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Blue Board vs. Glassdoor - Translators Beware
Thread poster: Med_Trans
Med_Trans
United States
Local time: 04:30
TOPIC STARTER
It can happen... Jun 15

It can happen when you complete files that have 2,500 words and the purchase order arrives months later at 600 words.

It can happen when the payment department "lost" your payment and they don't reply to your emails, and they don't answer support tickets, and the months go by.


It an happen when 1/4 of the "final" purchase orders the PM enters into the system simply don't reach the translator.

Now I'm really putting myself in the line here.


Yes, their legal department has contacted me.

Edit: The hours go by. It's on me. PUBLISH THIS!




[Edited at 2017-06-15 20:22 GMT]


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:30
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Surely... Jun 15

Med_Trans wrote:
It can happen when you complete files that have 2,500 words and the purchase order arrives months later at 600 words.

...you wouldn't take on a job, for a company that has no track record with you, without a purchase order? It's easy to get this right. You just respond to their email saying "I cannot begin work without a purchase order" and keep repeating it until they give you a purchase order.

I may allow a purchase order be delivered a few hours after handoff for clients of unimpeachable virtue with which I have worked for over a period of years but not as a matter of course, only as an exception. I would never do it for a new client.

Dan


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Med_Trans
United States
Local time: 04:30
TOPIC STARTER
That's the point... Jun 15

That's the point. The website system says Project X, for x words at X budget. Accept. Decline.

You accept.

But when you try to invoice it, the final purchase order they entered into the system is completely different and it takes months for them to correct the "errors", which sometimes don't get corrected at all. You try to invoice, but can't get through accounting, you send a ticket, but they go unanswered.

Months later management tells you they'll gladly resolve any invoicing issues, but what about NOT being able to invoice full amounts to begin with?

My type of files are all PDFs since we're talking pharmacovigilance here, issued by regulatory bodies, stamped, signed and certified by authorities and ethics committees. You can't run most of these files through a CAT tool. I would be able to process a heavier word count if it weren't for lack of CAT tool and formatting issues.

They assured me it was an error that would be corrected, but they're wasting my time and I'm not getting anywhere, so I left.

This is bad enough, but there is much more going on that others are quite aware about and people just stand back and watch.

I actually read a comment by an accounting employee that said: "no financial records have been maintained for x months and I expect authorities to arrive at any minute" - I was blown away!


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 11:30
Russian to English
+ ...
Something is strange here Jun 16

Dear Med_Trans, seeing some familiar details about this company, I went to check and within a couple of minutes found your "1" posted on the Blue Board two days ago. Is this the one? If so, the situation is extremely strange. Of course, different offices of theirs may behave differently, and I haven't worked for the one you posted an "1" for, but I am in a similar position with other offices, doing several hundred thousand words of medical translations for them every year, and my experience with them is diametrically opposite to yours: I've been working with them for 10 years, and they are my biggest and best client. They have been paying in full and on time 99 times out of 100, and the remaining 1% was rectified within days after I chased it. Moreover, I know two more translators equally satisfied with their collaboration with this company. However - and this is a really huge HOWEVER - the three of us have more than 100 years of professional linguistic experience between us. We stand behind our work and guarantee top quality, and this may be the reason why we are valued and pampered and paid well. On the other hand, I know from my proofreading work that this company is quite indiscriminate about hiring translators; some 20-30% of what I get to proofread is clearly below professional standards. Another interesting thing about this company: if you look at the Blue Board scores for all of its offices in total, it's a strange mix of 5s and 1s, in which virtually all the 1s are given by relatively inexperienced translators, whereas those I know to be experienced and good typically give them an excellent score.
Bottom line: I don't want to sound judgmental, nor do I advocate the kind of business practices you describe on their part, but are you sure the poor treatment you've been getting from them does not reflect the quality of the translations they've been getting from you? I have never heard of them docking someone's fee for anything other than inferior quality or a shamelessly late delivery.

[Edited at 2017-06-16 04:01 GMT]


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Med_Trans
United States
Local time: 04:30
TOPIC STARTER
Typical Jun 16

I fully expected they'd send people to say what you just did.

A lot of people comment on how bad reviews are soon followed by 5 or 6 good reviews as if on cue.

At Glassdoor the bad reviews are quickly drowned by fake-sounding good reviews and some even point the finger back at their co-workers (Strange. What do you mean a lot of unpaid overtime? My co-workers just have to work harder to leave on time! I do!), which is why it's important to scan the bad ones.


