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My translation test was approved by their client, but it seems they give the job to someone else
Thread poster: Hoa Hoang

Hoa Hoang  Identity Verified
Vietnam
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
Oct 26, 2011

Hi everyone!
I am sorry if I post this in the wrong section. I am having a problem with one of my regular agency. Some time ago I did the translation test for one of their big client, and my test was approved by their client. However, the big project got delayed. At the same time, they also add my colleague to their translator database even though she did not do the translation test.

Now after several months, the big project is starting, and I got noticed by my colleague that they have approached her with the job while I have heard nothing from them regarding this project.

Apart from this I got plenty of work from them (albeit quite small). I wonder if this is a normal action by an agency and I should have nothing to complain about.

Thank you everyone in advance for your advice!


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Michael Grant
Japan
Local time: 17:30
Japanese to English
Hard to say... Oct 26, 2011

Without knowing either of you two, it's really hard to say.

1) Could it be that her rates are lower than yours?
2) Does she, perhaps, have more expertise in the subject matter to be translated?
3) Does she have more translation experience?

Those are a few things that might help explain it. Although, if it's such a big project, I wonder why they didn't hire both of you to do the work twice as fast!

Translation agencies are strange beasts...who can really know why they do the things they do?

It could even be due to something as mundane as her offering a different payment method than you, or a longer payment cycle (i.e. 90 days instead of 30, etc.).

In any case, cheer up Miss Hoang, and try not to take it too personally. We win some, we lose some...C'est la vie!


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 09:30
French to English
+ ...
Is your colleague cheaper? Oct 26, 2011

This has happened to me a few times. You do the test, the end client approves it, somebody else gets the job.

I can only assume that the person that got the job had a lower rate.

This is obviously dishonest for the agency - they are cheating you (unless you got paid for the test) and they are cheating the end customer (because they are not getting what they paid for) but there is very little you can do about it. Anything you can do probably won't be worth what you gain from it.

Move on with your life. Such dishonest people may prosper in the short term but their bad practices will catch up with them eventually.


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Hoang Dan  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 15:30
Member (2012)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
A good experience Oct 26, 2011

I think we must live with such risks in this case.

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Birthe Hansen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:30
Member (2011)
Danish to German
+ ...
Could be lots of reasons Oct 26, 2011

Hi Hoa Hoang

Sorry for that! As I see it, there could be lots of good reasons why the agency would make that choice, it's impossible for an outsider to know. Depending on the decision makers, it could be perfectly understandable reasons: Maybe they prefer you for all the small projects, that you get. Maybe you have proven to be good at that. Maybe the other translator has some specific experience or know-how that you do not know about. Maybe the agency just forgot to inform you.

I do not know how it works in your culture and for how long you have worked for this agency, but maybe you could find a way to politely ask them? If you choose not to react, I would just let it go, as they seem to be satisfied with you.

Good luck,
Birthe from Denmark


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Hoa Hoang  Identity Verified
Vietnam
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Oct 26, 2011

Thank you Birthe!

I decided that I would find some polite way to ask them. It would be perfectly ok with me if they choose someone with experience over me. But the translator they choose was someone I know. She applied for the same project at the same time with me, and was assigned the same translation test. And then she told me it was too difficult for her to complete so she dropped out and did not send the test back. That's the reason why I am not quite Ok with the current situation. It would be fine if both of us are involved, but if they choose her over me, I think it's a bit unfair on their part. Or maybe I am just being mean...

[Edited at 2011-10-26 08:42 GMT]


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
no premise, nor promise Oct 26, 2011

Hello Hoa--I personally see no crime here for there's no contract or any official paper from them regarding the position, right? Frankly speaking working via a middleman (agency) is rather annoying and not decently paying, let alone they always can randomly make some rules and exceptions for certain parties.

For instance, not long ago a friend of mine was rejected a project 'because of very short practical experience'--after five years of working as a 'leading translator and chief editor' for the same company! The secret was soon revealed--he did very well, but demanded 'too much'... So, they have been thinking hard for five years and then they just replaced him by three amateur-translators... Whatever, because they are masters of the situation.

As for the situation: a [translation] test (as well as resume/cv) is no guarantee for getting the job. Many clients have their own decision makers who check 'approved' candidates. Yet if the agency somehow assumed or implied that you would get the project then just remind them about it, but if no certain words were written then... either keep working for them or find a better agency/client.

Cheers


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Christophe Lefrancois  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:30
French
+ ...
Question Oct 26, 2011

Do you find it normal for a freelance translator to do the translation tests of an agency so that they can get a contract?
To me the answer is no. A freelance translator is not an employee of an agency and shouldn't have to do the tests; it is their duty not ours!

