Off topic: Not a FREE test request again?!... (A rant)
Thread poster: Alexandra Schneeuhr

Alexandra Schneeuhr  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 12:46
Member (2012)
English to Russian
+ ...
Jan 21, 2014

Thank you in advance for allowing me to rant.

So... today I was yet again asked "if I could please do a test translation of the file attached." AND within a specified timeframe, too. I am so angry I feel I want to kick or break something.

The company in question has first contacted me some 3 months ago. They bargained endlessly over the rates, then asked me to complete a million of forms, both online and offline, and provide them with a million of docs, diploma copies, references etc. They also asked me for a free test which I refused, explaining that I don't offer any free services unless it is for non-commercial humanitarian organizations and/or meant to help people in need who cannot afford to pay. They seemed to accept this, yet today they came back with "but it's only a short sample and it shouldn't be time-consuming". Arghhhhh... What really annoys me here that it comes from the company that charges LOTS (!) for their own services and is not known to be generous with discounts, forget freebies.

***
End of the rant. I feel a bit better now. THANK YOU!


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 17:46
Chinese to English
No need to be angry when you win Jan 21, 2014

Completely understand your frustration, but you won that exchange - you didn't do the thing you didn't want to do. I've been trying to take a Zen approach when I win. These people have whole business processes - nay, whole business models - based on asking us to do free/cheap stuff. But all we have to do is say no. We have power!

One big agency tried to unilaterally reduce rates on me and a lot of other people a while ago. I said no and raised my rates. They keep coming back to me, and every time they offer me a reduced rate. I say, I don't work for that, it'll cost X instead. They say OK. I think they don't come to me unless they're ready to pay my rates. But they have to go through the process every time. It's irritating and not respectful, but what can you expect from an organisation that exists to make profits. Just beat them and enjoy. It's the only way!


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Alexandra Schneeuhr  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 12:46
Member (2012)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Zen... Jan 21, 2014

... may be the answer. Thank you, Phil!

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Christophe Delaunay  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:46
Member (2011)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Stand your ground, Alexandra Jan 21, 2014

If they keep on coming back to you, it's because they feel they can trust you.

If it means having to go through too much, just end up the mail exchange. (I wouldn't even have coped with as much as you did in the first place!). You'll see how good you feel too! You might not have those stacks of € in your pocket but you'll be proud of not having been weak. And this is a great feeling


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:46
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Just move on Jan 21, 2014

Alexandra, I fully understand your frustration. You go through all this trouble with sending your diplomas and filing on- and off-line forms only to be asked to complete a free test translation.

This, however, seems to be "normal" in some cases (as I was told in another thread). Still, you as the service provider can choose with whom you want to work and on what terms.

If you find the collaboration interesting and feel appreciated, both you as a person as well as your work, then enjoy it; if not, then just move on. After all, you are, just like that agency, an enterprise that needs to make a certain income.

And translating for free for NGO's or those in (real) need is a good deed that leaves you feeling good. So if they come back (which should make you feel good ) just either explain anew that you are not working for free or just delete their email.

Something to make you smile: Maybe the "free" in freelancer is just being misinterpreted.

[Edited at 2014-01-21 20:45 GMT]


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Alexandra Schneeuhr  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 12:46
Member (2012)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Freedom of freelancing ;) Jan 21, 2014

LOL re 'free' in freelancing! Thanks a lot, Thayenga, that was just what I needed to feel better. )) On the other hand, it may well stand for freedom to choose the customers we feel comfortable with?

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:46
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
A FREElancer's prerogative Jan 21, 2014

Alexandra Schneeuhr wrote:

LOL re 'free' in freelancing! Thanks a lot, Thayenga, that was just what I needed to feel better. )) On the other hand, it may well stand for freedom to choose the customers we feel comfortable with?





Glad to have been of assitance in making you feel better, Alexandra.

Indeed, the "free" in freelancer does include this freedom to exercise this prerogative.

[Edited at 2014-01-21 20:44 GMT]


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Anne Seerup
Ireland
Local time: 10:46
English to Danish
+ ...
They rarely give you work Jan 22, 2014

I find that those asking for tons of paperwork to fill out, tests, references etc. rarely send you any work in the end, so they are complete time wasters. The best clients are those that take a chance, perhaps with smaller jobs to begin with (which is fair enough) and allow time to build a proper business relationship. Those that see you as another business
See, whether we work for agencies or direct clients, we are not employees, we are small businesses with potential to grow larger and richer.
Why don't we all start behaving more like the copy writers - they charge a lot more for their work, they have fixed fee schedules, rather than charging per word etc. Sometimes we even get to translate copy accompanying various products, but we only get paid a fraction of the fee compared to that of the copywriter, when we are almost doing the same work with the amount of rewriting and cultural adaptation that is required. I simply find the whole translation industry quite uninspiring lately after reading up on the copy writing. I have to stop myself now.
Instead of ranting about low paid job offers and being victims of the nasty industry, we need to turn the whole thing around, and I think we could inspire each other, so that we can blast away the dark poverty mindset and confidence issues that many translators seem to have (including myself at times, this week actually). Let's not pay attention to or even discuss the low paid jobs from third world agencies - we can completely forget and ignore those, and move on.
There are people with totally different mindsets out there, and we could all have it:
I found the following books quite inspirational, so I read them when I fall into self-pity and lack motivation:
The-Wealthy-Freelancer-Steve-Slaunwhite

The Prosperous Translator: Advice from Fire Ant & Worker Bee, Chris Durban

Do you care to join me?


