Most of the customers ordering a test translation are beginning to realize that in Russia there are no professionals, in this case, translators, who will do anything for free. Therefore, it is impossible to find a qualified translator or a good company with high reputation and decent portfolio using test orders. The understanding of this has been developed, and it is good for everyone.
If the understanding of the process has not come yet, and the client is determined in their intent to order free translation of an extract, they send us quite a large document with sketched blocks of text, illustrations, graphs and tables. I.e. the customer spends time gathering them in a single file and sends it to the translation agency manager as a test. Some time ago clients would send the entire text and specify which extract should be translated, so that the manager, editor and translator could see the entire order and assess its prospects, subject and context. Now a test order is like a partially picked bone, using which we must be able to recover the original.
What strikes us when we get a dead-end request for a test translation is the insistence not to disclose any financial information about the company, account numbers and details. At best such client would give us an e-mail address and provide a multi-line signature in the letter containing the full name of the employee`s position and the company name with address, fax number and other details. Needless to say, with such conspiracy does not inspire confidence at the agency`s end. Correspondence with such client usually includes several stories of "Re: Re: Re: ..." which always contain the same phrases like "we are looking for professionals" and "we do not want to take a risk".
Based on the above trends, we, the translation agency team, have almost entirely departed from the practice of free test translations. Instead, we suggest that customers order the translation of same extract of the text and pay for it. In real terms such an order will usually cost an insignificant amount of up to 10$.