Off topic: The Waiting Game
Thread poster: Juliana Brown

Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:47
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 20, 2007

Maybe it is just me who gets a little thrill when a quote is accepted for a job which I applied for. Although I have been translating for about a decade, I've only kicked it back into high gear in the past year, so every new client is potentially a reason to be very pleased. But I am wondering if some of them are a figment of my imagination...
What is the story with clients who offer a job, accept your quote, receive your polite note saying "I received your acceptance and look forward to finding out more about the project", and then...go silent!
Was it a joke? I know that agencies and clients are busy, but perhaps a small note saying "this is what we hope to do, and this is the potential time frame for starting?" All I want is to know how to plan my busy life!
I'd appreciate some words of wisdom, or at least something to make me laugh.


Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:47
French to Spanish
+ ...
Don't like agencies. Apr 20, 2007

Never worked for them, never will.
Don't understand their intermediary role.
"They get jobs", they say. "They have management skills to handle large projects, financial support, prestige, translators don't have...", bla, bla.
If you're lucky, payment after 30 days invoice date... gee, great!
Well, they give credit to the final client. They are huge and important companies.
Translator waits. Bills don't.
Very common complains about it just here.
Word of wisdom: Get direct clients.


Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
with Juan Jacob ... Apr 20, 2007

Until I joined ProZ, I never thought much about agencies, and since I've joined, I've bid on perhaps only half-a-dozen jobs, without getting a single one (or a single reply).

The two direct contacts that I have had with agencies also left me with the impression that they were ... well, what can I say, "scamming me"?!

One of the joys of translating for me is working with people who are either the authors of the text I'm translating, or who understand the target language. These people appreciate that I'm getting it "right." They are people who treat me like a professional and like a human being, not like a key to their bank account.

I don't know if what you experienced is "normal" for agencies, but regardless, it isn't very nice, is it? I don't accept that sort of behavior into my life, and I think you should thumb your nose at them, too!


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
I'm with Juan and Patricia Apr 20, 2007

Life is too short to put up with "agencies", I work with direct clients.


Irene N
United States
Local time: 05:47
English to Russian
+ ...
I wouldn't generalize too much Apr 20, 2007

Granted, way too many agencies and "agencies" grazing here are not worth a byte of the site space. But if you find a few, just a few good ones, like only 3 in my case, my congratulations! You'll feel protected by a brick wall, never overwhelmed with logistics, never worried about oh, what if I get sick, what if I need help etc., etc., etc, never feel guilty of being unavailable whenever you are pleased, never be afraid of losing a client... All they require is a timely warning, and if you are a trusted and valued asset, you will not lose that trust even over a very short notice should you get in any unexpected trouble with the deadline. Of course, abuse of all these niceties is not recommended.

I'm willing to pay their margin for having my life all to myself when I'm not actually making money by doing my direct job. 12 years without any need to market myself unless something superexciting catches my eye is worth something. BTW, when chained to a direct client and his large job, for which you are solely responsible, you can miss on lots of other things. Like call a PM and say - look, don't kill me, if no - no but... I got an urgent offer in, say, Hawaii. Must leave the day after tomorrow, and I have 1 hour to say yes or no. Can you pass the remainder of my file to someone from our bunch? - Irene, you are one lucky girl. Give me 5 min. In 5 min - Go ahead, it's re-assigned, no problem, thanks for letting us know in time, have fun! - OK, I'm switching to proofreading of what I've done so far. Love you guys!

How is that for a relationship? Relationship I built with equal responsiveness on my part when they are in a tight spot.


Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:47
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

I cherish agencies (NOT ALL) Apr 20, 2007

It's simple:

They let me devote my time to translation by converting the XXX files into WORD or in the worst case into a PDF (there are good converters now).
They arrange the DTP work for which I am not qualified.
They arrange proofreading, they check and take responsibility for possible terminological problems and -at worst - efforts by the client to try to relinquish himself from his inherent responsibility to be solely responsible for what he publishes.


As you can see, this is the perfect world, where we often aren't, but reasonably often.

Mats Wiman


Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:47
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Defending good agencies Apr 20, 2007


I work with agencies 99% of the time.

My agency clients are all trusted partners, pay as agreed 90% of the time (never had a single case of non-payment in the 10+ years of my freelance career), and a huge majority are professional and reliable and value my time and effort.

Wouldn't mind a direct client or two, of course, but agencies are not all that bad to me.



megane_wang  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:47
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
This happens in any business Apr 20, 2007

Juliana Starkman wrote:

What is the story with clients who offer a job, accept your quote, receive your polite note saying "I received your acceptance and look forward to finding out more about the project", and then...go silent!

Hi Juliana,

Cheer up, this is just business! Some agencies take care of their relationship with translators, some others don't. I agree with the previous opinions about valuable agencies.

I have been selling, managing and developing IT projects for years along with my translation activity, and know how you feel. I have visited customers 90 km away twice to sell a project. I have spent valuable hours teaching people who did not even know what they wanted, just to get nothing: not even a notification that they decided to "do it themselves" after I told them what to do. In the beginning this made me a bit angry, but now I have learned this:

1. Detect them before going too far...

2. Some of them really have not been able to call...

3. Sometimes you know someone that really cares and values your job. That one calls you, e-mails you, tells you what's going on. For me, this one deserves any effort.

4. Why put more effort on a frustrating customer? Just to feel even worse? Ha! Let the competitors go and try to convince that one !!icon_razz.gif

My advice? Go, Juliana, go!! Stick a smile to your face, and move onto another one !!!

Ruth @ MW


Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:47
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
agency-angel or devil Apr 20, 2007

Thanks everyone for the comments (especially Ruth for the cheering squad approach!). I have some direct clients (lots of immigration lawyers and one amateur writer in particular), who I mostly love because they respect me for what I can do and they can't.
I HAVE had good experiences with agencies as well, especially recently. I was lucky at this early stage of my freelancing to pick up a long term project from Europe with a great PM, but maybe this is why when I THOUGHT I had scored another one, and they disappeared into the horizon with my acceptance, I was that much more p.o'd. It all serves as a lesson...If you THINK you got something, don't give up what you concretely have in hand, until the new project appears on your computer screen.
gracias mil chicos...


Local time: 21:47
Italian to English
After 20 odd years May 13, 2007

After 20 odd years doing this job, I have learned that the best thing is to work directly with the final client(s). The newbies to this profession go haywire looking up all the potential agencies and calling them up, etc. I used to do that too.........once.



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