BB rule suggestion
Thread poster: Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:17
English to Polish
+ ...
Jul 23, 2013

Here's the relevant passage from the existing rules:

Entries concerning the Likelihood of Working Again (LWA) with given outsourcers are allowed only when (1) commissioned work has been completed in full and delivered on time, and (2) there have not been complaints related to quality shortly after delivery. Entries may not be made on the basis of negotiations, test translations, or other preliminary or non-commissioned interactions.


In terms of the drafter's intention, I have a suspicion – but can't have certainty – that the restriction on LWA entries based on preliminary interactions refers to the period preceding any sort of collaboration but not the broad context of collaboration once established.

However, the expression 'other non-commissioned interactions' is rather problematic from the point of view of such an interpretation. It tends to suggest that only events strictly relating to actual, specific jobs can form the basis of LWA entries.

The result of the above would be basically to limit LWA to delayed payment, non-payment, perhaps a lack of agreed support, or perhaps rude communication or non-communication, or late complaints about quality.

Furthermore, the phrase: 'there have not been complaints related to quality shortly after delivery,' excludes something I would consider extremely important from the point of view of Likelihood of Working Again. Basically, in my own translation practice, this factor is the most important determinant of whether I want to work with someone or not. The factor is unjustified complaints.

Strictly speaking, if there has been an unjustified complaint, it means that the condition: 'there have not been complaints related to quality shortly after delivery,' has failed to be met. Therefore no LWA based on even the most extreme cases like some random guy with an entry-level certificate correcting a native speaker with a translation degree, which is obviously extremely unprofessional for any sort of linguist to tolerate.

I can't know what the exact intention was (the drafting, unfortunately, isn't clear on this), so there is a chance you won't like my suggestion, but here it is:

1. Please explicitly LWA entries to be made also on the basis of the treatment of translators in the broad context of collaboration. And test translations in some special cases.

The above includes first of all pressure to lower previously accepted rates (a very frequent justification for low LWAs), but also things such as time-wasting negotiations where you go through a long ordeal only to discover that they need a 50% discount on this project only after you've filled in all the copious paperwork. Or situations when they book your time but ditch you for a cheaper offeror, or if they cancel your bookings frequently.

As for test translations, I don't mean the simple decision to hire the translator or not. Nor even protracted evaluation procedures. However, sometimes the mishandling of test translations is really gross, such as when they are returned with some strikingly incompetent corrections and comments from a reviewer and then the agency refuses to review that reviewer's work or says it has reviewed it and it was okay. In which case the translator's position on working with the agency is probably irrelevant since the agency itself doesn't want to work with the translator, but I believe this would be a good reason to issue the LWA of 1 to any outsourcer that claims to follow high standards of professionalism, meet ISO standards, employ qualified proofreaders and editors etc.

2. Please qualify quality complaints shortly after delivery.

As a minimum, I would make it 'justified complaints', but still, a justifed complaint about, say, a typo, doesn't make it okay to withhold, say, a half of the translator's agreed payment for the job.

Lodging a smokescreen complaint or a grossly incompetent complaint or a minor complaint (or not even a complaint, but, say, notification of an issue or two from the QA department on a QA sheet) shouldn't make outsourcers immune to LWA grading.

I have so far terminated two outsourcers (LWA=0) and a bunch of end clients in connection with incompetent complaints, and escalated the problem with a couple more. Like I said above, unjustified complaints are an extremely important factor in my choice of who to work for. I understand that Staff may not be in a position to judge the merits of a quality complaint, and you probably wouldn't have time for anything else if you did, but on the other hand there are some clear-cut situations that are unprofessional on the face.

Sorry for the novel. I'd have made it shorter if I'd had more time.


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Branka Ramadanovic  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 05:17
Member
English to Croatian
+ ...
Yes, I agree completely with this. Jul 23, 2013

I was just thinking the other day of lodging a negative LWA for a company that gave me a complex, although not too long, legal text as a test translation back in March, and never responded about the results, although I have asked in the meantime, but even then got no response, which is really weird; while they had looked like a quite professional agency and assured me that they were quite eager to include me into their pool of translators "ASAP" - which sounded like they would have some jobs in the pipeline. I think it is rude and unprofessional not to respond with translation test results, be they positive or negative, after such a long time, and even when the translator sends follow-up inquiries about the test, not to send any reply e-mail. I would like to register this on the BB of this agency, but I actually never got a specific job from them - they just wasted my time.

This is just one example of rude and unprofessional kinds of treatment that translators face that are not related to specific jobs, and this is why I completely agree with my colleague above that the LWA options should be expanded.


Best to all
Branka


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Branka Ramadanovic  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 05:17
Member
English to Croatian
+ ...
And, let me add, Jul 23, 2013

This would enable the translators to take at least some action against such agencies that send around pieces of translations as test texts, thereby abusing translators' work and time. And this is not the only instance where I personally felt the response of an agency was not quite adequate, even if I never actually got jobs from them. So this option would really be useful.

Thanks


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:17
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 11, 2013

Hello, Branka. Thank you for supporting my suggestion. I do believe the way the agency handled your application was unprofessional, and I'd be glad to see 'something done' about the problem – for example some kind of peer pressure in the translation community on its participants to avoid that sort of conduct.

What I worry about, though, is that if BB comments – LWAs – became open to translators' feedback about the recruitment process, then in many cases little room could potentially remain for comments about actual collaboration. There would easily be enough comments about recruitment and negotiation stages to sway the company's average rating.

On the other hand, the restriction to:

- only 'commissioned interactions' – that is expressly no negotiation, no overall course of collaboration between the agency and its freelance translator, only individual POs and that's it,
– only completed jobs – i.e. regardless of cancellation or reasons for it,
– only without a quality complaint soon after delivery – i.e. regardless whether the complaint was meritorious, made in good faith, or was actually relevant to the issue commented on

... stilts the BlueBoard and frustrates its intended purpose. This becomes particularly clear not in day-to-day situations, as we can see plenty of comments about e.g. 'constant pressure to lower rates' (which violates the BB rules on the face), but when a particular case becomes publicised and users begin to discuss it in the forums. In such a case any comment is liable to deletion that doesn't relate to unpaid unopposed invoices, which is a very narrow aspect of collaboration.

The BB is not advertised as a measure of a company's overall professionalism and good practices, but effectively restricting it to comments about outstanding undisputed invoices is still too narrow. As much as I have reservation about too much openness to recruitment squabbles. Just to be clear, your own is not a simple squabble, it does reflect a very alarming hint that would affect my willingness to work with the agency:

– The discrepancy between needing translators ASAP and taking forever to reply, if it all. Just to be 100% clear: the inconsistency is the problem here because it basically casts doubt on their claims and makes one wonder if one can trust them to be truthful in their communication.

Furthermore, while the BB shouldn't be dominated by disputes regarding test results, wasting translators' time – which some agencies do on a massive scale – is not an irrelevant factor. It's too frequent already that those higher in the chain force artificially tight deadlines on those below, be it between agencies themselves or agencies and clients or agencies and translators or even clients and translators. The practice should be criticised and opposed.


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