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Suppliers ignoring you on purpose and Proz.com's professional guidelines
Thread poster: xxxXX789
xxxXX789  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:54
English to Dutch
+ ...
Aug 13, 2008

Suppose you found a translator on this site that looked reliable. Suppose you invested quite some time in establishing a business relationship with this translator, by doing quality checks, explaining things, et cetera, et cetera. Suppose that once you are satisfied, you tell all your clients that from now on, you can handle a new language.

Suppose that said supplier suddenly vanishes from the earth and that suddenly, you need to explain your clients you can't offer said language at all. Suppose you send several mails to said translator after that, assuming that something terrible has happened. Suppose a colleague of yours is looking for a good translator. Suppose you recommend said translator to said colleague.

Suppose you find out that while all your messages to said supplier are completely ignored, your colleague receives an answer within 24 hours. Suppose you ask your colleague to find out what's going on. Suppose your colleague now says he is being ignored too.

Suppose you try to contact said translator by phone, by mail, by MSN, by Yahoo and by Skype and receive no answer or whatsoever. Suppose you now have evidence that said supplier is ignoring you on purpose.

Suppose you check all your payment records and notice that said supplier has always been paid on time. Suppose you check your e-mail correspondence to notice whether you said anything stupid. Suppose you can't find any reason why said supplier is ignoring you on purpose.

I find this absolutely apalling. I'd rather have people call me names than ignoring me on purpose and refusing to state the reason. I find this absolutely unprofessional conduct.

If my picture weren't so ugly, you'd think said supplier fell in love with me and couldn't handle the situation anymore. Is this the normal Korean way of doing business?

Yesterday I noticed that said supplier is actually endorsing Proz.com's Professional Guidelines. When I confronted Proz.com with this, I was told that Proz.com is a venue. I asked whether Proz.com actually enforces these Professional Guidelines. I got an evasive answer saying that the translator could have been busy and therefore might not have answered me. I was told that this:

answer, courteously, inquiries related to services, fees and available equipment,

...does not imply that the translator endorsing these guidelines should actually answer requests, but merely means that *if* said translator answers a request, it should be done courteously.

Under the impression that the above guideline was written in English and not Perl or C+, I once more asked Proz.com whether the Professional Guidelines are actually endorsed. Until now I have received no answer yet.

However, I'm curious after how *you* would interpret this guideline. Does it need rephrasing? It's indeed true that we don't want to answer all requests for quotes, especially not if they contain phrases like "we pay 0.01 USD per word max", but I don't think said guideline is covering this in a satisfying way.

No matter from which perspective you regard this matter, I think that only one of the possibilities below is acceptable:

1. Proz.com clearly states that the Professional Guidelines are an empty shell for which Proz.com is not responsible or whatsoever.
2. Translators who claim to endorse these guidelines are actually forced to follow them.
3. Translators who claim to endorse these guidelines and refuse to do so are forced to remove their endorsement.
4. Said guidelines are rephrased to offer more clarity in the above situation.

This issue has become rather personal to me - that is true and I will not deny that. On the other hand I strongly believe that this is a free world and that said supplier may ignore me whenever she wants to, no matter how ridiculous or valid her reasons. What I find very hard to accept though is that said translator is using Proz.com as a venue, claiming that she will answer all inquiries courteously, while I know for a fact this is a blatant lie.

[Edited at 2008-08-13 10:15]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:54
English to German
+ ...
Absence of sanctions or enforcement is the main problem Aug 13, 2008

Hi Loek,


Yesterday I noticed that said supplier is actually endorsing Proz.com's Professional Guidelines. When I confronted Proz.com with this, I was told that Proz.com is a venue. I asked whether Proz.com actually enforces these Professional Guidelines. I got an evasive answer saying that the translator could have been busy and therefore might not have answered me. I was told that this:

answer, courteously, inquiries related to services, fees and available equipment,

...does not imply that the translator endorsing these guidelines should actually answer requests, but merely means that *if* said translator answers a request, it should be done courteously.

