Barbier Company President Slams Translators for Valuing Their Time
Thread poster: David Martin Tucker

David Martin Tucker
United States
Local time: 20:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 24

Melissa Meyer, the President of Barbier International, located in Oregon, in her recent rant posted to LI tells freelancers their time is not valuable.

In a post to LI, the president slams freelancers for valuing their time and not giving away free samples of their work. In her rant tells about all of the costs this poor agency puts out just to bring the freelancer work. Of course, she doesn't mention how the professional freelancer is bringing her company business, and without them, the company would not exist. I guess she inadvertently overlooked that part. I wonder if she thinks other professionals should also give her a free sample of their work?

She further compares the business to business relationship with a freelancer to nothing more than retail store samples. Does she also require her grocery store to let her drink the milk first before paying? She could, of course, assign a small job to the freelancer to test their skills. I guess this would be too easy, and it would actually mean paying the freelancer for the valuable time.

Original Post:
https://lnkd.in/eYQUnhZ

My LI response to her post:
https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6416496521897918464

[Edited at 2018-06-24 13:45 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-06-24 16:35 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:56
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Blinkered arrogance Jun 24

Total arrogance! Every minute we spend on non-billable activities represents less income that month. We have no way of making up that income apart from eating into our free time - and that leads to burnout.

Should our valuable non-billable time be spent on giving free samples? Maybe it would be better to spend the time writing to another agency or to a potential direct client. What this particular agency needs to remember is that there are many, many thousands of agencies out there, and they don't all treat their suppliers as though we are something nasty stuck to the bottom of their shoe.


David Martin Tucker
Teresa Borges
Angela Rimmer
 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:56
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
Translation is not a commodity Jun 24

It believe someone needs reminding:

Translation: Buying a non-commodity - https://www.atanet.org/docs/translation_buying_guide.pdf


Mirko Mainardi
David Martin Tucker
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:56
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What qualifies for a "post" these days Jun 24

David Martin Tucker wrote:
Melissa Meyer, in her recent rant posted on LinkedIn, tells freelancers their time is not valuable.


That is not true. The fact that she does not want to pay for test translations does not mean that she believes the time spent on test translations isn't valuable. No-one forces you to do a test translation during your busy times. No-one stops you from doing your test translations during off-times.

Remember, Mrs Meyer isn't talking about generic test translations, but about test translations for an actual, potential job where there is actually a high probability that the translator will get the job if he passes the test. Her post does not relate to the types of test translations sent out by translation-mill agencies when a dozen of them all get the same "potential job" notification from an international client, nor does it relate to test translations where agency who get the job then pass on the job to their cheapest translators, despite the fact that you were the one who translated the test.

I don't agree with her point about the fact that agencies do all the work (finding clients etc), because that is what the low rate is for. We accept lower rates from agencies because agencies take care of things that we would otherwise have to pay for ourselves.


Jorge Payan
 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:56
Member
English to Italian
No Jun 24

Samuel Murray wrote:

Remember, Mrs Meyer isn't talking about generic test translations, but about test translations for an actual, potential job where there is actually a high probability that the translator will get the job if he passes the test. Her post does not relate to the types of test translations sent out by translation-mill agencies when a dozen of them all get the same "potential job" notification from an international client, nor does it relate to test translations where agency who get the job then pass on the job to their cheapest translators, despite the fact that you were the one who translated the test.


No, that's not what she's talking about, at all, and unless you're Mrs Meyer providing us with an "authentic interpretation" of what you wrote in that post, yours is just pure speculation, and an incomprehensibly apologetic one at that.

What she DID write is "we have hundreds of applicants a month share their CVs with us and ask us for work" and "we will never ask you to complete samples that are not relevant to the work we do or ask you to complete samples and send them to clients as finished work", which is totally different from what you just wrote.

And BTW, the very least I would expect is that a test translation I do is "relevant" to the project I am applying for. In other words, if I applied for a project concerning software localization and was asked to complete a test about patents, I would flatly refuse to do it and think that the company that asked for it was totally unprofessional. So, being "relevant" is just basic common sense (not something to be praised for...), but doesn't definitely imply any of the things you mention.


Kaspars Melkis
David Martin Tucker
mughwI
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:56
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The gist of her post Jun 24

Taking the same stance I approach each phrase now and then, when I have to translate from Chinglish, I tried to get to the gist of Ms. Meyer's circumlocutory post.

I checked her company's web site, pretty standard translation agency marketing, as well as their location, a house on the back street of a supermarket, no ritzy metropolitan premises to mope about costs. So that's not the issue.

