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Poll: Which is the most frequent reason why you turn down projects?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 16:56
SITE STAFF
May 19, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which is the most frequent reason why you turn down projects?".

This poll was originally submitted by Angus Stewart. View the poll results »



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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:56
Member (2006)
German to English
"Fortunately" May 19, 2015

too busy with other projects

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Subject matter May 19, 2015

If a job is boring, I'll normally be too busy. If a job is interesting, I'll normally find a way to squeeze it in.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Too busy May 19, 2015

Which is really part and parcel of the "short deadlines" issue. As it stands, I manage to juggle my direct clients and deliver all their projects on time. However, I find it less easy to fit in agency work, which more often than not seems to be "urgent", at least in Spain, where, true to the hoary old stereotype, everything seems to be on a more ad hoc basis than in other, perhaps better organised, parts of the world.

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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:56
Danish to English
+ ...
Other: Unprofessional behaviour on client's part May 19, 2015

I am sick and tired of getting (or even just reading) unprofessional 'offers' from hopeful, but clearly unprofessional outsourcers. I ignore most of them, but once in a while, I can't help myself, but send off a snarky comment, like the one below, which I felt compelled to send yesterday, when a job was posted here on Proz, requesting the translation of a 5,500-word technical/financial text to be delivered within 4 hours:

"Are you not at all aware that the average output of a professional translator is around 2-3,000 words per DAY? Asking any translator to turn around 5,500 words in just four hours is a recipe for disaster.

But maybe you are not too worried about receiving an accurate, localised translation?
If so, may I suggest that you run your text through Google Translate, which is entirely free. It is rubbish, too, but so will any translation you get back within the stipulated timeframe be.

But, hey, good luck to you… who knows? You may be so lucky as to find a genius translator with four heads and eight arms…"


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:56
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My most frequent reason to turn down a project... May 19, 2015

... is probably "the rate offered is ridiculously low", but my main reasons to say “No, thank you!” to a potential project are (in no particular order):

1. I‘m too busy
2. Deadline is too short
3. I don’t translate into Brazilian Portuguese
4. I don’t “do” Trados
5. I don’t provide discounts
6. I don’t deal with complex formats
7. It’s outside my area of expertise
8. The potential client seems unreliable
9. The job is offered in a mass e-mail
10. I refuse (obviously) those clients with whom I had a bad experience

(…)


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
negative exp May 19, 2015

If a client let me or somebody else I know down, then I'm not going to reschedule, check the subject or formatting, nor specify the fields or anything for it's but irrelevant.

I'm doing no biz with a conman!

For example, in February three my colleagues and I cooperated under a sizable project and soon I and two others got paid whereas one translator (she invited us, btw) had serious problems with her payment and got cut. I also saw her job done well as we CATed and cross-checked each other's tasks, so we decided to pay her 1/3 of each. And when the same client offered me a job I almost politely declined it, blacklisted him, and asked to not bother me any longer. The other two colleagues also told him off.

Of course, I don't know what exactly was the matter with the payment (the colleague said it was personal), but I don't work with those who let others down even if the job is done ok.

All other issues are relatively easy to solve)


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:56
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Low rates May 19, 2015

Of course the fact that I don't do Trados rules me out before I even consider it.

After that, low rates top the list. Invariably, if I agree to a lower rate than usual, as surely as night follows day I will be offered a job at a better rate as soon as I've accepted it. About a 3 weeks ago a personal friend who runs a translation agency begged me to do her a big favor which meant accepting a lower rate. Since then I've had to turn down 5 better-paying offers. I already had a rule not to lower my rates and now I'm going to be more careful than ever.

Next, in order of importance:
- Already too busy
- Short deadline
- Handwritten text
- Job is too long: Unless it's paid at my top rate, I don't want to be tied down for more than a month, and even then it gets exhausting. I did a job of over 100,000 words on one of my favorite subjects, but after a while I was really ready for a change. I definitely don't do books for authors, much as I would like to.
- Badly written text: Unfortunately, the problem doesn't always show up in advance.
- Too much fancy formatting: I don't really mind it as long as I get compensated.
- Curriculum vitae: I prefer to avoid them, especially the long ones, because they usually involve a lot of research and decision-making about institutional names, academic programs, etc.
- Not in my field; This is low on the list because I don't get too many offers outside my areas of expertise.