The insertion of "courteously" between two commas indicates that this refers to the act of answering, but does not impose any condition. The meaning presented is "answer in a courteous manner" - clearly, the guideline requires that any "inquries related to services, fees, and available equipment" be answered.

The total absence of any mechanism to enforce the guidelines (or sanction breaches) is the reason why I have refused to endorse them so far - even though I comply with all of them.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:54
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Just suppose.. Aug 13, 2008

...your supplier is having terrible bad luck every time he's answered your call or your name means something terrible in Korean...
Apart from the fact that the Proz guidelines are simply a suggestion, I'd spend my time looking for a new Korean supplier,

.... who knows...
I've had some problems with one on my e-mail addressed where it hung my contacts computer every time they opened one of my mails...
...
They could have received spam from your email account about viagra or porn (they might themselves be infected and their address book is being used to spam them)

.... who knows....

It's no reason for Proz to enforce "professional guidelines" in any way, you can only guess what's happened, and maybe one day you'll hear the truth and you can have a good laught about it...

Ed Vreeburg
Translate.ED


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 08:54
SITE FOUNDER
Thanks, Loek Aug 13, 2008

Loek van Kooten wrote:
... I think that only one of the possibilities below is acceptable:

1. Proz.com clearly states that the Professional Guidelines are an empty shell for which Proz.com is not responsible or whatsoever.
2. Translators who claim to endorse these guidelines are actually forced to follow them.
3. Translators who claim to endorse these guidelines and refuse to do so are forced to remove their endorsement.
...

Hi Loek,

Thanks for posting. I would like to get others' reactions to at least one part of your post. Imagining an example (any example) of conduct not consistent with the professional guidelines, by a person who has endorsed them, which of the three options presented by Loek above would seem most appropriate?


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tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 14:54
German
+ ...
I like number 3 Aug 13, 2008

I think people should either follow the guidelines or be forced to "un-endorse" (disdorse? abdorse? dedorse? ) them.

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Buck
Netherlands
Local time: 14:54
Dutch to English
No obligationq Aug 13, 2008

Even if you have worked well with the individual in the past, unless you have an agreement with the individual, he/she is under no obligation to work with you or, for that matter, even answer calls, e-mails, etc., regardless of any professional guidelines on proz (which, in my opinion, are just that: guidelines, not laws to be enforced). I'd starting looking for another translator.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:54
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
The guidelines are poorly written Aug 13, 2008

Loek van Kooten wrote:
I was told that this:
answer, courteously, inquiries related to services, fees and available equipment,
...does not imply that the translator endorsing these guidelines should actually answer requests, but merely means that *if* said translator answers a request, it should be done courteously.


The guidelines are poorly written and it is up to the person endorsing it to decide how they will interpret it. Are the points listed mandatory or optional? Are they descriptive or prescriptive? Let's take a look at the first four points of the guidelines.

* Professional companies and individuals represent their credentials, capabilities and experiences honestly.

Can it be said "this does not imply that the translator should actually represent his credentials, but if he does so, he should do so honestly"? Interesting question... are translators necessarily dishonest if they keep silent about their credentials?

* Professional companies and individuals answer inquiries related to services, fees and available equipment courteously.

I have always interpreted this line to mean "translators are friendly, but only when you meet them", and not "you will meet translators, and when you do, they will be friendly". So, on this point, I disagree with you and I take the other side.

* Professional companies and individuals accept only assignments that they have the knowledge, resources and time to do well.

Again, you see, this statement can't possibly mean that translators will always accept assignments if they are qualified.

* Professional companies and individuals disclose, prior to accepting any assignment, any biases that may have relevance.

But here the opposite is true. This statement doesn't mean "if translators disclose biases, it will happen before accepting the assignment". It means "translators will always disclose biases".

So from the above four statements you see that the action is sometimes mandatory and sometimes optional, and it is up to the endorser (or the judge, if there is a judge) to make up his mind about what it means.

