Agencies that issue set tight deadlines at first; only to be continuosouly extended
Thread poster: Mark Sanderson

Mark Sanderson  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 21:02
Chinese to English
Aug 18, 2014

Hello,

Has anyone had any experiences with agencies who, at first, set a pretty tight deadline for a project; only for it to be pushed back when you let them know that you cannot work on the project as you are busy with other work? What is the point of setting such a tight deadline in the first place if there is still a long period of time until the end-clients final deadline?

Whilst I understand that agencies have to put a certain number of fall-back measures into their operations, my recent experience with a deadline that was able to be pushed back by over one week tells me that some agencies are unnecessarily creating extra pressure for their translators.

Mark


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 21:02
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
The deadline setter Aug 18, 2014

This happens in every industry:

CEO: Get this done in a week
Upper management: Get this done in three days
Middle management: Get this done by tomorrow
Dilbert: Get this done by yesterday

Most of the time the agency simply takes the date given to them by the client, then take an arbitrary amount off the time to allow for processing and whatnot. The tight deadline is a function of the client dealing with the agency directly and not really planning their time around outsourcing.


 

Simin Tan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:02
Chinese to English
Could be worse Aug 18, 2014

I don't mind that as much as agencies that have set a pretty reasonable deadline in order for you to take up the job, only to push forward the delivery date for one reason or another after that on multiple occasions. I have one PM who did that regularly to me, and I have expressed my desire not to work with her any longer.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:02
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Understandable in a new relationship Aug 18, 2014

Mark Sanderson wrote:
Has anyone had any experiences with agencies who, at first, set a pretty tight deadline for a project; only for it to be pushed back when you let them know that you cannot work on the project as you are busy with other work?

After all, not only do we not know whether they are prompt payers; they don't know if we're prompt deliverers, nor do they know what quality to expect. In the worst case scenario they could have a total disaster and need to get it retranslated. So, I quite expect it from a new client, but I wouldn't accept a very tight deadline with an untried client anyway - just too many risks involved. Once a client knows I always deliver within the deadline then I expect them to be lengthened somewhat as a general rule, and to the maximum possible if I have real problems fitting the work in. For that type of client I (almost) always manage to fit in a bit extra.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:02
Chinese to English
You're a valued translator... Aug 18, 2014

Mark Sanderson wrote:

...some agencies are unnecessarily creating extra pressure for their translators.

Part of what you're feeling sounds like lack of experience. Agencies have no power to pressure you. You don't work for them - in some ways, they work for you. The lesson you should be drawing from this experience is: this agency values you. They would rather change their terms and keep working with you than choose someone else. That's a good position to be in!

What is the point of setting such a tight deadline in the first place if there is still a long period of time until the end-clients final deadline?

It's just normal scheduling. If they can get the job done quickly, then they will do so to free up more time later. There's nothing odd or sinister about it.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:02
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
reliability Aug 18, 2014

Some agencies systematically calculate how much time they think is necessary and ask for the translation by then regardless of what their client is prepared to accept. Then if they don't find anyone they ask their client for an extension of the deadline.

Speaking as a former PM: some translators systematically handed stuff in early and so I never worried if their deadline and the clients' were rather close (I had to proofread too).
Others would sometimes hand something in a bit late, so with them I always asked for the translation before I actually needed it.

Curiously enough, the most reliable translators were also those who delivered the best workicon_wink.gif


 

Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:02
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Yes some deadlines are phony Aug 18, 2014

Mark Sanderson wrote:

Has anyone had any experiences with agencies who, at first, set a pretty tight deadline for a project; only for it to be pushed back when you let them know that you cannot work on the project as you are busy with other work? What is the point of setting such a tight deadline in the first place if there is still a long period of time until the end-clients final deadline?

Whilst I understand that agencies have to put a certain number of fall-back measures into their operations, my recent experience with a deadline that was able to be pushed back by over one week tells me that some agencies are unnecessarily creating extra pressure for their translators.



You're absolutely right that the deadlines are often phony. For this reason, I rarely turn down jobs just because I'm busy at the moment with a few days of work. Instead, I respond with "I'm booked today but I can do this by X deadline" and then let them decide if that works for them. Doing so helps me keep enough work moving through.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 15:02
English to Polish
+ ...
... Aug 18, 2014

Right now the 'translation industry' is experiencing a trend towards very short deadlines. There are no more rush rates; rather, deadlines serve as a competitive variable in tandem with price: the lower or shorter the more desirable to a reverse-auctioning client. Obviously, reverse auction is the dominant paradigm right now.

Another factor that comes into play here is the growing deprofessionalization of this 'industry'. Not even clients but actually PMs and in some cases even PMs who are translators don't have a reliable intuitive idea of how long it takes to translate.

Finally, irresponsibility probably born of ignorance: if you look at Proz.com job postings you will notice many with long quoting deadlines and short completion deadlines, meaning that the poster takes sweet time picking the best bargain but later on likely expects you to waive rush fees.

Demoralizing buyer domination of the market is probably the bottom line here.


 

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 15:02
English to German
+ ...
High renegotiation rate Aug 18, 2014

There's nothing odd or sinister about it.


I agree with that. I renegotiate the deadlines of about 50% of the projects offered to me - Clients that know the quality of my work usually have no problem with that. At the same time, I can understand that agencies and clients prefer to receive the translation rather earlier than later.

If there is an increasing trend towards shorter deadlines it is due to translators who believe that what an agency says is cast in concrete and cannot be questioned or negotiated under any circumstance. And then they sit there through weekends and spend whole nights working for peanuts, because it never once entered their mind that they could and should negotiate with their clients.

Educating newcomers is key here, as with rates. Lately I have the impression things are improving a little as the reactions in the forums shift more towards education and away from mere complaining about low rates and tight deadlines.


 

KateKaminski
Local time: 14:02
German to English
One particular agency Aug 19, 2014

One agency constantly sends e-mails which always start:

"Apologies for the mass e-mail, but we have an urgent job ..."

which turns out to be a project of up to 85,000 words which needs to be translated within 24 hours, split between countless translators, followed by proofreading, to be split between many other freelancers and all wrapped up and ready to be delivered within a further 12 hours.

I have no idea why this agency always has insanely urgent projects, but they seem to keep raking in the work and there are plenty of translators ready to take on the challenge at the drop of a hat.


 

Little Woods  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Member
English to Vietnamese
I dont dare to take up such thing Aug 20, 2014

The one Kate mentioned is really insane. I myself would not want my name to be part of the team like that. 2-4 translator are at most and should be someone I know or can communicate and there should be only one final proofreader or reviser. Even with a glossary provided to the translators, people must have not make head or tail of final work.

 


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