Agency asking for Clients' References
Thread poster: Spiros Doikas

Spiros Doikas  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:42
Member (2002)
English to Greek
+ ...
Jun 6, 2005

I applied to a translation agency and I was asked to complete a 500 word test and fill in an extensive form which included this bit:

Clients' References
(Please list at least five referees)

And I have to complete the following fields:

Company Contact person Title Email Address Telephone

Do you think this is a legitimate thing to ask, let alone provide?


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Chiara_M  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:42
French to Italian
+ ...
Not so strange but annoying Jun 6, 2005

I've been dealing with several agencies asking for such information.
I'm a bit reluctanct in answering, by the way I usually ask my regular clients if they would be disposed to give references about me. If they agree, I forward their contact to those who have asked for.

Chiara


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Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:42
Member (2002)
English to German
References Jun 6, 2005

What would happen if a company received the following letter:

Dear Sir,

Please tell us the contact information of at least five of your best customers (Company Contact person Title Email Address Telephone).

We will then contact them to see if they are happy with your services. If they are not we might offer our own services.
Perhaps we could afterwards outsource a part of our new business to you so both of us will be happy.

Best regards


I think they would laugh and throw away the letter. That's what I do as well whenever I receive such requests.

Take care

Andy


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 18:42
Swedish to English
+ ...
Would you also ask for references? Jun 6, 2005

I do the same as Chiara - I have some regular clients who are happy to provide references for me.

To look at the other way, if I'm going to pay someone to do some work on my house I want a reference from them so I know that I'm not going to get ripped off... though I do think that asking for "at least five" is a bit much!


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 18:42
English to German
+ ...
I normally submit my profile link Jun 6, 2005

Hi! It is sometimes annoying, but when it comes to huge projects the outsourcers back away, due to the fear that a translator may fail to deliver the required quality. In that case I normally give a couple of references with a central figure and tel number. In the reality, both customer information and the project information are strictly confidential. Many outsourcers value this very much. Rgds, Brandis

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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Agree with Andy Jun 6, 2005

Andy Lemminger wrote:

What would happen if a company received the following letter:

Dear Sir,

Please tell us the contact information of at least five of your best customers (Company Contact person Title Email Address Telephone).

We will then contact them to see if they are happy with your services. If they are not we might offer our own services.
Perhaps we could afterwards outsource a part of our new business to you so both of us will be happy.

Best regards


I think they would laugh and throw away the letter. That's what I do as well whenever I receive such requests.

Take care

Andy


Many agencies are just 'testing the waters'. They want to see which agencies have work. I also delete such mail with requests for lots of personal information. I think it's often just a ploy for them to find out what's going on in the market.

[Edited at 2005-06-06 18:37]

[Edited at 2005-06-06 18:38]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Quite normal Jun 7, 2005

Spiros Doikas wrote:
And I have to complete the following fields:
Company, Contact person, Title, Email Address, Telephone
Do you think this is a legitimate thing to ask, let alone provide?


It is quite normal. The agency might contact your references to ask whether they found your work satisfactory. The agency can judge your translation quality from the test translation, but they can't just your professionality from it... for that they refer to previous clients of yours.

You can, of course, throw the "confidentiality" card at them and claim that none of your previous clients wished to be identified, but that would be somewhat suspicious unless you work in a government type field.


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Austra Muizniece  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 19:42
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
agree - quite normal Jun 7, 2005

When I started searching for clients a couple of years ago, I visited a lot of translation agencies' websites and filled in application forms for freelancers, willing to collaborate. In most cases they asked for approx. 3 references, the bigger agencies even asked for more. Now, 5 really seems to be too much, I think 2 should be enough. I can also agree to writeaway's position, however, after trying to convince some clients about the confidentiality issue and sticking to my guns, they ended up giving the work to someone else. Also, I have never lost any clients by providing references, even though it might seem a little unsafe, considering the risk of the translation agency going directly to my client for work. Maybe you can just try and tell them that you're only going to give them 2-3 references, I'm sure they'd understand...


Samuel Murray wrote:

Spiros Doikas wrote:
And I have to complete the following fields:
Company, Contact person, Title, Email Address, Telephone
Do you think this is a legitimate thing to ask, let alone provide?


It is quite normal. The agency might contact your references to ask whether they found your work satisfactory. The agency can judge your translation quality from the test translation, but they can't just your professionality from it... for that they refer to previous clients of yours.

You can, of course, throw the "confidentiality" card at them and claim that none of your previous clients wished to be identified, but that would be somewhat suspicious unless you work in a government type field.



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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 19:42
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
My experience Jun 7, 2005

Recently, I've got a request from a client who required 2 references, too. I have several regular clients, and I asked two of them (based in the same country) their permission to provide their emails as reference just for this case.

Both regular clients which I asked to do so agreed, but one translation manager noted that this is not their usual practice and they did so just because of their good attitude to me, personally, since basically it was not their practice to recommend good translators to their competitors (to another translation agencies).

I found this approach very reasonable, and my lesson from the situation was that if you need a reference, never ask it from your _regular_ client. There are occasional clients you did a single project for -- and those are the best to ask for references in such cases.

PS. By the way, that request for reference remained unanswered. I mean that I felt quite stupid like gathering those permissions for references from my regular clients -- and all for nothing. But I learned something about this reference problem, so it was not probably futile.

[Edited at 2005-06-07 11:44]


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PRAKAASH  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 23:12
Member (2007)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Same case here! Jun 7, 2005

Dear Prozians,

For instance,
a person registers himself or herself in proz site as an agency (obviously a fake one). He is just trying to find out that who needs the translations in the market???
He sends emails to such persons and agencies throwing lowest rates possible. What'll be the result?
The translator who sent the references will loose jobs and clients. Isn't it?

Second instance,
In many a cases, the agencies get their translators signed for their works and jobs and ask for the secrecy. You ask for the reference and forward the same. Perhaps the result may be negative due to change of mood of concerned person?

Just few things to mention here-
Did you ever feel the same?
If yes, then is it right to give the names of referees?

THAT'S ALL!

WARM REGARDS!
PRAKAASH


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
References x portfolio Jun 8, 2005

Kirill Semenov wrote:
I found this approach very reasonable, and my lesson from the situation was that if you need a reference, never ask it from your _regular_ client. There are occasional clients you did a single project for -- and those are the best to ask for references in such cases.


Nice touch. I also ask for clients whether I may mention them on my portfolio. A portfolio mention is not the same as asking to act as a reference, and some clients may be more likely to accept the request. See my web site for examples.


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