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Would you work for this client?
Thread poster: Gregory Lassale

DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Frankly Oct 12, 2018

Frankly speaking, I'm more concerned when people ask neither questions, nor specific requirements or anything...

 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:32
Member
English to French
abbreviations Oct 12, 2018

Gregory Lassale wrote:
LB?

Proz.com rules prohibit us from being more specific.
LB, TP, WL,... you'll find out soon enough!

Philippe

EDIT: About counter-offers : the other day, an agency I seldom work with offered 27 for something. I got an order at my price: 82 euros.

[Edited at 2018-10-12 08:43 GMT]


 

IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:32
Member (2005)
French to English
Please save yourself by refraining from touching this one with a barge-pole Oct 12, 2018

Chris S wrote:

In other words they can be quite flexible and generous when they want to.



Flexible and generous when they want to be? The same is probably true for giant Procrustes, Jack the Ripper, the Kraken, ogres and other manifestly anti-social elements. Respectfully to Chris, though, there's many a ravening monster's den littered with the bones of those rash enough to make such an assumption. Heed the majority of these posts and steer clear of this client. The principle of transparency is a touchstone for client reliability.

The very best of luck, as aforesaid, and feel free to use my (ProZ-hosted) e-mail below for further business intelligence on the lines adumbrated earlier by Philippe.

With kind regards,

Adam Warren
ahw@wordgrist.com.


Gregory Lassale
 

Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 08:32
Member
English to Turkish
+ ...
Does the agency's name Oct 12, 2018

start with D? and do they also require you to add their contacts on Skype? I resigned from them a long time ago as I couldn't put up with their BS during the first assignment I got from them (which was a 150 word ID Card), but judging by their stellar BB record, they have hundreds, if not thousands, of freelancers working for them and willing to fulfill their unreasonable requirements.

Bhaswar Lochan
Martino Dibeltulo Concu (X)
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Big agencies = many PMs, many branches Oct 12, 2018

Philippe Etienne wrote:
Gregory Lassale wrote:
LB?

Proz.com rules prohibit us from being more specific.
LB, TP, WL,... you'll find out soon enough!


The thing about big agencies is that they have many branches, many divisions, and many PMs, so your experience with one team of PMs may not be an accurate reflection of what you could experience from another branch, another division or another group of PMs. They don't all pay the same rates, and they are not all equally unwilling to negotiate. I have never had the OP's type of offer from the Big Three, but I have had similar requests from intermezzo agencies (i.e. India/China/Middle-East). A behaviour can only be regarded as "typical" of an agency if that agency is small.


Dan Lucas
 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:32
Member
English to Italian
Perfectly reasonable Oct 12, 2018

Samuel Murray wrote:

There is nothing unreasonable about any of the job requirements (although I must say that most freelance translators I know would typically not accept jobs like these).


Sure. Their requests are perfectly reasonable, like partial deliveries every 4 hours, extra (and unpaid) DTP, heaps of time consuming red tape, etc...

Gregory Lassale wrote:
I explained to the agency that $0.06 / word was significantly below my rate (which is already at the bottom of the average range in my language pair) and too low to make a good living rate where I live.


Although I believe you should tell the agency that USD 0.06 is too low, I don't think it creates a professional impression to mention how you struggle to make a living in your own country. If you want to justify a rate, do so on professional grounds, and not on survival grounds.


Except it's not what Gregory wrote, at all. He just said $.06 is too low because working at that rate you wouldn't even be able to make a decent living.

That said, I find it quite surreal to read that if a party offers a very low rate and the other party politely refuses highlighting that fact and providing a rational, easily understandable, very real and down to earth explanation, then they are the one being "unprofessional", rather than those offering the unsustainable rate, because for them "to make a profit the translator has to make less than" them (so what, they are offering "professional" translation services to end clients at $.07/.08??).


Gregory Lassale
Robert Forstag
Michele Fauble
Vladimir Filipenko
MollyRose
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Run! Oct 12, 2018

Silly demands, insulting rate.

Gregory Lassale
Melanie Meyer
Alexandra Schneeuhr
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My point remains Oct 12, 2018

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
Gregory Lassale wrote:
I explained to the agency that $0.06 / word was significantly below my rate (which is already at the bottom of the average range in my language pair) and too low to make a good living rate where I live.