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 11:30
Russian to English
+ ...
Ha! Jun 16

Med_Trans, please don't be paranoid, no one sent me. I am writing of my own accord because I am happy with them and unhappy with some of their translators whose work I have to proofread, and I have merely enumerated a few arguments not in your favour. Instead of rebutting them on the merits, you decided to respond ad hominem. By the way, I also have reasons to dislike some of this company's practices (for example, their quality policy, which is way too lax), but they are greatly outweighed by the collaboration experience.
By the way, have you ever thought why the Blue Board publishes the KudoZ/Browniz scores of those leaving feedback? I am not sure this was the original intention, but to me they tell a bit about their professional experience and trustworthiness. As I already mentioned, an unusual thing about the company in question is that 1s on BB are given almost entirely by inexperienced translators. For most other companies with doubtful BB scores, it's exactly the opposite, lots of 5s from the newbies and 1s and 2s from seasoned professionals.

[Edited at 2017-06-16 09:39 GMT]


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:30
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
What, conspiracy theories now? Jun 16

Med_Trans wrote:
I fully expected they'd send people to say what you just did.

"They" would "send" people? Look at Anton's record of posts in these forums. I may or may not agree with him, but he clearly has his own views, often strongly held and clearly thought-out. Nobody sent him, other than himself, and you would do well to reflect on his comments, which are measured in tone and reasonable in content.

I have been approached in the past by the company that I imagine to be the subject of your postings, but I have not dealt with them because none of the projects or the project managers seemed credible to me. Rates were too low, the project managers seemed too rushed or uninformed, deadlines were too tight.

However, that is just me. It is quite likely that other freelancers have different experiences. And that is what Anton is saying. Different freelancers, with different levels of experience and differing levels of business sense, will have different outcomes. Most people would not find that to be a controversial argument.

To go back to my earlier post and your response to that, if you're working to a bidding system then yes, things are a bit different. You surrender a certain amount of safety in exchange for a streamlined process. I have one client who does this, but I can take screenshots of the various order screens to prove that the order has been assigned to me, so it works quite well. I have now completed several hundred projects for them with zero problems, so I no longer bother taking screenshots, but I was very cautious at first. You took screenshots to protect yourself, right?

Like a few other people who have commented on this thread, I'm sceptical that the agency is solely to blame. Something about your description of the situation (which comes over as fairly extreme) doesn't quite ring true, and I would not be surprised if your own actions have contributed to or compounded your problems. But that is conjecture. We cannot know because we are only hearing one side of the story.

Regards,
Dan


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Med_Trans
United States
Local time: 04:30
TOPIC STARTER
Balancing Act Jun 16

Yes, it sounds like new graduates and linguists from outside the Dollar and Euro zone seem to benefit the most from this company.

Lucky them, because this company has a lot of work and linguists can stay very busy. If there’s a mutually beneficial agreement, and it’s respected, then everyone is happy.

But my situation is more complex, possibly due to the PDF nature of the account I worked on (I sub-sub-specialize).

Had I known from the start what I know now, I would have laughed and walked away. These situations are easily prevented when the linguists know what the final amount will be and when the invoicing process is less obstructive. But having an online system that says "Project X - Budget 175 - Accept - Decline" followed by a final purchase order at 35 that arrives weeks or months later is a recipe for disaster. I felt misled. 10 months later, I'm still chasing missing final purchase orders.

What I can tell you is that my inbox looks like a waterfall with a constant influx of files this company can’t place. So if it benefits others, then they’ll be very busy and everybody is happy …but the daily volumes I’d need to do just to survive is both unhealthy and unsustainable. .

Does everyone here know each other? I started by interpreting in hospitals and the team helped me get started in translations. The linguists I know live near me and tend to balance translations and another profession. We sometimes meet for coffee to talk about the difficulties of balancing it all, but it's at a local, personal scale. From the private messages I received, I see that Proz has a community that seems to know the ins and outs of what’s going on at a larger scale, and who is who.

Thanks to those who reached out to me to offer their support.

Good luck everyone. I’m about to start a busy schedule away from my desk, so I'm logging off. You can reach me by private message.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:30
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Demonstrably untrue Jun 16

Anton Konashenok wrote:

As I already mentioned, an unusual thing about the company in question is that 1s on BB are given almost entirely by inexperienced translators. For most other companies with doubtful BB scores, it's exactly the opposite, lots of 5s from the newbies and 1s and 2s from seasoned professionals.

