Nov 23, 2008

Less than "perfect"

Here it is again - Sunday night at 9 PM (yes, I know the time at the bottom of the post says otherwise, but I can't figure out how to reconfigure it from PST to CET) and another mass spam mail arrives from one of the world's "leading" translation agencies with a rush job of about 3000 words to be delivered by 5 p.m. tomorrow. Legal stuff requiring some attention to detail. It's always the same with this company and a few others in their league that I dealt with in the early days of my life at a translator. Lots of text, short deadline and usually a crap rate offered. (I'm not even sure what they think my rate is any more. I have ignored them for so long that I'm sure their idea of what I'll work for - not counting the rush charges for most of the stuff they come up with - is off by 50 to 100%.) One of these "big boys" recently announced a new "quality assurance policy" which basically states that they won't be doing proper proofreading and/or editing of translations any more. When I got a request a few weeks later asking me to do "spot checks" of a huge document but spend no more than an hour (or maybe it was two) on the review, I just shook my head and hit the DELETE key.

For all their fancy downtown offices in major cities around the world, I really think these zookeepers give translation a bad name, and I generally don't consider it worthwhile to deal with them and their bureaucratic nonsense. For me at least, the best agency relations are those with smaller "boutique" shops that really care about their customers, whose managing directors still personally visit customers whose accounts don't run into the millions and who understand that quality is fundamental to their survival. I work with a lot of small agencies, and most of them are delightful people to deal with. I wish I could say the same for the other end of the spectrum, though there are individual exceptions.

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