Although I believe you should tell the agency that USD 0.06 is too low, I don't think it creates a professional impression to mention how you struggle to make a living in your own country. If you want to justify a rate, do so on professional grounds, and not on survival grounds.

Except it's not what Gregory wrote, at all. He just said $.06 is too low because working at that rate you wouldn't even be able to make a decent living.

I did not realise it might be necessary to qualify my comment to the nth degree. (-: The point is the same: do not complain to the client about how you will suffer if you accept his offered rate. Negotiate (or reject) as if you and the client are equals in status, e.g. "unfortunately I can't accept that rate" or "unfortunately that rate is too low", etc. It's a minor point -- use it... don't use it...


 

Gregory Lassale  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:32
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
@Samuel Oct 12, 2018

Samuel Murray wrote:

Gregory Lassale wrote:
I recently completed a sample test for an agency (large, it seems) and today I received the following.
...
Finally, the rate offered is $0.06/word (take it or leave it) for translation and $0.03 for proofreading.


There is nothing unreasonable about any of the job requirements (although I must say that most freelance translators I know would typically not accept jobs like these).

The only unreasonable thing is the price. Theoretically, if you want to do this job (i.e. if you feel that this is the sort of service that you can provide), you must decide how likely it is that the agency will accept your counter offer, and if you believe that it will not be a waste of your time to calculate a reasonable price for it, do so, and tell the agency your price. However, since their opening bid is USD 0.06, and your first counter offer is likely to be in the USD 0.12-18 range, I suspect this one is a lost cause.

It is possible that many of the requirements are not set by the agency but by their end-client. However, it is the agency's task to check whether the rate they will be able to offer will actually cover the amount of work, and they (or perhaps the PM, who may be new at this and did not receive sufficient guidance from his supervisor) clearly did not do that. Perhaps they'll learn their lesson and will become a better client in future.

Gregory Lassale wrote:
I explained to the agency that $0.06 / word was significantly below my rate (which is already at the bottom of the average range in my language pair) and too low to make a good living rate where I live.


Although I believe you should tell the agency that USD 0.06 is too low, I don't think it creates a professional impression to mention how you struggle to make a living in your own country. If you want to justify a rate, do so on professional grounds, and not on survival grounds.

I'd come across several agencies who requested references as part of their application process.


You can also use colleagues as references.


[Edited at 2018-10-12 07:53 GMT]


The applications specifically asked for client references, unfortunately.

As for the rest, sure, you can certainly argue that nothing is unreasonable as long as it is adequately compensated...that the quality of job/client is the byproduct of effort x time / pay. But you can STILL argue how reasonable the requirements of a job are in a vacuum, no? It is not unprofessional to put pay in COL context in order to explain why it's too low. It might not be their problem and I'm sure their don't care, but "unprofessional" it is not. All the requirements I listed come directly from the agency. They are all listed in their own 56-slide welcome onboard powerpoint presentation...along with additional formatting quizzes by the way.

[Edited at 2018-10-12 12:06 GMT]


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:32
Member
English to Italian
Not Oct 12, 2018

Samuel Murray wrote:

I did not realise it might be necessary to qualify my comment...


In fact it's not. However, once again, you wrote "I don't think it creates a professional impression to mention how you struggle to make a living in your own country". That's not what Gregory did. End of story.


 

Gregory Lassale  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:32
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
yes Oct 12, 2018

Baran Keki wrote:

start with D? and do they also require you to add their contacts on Skype? I resigned from them a long time ago as I couldn't put up with their BS during the first assignment I got from them (which was a 150 word ID Card), but judging by their stellar BB record, they have hundreds, if not thousands, of freelancers working for them and willing to fulfill their unreasonable requirements.


Yes. DT.


Bhaswar Lochan
 

Gregory Lassale  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:32
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Big 3 Oct 12, 2018

Samuel Murray wrote:

The thing about big agencies is that they have many branches, many divisions, and many PMs, so your experience with one team of PMs may not be an accurate reflection of what you could experience from another branch, another division or another group of PMs. They don't all pay the same rates, and they are not all equally unwilling to negotiate. I have never had the OP's type of offer from the Big Three, but I have had similar requests from intermezzo agencies (i.e. India/China/Middle-East). A behaviour can only be regarded as "typical" of an agency if that agency is small.