[Edited at 2017-06-16 09:39 GMT]


Anton's implication that the problems that freelancers have with this agency are inversely proportional to their experience and competence is not at all consistent with my experience and perception. I have 15 years of experience and am a reasonably good translator - and I have had quite a few problems with the company in question. So have a number of experienced colleagues with whom I've consulted. Many others (like Dan Lucas) simply avoid dealing with it because they do not like the way it operates.

In short, the reputation of this agency is far from uniformly positive among veteran freelance translators.

I have generally not had problems with timely payment from the global company in question. Instead, my main beefs have to do with the following: often very low rates, unprofessional conduct of PMs, and outright lying (see my previous post in this thread).

This has been my personal experience, corroborated by colleagues I have communicated with (and also by many posts from former employees of the outfit on Glassdoor - so many negative comments, in fact, that it is impossible to simply dismiss them as the rants of a few malcontents).

The reason I have such a wealth of experience with this company is because I have done quite a lot of work for it. So obviously my opinion of it is not exclusively negative. Far from it! Yet even in the heyday of my collaboration with its various offices (from 2012-2015) there were frequently episodes of frustration (which I tolerated because the benefits outweighed the disadvantages).

During the last year or so, my collaboration with this agency has largely been limited to rush jobs for which it is willing to offer a premium rate ("premium," that is, in comparison to its usual unacceptably low rates).

The fact that the agency has been pleased with the quality of my work, and that it still contacts me for rush jobs (some of which are quite large and formidable) is not consistent with Anton's suggestion that it is mainly the inexperienced and incompetent that are unhappy with its practices.

[Edited at 2017-06-16 18:55 GMT]


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Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 12:30
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
The company referred to by Med_Trans Jun 16

Dan Lucas wrote:

Med_Trans wrote:
I fully expected they'd send people to say what you just did.

"They" would "send" people? Look at Anton's record of posts in these forums. I may or may not agree with him, but he clearly has his own views, often strongly held and clearly thought-out. Nobody sent him, other than himself, and you would do well to reflect on his comments, which are measured in tone and reasonable in content.

I have been approached in the past by the company that I imagine to be the subject of your postings, but I have not dealt with them because none of the projects or the project managers seemed credible to me. Rates were too low, the project managers seemed too rushed or uninformed, deadlines were too tight.

However, that is just me. It is quite likely that other freelancers have different experiences. And that is what Anton is saying. Different freelancers, with different levels of experience and differing levels of business sense, will have different outcomes. Most people would not find that to be a controversial argument.

To go back to my earlier post and your response to that, if you're working to a bidding system then yes, things are a bit different. You surrender a certain amount of safety in exchange for a streamlined process. I have one client who does this, but I can take screenshots of the various order screens to prove that the order has been assigned to me, so it works quite well. I have now completed several hundred projects for them with zero problems, so I no longer bother taking screenshots, but I was very cautious at first. You took screenshots to protect yourself, right?

Like a few other people who have commented on this thread, I'm sceptical that the agency is solely to blame. Something about your description of the situation (which comes over as fairly extreme) doesn't quite ring true, and I would not be surprised if your own actions have contributed to or compounded your problems. But that is conjecture. We cannot know because we are only hearing one side of the story.

Regards,
Dan


has several offices. Med_Trans obviously refers to a specific office but Dan to another one. Its scores are 4, 1 (by a very reputable translator), another 1 and one more 1 recently added by Med_Trans. They approached me, too, some months ago but I did not bother to reply.
The only strange thing is why Med_Trans worked for them if she delivered such incredible amounts and was not paid or was not paid in a timely manner.



[Edited at 2017-06-16 14:44 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-06-16 15:13 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-06-16 15:21 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-06-16 16:41 GMT]


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Med_Trans
United States
Local time: 04:30
TOPIC STARTER
Why? Jun 16

Why did I stay as long as I did?

Because, while there were bad stories, others translators mentioned they were doing well.

Because a couple of very friendly senior project managers tried to help me when the problems started and they tried to set up a good system that worked well for everybody. But ultimately we are all up against a larger system meant to squeeze as much out of everyone and this time they got a little too creative. I felt misled.

Have you read the news? One owner is suing the other. There are lawsuits flying left and right from employees and managers. There are reports of high turnover and employee exodus.

While they are busy suing each other, the accounting department seems to be understaffed, and not paying overworked linguists on time is bound to make them snap.

I feel bad for the accounting staff. I read one of their reviews and they said they work 90 hour weeks out of goodwill because they feel bad for the linguists who haven't received their check and they were asking managers to hire more staff so they can keep up.