I can't recall having to turn down a job because the subject matter was against my principles. Text is text, as far as I'm concerned. I try to leave my judgment behind when I'm working. Right now I have 75,000 words on a topic I happen to think is wrong-headed, but the text is well written and the money's good.

[Edited at 2015-05-19 10:42 GMT]


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Go, Gitte, go! May 19, 2015

Gitte Hovedskov, MCIL wrote:

I am sick and tired of getting (or even just reading) unprofessional 'offers' from hopeful, but clearly unprofessional outsourcers. I ignore most of them, but once in a while, I can't help myself, but send off a snarky comment, like the one below, which I felt compelled to send yesterday, when a job was posted here on Proz, requesting the translation of a 5,500-word technical/financial text to be delivered within 4 hours:

"Are you not at all aware that the average output of a professional translator is around 2-3,000 words per DAY? Asking any translator to turn around 5,500 words in just four hours is a recipe for disaster.

But maybe you are not too worried about receiving an accurate, localised translation?
If so, may I suggest that you run your text through Google Translate, which is entirely free. It is rubbish, too, but so will any translation you get back within the stipulated timeframe be.

But, hey, good luck to you… who knows? You may be so lucky as to find a genius translator with four heads and eight arms…"


I like your attitude, but better hope it wasn't actually your dream customer who just mistyped 550 words, eh?!


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:56
Danish to English
+ ...
Nah, they changed the deadline already May 19, 2015

Chris S wrote:

I like your attitude, but better hope it wasn't actually your dream customer who just mistyped 550 words, eh?!


Today, they have the same 'offer' posted, but suddenly, the deadline is 36 hours...

And even if it were my dream client, I would have meant what I said.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:56
English to Portuguese
+ ...
These reasons are often connected May 19, 2015

Teresa Borges wrote:

My most frequent reason to turn down a project is probably "the rate offered is ridiculously low", but my main reasons to say “No, thank you!” to a potential project are (in no particular order):


(snip)

The very nature of the translation marketplace assumes a strong correlation between rates and demand: lower rates tend to increase demand. Were it not so, we wouldn't see so many translation agencies trying to push down the translation rates they pay under the allegation of keeping their current clients and attracting more.

Mathematically, a translator lowering his/her rates would increase their demand. Determining whether this increase would be linear, exponential, or whatever - perhaps a mix of these at different levels - involves just too many variables. The point is that anyone is able to do only so much within a certain period of time.

Determining the "ideal" rate, which would balance using most of one's time available for work and a satisfactory income, is the #1 challenge in the translating profession.

Some clients demand a certain level of quality in translation, however as long as this quality is achieved, they'll be eager to pay less for it.

So here is my version of Teresa's list, with a few comments. Again, in NO particular order, so I've replaced numbers with bullets.

  • I‘m too busy - Good! I've sold my available time at my rates. However I don't turn down a project: I'll tell them when I could possibly get it done. They may search for alternatives, and sometimes they come back.

  • Deadline is too short - The same technique applies. If it's to short for everyone they could find, maybe they'll get down to reality, what's doable.

  • I don’t translate into European Portuguese. Nothing left to say.

  • I don’t “do” Trados. - Me neither. They are looking for a Trados "owner and operator". I am a translator.

  • I don’t provide discounts. - Me neither. While I'll try to find the most cost-effective solution for the client, it will be done at my rates.

  • Complex formats. - This depends on what formats the client wants. What is complex for some colleagues may be simple for me, AND vice-versa. It's a matter of finding the right specialist.

  • It’s outside my area of expertise. - In this case, I'll refer the client to some reliable expert I know, and wish them all good luck.

  • The potential client seems unreliable. - This is a matter of risk management. Depending on my assessment of the risk, I'll demand half or full payment up-front, leaving it up to them to turn me down.

  • The job is offered in a mass e-mail. - It depends. If it's in one of my core areas of expertise, I'll give it a shot. Otherwise, let the crowd rush in.

  • I refuse (obviously) those clients with whom I had a bad experience. - Again, risk management. Once I blacklist a client, I give them reasons (on the Blue Board) to blacklist me as well. Nevertheless, some of them insist.