I can see that. Would you be so kind to PM me the name of the so-called big 3? Trying to get my bearings in the industry, still. Would be good to know that. Thanks Samuel.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Gregory (mostly) Oct 12, 2018

Gregory Lassale wrote:
As for the rest, sure, you can certainly argue that nothing is unreasonable as long as it is adequately compensated... But you can STILL argue how reasonable the requirements of a job are in a vacuum, no?


I did not mean to argue that nothing is unreasonable. We are translators, after all. And we are businesses. Anything beyond that has the potential to be considered unreasonable. So allow me to comment on your initial post in a vacuum.

A 56-slide powerpoint presentation they require you to go over, which contains their strict guidelines, among which...


On the one hand, a style guide (and guidelines) is supposed to help the translator deliver a product that conforms to the client's expectations. And if you regularly work for a certain client who applies the same style guide to all jobs, and you have a reasonably good memory for following instructions, then you really only need to read the style guide once.

But on the other hand, not all translators are able to read, memorise and process complex job requirements like that. I used to be able to do that, but with age I lost that ability, so these days I simply reject any new job with a style guide that exceeds 5 pages. In addition, some style guides often contain information that are obvious to any professional translator but which may be surprising only to beginner translators. Those ones are huge time wasters. For example, explaining the basics of spelling and punctuation in the target language. The style guides can also be unnecessarily verbose, i.e. using a whole page to say just one thing.

For a few clients for whom I used to regularly do work and for which each job the hand-off mail contained their "latest" version of the 50-page style guide, glossary, etc, I used to have a folder on my Desktop with those latest versions in it, so that every time I got another job from with with a so-called "updated" style guide or glossary, I could compare it to the ones I had already read (and often they were identical). This saved a lot of time in the long run. For some style guides, I only needed to highlight the aspects that differ from what I considered "normal" -- this cuts down on the amount of reading for each new job.

I have not met or heard of any client that paid the translator compensation for the time spent reading a style guide or an instructions sheet, no matter how long or complex.

I have, however, had clients ask me to review and update a style guide (i.e. they considered me to be the expert linguist), for which they paid an hourly rate, and subsequently that same style guide was used in the rest of the project.

An update has to be provided along with a copy of the translated file
    within an hour
or accepting the project. More updates + copy of file are due, ranging from every 4 hours to once a week depending on the translation due date - no exception.


This requirement is not onerous if you're a well-organised full-time professional translator who treats his business day like a day at the office. However, I understand that the freedom of doing what you're doing when you want to be doing it is what appeals to many freelance translators, and for such translators this requirement would certainly seem unreasonable. It is possible to be a successful freelance translator and never miss any deadlines while at the same time being fairly disorganised or employing only the most basic of office administration. You should not consider working for agencies that require a higher degree of organisation than you can handle.

In addition to the translation, they require you to complete a "certificate of accuracy" with every job. Its included instructions in red have to be changed from red to black; the doc needs to be signed in blue, the language pair edited, your credentials added, the file renamed and reformatted, and the whole thing emailed back following a strict nomenclature.


Oooh... this sounds familiar (-:. This is just part of administration, like e-mailing a quote or answering a client's questions about certain aspects of the delivery. You may even be able to automate it. I think what irks some translators is that they prefer to do things (e.g. administration) in one specific way only, but that does not mean that such additional requirements from the client are "unreasonable" in a vacuum.

I used to have a client that had a similar requirement, but in the end I discovered how to use the "stamp" feature of my PDF editor to easily add a realistically-looking signature to a PDF printout of the certificate. In addition, the certificate was the same each time (except for the job number, date and language code), so I was able to re-use the same PDF file and simply edit those three bits of information.

Invoicing are also subject to specific requirements/instructions.


Yes, very normal. It is very normal for each and every single one of your clients to have specific, individual invoicing requirements that may not be easily integratable with your own preferential way of doing it. You can choose not work for any client who does not accept your invoicing methods, but it is a buyer's market out there, so be prepared for a lot of rejection if you choose to be picky about this.

All this, knowing that most (if not all it seems) the jobs this agency handles are heavily formatted, and the translated doc is expected to be a carbon copy of the original, i.e. all graphs, tables etc MUST be replicated via desktop publishing if the originals are not editable.


