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Totally unprofessional offers with no details - but they are technically hard to refuse!
Thread poster: Christine Andersen

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:16
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Apr 28

I have been away for a break, and checked through my mails when I could, but was not taking on work.

When I came home, I checked again and was surprised at the number of totally unprofessional offers in my mailbox. I had set up an automatic 'out of office' and answered as many as I could while I was away, but it was not easy in some cases!

On the lines of:
_________________________
Hi Christine,
Hope you are doing fine!
We have 5935 words to be
... See more
I have been away for a break, and checked through my mails when I could, but was not taking on work.

When I came home, I checked again and was surprised at the number of totally unprofessional offers in my mailbox. I had set up an automatic 'out of office' and answered as many as I could while I was away, but it was not easy in some cases!

On the lines of:
_________________________
Hi Christine,
Hope you are doing fine!
We have 5935 words to be translated from Danish to English, deadline the 18th (= tomorrow).
Budget USD 356

Please let me know if you are interested and available.
_________________________

This one was from a UK agency, so why would they be offering USD? I'm not in the Eurozone, but I accept sterling, so I could probably persuade them to change the currency.

Apart from that, there was no easy way to reply!
'Do not reply to this mail' - OK, it came through this site, but there was no link I could answer to, only a website! I did not spend a lot of time searching for contact details, but they were not eye-catching.

The rate offered was under half of what I normally charge, depending on subject area among other things. There was no hint of subject area in the mail.
The word count for a job to be done in 24 hours was very high. I reckon about 2000 new words a day.

Sorry, folks, if I have to work hard to get hold of your job, I am not prepared to take it on.

There were several others suggesting short deadlines, asking, of course, for my best rate, and one asking if I 'translate out of my native language into English' … Can't do that, my native language IS English!

But what really irritates me is that the so-called offers come with a tight deadline and a tight budget, and assume I am ready and available. One asked for my CV and all sorts of information, but there was simply nowhere I could just send a brief mail to turn down the job. To me it is simply unprofessional, and I am afraid I just delete these mails if there is no link to a mail address to answer them!

OK, rant over - I just had to let off steam!
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DZiW
IanDhu
Jo Macdonald
ahartje
Stanislaw Czech, MCIL
Teresa Borges
Michele Fauble
 

Joshua Parker
Mexico
Local time: 10:16
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Reply directly to e-mail Apr 29

Whenever I receive an enquiry through ProZ, I just hit reply, the same way I would with any other e-mail, and it seems to go straight through to the sender's e-mail address.

I don't know why you're being told not to reply to the e-mail. Perhaps just reply the normal way and see what happens. In any case, you don't seem to be missing out on much.


IanDhu
Tania Kerrigan
 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 20:16
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Unprofessional = uninterested Apr 29

Christine Andersen wrote:

The rate offered was under half of what I normally charge, depending on subject area among other things. There was no hint of subject area in the mail.



This drives me nuts, too. Asking if I can take on a job without providing any hint of what the job entails. Asking what my fees are even though they've contacted me through ProZ and my fees are listed on my profile page.

What do these people think they are doing?

Or are there really translators out there who are willing to take on a job sight unseen?


Mirko Mainardi
Teresa Borges
P.L.F.Persio
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:16
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Christine, @Joshua, @Philip Apr 29

Christine Andersen wrote:
This one was from a UK agency, so why would they be offering USD?


Agencies in countries with non-major currencies, or agencies offering work to translators in countries with non-major currencies, often quote in a major currency, possibly for currency exchange variation reasons. Perhaps this agency thought that the reason Denmark doesn't use the euro is because of patriotic reasons, and if that were the case, it would have been an insult to offer a Dane euro. So, what major currency would Danes use if they don't use the euro? Russia is closer to Denmark than the USA, but... wel... I think USD is more likely. GBP is not a major currency (despite what Brits might want to believe) -- too much currency fluctuation, in my opinion.

'Do not reply to this mail' - OK, it came through [a web] site, but there was no link I could answer to, only a website!


Yes, I too must check myself every time I take offense at seeing "noreply@" in the To: field whenever I try to reply to an e-mail that is actually just a notification from a web service. Developers seem to believe that users prefer it if notifications look like personal e-mails. The same developers believe that I would warm to stores that send me automated birthday messages addressed to me by my first name.

And I, too, get frustrated with poorly designed web sites that require me to spend what seems like several minutes (but in reality may be no more than 20-30 seconds) trying to figure out how their web site works so that I can send a message in reply.

