https://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/337631-agency_asking_to_proofread_a_translation_test.html

Agency asking to proofread a translation test
Thread poster: Laura Gentili

Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:19
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Sep 27

Hi,
I have been collaborating with a translation agency for years. During the last year or they only gave me small proofreading jobs and no translation jobs. Today they asked me to proofread a 300 word translation test (full of mistakes, BTW). I find it annoying. What am I supposed to do? Can I simply refuse the task or would that sound unprofessional? Do you have any suggestion about how to phrase my answer without sounding either mean or unprofessional?
Thanks!
Laura


 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:19
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Something like this? Sep 27

Laura Gentili wrote:

Hi,
I have been collaborating with a translation agency for years. During the last year or they only gave me small proofreading jobs and no translation jobs. Today they asked me to proofread a 300 word translation test (full of mistakes, BTW). I find it annoying. What am I supposed to do? Can I simply refuse the task or would that sound unprofessional? Do you have any suggestion about how to phrase my answer without sounding either mean or unprofessional?
Thanks!
Laura


Dear ....,

Thank you for the job offer, but unfortunately I am not available right now. Sorry.

Kind regards,


Just tell them you don't have the time. You are free to refuse a job.

[Edited at 2019-09-27 10:58 GMT]


Alex Kalani
Philippe Etienne
Marco Belcastro Bara
Dan Lucas
Georgi Kovachev
Teresa Borges
 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 04:19
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Tell it straight Sep 27

Laura Gentili wrote:

Hi,
I have been collaborating with a translation agency for years. During the last year or they only gave me small proofreading jobs and no translation jobs. Today they asked me to proofread a 300 word translation test (full of mistakes, BTW). I find it annoying. What am I supposed to do? Can I simply refuse the task or would that sound unprofessional? Do you have any suggestion about how to phrase my answer without sounding either mean or unprofessional?
Thanks!
Laura


Hi Laura,

I think honesty is the best. Tell them that you find it annoying (actually it is also a kind of exploitation) because they know you are good that's why they asked you to proofread someone's else test, still you don't get translation jobs from them. Usually this is a case when an agency wants to fill their database with cheap translators. You should tell them that you prefer translation jobs.

Bests,
Katalin


writeaway
Alex Kalani
Philippe Etienne
Marco Belcastro Bara
Daryo
Philip Lees
Angie Garbarino
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:19
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Laura Sep 27

Laura Gentili wrote:
During the last year or they only gave me small proofreading jobs and no translation jobs. Today they asked me to proofread a 300 word translation test (full of mistakes, BTW).


It means that they've been struggling to find jobs in your language combination, therefore over time they have dropped the standard of what they are willing to accept. You must decide whether you want to continue your relationship with this agency. If not, simply try to negotiate a higher rate for this job (higher than they would accept), based on the fact that the translation has so many mistakes in it. Eventually they'll lose interest in you. If not, write to them and ask that they remove you from their database.

I generally don't mind being on an agency's database as one of the translators that they contact, but for some clients my rate has become too high (or their rates have dropped too low for the increasingly complicated jobs that they offer), so that I rarely do any jobs for them.

There is a class of client from whom you'll rarely get a good job, but... you never know. They might land a big one for you one day.

As for whether it is ethical to proofread another translator's test, well, it happens more and more: an agency will use its best translator to proofread a test translation done by one of its more mediocre translators, and if the agency does land the job, they'll likely use their cheapest translator for the actual project, except during periods when the end-client checks up on the quality. Winning a contract with your best service providers and then assigning your cheapest service providers on the actual project is normal, not only in our industry. You have to decide how valuable it is for you to nurse the relationship, to help them win contracts this way.


[Edited at 2019-09-27 11:33 GMT]


Alex Kalani
Philippe Etienne
Marco Belcastro Bara
Philip Lees
Jean Chao
 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:19
Member
English to French
Annoyed for receiving work? Sep 27

Well, if you don't want to offer proofreading/editing/whatever services to this company, then don't. If the company is insignificant in terms of bottom line, there is no risk of "retaliation" through a reduction in business from them ...

Turning down jobs is nothing out of the ordinary. I wonder how it could be interpreted as "unprofessional", as you don't owe anything to anybody. As a self-employed professional, you are entitled to choose your assignments according to your own crit
... See more
Well, if you don't want to offer proofreading/editing/whatever services to this company, then don't. If the company is insignificant in terms of bottom line, there is no risk of "retaliation" through a reduction in business from them ...

