How We Cooperated with a Russian Translation Company

In this post, I’d like to share our recent experience of cooperating with a major Russian translation services company.

After receiving a cooperation request from this company in summer of 2008, I told them our translation rates started at $0.08. I wanted to make sure they realized our rates were quite high and could continue looking elsewhere right away, rather than learn about our rates much later in the process. Boy, was I right! The company accepted our rates. Next, I filled out and sent a vendor questionnaire. The vendor manager confirmed receipt.

In about a month, they called back and asked whether we were still interested in cooperation and when they should expect the completed vendor questionnaire. They had confirmed receipt a month ago and forgot about it completely! This was clearly a red flag, which I was too optimistic to recognize.

After I had resent the questionnaire, they asked us to do a sample translation. We did it, and they liked it. Finally, we got to the point of signing an agreement. However, when we completed our part of the agreement and sent it, the manager said our rates were too high and suggested that we decrease them by 60%.

Did I have a reason to be shocked by that reaction? They had accepted our rates before the whole process started, and now, after we had spent many hours on paperwork and sample translation, they realized they didn’t like our rates after all. In fact, we involved a total of five employees in this project including a translator, editor, proofreader, engineer, and myself as an account manager; that is, we wasted quite a lot of time because someone had ignored our very first reply about our translation rates.

Obviously, we had to reject any cooperation. I still don’t know whether this was a result of the vendor manager’s personal incompetence or simply the way this company does business. Is it their policy to first force you to invest a lot of time in the selection process and then hope that you’ll be compelled to work for them with an expectation that you’ll be able to increase the rate down the road?

What do you think? Are problems like this common in translation industry? Or is it just a result of someone dropping the ball?

If you liked this post, I also recommend reading about the policy for subcontracting work from Russian translation companies that we decided to follow after this incident.

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