The rate offered was under half of what I normally charge... There was no hint of subject area in the mail. The word count for a job to be done in 24 hours was very high.


This is the type of notification that, in my opinion, might have required an immediate response. In other words, the client was hoping that you and they would be talking about the job fairly soon after they sent the notification. You probably missed the boat on that job, so take your time, check out their web site at your leisure, and send them a make-good-impression kind of message to get their future business.

But what really irritates me is that the so-called offers come with a tight deadline and a tight budget, and assume I am ready and available. To me it is simply unprofessional, and I am afraid I just delete these mails if there is no link to a mail address to answer them!


I believe what you should do, is to interpret such e-mails not as attempts to communicate with you personally, but as [automated] permission for you to advertise your services to them. In other words, put these e-mails in a subfolder until you have time to do "marketing", and then try to use the opportunities as best you can to increase the odds that you will be the one chosen for their next well paying job.

Joshua Parker wrote:
Whenever I receive an enquiry through ProZ.com, I just hit reply, the same way I would with any other e-mail, and it seems to go straight through to the sender's e-mail address.


When someone sends an e-mail via ProZ.com by clicking the "E-mail" button on your profile page, their usual e-mail address is autofilled in the form, but they have the option to change it to something else (e.g. "do-not-reply@agencyname.com"). I sent you a test message like that (tell us what you see).

Philip Lees wrote:
This drives me nuts, too. ... Asking what my fees are even though they've contacted me through ProZ.com and my fees are listed on my profile page.


I suspect that many translators' rates are actually different from the rates mentioned on their profile pages. Mine certainly are (my rates vary, but the ProZ.com profile system does not allow me to show my varying rates on the profile page).

Or are there really translators out there who are willing to take on a job sight unseen?


Perhaps. But we are smart translators -- we can use these lapses to our advantage. I reply by thanking them for their e-mail and then asking pertinent questions about the job. It is an opportunity for me to form an impression about them based on how or whether they answer my questions. It is often more accurate to judge an agency (or translator) by their second and third e-mail than by the first one.



[Edited at 2019-04-29 06:09 GMT]


Kay Denney
P.L.F.Persio
Tradupro17
 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Tight deadlines Apr 29

In recent years I've lost more jobs to tight deadlines for work you can't start yet than to anything else.
I reckon there must be a lot of translators who accept working this way though because more and more agencies that used to be "good" are using this formula, job offer with a really tight deadline so basically something only someone with no regular work flow can accept, obviously not confirmed yet so you're expected to wait before you can start work, work nights, weekends.
I use
... See more
In recent years I've lost more jobs to tight deadlines for work you can't start yet than to anything else.
I reckon there must be a lot of translators who accept working this way though because more and more agencies that used to be "good" are using this formula, job offer with a really tight deadline so basically something only someone with no regular work flow can accept, obviously not confirmed yet so you're expected to wait before you can start work, work nights, weekends.
I used to be able to negotiate more reasonable deadlines but now it seems more important to have just "anyone" who's available right away willing to wait to start the job and work through the night to get it done.

Anyone have any ideas about how to counter this trend?
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Mirko Mainardi
P.L.F.Persio
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:16
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I have picked up one or two good clients by accepting tight deadlines Apr 29

Jo Macdonald wrote:

In recent years I've lost more jobs to tight deadlines for work you can't start yet than to anything else.
...
I used to be able to negotiate more reasonable deadlines but now it seems more important to have just "anyone" who's available right away willing to wait to start the job and work through the night to get it done.

Anyone have any ideas about how to counter this trend?


I don't know how to counter the trend, but I too used to be able to renegotiate deadlines.
The typical story was that the usual translator was suddenly ill or otherwise unavailable, and the deadline would have been more reasonable. The agency then did everything they could to help me if I would help them, and extended the deadline as far as possible with the end client.

I think the only thing to do is to keep answering back and explaining that translators are human, and we need time to produce quality. If they really just want cheap and fast, then they can try MT, but I don't compete on that level.

I did reply to one of the offers I received that I would normally charge a much higher rate for a job that would keep me hard at work over the Easter holiday. I was in fact in Assisi on Easter day, and it was once in a lifetime. All the money in the world wouldn't compensate for that!


Jo Macdonald
 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Helping clients out of a tight spot Apr 29

Hi Christine
Yep, I've found new clients like that too but unfortunately what used to be an emergency request (compensated for by a supplement) seems to have become the norm.