There are translators who believe that translators should only have to concern themselves with the text, and that formatting should always be charged separately or done by a separate person. But there are clients out there that expect to find translators who are so skilled at formatting that they do not charge extra for it.

Personally, I'm quite unskilled at using e.g. MS Word (I can only do the most basic formatting), but I have met people who are able to fix formatting, layout, tables, styles etc almost without thinking about it, and who consider their skills to be "normal". So what I'm trying to say is that it's all relative.

If a client asks me to do something which I am able to do but not as fast as someone else (e.g. transcription, post-editing, handwriting translation, etc.) then I will quote a rate that makes it worth my while, while helpfully inform the client that the high rate is due to the fact that this is not my expertise and that he may well be able to get the job quicker and cheaper elsewhere. Sometimes the client accepts that, especially if the client "knows" me well and trusts me personally more than they trust my skills.

I'm sure you'll agree, though: the fact that there are people out there who can e.g. type 120 wpm does not mean that I have to adjust my rate as if I'm able to do that too, but at the same time it means that it is not unreasonable for a client to expect someone to be able to do 120 wpm and charge accordingly.

If a logo is on the original doc but blurry, you can contact the PM only if you cannot find it online (I'm supposed to spend time looking for graphics?? Really??).


This may depend on the actual case, but: researching aspects of the source text is a normal part of translation. That said, the actual case you mention seems a bit odd.

Oh, there is also an additional formatting quizz included with the powerpoint presentation.


This is perfectly normal. It is part of what is called "onboarding". The client wants to confirm that you had actually read the file. If you had, then filling out the quiz shouldn't be a problem. Of course, all of this takes time, but onboarding takes time. This is an unfortunate part of using agencies instead of approaching direct clients.

Finally, the rate offered is $0.06/word (take it or leave it) for translation and $0.03 for proofreading.


You are extremely fortunate that the client told you what the rate is before you went through the entire onboarding process. It has become all too common for agencies to rush translators through the onboarding procedure only to tell them at the very end that the rate they offer is in fact much lower than the translator had been expecting.

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
I did not realise it might be necessary to qualify my comment...

In fact it's not. However, once again, you wrote "I don't think it creates a professional impression to mention how you struggle to make a living in your own country". That's not what Gregory did.


I'm not sure if such a thing exists in Italian, but in English it is called a "hyperbole". I apologise if it wasn't clear enough.

[Edited at 2018-10-12 15:35 GMT]


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:32
French to English
yes but Oct 12, 2018

Chris S wrote:

I do a couple of regular jobs for possibly the same global agency.

For one I get paid $55 a shot for 5-10 easy words.

For the other I get paid $0.17 per word and don't have to use any of their online systems.

In other words they can be quite flexible and generous when they want to.

So it might not hurt to try negotiating a better price and no added extras.


I agree that negotiating a better price sounds like a good idea. However, bear in mind that EN>FR is generally paid at a lower rate than Swedish>EN.


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:32
French to English
Variation Oct 12, 2018

A number of agencies out there offer this type of rate when you start working with them, experienced or not. If you can churn out enough work in terms of volume to get enough money in, to make it worthwhile, then it could be something you might consider for a short while. However, there are negatives to bear in mind when working at cheapo rates. Here are just two of them:

- once you have agreed to this rate, why would an agency accept to pay you more later on?

- as soo
... See more
A number of agencies out there offer this type of rate when you start working with them, experienced or not. If you can churn out enough work in terms of volume to get enough money in, to make it worthwhile, then it could be something you might consider for a short while. However, there are negatives to bear in mind when working at cheapo rates. Here are just two of them:

- once you have agreed to this rate, why would an agency accept to pay you more later on?

- as soon as you accept a cheapo job, there is a strong chance that a good opportunity comes along that you have to turn down because you are busy working for Cheapo Trads Incorporated. Now that's really frustrating!

So although some money might be better than no money coming in, be very careful not to accept this type of deal too often or on big jobs. You could end up working yourself into a poverty trap! Also, this agency just seems to be expecting so much - too much - for that rate. All factors combined, I'd refuse with no regrets.
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Gregory Lassale
Vladimir Filipenko
Valérie Ourset
Klara Duka
 
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