[Edited at 2011-10-26 08:27 GMT]


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Hoa Hoang  Identity Verified
Vietnam
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes they did Oct 26, 2011

DZiW wrote:

Hello Hoa--I personally see no crime here for there's no contract or any official paper from them regarding the position, right? Frankly speaking working via a middleman (agency) is rather annoying and not decently paying, let alone they always can randomly make some rules and exceptions for certain parties.

For instance, not long ago a friend of mine was rejected a project 'because of very short practical experience'--after five years of working as a 'leading translator and chief editor' for the same company! The secret was soon revealed--he did very well, but demanded 'too much'... So, they have been thinking hard for five years and then they just replaced him by three amateur-translators... Whatever, because they are masters of the situation.

As for the situation: a [translation] test (as well as resume/cv) is no guarantee for getting the job. Many clients have their own decision makers who check 'approved' candidates. Yet if the agency somehow assumed or implied that you would get the project then just remind them about it, but if no certain words were written then... either keep working for them or find a better agency/client.

Cheers


Hi DZiW,
The problem was that they did tell me that the PM would always approach me first when their client order translation service. I have reason to feel not OK, don't I?

Anyway, thank you all for your advice. Of course I will move on with my life and my career, but I think I still want some clarification from their side!


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 16:30
Chinese to English
Happened to me a few times Oct 26, 2011

And I no longer work with those agencies.

I sometimes get asked by agencies to do paid tests to win contracts which (I know) they will then assign to cheaper translators. I refuse those as well. It's a dishonest practice in my industry, and I won't be any part of it.

I'm guessing that the Vietnamese market is as messed up as the Chinese market - if you can do anything to make it a better place to work, then give it a try. And gently reminding the agency that what they're doing is unfair might be a good start. Just sometimes, a little bit of polite pressure works.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A better approach Oct 26, 2011

Hoa Hoang wrote:
I am sorry if I post this in the wrong section. I am having a problem with one of my regular agency. Some time ago I did the translation test for one of their big client, and my test was approved by their client. However, the big project got delayed. At the same time, they also add my colleague to their translator database even though she did not do the translation test.

Now after several months, the big project is starting, and I got noticed by my colleague that they have approached her with the job while I have heard nothing from them regarding this project.

A better approach next time: when such a situation comes around again, accept to do the test only if they sign a letter of intent stating that they will ask you first if the account is won thanks to your test.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You shouldn't have been informed Oct 26, 2011

Hoa Hoang wrote:
Now after several months, the big project is starting, and I got noticed by my colleague that they have approached her with the job while I have heard nothing from them regarding this project.

I hope this little criticism is taken positively: your colleague should have honoured her obligation of privacy towards the customer. By telling you about this job, she violated her duty of privacy.


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Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 08:30
Japanese to English
Go for it Oct 26, 2011

Hoa Hoang wrote:
Hi DZiW,
The problem was that they did tell me that the PM would always approach me first when their client order translation service. I have reason to feel not OK, don't I?

Anyway, thank you all for your advice. Of course I will move on with my life and my career, but I think I still want some clarification from their side!


Hoa, at this point you're already angry and resentful about the situation, so you have nothing to lose by confronting them (politely) about the issue. It's almost certain that they chose her because she was cheaper, but their response will tell you whether they really value your services and don't want to lose you, or whether you're a disposable "client-getter" as far as they're concerned.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:30
French to German
+ ...
Office politics? Oct 26, 2011

I see this little misadventure as being a rather common case of office politics in action.

I don't know if asking the agency about its choices will change much, or even if asking is advisable.

An agency making the wrong choice from a purely logical point of view is not worth my time or my efforts.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:30
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Sounds like a classic "bait and switch" - drop them if you can Oct 26, 2011

I also suspect that the other translator is cheaper. Unfortunately some service providers (including language service providers) use the bait and switch method, where they offer or actually provide high quality services first, and when the client is "hooked" (for example, signed a contract, or the project is already underway) they switch to a cheaper solution, increasing their own profits.
It seems this agency used your test to get the client, and now switching to a cheaper translator. This can affect you negatively in several ways:

1. If the end client requested the translator's info with the completed test that your reputation will be tarnished if the agency submits a subpar translation to the end client who thinks it is yours. It is not likely that the agency passed your info onto the client, but it is possible. I have seen in recent EU tender documents that required submitting the translator's info, including their full CVs in order to be considered for the contract.

2. You may be asked to "proofread" the translation the other person did, and may end up with much more than proofing. You may end up doing extensive rewriting at proofreading rates.

3. The end client may realize the drop in quality, and may refuse payment for the project. This, in turn can affect the cashflow of the agency, and may affect you, even if you only work on other projects for them.

You could approach the agency and ask an update on the project, without mentioning what you heard from the other translator. Their reply will tell you how to deal with them.
If they lie (such as "the project got cancelled", "the client is still finalizing the details", etc.) you may want to consider dropping them altogether. If they tell you that they are working with another translator, you could ask the reasons, and take it from there.

Good luck
Katalin


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