I remember someone running an agency, can't remember who, years ago posted what they were looking for in a translator, and the last point after professional, specialised in field, delivery on time, quality, etc. was "and of course you have to be available".
Today the first and only point might read
... See more
Hi Christine
Yep, I've found new clients like that too but unfortunately what used to be an emergency request (compensated for by a supplement) seems to have become the norm.

I remember someone running an agency, can't remember who, years ago posted what they were looking for in a translator, and the last point after professional, specialised in field, delivery on time, quality, etc. was "and of course you have to be available".
Today the first and only point might read "looking for absolutely anyone who's immediately available to do a rush job you can't start yet".
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Mirko Mainardi
Carolina Finley
 

Joshua Parker
Mexico
Local time: 10:16
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
+ ...
@Samuel Apr 29

I received your e-mail. Everything looked normal, but my reply was indeed sent to the "testing" g-mail address (and then returned as undeliverable).

 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 20:16
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Rates on profile Apr 30

Samuel Murray wrote:

... the ProZ.com profile system does not allow me to show my varying rates on the profile page.



Really? My profile shows a range of rates, both per word and per hour.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:16
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Philip Apr 30

Philip Lees wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
... the ProZ.com profile system does not allow me to show my varying rates on the profile page.

Really? My profile shows a range of rates, both per word and per hour.


I base my rates on a number of factors, but the location of the agency is one of them. In other words, I charge different rates to US agencies than to Indian agencies. ProZ.com doesn't allow me to state that, nor does it have the ability to show different rates to visitors from different countries.

A range is no good. If I were to state my Indian rate as the bottom of my range, and my US rate as the top of my range, US clients will see the bottom of my range and think that that is what they are likely to be able to negotiate down to.

In addition, some translators have different rates for different subject fields and different genres, but you can't show that on your ProZ.com profile page. I can't show my rate for legal translation as X, and my rate for financial translation as Y. You can only show a range, say, "between X and Y". That's no good to anyone.

You can, if you want, add a link "Conditions apply" in which you can customise minimums, discounts and surcharges, but visitors tend to regard surcharges as punishment and discounts as reward, whereas a higher rate should not be seen as punishment (nor would I want visitors to interpret a lower rate as encouragement). The reason why I charge less for some types of clients isn't because I want *more* of that kind of client (or vice versa: if I charge more to some types of clients, it isn't because I want fewer of them... I may in fact want more of them).

[Edited at 2019-04-30 07:07 GMT]


Christine Andersen
 

Oleksandr Somin  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:16
Member (2014)
English to Russian
+ ...
If sent from a profile ... Apr 30

... one could answer through the profile. No?

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:16
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Re: Replying via one's profile page Apr 30

Alexander Somin wrote:
If sent from a profile, one could answer through the profile. No?


You can't reply to an e-mail via your profile, no. However, if the client sends you a "personal message", then you can (thanks for replying to my test message; see screenshot below).

proz messages

I suspect the personal messages system is less often used simply because there is no button for it. To do so, the user has to click "More actions", but why would they? Also, I did not receive an e-mail notification that a message was waiting for me, so if I hadn't seen the little red icon when I visited the web site, I would have missed the message altogether.

Of course, if you know what the sender's ProZ.com profile is, then you can visit their profile page and use the "Send email" button to send them an e-mail, but your e-mail will end up in the mailbox that they used to sign up for ProZ.com, which may not be the mailbox that they use for receiving applications.


[Edited at 2019-04-30 09:01 GMT]


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes Apr 30

Jo Macdonald wrote:
Anyone have any ideas about how to counter this trend?


Just say no.
They give the work to someone else, who is then not available for the next job, which has a reasonable deadline and they give to you.
Result!

Alternatively:
Just say no.
They try to find some other mug and fail.
They miraculously find another week they can add to the 24-hour deadline.
Result!

Or:
Just say no.
They never contact you again.
You go to the beach.
Result!


Christine Andersen
Michele Fauble
Jorge Payan
P.L.F.Persio
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
I'm curious... Apr 30

Philip Lees wrote:
My profile shows a range of rates, both per word and per hour.


Why would you have a range of hourly rates?


 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 20:16
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Varying hourly rates May 1

Chris S wrote:

Philip Lees wrote:
My profile shows a range of rates, both per word and per hour.


Why would you have a range of hourly rates?


I quote lower rates for jobs I expect to enjoy and higher rates for jobs I expect to be a real pain. Sometimes, the latter policy means I end up not having to do the job at all.

In addition, when I quote a rate towards the lower end, the client is less likely to try and haggle over the price.


Chris S
Michele Fauble
 
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