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  • Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
    Japan
    Local time: 09:56
    Member (2011)
    Japanese to English
    I try not to May 19, 2015

    Because I prefer 'feast' to 'famine.'

    Otherwise, my reasons are:

    - too low a rate (if a project is easy and interesting, I might accept a lowerish rate but there is a limit to how far I will go)
    - unprofessional customer (those who start with a 'HI, Julian' make it to Trash in an instant)
    - payment terms (anything beyond 1 calendar month is just not acceptable)
    - discounted Trados work (this is, basically, another discount added on to an already 'institutionalized' one)
    - deadline too short or I'm just too busy (you have to sleep right)
    - rush work from an infrequent customer (I do not bend over backwards for fickle customers)
    - handwritten or dead PDFs (PDF = Pretty Dead Format)
    - not my cuppa tea (i.e. out of my fields of expertise, everyone - me, the customer and end client - will suffer)

    I try to be flexible like the proverbial bamboo in the wind, but some things make you snap!


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    Alberto Montpellier  Identity Verified
    Cuba
    Member (2014)
    English to Spanish
    + ...

    MODERATOR
    Sometimes more than one reason May 19, 2015

    Lately I've been receiving job offers for translating scanned PDFs (veeery dead), handwritten, with poor quality, at a rate which I could accept only if I had no other jobs AND the format was suitable.
    So I turn them down.
    Sometimes it's the unprofessional approach of clients, writing to a long list of translators for a job that consists of "please translate the part in blue and return the translation by the end of the day" (20 or 30 words) Like throwing a little piece of meat in a piranha pond.
    In that case I don't even deign to answer


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    Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
    Local time: 19:56
    English to Spanish
    + ...
    Not what I'd do May 19, 2015

    DZiW wrote:

    If a client let me or somebody else I know down, then I'm not going to reschedule, check the subject or formatting, nor specify the fields or anything for it's but irrelevant.

    I'm doing no biz with a conman!

    For example, in February three my colleagues and I cooperated under a sizable project and soon I and two others got paid whereas one translator (she invited us, btw) had serious problems with her payment and got cut. I also saw her job done well as we CATed and cross-checked each other's tasks, so we decided to pay her 1/3 of each. And when the same client offered me a job I almost politely declined it, blacklisted him, and asked to not bother me any longer. The other two colleagues also told him off.

    Of course, I don't know what exactly was the matter with the payment (the colleague said it was personal), but I don't work with those who let others down even if the job is done ok.

    All other issues are relatively easy to solve)


    Based on your own words, friendship or loyalty to your colleagues is part of your business model.

    You are mixing personal stuff with business stuff. We don't do it that way here. In America, that behavior would be considered unprofessional.


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    Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
    Local time: 19:56
    English to Spanish
    + ...
    Unprofessional behavior May 19, 2015

    Gitte Hovedskov, MCIL wrote:

    I am sick and tired of getting (or even just reading) unprofessional 'offers' from hopeful, but clearly unprofessional outsourcers. I ignore most of them, but once in a while, I can't help myself, but send off a snarky comment, like the one below, which I felt compelled to send yesterday, when a job was posted here on Proz, requesting the translation of a 5,500-word technical/financial text to be delivered within 4 hours:

    "Are you not at all aware that the average output of a professional translator is around 2-3,000 words per DAY? Asking any translator to turn around 5,500 words in just four hours is a recipe for disaster.

    But maybe you are not too worried about receiving an accurate, localised translation?
    If so, may I suggest that you run your text through Google Translate, which is entirely free. It is rubbish, too, but so will any translation you get back within the stipulated timeframe be.

    But, hey, good luck to you… who knows? You may be so lucky as to find a genius translator with four heads and eight arms…"


    Let me understand this correctly: offers asking for impossible deadlines are unprofessional but snarky (and completely voluntary) remarks or replies are not? You didn't ask for the job, you didn't get the job, why bother pouring your anger at that “unprofessional” Proz poster? Just ignore it.

    The professional thing to do is not to engage with potential customers who are asking for the impossible, by hook or by crook. Sending sarcastic or angry replies is never professional.


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