Trial translations for individual projects
Thread poster: Nicholas Hallsworth

Nicholas Hallsworth  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:57
Japanese to English
+ ...
Apr 24, 2013

An agency which I have been working for a while asked me to do a trial for an individual project yesterday. As I'd already passed a number of trials for them when I first applied, I replied saying that I do not provide a free trial service, but if you'd be kind enough to pay me for it then I would be happy to oblige. I was expecting them to coffer up, but they replied saying that it was fine and hey will re-assign the trial!!


Has anyone experienced this before?

Would you provide free trials on individual projects?

Many thanks,

Nicholas


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:57
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, for an established client Apr 24, 2013

Yes, I'm quite happy to provide a short unpaid test translation when an established client, who I know is reliable, requests it in order to bid for an individual project - a book, for example.
Jenny


 

Nicholas Hallsworth  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:57
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thankyou Apr 24, 2013

Perhaps I was a little hasty in refusing it! In the past the same agency have paid me for trials, which made me reluctant to do it for free this time.

The interesting thing is that they sent me another assignment (no trial) immediately after I refused the first one!

Nicholas


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes I would Apr 24, 2013

Again as Jenny says, I would only do it for a reliable client. Often a trial is needed by the agency as part of their sales process. They show the client how good they are by offering a sample and the fact that they have come to you for this shows that they trust you to come up with the goods and represent the quality they offer really well.
I can understand the importance of this say, for marketing texts, where the translator's creativity is important, or for really long texts like a book where the client is making a huge commitment.

I will often offer a free sample of my work for copywriting jobs so that the client can ascertain how easily I understand the brief and get a feel for their style so it's not unusual to have to give a free sample, even in work that it not 100% translation-related, although it's easy to get jaded when you're constantly being asked for free tests by agencies that never end up giving you work.

I don't think that you were entirely wrong in refusing. The client should perhaps have been better at 'selling' the idea to you by explaining the cause a little more thoroughly and perhaps they were also hasty in just going 'next' when you refused. It may be worth in future keeping an open mind about this though (which you clearly have decided on doing or you wouldn't have asked the question) and perhaps simply asking more questions. A nicely disguised 'what's in it for me' style of questioning may elicit more information which would enable you to make a more informed choice on whether or not to refuse.


 

ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 12:57
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Why trial translation? Apr 24, 2013

If you have been working for the agency for a while, then why would they need a trial translation from you? I think trial translations are for agencies and translators who do not know each other. You already know each other. Am I missing a point here?

 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:57
German to English
Could be client requirement Apr 24, 2013

If an established client asks for a test, there may be a reason.
Sometimes end clients request that translators be particularly qualified for a project. If translators in the agency's pool haven't translated the specific subject matter, or for this client previously, a test may be in order.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:57
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Negotiate, as always Apr 24, 2013

Marie-Helene Dubois wrote:
A nicely disguised 'what's in it for me' style of questioning may elicit more information which would enable you to make a more informed choice on whether or not to refuse.

I would certainly advise you not just to go for "Of course, anything you say!". I would want to know why they and/or the client needs this. There was a thread not long ago (which I can't find) that talked of agencies asking regular translators for these freebies to enable them to prepare their tender: if they were awarded it, they'd find someone cheaper to actually do the paid work. Is that legal? Probably. Ethical? No way! You can't make them give you the work, but you can let them know this has to be a "give and take" relationship, where both sides win.


 

Nicholas Hallsworth  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:57
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
reason for the trial Apr 24, 2013

ATIL KAYHAN wrote:

If you have been working for the agency for a while, then why would they need a trial translation from you? I think trial translations are for agencies and translators who do not know each other. You already know each other. Am I missing a point here?


The agency provides free trial translations for its clients so they can confirm the suitability of the translator before confirming the project. In the past they were paying me for these, but this time they asked for it for free, annoyingly.


 

Nicholas Hallsworth  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:57
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
should have negotiated! Apr 24, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I would certainly advise you not just to go for "Of course, anything you say!". I would want to know why they and/or the client needs this. There was a thread not long ago (which I can't find) that talked of agencies asking regular translators for these freebies to enable them to prepare their tender: if they were awarded it, they'd find someone cheaper to actually do the paid work. Is that legal? Probably. Ethical? No way! You can't make them give you the work, but you can let them know this has to be a "give and take" relationship, where both sides win.


Looking back it probably would have been worth the investment, but it was the cheek of cutting the fee after paying it in the past and that the fee was claculated right there in the email with a little note saying I wouldn't be getting it that got my back up. It was also an abstract of a study which made me wonder whether there was an actual project or not.

I think I will have to be more persistent as you say instead of out-right refusing these things!


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 11:57
English to Polish
+ ...
My two yens May 1, 2013

Nickhallsworth wrote:

The agency provides free trial translations for its clients so they can confirm the suitability of the translator before confirming the project. In the past they were paying me for these, but this time they asked for it for free, annoyingly.


I think that's a reasonable practice. I actually prefer my clients or agencies' clients with big or regular jobs to start from a test sample, which I don't mind being free. The free test is a free test for all the parties involved, including the translator. You get to see how reasonable or unreasonable the Client or the Client's reviewers are and how your agency acts if there's any disagreement between you and those guys. I really value this knowledge because being ambushed by unrealistically fussy or actually ignorant proofreaders (e.g. not sharp on grammar) feels really awful, especially when you've just completed a large project and are still waiting for your fee that may or may not come.

Also, perhaps in the past the agency was able to pay you for those trials but this may no longer be the case now or this particular trial may have been an exception. Appreciate how they always paid you before! Much of the time the translator isn't actually paid for those, or 50% of the fee.

I know It feels bad to have your work tested for no pay but if you look at it as a form of advertising or a more generic investment, then it really pays as long as you're good and the client isn't holding an unofficial casting but simply verifying the skills of that one agency and translator the client is about to retain. It might help if you try to walk a mile in the client's shoes.

...And so, the money paid to translators and agencies also comes from some kind of work that the client could be frittering away on unqualified translators. There's a chance that in the client's mind or the agency's mind or both, you're adequately compensated for your effort by receiving a large job next to the value of which the value of your free trial may well be negligible. In the fast-pacing world, the people who are making those decisions (they're still people) can perhaps not be taking time to look at things in detail, and it can simply be eluding them how it must feel when you're asked to work free of charge for, say, half an hour, and if they'd realised that, they might have offered to pay you. I'm willing to bet that their own client acquisition has them working without pay too, perhaps more so than a translator. Vendors do send out free samples of whatever products they sell, by snail mail.


 


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