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 17:46
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Free tests Jan 22, 2014

I took free tests with my two biggest and most regular clients and I have had no reason to regret it.

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Michal Fabian  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:46
Member (2012)
Dutch to Slovak
+ ...
Straight to the bin Jan 22, 2014

Ignore - delete - forget - move on.

I understand your frustration, but so you really want to lose any of your valuable time dealing with a client you do not actually want to deal with in the first place? If they want you to prove yourself, there are the samples of previous work and the references. When you never get back to them, they usually get the hint and you can move on to greener pastures. Zen is indeed the answer here

It is also my policy to only fill and sign all those forms and NDAs when if there is a specific project and I have my hands on the purchase order. Never has been a problem with clients that actually do want to work with you. Something to consider?


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:46
French to English
+ ...
Agree with Anne: beware of time wasters Jan 22, 2014

Anne Seerup wrote:
I find that those asking for tons of paperwork to fill out, tests, references etc. rarely send you any work in the end, so they are complete time wasters.


Agreed -- this is definitely my experience over the years. Beware of project managers trying to justify their existence by faffing about during slack periods.


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 12:46
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
"Being too busy" Jan 22, 2014

I don't generally do free tests either, for the reason others have given above.
But sometimes it works to reply and say "unfortunately I am too busy to do unpaid tests". I said that to a potential client recently, and they surprised me in a positive way by offering to pay for it. I should mention they contacted me personally (not a mass email) first.

(The same week, I contacted another potential client that had posted an interesting potential project on a site similar to Proz. They replied with an impersonal mass email, just a couple of lines, and a free test translation. I replied and said I first need to know if they accept my prices - didn't hear from them, the test deadline passed and then they contacted me again to ask if I would be able to send the test back. I repeated my question and the response was as I had expected - my prices were too high.)

In your particular case it seems this client just isn't worth your time. Just forget them and move on. Many times, you can (or learn over time to) read between the lines to see whether a potential client is worth your time or not.

[Edited at 2014-01-22 18:40 GMT]


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Alexandra Schneeuhr  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 12:46
Member (2012)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Jan 22, 2014

Thank you all for your great posts!
The good thing is, as soon as I refused to comply with this nonsense of a request, I was offered a really interesting decent-budget project from another customer. Not sure if this is a coincidence or just the way karma works


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Andre Ferreira  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 17:46
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Professional agencies will pay you for a test Feb 11, 2014

Hi there Alexandra, great you did refuse.
I also receive often, almost daily requests for free tests. For many years I do not accept free translation tests (this is included on my resume) and do hope the understanding of my clients.
I would also like to mention a behavior which is very common. Many translation agencies do use tests for the selection of translators, something which could be even "understandable" although inefficient and unprofessional in my opinion. However what not many people know is that many translation companies ask for these tests actually to have their jobs done for free.
They got a client, find a "test" translator, the person performs the job, the translation is delivered to the client. Most of the times the translator will never (even if requested) receive a feedback on the translation. I prefer to stay away from tests for 2 reasons:
1.to avoid these scams;
2. to save time and do what really matters;

There are times when serious, professional and not time wasting companies will request a free translation test for example when they are participating in a specific tender. To analyze the clues, and then say yes or no, I suggest to pay attention to the following:
1. when the test seems to be the same for different languages is a positive point;
2. translation tests should not exceed 300 words;
3. do not believe agencies or advertisements which offers a high volume of words (one million for example) and then ask you for a test;
4. If you have a regular client who will have future work in a different specialty, a test is acceptable (although many times paid);

Hope this will help other people in the future

all the Best

Andre


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JoBee  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:46
Japanese to English
Thanks for brightening my day Feb 12, 2014

Phil Hand wrote:

Completely understand your frustration, but you won that exchange - you didn't do the thing you didn't want to do. I've been trying to take a Zen approach when I win. These people have whole business processes - nay, whole business models - based on asking us to do free/cheap stuff. But all we have to do is say no. We have power!

One big agency tried to unilaterally reduce rates on me and a lot of other people a while ago. I said no and raised my rates. They keep coming back to me, and every time they offer me a reduced rate. I say, I don't work for that, it'll cost X instead. They say OK. I think they don't come to me unless they're ready to pay my rates. But they have to go through the process every time. It's irritating and not respectful, but what can you expect from an organisation that exists to make profits. Just beat them and enjoy. It's the only way!


I recently took a job that involved the translation of about half of a file--the other half had already been translated.

After finishing my portion, I noticed that the other half was rife with errors, so I reported this to the agency when I turned in my file. Basically I said, "I noticed some spelling errors and formatting errors; I recommend another check on the completed portion." (Of course I could have fixed them on my own, but that would be 1. unpaid; and 2. saddling myself with the liability if anything turned out wrong. Instead I left everything how it was.)

I received a call the next morning. At first I thought there was a problem with my job, but the coordinator wanted me to tell him every error I found (over the phone--for free!). I explained that I hadn't logged them and was currently occupied with other jobs, so he offered me $2 (!!) to do his proofreading for him. As sometimes who makes his living on translation, I was deeply insulted and let him no in no uncertain terms that I don't have the time to take $2 jobs.

The whole experience had really ruined my morning, but I think what you just said is the answer. Thank you so much for the inspiration.


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