Selecting companies by LWA
Thread poster: Andrea Shah

Andrea Shah
United States
Local time: 06:36
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Sep 2, 2009

I'm going through the Proz database and applying to various translation companies for freelance work. What I would like to hear from some more experienced translators is: how do you evaluate LWA when looking at agencies? Are you willing to work with those who have less than perfect LWAs? Do you let one or two low scores bother you?

I am currently not a full member of ProZ, so I can't read all the details of various transactions. (As soon as I get some work, I will be!) But I can see the average LWA scores, and I'm wondering to what extent you take these into account.


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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:36
English to German
+ ...
Selecting companies by LWA Sep 2, 2009

is like choosing your husband by hair color.

To answer your question "Are you willing to work with those who have less than perfect LWAs?"

Yes, because I do not choose my wife by hair color.
Seriously, I prefer to work with companies who have no LWAs at all.


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Brian Young  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:36
Danish to English
LWA scores Sep 2, 2009

I have noticed that quite often, when an "outsourcer" receives a negative posting on the Blue Board, it is immediately followed by one or two very positive postings, usually saying the exact opposite of what was said in the negative post. For example, someone gives a negative posting, saying payment was late. Then within hours or days several posts appear saying what a great PM so and so is, and that payment is always on time. They are obviously having someone salt the Blue Board on their behalf.
BE CAREFUL! This place is crawling with con artists who want you to work almost for free, and then wait months to get paid. I would not even respond to any outsourcer with negative posts, at all!
Brian


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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:36
Member (2009)
French to English
LWA is an important factor Sep 2, 2009

However, I do not go by the raw score. I look at the length of time represented by the score as well as the specific comments. Even with the possibility of "salting" you can still tell if translators are genuinely delighted by working with a company. If a translator complains that the rates are low, well... you probably shouldn't have taken the job if you don't like the rate. If the payment was not made for over a month, but the payment terms are 45 days, well... you should have read the contract. However, comments like "I have not been paid for three months and the agency keeps making excuses" will take a lot of sunshine and happiness to clear up.

By the same token, I have worked for companies, and even individuals, with no LWA record and been perfectly happy with my experiences.


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Anett Lindner
Germany
English to German
Take the LWA as one criterion amongst others Sep 2, 2009

Hi Andrea,

when I started freelancing one year ago I checked the LWA for every single agency offering jobs to me. More than 90% have become regular clients now with whom I maintain really good business relationships. What I can say with hindsight now is this:

1. I would not be to suspicious of agencies with one or two low ratings in a list of, say, 10 to 15. This does not necessarily mean that the agency is one that is not to be trusted. On the opposite this can also be an agency that maintains strict QA procedures and mean that the entries have been entered by translators who are either not able to admit or to realize that their translation was not fit for purpose.

2. Take the LWA only as one criterion for the assessment of their credibility and values. Why not talk to them over the phone? One the one side agencies can get an impression of you as a person, on the other side you get the chance to infer according to which business model they are operating. PMs who are pressed by tight margins and the unpleasant consequences that naturally ensue will usually sound differently than those who like their job as they work in companies whose principles are based on mutual respect, skill and striving for best performance in everything that is done. Concealed motives of the unpleasant sort usually come as somewhat unnatural overfriendliness through the earpiece. Also it is useful to study the wording of the documentation forwarded to you initially. I once received application forms in which the translator was threatened with all sorts of liability claims in the first place and at the same time given the opportunity to order a liability insurance via the same agency in order to get jobs for which of course the translator had to offer lowest rates possible. This was when I told myself that I would also enjoy a life as a facility manager in a local mall as one can never be in too weak a position to accept such terms and further such kind of business.

3. There are also many agencies out there that are not listed on Proz and that are owned by respectable businesspeople whose word you can trust. This can also be worth a try.

So in a nutshell I would say: Just deliver high quality work and expand your skill on the linguistic level as well as your knowledge in your area of expertise, know your limits, be honest and ready to end business relationship instantly with agencies that prefer to remain on the receiving end only and do this no matter whether you consider yourself to be in a position where you can choose or not. You may encounter one or two unpleasant experiences but then again chances are quite high that you also find agencies with whom you can establish a long term cooperation.

Wish you good luck with all your endeavors in the translator's guild

Anett


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:36
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Blue board mainly of value to identify non-payers and slow payers Sep 3, 2009

And it is of no small value for this purpose. I always check it before I work for a company that I do not know.

Unfortunately, the BB is in my view also something of a love fest that tends to produce positively skewed ratings by translators who hope that posting high ratings and laudatory comments will lead to more work from the grateful agency.

I posted some time back calling attention to the weaknesses of the system as it now stands, and suggesting changes that I think would improve its usefulness:

http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom_suggestions/120808-suggestions_for_changing_blue_board_rating_system.html#993130

As for the weight you give to low LWA ratings, I would look for patterns. One or two bad ratings among a sea of excellent ratings should not be cause for concern. But if there are only thirteen ratings and, say, five of them are bad, this should give pause.

Along with this, you also need to look at the agency's response to low ratings. If the agency contends that payment was delayed or withheld because of the poor quality of the translation, and it represents an exception to what has been generally positive feedback, then I would tend to give the agency the benefit of the doubt. It is important to remember also that there are translators out there who misrepresent their qualifications. This can lead to agencies losing their clients, and they have a right to be angry when this happens.

I hope this helps. All the best!

[Edited at 2009-09-03 16:19 GMT]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
no guarantee of work, so what difference Sep 3, 2009

Andrea Strane wrote:

I'm going through the Proz database and applying to various translation companies for freelance work. What I would like to hear from some more experienced translators is: how do you evaluate LWA when looking at agencies? Are you willing to work with those who have less than perfect LWAs? Do you let one or two low scores bother you?

I am currently not a full member of ProZ, so I can't read all the details of various transactions. (As soon as I get some work, I will be!) But I can see the average LWA scores, and I'm wondering to what extent you take these into account.


You don't have access to comments, so you just have to go by the score, maximum 5.
The comments of other posters are absolutely valid, nevertheless.

But since there's no guarantee that you'll get work anyway, why not just choose all the 5s and apply ... and then if someone contacts you, take into account the others' comments and apply standard business sense and, above all, simply be wary:-)


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Andrea Shah
United States
Local time: 06:36
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for the feedback, everyone Sep 4, 2009

I think I was secretly hoping that the LWA ratings might somehow magically help me filter out the agencies whose rates in my language pairs are abysmally low. Obviously that's not the case (nor is it their purpose).

In all seriousness, though, thank you all for explaining how you use the LWA score to your advantage. I think I'm just going to spring for a ProZ membership, so as to be able to take full advantage of all its benefits, including the comments about agencies.

As always, ProZ is such a great resource for us newbies, because everyone is so helpful.


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Rifraf
Local time: 12:36
hundreds of e-mails from translators offerting their services Sep 4, 2009

As an agency owner in the Netherlands, I can tell you that we receive hundreds of e-mails from freelance translators all over the world offering their services.
So if I were you, I would not send an e-mail, but maybe try it with a letter and resume; or make sure that your e-mail stands out from the rest.

On the subject of looking for possible employers: you can always look for the applicable associations of translation companies in a country. In the Netherlands that is: www.ataweb.nl.


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