ISO 9001:2008 certified companies and free test translations
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 16:00
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Aug 14, 2009

I am aware of the fact that one more topic about free test tranlations can be boring to the bone. Moreover, this issue might be discussed hundreds of times here and elsewhere. BUT I have one issue which is not quite clear for me and would be interesting to hear some advice or info from people who know more about it. The "usual story" - "We have a big project for us and we need you to do a free test translation of 300 words to be sure you are not a donkey. IF the test feedback is positive, we would be interested to cooperate with you"...Let's leave "ifs" and other boring issues aside...Just one practical situation - during the last 10 days I received 9 requests for cooperation (all "possible big projects" and etc.) with demands for these damned tests. The "math" is simple - 9 free tests 300 words each, 2700 words in total, or more than one working day...Just for "a possibility to cooperate" (on a "take or leave it" basis). The worst is wasting the time NOT on the free tests you have the right to take or not to take, but on the primary correspondence, negotiations, etc. AFTER WHICH it appears that you also need to do a test TOO (no one ever mentions this in the primary email). OK, you'd say - do not waste your time and do not waste our time if the policy of the agency is to demand these free tests (or free translations), and your "own" policy to tell them "You are ugly and your mother dresses you funny - I do not do tests and make no exceptions, I work for money and I do not ask you a test money transfer to meet my own policies for clients". But what embarrasses me most of all is an "explanation" like that:

"As we are ISO 9001:2008 certified company, our policy does not allow to
collaborate with vendors who haven't passed a test job for us, especially if
we talk about our key customers and big projects. We consider test jobs as a
normal work flow and not only our vendors provide them, also we perform test
translations for our prospect clients as well as for existing clients before
important projects."

"As we are ISO 9001:2008 certified company, our policy..."

So, if there is a specific requirement under ISO 9001:2008 to do free/unpaid tests? I understand ISO 9001:2008 is just a set of more or less generalized formal requirements and that is it...And if the policy of the AGENCY (not ISO) is to ask for a free test drink, why should they confuse people with their fairy tales about "possible big projects" or "ISO requirements" for free tests?

P.S. I feel that I'd stay away from these ISO certified agencies in the future. Seems to be a waste of time for formalities and no tangible results.





[Edited at 2009-08-14 09:48 GMT]


 

Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:00
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just another rip off Aug 14, 2009

ISO companies are not supposed to use translators that have not been evaluated by the company to whatever standards they have set up, lets remember that ISO and all other quality systems do not in fact guarantee quality as most of us understand quality, which would be a quality product, but rather they define quality in the procedures, they guarantee that your procedures will always be done in a standardized "repetitive" way.

So they do have to evaluate you, however ISO says nothing about this evaluation being free, as it is up to each company to set up its evaluation process some companies might decide to make it free, which in my opinion goes against the "spirit" of ISO (which in theory is quality and I think there is more quality in paying for something than in expecting it to be free, but that's just me) but not against the "letter of the law", so you can be ISO and have free tests, or you can be ISO and pay for your tests, its up to each individual company.


 

Stuart Dowell  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 15:00
Member (2007)
Polish to English
+ ...
It is still required Aug 14, 2009

If they have declared that translator tests are part of their standard procedure for recruiting translators, then their ISO certificate requires them to apply tests in all cases

 

Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 10:00
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
ISO != free tests Aug 14, 2009

So they do have to evaluate you, however ISO says nothing about this evaluation being free (...)


This is exactly it. Professional companies compensate you for the time taken to complete any tests of any other form of assessment required by the standard.

Beware of any company using such a lame excuse for not paying you for a translation that is actually useful to their purposes.


 

Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 14:00
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
... Aug 14, 2009

MariusV wrote:

I am aware of the fact that one more topic about free test tranlations can be boring to the bone. Moreover, this issue might be discussed hundreds of times here and elsewhere. BUT I have one issue which is not quite clear for me and would be interesting to hear some advice or info from people who know more about it. The "usual story" - "We have a big project for us and we need you to do a free test translation of 300 words to be sure you are not a donkey. IF the test feedback is positive, we would be interested to cooperate with you"...Let's leave "ifs" and other boring issues aside...Just one practical situation - during the last 10 days I received 9 requests for cooperation (all "possible big projects" and etc.) with demands for these damned tests. The "math" is simple - 9 free tests 300 words each, 2700 words in total, or more than one working day...Just for "a possibility to cooperate" (on a "take or leave it" basis). The worst is wasting the time NOT on the free tests you have the right to take or not to take, but on the primary correspondence, negotiations, etc. AFTER WHICH it appears that you also need to do a test TOO (no one ever mentions this in the primary email). OK, you'd say - do not waste your time and do not waste our time if the policy of the agency is to demand these free tests (or free translations), and your "own" policy to tell them "You are ugly and your mother dresses you funny - I do not do tests and make no exceptions, I work for money and I do not ask you a test money transfer to meet my own policies for clients". But what embarrasses me most of all is an "explanation" like that:

"As we are ISO 9001:2008 certified company, our policy does not allow to
collaborate with vendors who haven't passed a test job for us, especially if
we talk about our key customers and big projects. We consider test jobs as a
normal work flow and not only our vendors provide them, also we perform test
translations for our prospect clients as well as for existing clients before
important projects."

"As we are ISO 9001:2008 certified company, our policy..."

So, if there is a specific requirement under ISO 9001:2008 to do free/unpaid tests? I understand ISO 9001:2008 is just a set of more or less generalized formal requirements and that is it...And if the policy of the AGENCY (not ISO) is to ask for a free test drink, why should they confuse people with their fairy tales about "possible big projects" or "ISO requirements" for free tests?