I'm greatly opposed to guidelines, ethical codes etc that try to sound formal and fancy, when the same can be said in a simpler language. Another pet peeve of mine is the idea that the code should consist of statements that all start with the same word. It is this forced rewriting of the guidelines into a dotted list that causes information about the degree of prescriptivity to be lost.

See, in the current professional guidelines there was this stylistic requirement that the verb "to be" is not to be used and only active verbs must be used. A silly requirement, but it is this requirement that caused "Translators are always courteous when answering inquiries" to be written "Translators always answer inquiries courteously", resulting in that slight shift in meaning.


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Gisela Greenlee  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:54
German to English
+ ...
Guideline versus mandate Aug 13, 2008

I think that there's a difference between a guidline and a mandate, and while it would be desirable to have answers to your attempts to contact this translator, for some reason he has chosen not to respond and you have to respect that.
By now you seem to have made way to many attempts to make him respond and I would just leave things alone for now. It's unfortunate that you advertised the availability of additional services that you are now unable to provide, but surely you can find a new translator for this language pair. Here's one observation, and I hope that you'll read this with an open mind: Given the intensity with which you pursued this person in trying to get a response, is it possible that you inundated him/her with emails, calls, skype messages etc. during the course of your brief working relationship, and this person simply decided to be done with you? You said you reviewed your emails to see if you might have said something that could be offensive, how many emails were there to be reviewed within the course of such an apparently short-lived business relationship?
It's time to move on, and if you need to step back a little bit and reduce the amount of "contact", it's time to do that as well.


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xxxXX789  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:54
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I've thought of that Aug 13, 2008

Dear Giselrike,

I totally agree that by now said translator is probably very intimidated, as I've indeed gone through great lengths to contact her.

Then again, let me just quote her last mail to me, before she vanished. This has nothing to do with the issue above, but I find it interesting to analyze nonetheless:

===
"What a pleasure to hear from you, as always! I'm glad I did 'one last mail check' before I call it a night. Hey, hope everything's going great with you and your family (now you understand this is not just rhetorical talking but I'm genuinely intereste. So if there's any news you'd like to share, never hesitate to do so!)

Regarding the job you mentioned, I just cheked the file and if the client would give us a go-ahead by tomorrow, I can deliver the translation by Feb.18. Monday 12pm. If this job is confirmed later, 1 day would be more than enough and if it gets super-urgent at last minute (it happens, right?), I could complete the job within 5 hours. I've been working on some project for weeks now but I have no problem squeezing your job into my schedule next week (or later), so just let me know when the client gives us a green light and I would be happy to start.

And oh, we just celebrated lunar new year over here and I believe it's still a good time to spread new year greetings. So, here I joyfully say, "»õÇØ º¹ ¸¹ÀÌ ¹ÞÀ¸¼¼¿ä(sehe bok mani badeseyo)!" to you, which is Korean 'Happy New Year!'

Enjoy a fantastic weekend, also!

All the best,"
===

Not the type of person you'd expect to start ignoring you right after that, right? This is what really puzzles me. By the time this mail was sent, we had been working together for one year already. Once more, I am 100% sure that I am being ignored on purpose.

But once more, that's merely to satisfy my own curiosity. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

[Edited at 2008-08-13 14:57]


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Hana Japan
Japan
Local time: 21:54
English to Japanese
+ ...
No idea... Aug 13, 2008

I can imagine your dissapointment or frustration towards
the supplier as it seems you'd been always working with her in a professional manner.
At least she should tell you why can not work with your company anymore instead of just ignoring.

She is probably not working as a translator right now or your emails have been sent to her Spam Box accidentally(This does happen sometimes even the address not at all been set as Spam and you have to check Spam Box regularly just in case!). I don't know when you contacted but she's probably gone holiday completely - is that possible?

It's sad but we have to move on when we had that kind of person or company whatever the professional guidelines say at the end. I'm wishing you good luck with finding a new supplier who is trustworthy and honest.