Turning down jobs is nothing out of the ordinary. I wonder how it could be interpreted as "unprofessional", as you don't owe anything to anybody. As a self-employed professional, you are entitled to choose your assignments according to your own criteria.
Besides, there are a finite number of hours in a week and you don't want to accept everything that comes your way and split an aorta from overwork.

Of course, we have to make clear from the onset that we're not on their payroll: you deliver something for a fee, you turn down work, you go on holiday whenever you like and you walk away if you feel bullied.

"Dear X,
Thank you for your message.
Unfortunately, my schedule is hopelessly booked until May 2024 with other assignments and I have no spare time whatsoever to handle this task before then.
If this is nevertheless suitable, please let me know."

Other way of looking at it: you decide that tasks you find annoying for whatever reason will be priced twice or three times your usual compensation.
If your offer is turned down, that's great.
If it's not, even better: the task will still be boring, but you'll have the satisfaction to have had a very productive time, which may offset the experience. Do something you like with the extra money, and you'll forget about how you got this extra money.

"Dear X,
Thank you for your message.
I will charge €xxx for this task and deliver on xxx as stated.
Please confirm price and date."

If they reply that it's too expensive, give them a reason, e.g. boring work needs to be paid at higher rates because it reduces my life expectancy.

Philippe

Edit: typo

[Edited at 2019-09-27 11:55 GMT]
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Marco Belcastro Bara
Karen Wooddissee
Tradupro17
Kay-Viktor Stegemann
 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:19
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Rate quote Sep 27

Is there any rate at which you would be willing to take on this job? If so, just quote that rate and refuse to do it for anything less.

Philip Lees
 

Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:19
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your valuable input Sep 27

Thank you so much for your useful input.
The PM wrote again saying that they are waiting for a number of Italian test translations to be returned to them. I find it annoying and ridiculous, since they have good translators (apart from me) in their database and they don't give any translation jobs to them. Therefore I simply answered with "I am not interested in this job" and I am curious to read her reply on Monday.

Laura


IanDhu
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:19
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Unfortunately Sep 28

Laura Gentili wrote:
I find it annoying and ridiculous, since they have good translators (apart from me) in their database...


It used to be that clients would trust the translation agency to get the best translator for the job, but some clients no longer trust the agencies, and prefer to test the agencies themselves. This means that even if the agency knows that you are a very good translator, they will not be able to convince the client to take their word for it, and the client will insist that the agency delivers a test translation which they (the end-client) will examine themselves. This sort of thing also happens if the end-client is simply a larger agency. And I can understand why this happens... it's easy to set up an "agency" and say "we have the very best translators" even if you don't, so end-clients are forced through circumstance to test the translators themselves.


 

KateKaminski
Local time: 03:19
German to English
I don't understand Sep 30

Why not accept the job, highlight all the errors and get paid?

The agency will know not to use the candidate for future translations.


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:19
Member
Italian to English
Sometimes it's not bad to lose an agency Sep 30

If a relationship with an agency is no longer fruitful, it's sometimes no bad thing to lose them.
What is it precisely about being given these jobs that is annoying you? Pinpoint that, and your answer will be clear.


 

Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:19
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What is annoying Sep 30

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:
What is it precisely about being given these jobs that is annoying you? Pinpoint that, and your answer will be clear.


Since they stopped giving me translation jobs but they just give me small proofreading jobs, it's annoying that they would ask me to help them in the selection of new translators. They of course use the usual flattering jargon such as "You are the only one we trust" etc.


I also think that giving up agencies is healthy. However, I am also having issues with one of my main clients (a big UK based agency which keeps asking to lower my rates because of the "pressure from their end clients"), so I don't want to "cut bridges" on too many fronts.

Laura


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:19
Member
Italian to English
I don't think there's any way around the truth Sep 30

The scenario here seems pretty clear - they're obviously looking for translators who they can pay less.
If you're not interested in proofreading point blank, then politely tell them you're no longer interested in working with them, or tell them you're busy each time they contact you, and they will stop contacting you sooner or later.

If you DO want to keep them, then charge a price for this particular service that makes it worth your while.


IanDhu
Katalin Szilárd
Michele Fauble
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:19
Member (2004)
English to Italian
It's happened to me... Sep 30

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

The scenario here seems pretty clear - they're obviously looking for translators who they can pay less.


This is exactly what they are doing... good but cheaper translators that you - the one they really trust but too expensive - give the seal of approval.
No thanks!


Katalin Szilárd
 


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