P.S. I feel that I'd stay away from these ISO certified agencies in the future. Seems to be a waste of time for formalities and no tangible results.





[Edited at 2009-08-14 09:48 GMT]


You're just giving yourself headaches I would just have said to them as you can affor the ISO certification you can afford my minimum rate ...They won't contact ever again you but you'll have peace of mind ! And that is priceless...


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:00
Member (2008)
French to English
ISO 9000 does not require free tests, the agency does Aug 14, 2009

ISO 9000, while it has its very good uses, is frequently used as a smokescreen.

Its how the agency writes their own manual that matters. If an agency has written their manual that every translator must have done a test, then they have to do that. But there's three important things to understand:

1) It was their choice to write the manual that way, not ISO 9000s. They didn't have to write it to the translator's detriment.

2) The issue of whether the test is free or paid is completely apart from ISO 9000. No agency can honestly claim that ISO 9000 requires the test to be unpaid.

3) In almost all ISO 9000 manuals there are "waiver" clauses that can be used to get around excessively sticky requirements. The main point of ISO 9000 is documentation, so if they waive a requirement it has to be recorded, but it doesn't make it impossible. You could always respond that they will need to use the waiver provisions of ISO 9000 so as to not require a free test after all - chances are good that the buyer hasn't actually read that section of the manual.

ISO 9000 was never meant to hinder business, but in some companies its become a "marketing" tool rather than a genuine "quality" tool. In my engineering days, I had an ISO 9000 supplier that consistently delivered wrong products, and when I required a Certificate of Conformity with each delivery they started issuing a stream of "Waiver Requests". The products were still wrong, but very well documented, and therefore complied with ISO 9000!



[Edited at 2009-08-14 21:17 GMT]


 

Janis Abens  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 16:00
Swedish to English
+ ...
Lets keep our pants up! Aug 14, 2009

It's tempting sometimes to bend over backwards to get a job. I have done so and only regretted it. In Sweden they tell you not to pull your pants down. Don't.
If the agencies didn't get any responses to unreasonable requests, the requests would stop coming.

So, guys and gals, keep yer pants up!!


 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 16:00
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yea... Aug 17, 2009

Seems that we, translators, shall actually bear the ISO certification costs of the agencies with our "free test translations for a possibility of cooperation"...Just why should we? Will such agencies bear our costs for smth? I do not think so...If they are (or wanna be) soooo much serious, I think they really can afford a certain minimum rate for the test, or to pay for 200-300 words the standard rate...if they cannot afford, their problem - why shall we bother about agency expenses and bear their ISO certification costs...

So, up the irons and up the pants - "we do test translations, but only paid test translation" !!! Will you agree?

[Edited at 2009-08-17 08:53 GMT]


 

Janis Abens  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 16:00
Swedish to English
+ ...
A hard nut to crack... Aug 17, 2009

Per word rates might annoy one to no end, but are not sufficient for a complaint. Check the locale of those posters, and you might discover they're not from London or Paris or Stockholm or Riga.

Extremely rarely, great jobs will appear, i.e. no- lookup, high- volume, voice recognition- based work, I can hit 15 000 words a day with no hassle. I wont ask for 0.12 EUR there; the discount will be substantial. And the repeat work has convinced me that honesty is best for both.

More often, I will get "regular" jobs that turn out to be diagonal handwritten PDFs, a list of glossary terms (how outrageouly RUDE) , or "only translate the PINK text" or other jobs where the lions share of the work is not in the translation, and a per word rate is patently absurd.

As I have written before, our community must turn a collective cold shoulder to agencies that try to wrench the last crust of bread from the mouths of the struggling freelancers' children, whether the culprits are exploitative Far East middlemen offering European jobs at their local rates, and collectively go after shady nonpayers, test-translation con artists and so on....

But the per word rate is not a sufficient barometer.....


 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 16:00
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, agree Aug 17, 2009

jabens wrote:



Per word rates might annoy one to no end, but are not sufficient for a complaint. Check the locale of those posters, and you might discover they're not from London or Paris or Stockholm or Riga.

Extremely rarely, great jobs will appear, i.e. no- lookup, high- volume, voice recognition- based work, I can hit 15 000 words a day with no hassle. I wont ask for 0.12 EUR there; the discount will be substantial. And the repeat work has convinced me that honesty is best for both.

More often, I will get "regular" jobs that turn out to be diagonal handwritten PDFs, a list of glossary terms (how outrageouly RUDE) , or "only translate the PINK text" or other jobs where the lions share of the work is not in the translation, and a per word rate is patently absurd.

As I have written before, our community must turn a collective cold shoulder to agencies that try to wrench the last crust of bread from the mouths of the struggling freelancers' children, whether the culprits are exploitative Far East middlemen offering European jobs at their local rates, and collectively go after shady nonpayers, test-translation con artists and so on....

But the per word rate is not a sufficient barometer.....


Also - unpaid tests, if they come coupled with "grand offers for bright cooperation in the future raining with cash from substantial orders IF one agrees to do a free test for agency ISO certification" can be either accepted, or rejected (no one can force us to do what we do not want to do). This can be suffered if such tests come from time to time. BUT today the tendency is that almost ANY agency has that ISO or want to have it. And almost all "cooperation offers" come up with the request, which is actually, a unileteral demand, on the basis of ISO, to do those free tests...So, having been worked as a free-lancer for 13 years, one has to spend ~ 1-2 working days per week JUST for these free tests? Not for me - up the pants...Let's everyone bear own expenses for ISO, UFO or whatever...


 


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