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working with Spanish translation agencies
Thread poster: Thomas Johansson

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 18:22
Member (2005)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Jan 1, 2015

I just wanted to ask how other people feel about working with Spanish translation agencies and how you deal with them.

The reason I ask is that lately, over the last few years, I've found it increasingly difficult to work with them. There has been an increasing amount of paper work and forms that need to be filled out; long payment terms, usually around 45-60 days; complicated online invoicing systems; and now lately one agency requires some sort of residence certificate from me to be able to pay because they claim the Spanish government requires it - and of course they didn't tell me until after I had delivered. And so on...

My personal impression is that these sorts of things are becoming increasingly common in Spain. Nowadays, unfortunately, whenever a Spanish agency contacts me, an alarm bell usually rings in my mind: "Warning! There's going to be problems....".

So, I wanted to see if other people have similar experiences with Spanish agencies and how you are approaching it.

Thomas


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JL01  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:22
English to French
+ ...
Don't work with Spanish agencies Jan 1, 2015

That is the short answer. Your stress level will obviously be much lower.

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Susana E. Cano Méndez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:22
Member
French to Spanish
+ ...
Selection Jan 1, 2015

Hello,

I'm Spanish, living in Spain, and therefore I work with several Spanish agencies. Over the years, I have selected the most reliable to work with. But I suppose you have to do the same in any other country. There are good and bad businesses everywhere, this has nothing to do at all with countries but with individuals.

Being Spanish, I have never had problems like the residence certificate issue you mention. Payment time was long some years ago depending on each agency's policies (30 - 45 - 60 - up to 90 days; and lately, some agencies would pay within 120 days, which was *illegal*), but now they are required to pay within 60 days (as a max.) by law.

About forms to be filled, I have the same experience with agencies from the UK: several forms to be filled online, several agreements to be filled offline etc. Not to mention the amount of forms to be filled in the case of a tender.

You simply have to select with whom you want to work, and the effort you are able / you want to make to work with some agencies in some projects. That's what I do.

Happy New Year!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Think global, work local Jan 1, 2015

If you are based in Peru, why not stick to agencies based in L. Am? At least that way you shouldn't have so many residency issues.
AFAIK, agencies in Spain aren't as bad as they used to be in terms of late payments, although I only work with two or three occasionally. They do tend to like their paperwork though. Old habits die hard.


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
There is such a thing as cultural influence Jan 1, 2015

Susana E. Cano Méndez wrote:

There are good and bad businesses everywhere, this has nothing to do at all with countries but with individuals.



Yes, there are good and bad businesses everywhere but not in equal proportion. There is such a thing as cultural influence, habits people grow up with and copy from family and peers. Also as adults, we are exposed to pressure in terms of what is socially acceptable, and that is not the same in all countries. This does have a lot to do with countries, not just individuals. These differences sometimes become stereotypes, but while stereotypes are not true in all cases, there is also no smoke without a fire.

The statistical probability of running into problems is higher in some countries than others for this reason. I don't want to be specific about countries, but there are some countries that make me more sceptical than others. When you keep running into late payment problems in a particular country, you know it's not just arbitrary. That does not mean I decline everything from countries I'm more sceptical about and accept everything raw from countries I'm not sceptical about, I just adapt my behaviour accordingly.


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Danik 2014
Brazil
German to Portuguese
+ ...
Think globally Jan 1, 2015

You don´t have to work for Spanish agencies, if you don´t like them. Take a look at the conditions from international agencies based in other countries and see if they suit you more. Happy 2015.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:22
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Too many agencies, and very many insufficiently prepared Jan 1, 2015

I do not work with Spanish agencies, although I am based in Spain. There are several reasons for this, but basically they can be summarised in three main areas: low rates, slow payment, and lack of professionalism in terms of the work an agency should do.

In my opinion, the problem with the Spanish market is a structural one: very many agencies are not sufficiently qualified or prepared to sell good quality to the end customer, which results in low rates and slow payment. This in turn creates a hard situation for many translators, who feel that they are being paid peanuts for their professional work, and as a consequence many translators grow tired of translating at a certain point in time and decide that they will give a shot to creating an agency. Such new agency, as it happened to the agencies the translator used to work for, is equally unprepared to sell the work properly to end customers, and so the cycle goes on and on.

There are clearly too many small agencies in Spain, and the average level of professionalism in terms of their work is low if you ask me. While we have excellent translators in Spain and we all make an effort in our lives to keep improving and offering the best of us, agencies still have a long way to go before they can match the agencies in other European countries.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:22
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I do not think so Jan 1, 2015

Thomas Johansson wrote:
...and now lately one agency requires some sort of residence certificate from me to be able to pay because they claim the Spanish government requires it - and of course they didn't tell me until after I had delivered. And so on...

I might be wrong, but to me this is not true. I have paid translators and reviewers in the Americas many times in the past and have never heard of any residence certificate requirement. Ask them to tell you what exact regulation they are referring to.


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mostly true, but it really depends Jan 2, 2015

I am Spanish (not based in Spain, though). Residence certificate with Spanish agencies is not a "general requirement" at all.

The claim that Spanish agencies are not professional and have no business processes in place is not warranted either. The ones I am working for are very professional and have very efficient and structured business processes in place.

It is true, though; they are mostly small(er), pay late (60 days or so) and pay low (on average about 2/3 of my “normal” rate to other customers).

The reason I still work with them is that I enjoy the kind of work they give me.