PMs are overworked, too. If the priority is high volume, they should automate their system so that the final purchase order and invoice is generated when the file is submitted, given that the system doesn't always forward the PO and PMs don't always reply when you ask for it.


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Claudio Porcellana  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:30
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
There was nothing worrisome on BB ... Jun 16

Hi there

I left Proz many years ago; now I came back because I think something changed in better

anyway I think that the usefulness of BB is not well understood (as before)

BB (or PP, mailing lists, etc) is ONLY useful to entrap little rascals:
if they score a ton of 3 or less, you are sure it's better leaving them alone
if they score about 4 as average, working for them can be dangerous
if they score a tons of 5 who knows?
There are many reasons why peers give them a 5 even if they are little rascals

I think that the best practice to screen pests is checking different sources, GD included, peers, etc
my 2 cents


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 11:30
Russian to English
+ ...
Let's give it a more constructive twist Jun 16

As most people in this discussion recognise the company in question but I am just about the only one happy with it, I think I might offer a few constructive thoughts on dealing with them. Despite their seemingly impersonal attitude, their PMs are totally human and building trust with them is very important. The best jobs either don't appear in the job bidding system at all, or appear there just for tracking and file interchange purposes (that is, are not put up for bidding). Once you get into a steady cooperation with a PM and your translations earn a good feedback from clients and proofreaders, you start getting progressively more good jobs. Also, their offered rates are in no way cast in stone - know your worth and don't be afraid to insist on it. No one can prohibit you to negotiate your rate either in the bidding system or with the PM. Obviously, PMs' willingness to negotiate depends both on their personal experience with you and on your companywide reputation reflected in the vendor database, but if you a worth your salt, raising their offered rate by a factor of 2 isn't a problem. Regarding purchase orders, even though acceptance in the bidding system constitutes a job assignment, you can still insist on a PO. If you get a PO with a zero word count, you can still have the PM confirm in writing that the job will be paid by the final word count. If you know you are good but the stream of jobs is suspiciously thin, you may want to contact their vendor management department in New York and ask to do a few extra test translations in the subject fields and language pairs of your choice. As it turns out, sometimes they registed a language pair for you without a test, but in this case you'll only get a tiny fraction of what you can get if you submit test translations.

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:30
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'm all for being constructive, but... Jun 16

Anton Konashenok wrote:

As most people in this discussion recognise the company in question but I am just about the only one happy with it, I think I might offer a few constructive thoughts on dealing with them. [etc.]


I certainly do not want to dismiss your suggestions out of hand. Depending on language pair, the translator's particular fields of expertise and - most of all - his or her own expectations and flexibility, what you propose might work.

What I can tell you is that my collaboration with the office in question was fairly steady over the course of at least two years. This all changed when the overwhelming majority of the e-mails I received regarding available projects began to be routed through one particular PM. Bottom line: over the course of one year (from March of last year to March of this year) of at least 60 projects that I expressed an interest in (I disregarded at least as many over that time), I was assigned exactly two (one a super-rush job). I finally told the PM in question to stop sending me e-mails about projects that she was managing (this after having put her on notice one year previously that I was becoming less and less inclined to respond to her e-mails given the infrequency of actual assignments).

I can tell you also that the base rate that I offered was very low indeed for a US-based translator with my experience, credentials, and abilities.

I can further add that, on the infrequent occasions that I do rush work for this company, the PMs (when they respond to my offers at all) almost always try to get me to lower my rate. I assume that they do this because they are required to. Nonetheless, it is irritating.

So in my particular case (and I assume that I am not alone) I'm afraid your suggestions are not particularly useful: rates do appear to be set in stone (except for super-rush jobs); competitors charging what I consider scandalously low rates are being assigned jobs in my language combination, and I am sure that if the over one million words I've translated for this company in a variety of different fields have not been enough to convince them of my value as a translator, then doing a few test translations isn't going to be of much help either.

[Edited at 2017-06-16 18:23 GMT]


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Why blaming the victims Jun 16

Unfortunately, infamous profiteering is proliferating badly--in all parties:
Nothing personal, just business
The problem is (1) it's difficult to find accurate and unbiased info, (2) some don't have biz skills and fall victims to predatory malpractices and (3) for some funny reasons people can tolerate being abused and treated like dirt... all kinds of people.

BB and like is filled-in by peers and is but a reference, a key-point to consider.
As for risks, I would initially set some $500 limit--and no work on the project until paid in full.
As for now, it's going to be a hard way, yet I would recommend to consult a lawyer and sue the bugs to get at least a part of your hard-earned money. And spread the word!

Learn, do dare and
Take care


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