[Edited at 2008-08-14 06:43]


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Jason Kim
South Korea
Local time: 21:24
Member (2007)
English to Korean
Is this the normal Korean way of doing business? Aug 13, 2008

No.

I have an agency in the United States whose PM hardly answers my email unless she needs to, but I never think it is the American way of doing business. I feel sorry for you about your situation, but I believe she must have some reason to behave so, though it seems to be unprofessional for her not to say anything to you. Who knows what happens to her? And you are the customer and she is the supplier, not the other way around. If I were you, I would forget about the translator and move on as things happen.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 14:54
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Looks to me it's not suppliers, it is just one (singular) single supplier Aug 13, 2008

One bird-seed size does not fit all.

I can fully understand Loek's frustration - the phillipic is very well written, I can see Spencer Tracy playing the role. I just dont know if the supplier (the one single supplier, female, Korean, polite, asking about the family etc etc) shares my opinion. Could it be that the lady is thoroughly, completely, metaphysically beaten to pulp by now?

I had a case, where I asked a colleague for help with a project. 10.000 words into it there came a day with some crazy mails - looked like written by a maniac under the influence of several controlled substances - and then the line went dead, no communication for two weeks. I was then forced to do the rest myself (lesson: if you think you're in a time squeeze, think again). It turned out (much later) that there was a rather tragic death in the family (father). It would of course be easy to let me know ... But it just did not happen.

Could it apply to the current case as well? I think in such a context the rules can not be an issue. I think one should hear the other side - audiatur et altera pars - before we start talking rules and their enforcement.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:54
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Perhaps she had an accident and is in hospital - or worse ? Aug 13, 2008

Hello Loek,
It occurs to me that perhaps the lady suffered an accident and is in hospital - or worse. If something like that happened, I don't suppose anyone would immediately start looking at her email and sending out the news to all her clients.
Frustrating as it is, I don't think there's much more you can do to find her. Do you have a telephone number? If so, would it be worth telephoning her in Korea?
Best wishes,
Jenny.


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xxxXX789  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:54
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not in hospital Aug 13, 2008

She's definitely not in the hospital, neither is she swamped with work. The whole issue is that I know for a fact that she's happily sending e-mails to other agencies and translators, but puts them on her ignore list as soon as they mention my name (or, as I've found out, are located in Holland).

That is what makes this whole issue so... frustrating. I must have done something absolutely terrible. I just wish I knew what it was, so that I can learn from it. What's so difficult about telling me that I was an absolute jerk because this and this?

I've let an Korean agency call her several times and did the same thing myself, but she is not available. She is on the run, and this whole case has the word 'fishy' written all over it.

I'm as baffled as you are

Once more, this has nothing to do with the issue at hand, but man, does it bother me!

[Edited at 2008-08-13 22:03]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:54
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Yes, I agree on Number 3 Aug 13, 2008

tectranslate wrote:

I think people should either follow the guidelines or be forced to "un-endorse" (disdorse? abdorse? dedorse? ) them.



I also endorse guidelines of the Institute of Linguists and make that known to my clients. I will provide those clients with a copy if they wish, or give them a link to download a copy for themselves. That means that they can complain to the Institute of Linguists if I do not appear to be adhering to those guidelines. If they make a justified complaint, I believe it could mean that I would lose my membership of the Institute of Linguists. Perhaps Proz.com could also take a similar stance in relation to its guidelines. That is, the guidelines are put somewhere where the clients can easily click a link to read them, and they are informed that they may complain if necessary, and that there will be consequences for the member endorsing the guidelines if they do justifiably complain. The consequences could either be that the endorsement is removed from the member's profile or that their membership is put at risk.

However, to make removal of endorsement from the profile meaningful, there ought to be disadvantages attached, e.g. when searching for service providers people could have another option to tick, that the member must endorse Proz.com's professional guidelines.

Astrid


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