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What do you do when a Proz member (plat) doesn't deliver a translation?
Thread poster: John Walsh

John Walsh  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:19
Member (2004)
Italian to English
Aug 2, 2005

Over two weeks ago I gave 25,000 words (It>En) to a plat member to be delivered by 26/7. He said it wasn't a problem.
I contacted him on 26/7 asking how it was proceeding and he replied that he was proofreading and it would be delivered by the next day. That was the last I heard from him.
I've left countless messages on his answering machine (calling all hours of the night because this guy is based in Oakland)wrote emails, sent messages through Proz.com.... He disappeared.
Now this company is threatening to take me to court not to mention the fact that they will use it as an excuse not to pay their invoices.
We have a Blue Board for agencies. What about translators? There must be some form of accountability!


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:19
English to German
+ ...
Same steps as with any translator Aug 2, 2005

Hi John,
I can understand that you're frustrated.

What you should take into account, however, is that ProZ.com is a venue - not a party to any business relationship that may be entered into as a result of a contact made via the site. (Note that this applies to job outsourcers and service providers.)

What this means is that you will need to take the same precautions vis-à-vis a Platinum member that you would take regarding any translator you haven't worked with before. Actually, this is clearly mentioned in the Terms and Conditions which you accept when creating a profile:

We'll say it again. ProZ.com is only a venue. We are not involved in the actual transaction between outsourcers and freelancers. As a result, we have no control over the quality or legality of the services, the truth or accuracy of information posted, the ability of service providers to perform services as represented or of service consumers to properly evaluate finished services. We cannot and do not control whether or not the parties to a transaction will perform as agreed.
(...)

It is up to you to communicate directly with anyone you meet at ProZ.com, with whom you are considering entering into a contract. Ask for any information you feel you may need to evaluate his or her trustworthiness.


Over two weeks ago I gave 25,000 words (It>En) to a plat member to be delivered by 26/7. He said it wasn't a problem.

Did you work with that member before?

We have a Blue Board for agencies. What about translators? There must be some form of accountability!

Henry indicated his views on the issue back in January.

Best regards,
Ralf


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John Walsh  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:19
Member (2004)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your post... Aug 2, 2005

and I totally agree with you.
I'm the first to say that having a Blue Board for translators is risky business and should be thought out and implemented with extreme caution, but, if done well, it would be very useful.
We need some form of accountability.


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John Walsh  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:19
Member (2004)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Anyway, Aug 2, 2005

is there any way to know if this guy has logged on recently? If he's a plat then I assume he logs on at least once a week (I'm on all day almost every day).
John


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Jinglebob
Local time: 12:19
Ukrainian to English
+ ...
Why don't you use the forum... Aug 2, 2005

Hello John,

What’s stopping you from making this Platinum member’s name known through this forum? Eye for an eye. Word will get around fast. You could also send the link to such a forum post to your client with a promise to get the job done on short notice. Platinum membership is not a guarantee of excellence


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 23:19
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
Personal attacks are not allowed Aug 2, 2005

Jinglebob wrote:

What’s stopping you from making this Platinum member’s name known through this forum? Eye for an eye. Word will get around fast. You could also send the link to such a forum post to your client with a promise to get the job done on short notice. Platinum membership is not a guarantee of excellence



Euh no, what about the following ProZ.com forum rule:

8. No attacks

Personal attacks on groups or individuals, discussing the personal behavior of other members or inhibiting any person in any way from enjoying the service, is prohibited.


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John Walsh  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:19
Member (2004)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
As you know... Aug 2, 2005

building up a good name is very difficult, but destroying it is very easy.
He has already done enough to give me a bad name but before I do anything to ruin his name I just wanted to know what happened!
Anyway, I wanted to ask some fellow members what they thought about posting names in the forums before doing it myself.
Thanks,
John


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John Walsh  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:19
Member (2004)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, I agree about "personal" attacks... Aug 2, 2005

Evert DELOOF-SYS wrote:

Jinglebob wrote:

What’s stopping you from making this Platinum member’s name known through this forum? Eye for an eye. Word will get around fast. You could also send the link to such a forum post to your client with a promise to get the job done on short notice. Platinum membership is not a guarantee of excellence



Euh no, what about the following ProZ.com forum rule:

8. No attacks

Personal attacks on groups or individuals, discussing the personal behavior of other members or inhibiting any person in any way from enjoying the service, is prohibited.



...but I wouldn't consider giving an objective, professional account of facts as a personal attack.
I would welcome views on that.
John


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Jinglebob
Local time: 12:19
Ukrainian to English
+ ...
What about complaints in the Blue Board? Aug 2, 2005

Evert DELOOF-SYS wrote:

Euh no, what about the following ProZ.com forum rule:

8. No attacks

Personal attacks on groups or individuals, discussing the personal behavior of other members or inhibiting any person in any way from enjoying the service, is prohibited.



Good point, but what about complaints in the Blue Board? By the same token they might be classed as personal attacks (and some of them really are, justified or not)... Anyhow, that was just a thought, which further illustrates the need for some sort of system to enforce accountability.


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 23:19
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
No, 'objective' stories aren't allowed either Aug 2, 2005

10. No politics

Posting content that is political, religious, or otherwise controversial in nature, or that may be considered offensive by other members, is not allowed. Such postings will be removed without regard to the views expressed.

