMT]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:53
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
“Hey, everyone else does it, so just chill!” Mar 23

Andrea Schwam wrote:

He assures me his lies, empty promises, ignored emails, and late payment are an industry norm.


Hmm. So I can imagine your interaction having gone something like this:

Andrea:

I am writing you now for the tenth time in the last five weeks to kindly request payment for the translation I delivered to you back on February 1st, and for which you promised payment by February 5th in our exchange of emails at the end of last January regarding the project in question (see below).

Outsourcing Translator:

Foolish woman! You should not have taken my promises seriously, or expected me to respond to your emails requesting payment. I only promised you quick payment to get you to accept the job. Once I received the translation, I simply treated your urgent payment requests as so much spam. This might sound a bit harsh, but it is after all common industry practice, and I urge you most earnestly to keep this in mind when we collaborate in the future.

*******
I had an experience at the end of last year with a translator who outsourced work to me through this site (and who also had a string of high ratings accompanied by glowing compliments as to his professionalism and good character). In his case, payment was made, but it was late and required prompts, and it was evident that he saw and chose not to respond to the initial reminding email for 4-5 hours.

I was less than impressed.

These kinds of experiences show why Blue Board ratings sometimes need to be taken with a grain of salt.


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Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 04:53
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
It is not a norm Mar 23

Andrea Schwam wrote:

He assures me his lies, empty promises, ignored emails, and late payment are an industry norm.



Hi Andrea,

No, the above is not the industry norm. I've been on both sides, I've burnt my fingers twice, both as an "outsourcer" and "outsourcee", but it was exclusively due to their unprofessional behaviour, most of the colleagues behave ethically and professionally. That said, I always do checks before engaging into professional relationships.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:53
French to English
Not the norm Mar 24

No, it is not the norm, of course. Indeed, in my experience, it is generally quite the opposite. Fellow translators know only too well the shortcomings of some clients (agencies AND direct clients) who commonly argue that they cannot pay upon receipt/end of month in which we provide the work, as they have to wait until their client (end client) has paid them in order to pay us. Most fellow translators who outsource know only too well that that is codswallop, and that you only outsource if you can pay according to the terms agreed upon. In other words, you ask a colleague to do the work, knowing that you already have the funds ready to pay him/her.

It is actually quite simple. An outsourcer is just like any other client. Whatever their cut, that's not our business. The outsourcer makes a proposition, we accept or reject the offer. There may be a little bit of negotiation, but as with any other client, once the terms have been agreed upon, the client should stick to the contract. Failure to do so means they run the risk of being pursued for non-payment and/or being subjected to comments on the Blueboard.

Your outsourcer is a client like any other: end of story. In my experience, outsourcing translators are some of the best clients in terms of professional behaviour.

[Edited at 2018-03-24 12:18 GMT]


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Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 20:53
Member (2002)
English to Russian
An outsourcer is just a client like any other Mar 24

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:
It is actually quite simple. An outsourcer is just like any other client. Whatever their cut, that's not our business. The outsourcer makes a proposition, we accept or reject the offer. There may be a little bit of negotiation, but as with any other client, once the terms have been agreed upon, the client should stick to the contract. Failure to do so means they run the risk of being pursued for non-payment and/or being subjected to comments on the Blueboard.

Your outsourcer is a client like any other: end of story. In my experience, outsourcing translators are some of the best clients in terms of professional behaviour.


+1

My translation philosophy boils down to the following statement: You are only as good as your last job. The same is true for outsourcers and other clients, whether direct ones or agencies: they are only as good as their last translation order (including clear and precise instructions, prompt response to queries, and timely payment of the agreed amount).

If an outsourcer doesn't pay in due course, the affected translator would not be interested in the former's previous track record. He or she would just want to get hold of their hard-earned money

[Edited at 2018-03-24 12:40 GMT]


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