Conclusion: you cannot make decent living if you work exclusively for Spanish agencies. However, they are far from being "awful", if you select the "right" ones. Blend them in your portfolio and you will be fine.

Ah, another positive point is that at Spanish agencies PMs are mostly Spanish. Therefore, if you translate into Spanish (which I do) and have a discussion with an editor / proofreader, your PM can easily “spot” whether you really messed it up or the editor / proofreader has just gone “too far”. This takes more time to sort out with non-native PMs at "foreign" agencies.

Happy 2015!


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Susana E. Cano Méndez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:22
Member
French to Spanish
+ ...
Losing direction Jan 2, 2015

Thomas Frost wrote:
Yes, there are good and bad businesses everywhere but not in equal proportion. There is such a thing as cultural influence, habits people grow up with and copy from family and peers. Also as adults, we are exposed to pressure in terms of what is socially acceptable, and that is not the same in all countries. This does have a lot to do with countries, not just individuals. These differences sometimes become stereotypes, but while stereotypes are not true in all cases, there is also no smoke without a fire.


I see we have to deal with not only with "habits people grow up with and copy" but also with prejudices.

Thomas Frost wrote: I don't want to be specific about countries, but there are some countries that make me more sceptical than others


You have been very specific with one country.

I also see that this discussion has nothing to do with agencies but with countries (maybe from the beginning), which I think it doesn't fit in this forum. Sad enough.

Have a good day.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Prejudice sells Jan 2, 2015

Susana E. Cano Méndez wrote:

I see we have to deal with not only with "habits people grow up with and copy" but also with prejudices.



Even prejudice can be turned into a promotional tool nowadays, judging from this widely distributed
(and IMO amusing) TV commercial in Spain last year:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IznxHE2pVxc


NB: This video contains profanity.


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
No prejudice, and no political correctness either Jan 2, 2015

Susana E. Cano Méndez wrote:

I see we have to deal with not only with "habits people grow up with and copy" but also with prejudices.



I'm sorry, but you're reading things I didn't say and didn't mean. In my personal dealings, I base my decisions on real experiences, not prejudice.



You have been very specific with one country.



No, I haven't, but this again shows you're reading things I haven't said. I have not mentioned any country, and I don't intend to. I will go as far as saying that I have no experience at all with Spanish agencies, though, so I have no opinion about them.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 04:52
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
I have had the same experience with Spanish agencies Jan 2, 2015

I have had exactly the same experience with Spanish agencies. I have been working for a few of them and have found them full of red tape and bureaucratic. They have complicated invoicing procedures and long payment terms (60 days and more).

One agency's payment in-charge insisted on my mentioning my Spanish tax registration number, though I am an Indian citizen and have no such number. No amount of explaining could convince him that as a non-European, I have no such number. Finally, to satisfy him, I mentioned my Indian tax registration no, which seemed to placate him. But no payment materialized at the end of the 60 day period. When I enquired, I was told that there had been some problems with the invoice I had submitted - the same Spanish tax registration number issue. I had to threaten them with escalating the matter and had to approach higher officials in the agency to get the payment.

The payments too are low compared to other developed translation markets like the US, UK, France, Germany, Canada, etc.

The Spanish agencies seem to be new entrants to international translation and have not yet perfected their internal processes, which could explain their cumbersome payment and invoicing practices.

Other than this, they are nice people to work with, with polite communications, interesting projects and efficient PMs.



[Edited at 2015-01-02 14:49 GMT]


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:22
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Me neither Jan 2, 2015

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
I might be wrong, but to me this is not true. I have paid translators and reviewers in the Americas many times in the past and have never heard of any residence certificate requirement. Ask them to tell you what exact regulation they are referring to.


AET requires an intracom vat number, yes, but no residence proof, as far as I know.


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Frankie JB
France
English to French
+ ...
... Jan 2, 2015

Thomas Frost wrote:

Yes, there are good and bad businesses everywhere but not in equal proportion. There is such a thing as cultural influence, habits people grow up with and copy from family and peers. Also as adults, we are exposed to pressure in terms of what is socially acceptable, and that is not the same in all countries. This does have a lot to do with countries, not just individuals. These differences sometimes become stereotypes, but while stereotypes are not true in all cases, there is also no smoke without a fire.

The statistical probability of running into problems is higher in some countries than others for this reason. I don't want to be specific about countries, but there are some countries that make me more sceptical than others. When you keep running into late payment problems in a particular country, you know it's not just arbitrary. That does not mean I decline everything from countries I'm more sceptical about and accept everything raw from countries I'm not sceptical about, I just adapt my behaviour accordingly.


Do you mean, for instance, a country which has an unemployment rate of 25% (up to 40% in some parts of Andalucia) but at the same time is home to 2 or 3 of the best and wealthiest soccer clubs in the world, and 3 or 4 of the best and wealthiest basketball clubs in Europe? (all of them debt-ridden but still hiring the best players in the world because taxes for them are ridiculously low, as if sport was more important than real life). This is clearly not something you would see in a country a bit less lawless, like Germany or France, where clubs/sportsmen have virtually no fiscal privilege and the slightest misconduct may be followed by a relegation in lower divisions. Obviously, this is off-topic as regards translation and Spanish agencies, but it's one proof among many others that, as Thomas said, beyond individuals, countries as a whole are culturally different and, thus, not equally reliable...

I've never dealt with Spanish agencies but often enough I've seen ridiculous rates offered and therefore I've never tried to work with them...


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