We would never see the end of the tunnel anymore if we'd allow such postings, no matter how objective.
Most of us have such stories to tell, believe me.


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Claire Titchmarsh  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:19
Italian to English
+ ...
More accountability definitely needed Aug 2, 2005

You have my sympathies John, the same thing happened to me once but it was 2000 words not 25000 (and not a plat. member either).

The profile pages, if filled in with enough detail, are a very good way to get an idea of a translator BUT they don't provide that essential bit of information - is the person reliable? I often need to contact other translators to outsource work but think twice (or even three or four times) before doing so because basically, if they let me down I lose a client.

There should definitely be a space for other proZ members' comments, that can be shown either on the profile page or on a kind of blue board. It would mean fellow translators and potential clients don't have to take a shot in the dark and would save us all a lot of time (and money). As with the real Blue Board, the true professionals have nothing to fear. As things stand, you can only go on your impressions of the person, you have no idea if they will actually deliver or not.


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 23:19
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
Blue Board entries are about willingness/likelihood of working with someone Aug 2, 2005

Jinglebob wrote:

Evert DELOOF-SYS wrote:

Euh no, what about the following ProZ.com forum rule:

8. No attacks

Personal attacks on groups or individuals, discussing the personal behavior of other members or inhibiting any person in any way from enjoying the service, is prohibited.



Good point, but what about complaints in the Blue Board? By the same token they might be classed as personal attacks (and some of them really are, justified or not)... Anyhow, that was just a thought, which further illustrates the need for some sort of system to enforce accountability.



No, please read the BB rules before posting.
A BB entry is about expressing your willingness to work with an outsourcer.
Negative comments should never be personal attacks and entries are verified.

Please check the BB rules at:
http://www.proz.com/?sp=bb&viewPage=faq

Blue Board comments should be limited in scope to explanation/grounds for the LWA (Likelihood of Working Again); they should not include general statements concerning an outsourcer. (Example: "They are rude" is not allowed. "They were rude to me" is allowed, from the standpoint that it explains why the service provider may not work with an outsourcer again.)


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 23:19
French to English
John, what about your role in this mess... Aug 2, 2005

Sorry, but I can't resist playing the devil's advocate here.

First of all, unless you have information to the contrary, I think you have to give the translator the benefit of the doubt, here. Something really extreme could have happened (sudden illness or accident, a fire, maybe) preventing him from informing you of his inability to meet the deadline. This could also explain why he can't be reached now.

Also, had you ever worked with him before? If not, 25,000 words seems like a pretty risky "test" when working with someone for the first time. If the person turns out not to be reliable, that leaves you with a pretty big mess on your hands.

Did you leave yourself any maneuvering room between the outsourcer deadline and the end customer's deadline? When outsourcing, it sounds like a good idea to leave room for a "plan B" in the event the original outsourcer has some kind of problem (illness, accident, house burns down...who knows!). After all, it's your name and reputation that are at stake.

I don't deny that there are unreliable translators out there, but as an outsourcer I have to say that carefully choosing translators, ensuring attainable deadlines and good rates, and giving yourself time for an emergency plan in the event of a problem go a long way toward preventing this type of situation.

As for a BB for translators, I agree with the previous forum that bringing back an enhanced version of the star system sounds good. Good translators deserve recognition for a job well done.

Regards,

Sara


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:19
English to German
+ ...
Agree with Sara Aug 2, 2005

Hello John,

I totally agree with Sara.

I have made the same experience some time ago, and here is what I learnt from it:

- Always give out smaller jobs in the beginning to find out how realiable the person is.
- Have the person sign an agreement in which you stipulate what happens if they deliver late or not at all.
- Ask for delivery in batches. This way you know that something is wrong if the first batch doesn't arrive on time, and it leaves you enough time to find a backup or do the job yourself.
- Make sure you have enough time to proofread the job before delivering it your client. After all, you are responsible for the quality.

I know that this won't help you in this particular case, and that you have most probably lost a client because of this unreliable colleague. But platinum membership - as well as membership in any professional association or organization - does not guarantee that the translator will deliver a perfect job on time.

Best,
Sonja

[Edited at 2005-08-02 12:14]


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John Walsh  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:19
Member (2004)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Ok, no stories... Aug 2, 2005

Evert DELOOF-SYS wrote:

10. No politics

Posting content that is political, religious, or otherwise controversial in nature, or that may be considered offensive by other members, is not allowed. Such postings will be removed without regard to the views expressed.

We would never see the end of the tunnel anymore if we'd allow such postings, no matter how objective.
Most of us have such stories to tell, believe me.





...just the facts.
a - translation due on 26/7
b - message from translator "I'm proofing now and will send it by tomorrow"
c - translator disappears
d - phone calls, messages, emails....no answer

Yes, I did give him the benefit of the doubt. That's why I didn't post his name.
Perhaps he sent it and the email got lost in cyberspace (it does happen) and then he went on vacation for a week without waiting for me to confirm that I received the translation. Who knows.
But if you think about probabilities, I'm inclined to have a different opinion.
Yes, outsourcing a 25,000 word translation is risky business but believe me I had no choice. The delivery date was scheduled so I would have enough time to proofread.


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