Apparently she is complaining about the quantity of translator applications they get weekly, and the fact that many such applicants demand to be paid for test translations. She is also complaining that some of her competitors do pay for such test translations, putting her in a disadvantaged position

She seems to have a biased view on the investment a translation agency has to make to grow its market share, being completely oblivious to the fact that every freelance translator must do exactly the same, albeit to a smaller scale to secure paid assignments.

Having discarded some rambling, IMHO this is the gist of her message.

I have some personal views on this matter...


1. On translation tests

a) I fail to see their value after I was persistently asked by a small local agency owner to review and edit a(n awful) technical translation. I gave in when I realized that it would take me less time to do it than to brush him off. So I did it. Later I learned that it was his personal test - as a translator - for a large technical translation job, which he was visibly not qualified for.

b) The smartest use of translation tests I ever saw was by an end-client whose request I wouldn't be able to fulfill, though I can't remember why. He sent me five lines (sic! 5 lines) translated by five different applicants. I told him to get it translated by #2, and proofread by #5. He said he couldn't afford both. So I told him to get it translated by #2, and ask him/her to be extra careful regarding X, Y, and Z. It came out very good.

c) The best option is to keep translation tests unpaid and short, below 250-300 words. That is enough to assess the candidate's general skill and competence. I evaluate translation tests for my clients at no charge (only!), so I've seen a few hundred of these. That size is definitely enough. The point here is to make it impossible for anyone to make a living merely from taking and/or grading translation tests for hundreds of translation agencies, and to spare the agency from wasting money on jokers who will merely shoot it thru machine translation in order to make a few bucks.


2. On translation agency investments

Nowadays having a notebook and an Internet connection is the bare bones investment for someone to operate a translation agency from their kitchen table. A clever web developer may create something that will make their outfit look like a giant corporation.

This links to the story of a young chap who graduated as a lawyer. His father let him choose between a furnished office in a good location, or a shiny new Mercedes convertible. The guy chose the car, and started visiting prospects. One year later, he managed to buy his own office. The image sells, and a good web image is comparatively cheap.

Okay, the translator online application form on this agency's web site seems pretty adequate, far from some sadistic configurations of Plunet I've seen. My only hope is that it feeds data directly to a PM-searchable database, and not merely composes an e-mail with that information.

That online application offers - as an option - the chance to submit a sample translation. No idea on whether this will preclude further testing. In any case, there is no point in having all candidates tested and graded, if the odds of needing, say, a Norwegian > Papiamento translator are thin.

That online application misses one - IMHO important - question: specialized subject areas. This will require additional work at the agency. Also, the casual way they ask about the most essential key ingredient, viz. language pairs, will certainly detract from their database efficiency, if they use one.


Last but not least, there are many things a translator can do for an agency, to make them "look good" to their end-clients. On the other hand, there is ONE thing a translation agency can do for translators who meet (or exceed) the agreed expectations: pay them good rates, as mutually agreed (or even faster). This is where the balancing act occurs.

There is no point in an agency testing translators to discover that their hefty markup (a result of their business model) makes it impossible to hire the good ones in a sustainable manner. Some effective cost management should be in place.

[Edited at 2018-06-24 21:09 GMT]


David Martin Tucker
Kuochoe Nikoi
Yolanda Broad
Margarita
Tradupro17
 

David Martin Tucker
United States
Local time: 20:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Barbier's President Removes Damaging Rant Jun 25

David Martin Tucker wrote:

Melissa Meyer, the President of Barbier International, located in Oregon, in her recent rant posted to LI tells freelancers their time is not valuable.

In a post to LI, the president slams freelancers for valuing their time and not giving away free samples of their work. In her rant tells about all of the costs this poor agency puts out just to bring the freelancer work. Of course, she doesn't mention how the professional freelancer is bringing her company business, and without them, the company would not exist. I guess she inadvertently overlooked that part. I wonder if she thinks other professionals should also give her a free sample of their work?

She further compares the business to business relationship with a freelancer to nothing more than retail store samples. Does she also require her grocery store to let her drink the milk first before paying? She could, of course, assign a small job to the freelancer to test their skills. I guess this would be too easy, and it would actually mean paying the freelancer for the valuable time.

Original Post:
https://lnkd.in/eYQUnhZ

My LI response to her post:
https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6416496521897918464

[Edited at 2018-06-24 13:45 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-06-24 16:35 GMT]


The original post to LI, it appears, has been removed. This, unfortunately, also removed my response on LI and all of the comments since I had linked to the original post. That is okay, however, since what she wrote has been circulated far and wide.


 


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Barbier Company President Slams Translators for Valuing Their Time

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