Poll: When it comes to agencies, I usually prefer to work with
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 00:23
SITE STAFF
Mar 25, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "When it comes to agencies, I usually prefer to work with".

This poll was originally submitted by Susana Magnani. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:23
Spanish to English
+ ...
Small is beautiful Mar 25, 2016

I don't work with many translation agencies nowadays, only occasionally with one or two, but as long as they pay on time, I always prefer to work with smaller outfits, as in my experience they tend to be less faceless and easier to establish a personal relationship with.

Which reminds me, an agency I did a summer job for about 10 years ago just sent me an email asking me to update my details and CV within two weeks or they'd be removing me from the database. Unfortunately, it was just over two weeks ago but until now (Easter weekend) I've simply been too busy. Maybe I'll e-mail them something over the weekend, as they were professional, pleasant to work with and paid on time.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
French to English
Small is beautiful Mar 25, 2016

Started with private corporate clients in 1994 and thought it might be a good idea to have some agency clients. I thought it would ensure me a steadier flow of work. With the rare exception, it only served to provide a steady flow of headaches! In my experience, the larger the agency, the bigger the headache.

In my experience, large agencies give the impression of accepting anything an everything. The deadlines are generally horrendous, the €/word rate expected is generally 20-30% below any entrey level rate with a direct client and they also tend to expect that the freelancer will be paid one month after their client has paid them. With small agencies, experience has shown that deadlines are humanly professional, rates are correct and payment terms are from immediate to 30 days, seldom beyond.

Sorry, but the big machines are a no-go with me. Indeed I was so disgusted with the typical behaviour demosntrated by large agencies at the start that I dropped them like a hot potato early on. Since then, thus in more than 20 years, I have probably worked very occasionally with one or two agencies with whom, like other clients, generally, the working relationship is norma; polite, efficient and, dare I say it, enjoyable.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 17:23
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Large is financially reliable Mar 25, 2016

I prefer to work for medium- to large-size organizations that have their whatsit together - especially once with good Accounts Departments.

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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
learning the ropes Mar 25, 2016

I found out that in a bloated chain of multiple-middlemen of middlemen (client-subcontractor-subcontractor...-subcontractor --- agency-subcontractor-subcontractor...-subcontractor --- translator-subcontractor-subcontractor...-subcontractor [--- editor-subcontractor-subcontractor...-subcontractor]) it's much better to work with direct clients, direct vendors, direct players and direct payers)

That's why when it comes to agencies, I usually prefer to work with direct clients.


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:23
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Mar 25, 2016

Do not really care as long as they are reliable, professional and pay on time.
Must admit though that most of my long-term agency customers are small to medium sized and I have been with them so long now that we are "professional friends"

[Edited at 2016-03-25 16:38 GMT]


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Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:23
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
I don't mind Mar 25, 2016

As long as they approach their translators as humans, as opposed to machines, I am happy to work with either. I have a pleasant working relationship with project managers/translation managers from several larger companies as well as with some small one- or two-person agencies.

In my experience, there is no difference in terms of reliability.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 08:23
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Mar 25, 2016

Size is not my main criteria. Whatever their size, I prefer those which have professional and polite PMs, take their freelancers seriously, pay well and on time.

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Doan Quang  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 15:23
Member
English to Vietnamese
I don't mind Mar 25, 2016

I don't mind as long as they have nice PMs, interesting projects and on-time payments

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:23
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I rarely find the big ones beautiful Mar 25, 2016

I did work with one, that also produces a well-known CAT tool, that was really quite 'human' and had interfaces that fitted the processes like a glove and paid in a flash. But they wanted three pounds of flesh for the price of a quarter-pound.

Most big ones are just horrendous, with PMs who are so helpful until you've delivered then so disinterested about paying. OK, paying may not be their job, but why are accounts departments protected from all contact by the people who are owed money? Is that fair?

Small is not necessarily beautiful. Some are the very worst nightmares if you go by what you read here. They are simply intermediaries between bigger agencies and us. So pressure on everything and no guarantees. But genuine specialised agencies in direct contact with end clients are normally top. You get to know the owner and that's the person responsible for everything at their end. There's good reason for both parties to try to keep things on an even keel. And it's in nobody's interest to push papers around.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:23
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
As long as they don't go in for a lot of unpaid hassle... Mar 25, 2016

I have worked happily with large agencies, but tend to drop them, because they get too big and too interested in streamlining the process at their end, which means making me jump through their hoops.

When they introduce hyper-secure passwords that have to be changed every time I work for them, payment 30+ days after the invoice date and invoicing only the month after delivery of the translation... I don't care how reliable they are.

Add 'proofreading' or QA procedures that I don't understand, but they take a couple of hours and the agency pays for 20 minutes, and the agency ends up on my KEEP OFF list!

Some small agencies have more going on than their staff can cope with, but there are some lovely ones in between, who are professional, efficient and somehow able to pay decent rates on time. It is well worth going the extra mile to keep working with them!

Big enough to cope, small enough to care as one colleague-agency I worked for put it.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hear, hear! Mar 25, 2016

Michael Harris wrote:

Do not really care as long as they are reliable, professional and pay on time.
Must admit though that most of my long-term agency customers are small to medium sized and I have been with them so long now that we are "professional friends"

[Edited at 2016-03-25 09:51 GMT]


I can relate.


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:23
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Good paying agencies Mar 25, 2016

I work for many agencies, both large and small. From my experience, large agencies are more reliable, have no cash issues, and pay you on time even if the client delays their payment. Only the large agencies consider their commitment with you (translator) appart from their commitment with the client.

For any agency, however, checking the Blue Board and other sources of reference is essential, and will give you a good idea of the behavior of each agency. But even then, you can see the larger agencies have a better history.


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 02:23
German to English
+ ...
About the suggestion... Mar 25, 2016

.. that large agencies are financially reliable:
I have been owed $2,000 for years by one large agency, and had to fight to get paid by another. I have not yet had a good experience with any large company. I have never had a bad experience yet with a small one. At least that is my experience. I'd simply like to add a caveat about such generalizations (including mine).


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:23
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
That's how they get big Mar 26, 2016

Maxi Schwarz wrote:
I have been owed $2,000 for years by one large agency, and had to fight to get paid by another.

They do often use every trick in the book to hang onto every cent, even when those cents are owed, legally and morally, to others. But that's another generalisation which doubtless has a few exceptions.


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