How can we trust agencies that do not have blue board?
Thread poster: Lubain Masum

Lubain Masum  Identity Verified
Bangladesh
Local time: 20:58
Member (2006)
English to Bengali
+ ...
Jan 31, 2007

Hi all

Some two weeks ago, an international agency contacted me via ProZ to get some materials translated from Bengali to English. The person gave his/her company name, address, phone number and website that was reasonably standard looking. Anyway, I told the person to give me the address of their blue board record, but he/she said their company does not have any record in the blue board. Hearing this, I stopped communication with this company. However, one of my fellow translators accepted the person's offer and worked despite knowing that this company has no blue board record. And the interesting thing is that the company paid the due exactly on agreed upon time (in just one week after completion of work).

Often outsourcers contact me and when I ask about blue board, they say they do not have record on ProZ, some even say they are using ProZ for the first time, but it is hard for me to believe that a project manager of an international agency never heard of ProZ but sending me mail through ProZ and his/her language seems that he/she is expert in communication with translators.

Now I would like to know what can be the other sources to trust an international translation agency that does not have blue board? Is a good website an indication that the company is good agency? What are the features for a good website that make me feel the agency is trustworthy?

I would also like to add here that some very good agencies (in terms of payment) which have positive blue board records in proz do not want to show their blue board. I wonder why?

Another thing is that some outsourcers that have profiles on proz (that I discover through search) contact me from other translation job portals. What is the reason?

I would appreciate your valuable opinions.


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SpeakingWorld
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:58
English to German
Why not? Jan 31, 2007

Through all the years when I was leading the office of a - at that time - quite small language consulting company I never had heard of ProZ.com nor did anyone of our translators or interpreters tell me anything about this website or a blue board.
We did a lot of jobs with translators from all over the world and no one ever refused working with us because of the lack of a blue board.

Don't get me wrong.. this website is more than helpful and the members here as well, but I don't think that a membership here or being mentioned on the blue board should be the one-and-only criteria to take a job or give away a job.

Btw... if I were the responsible person to look for a translator and being confronted with that kind of - sorry - unpoliteness ("...stopped communication with that company..."), I would put you on my personal blacklist and never offer you a job again.

With the best will in the world I cannot understand your way of thinking.

Best regards



[Bearbeitet am 2007-01-31 16:50]

[Bearbeitet am 2007-01-31 16:51]


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 16:58
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Seconded Jan 31, 2007

I echo SpeakingWorld's comments.

The ProZ.com Blue Board is not the be all and end all of agency ratings.

How do you think translators dealt with this issue before ProZ or even the Internet existed? (I did for a decade).

With an ounce of common sense you can *usually* spot a "bad'un". I say *usually* because no method is infallible.

Do you really think that, despite its undeniable value, the BB is the ultimate guide to who's who?

"Hearing this, I stopped communication with this company. However, one of my fellow translators accepted the person's offer and worked despite knowing that this company has no blue board record. And the interesting thing is that the company paid the due exactly on agreed upon time (in just one week after completion of work)."

I also find this "stopped communication" less than professional, and the fact that the company paid your fellow translator on time and as agreed is not an "interesting thing".....it only serves to show how mistaken you were.

Andy


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:58
French to English
Proz is not the be all and end all Jan 31, 2007

Lubain Masum wrote:

Now I would like to know what can be the other sources to trust an international translation agency that does not have blue board?

Another thing is that some outsourcers that have profiles on proz (that I discover through search) contact me from other translation job portals. What is the reason?


Maybe they prefer the other portals? You're obviously a member of other portals too, since they managed to contact you through them.

It therefore should not have escaped your attention, to answer your first point, that proz is not the only site to offer services equivalent to the blue board.

Proz is certainly one of the largest (maybe THE largest in terms of users?) portals, but it is certainly not the only site of its kind.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:58
Dutch to English
+ ...
Post a call for BB entries Jan 31, 2007

Perhaps you weren't aware of this but you could have also posted a call for BB entries.

Is possibly a function limited to members - I don't know offhand - but certainly worth looking into for future reference.

It's also not necessary to ask the agency for their BB rating, you can do a search even if you're not a member AFAIK and although the specific comments are blocked out, you'd at least have the rating.

Bottom line is you won't know whether an agency is good to work for unless you try. Agencies with good ratings can run into cash-flow problems themselves and become bad payers so a BB or similar rating is just one factor to be taken into consideration when deciding on a new client. It's not infallible, it's a mere indicator.

Limit your risk and don't take a large first-time job from an unknown entity. Ask yourself what type of agency would be offering such a job to an unknown translator anyhow. Doesn't say much for their own selection procedures does it? Some might say they paid, so what's the point? Agencies that just place jobs without caring much about selection procedures and quality are often those to run into financial difficulties down the line - so it does matter.

As others have pointed out, bad agencies can often (but not always) be spotted a mile off. There are a number of articles in the article knowledgebase on the subject of risk management, so look there for pointers on things to be aware of and how to limit your exposure.

It's no use crying over the proverbial spilt milk now but I'd definitely adapt my approach for the future if I were you - simply cutting off communication would almost certainly be construed as ill-mannered in most places.

[Edited at 2007-01-31 17:54]


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Lubain Masum  Identity Verified
Bangladesh
Local time: 20:58
Member (2006)
English to Bengali
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Some clarification Jan 31, 2007

Thank you for suggestions and comments.

But I would like to clarify some points which I think have been misunderstood.

My point is not that BB is ‘the be all and end all’ but when there is not BB record, how can minimise risk? Is it their website or something else? And I am not aware how to ‘call for BB entries’? Should I ask the clients to register with Proz if they say they are new?

Another important is not to discuss something about ‘pre-internet’ era, as it is a history now. If there had been no internet, I would have to only depend on local clients.

I expect more suggestions particularly how to deal with clients without BB records.


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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:58
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
It is about minimizing business risk Jan 31, 2007

Hi Lubain, you are right pre-internet is history.
The internet can help us to minimize our business risks.
Lubain Masum wrote:
Is a good website an indication that the company is good agency? What are the features for a good website that make me feel the agency is trustworthy?

Do you know this thread?
agencies - how to know what one is dealing with?
http://www.proz.com/post/498724#498724
Steffen provided a link to a very useful PDF
presentation on managing business risk, which you find at http://www.proz.com/ba_conference/managing_business_risk_ba2006.pdf

Regards
Steffi


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:58
Italian to English
+ ...
To call for BB entries... Jan 31, 2007

you need to go to the Blue Board, search for your outsourcer and if (as in your case) it's not there, click on add outsourcer. You'll need to enter the name, telephone, address and I think a contact name. Once you've entered the outsourcer, you can call for entries (panel on the right).

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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:58
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
BB Entries for an Agency Jan 31, 2007

Dear Lubain,

Some companies have good entries on the BB and still are bad payers. I worked for one with good ratings and the company had not paid any of the translators working for them for the past year.

Before they had good ratings - 4s and 5s. Then they stopped paying. Perhaps financial problems, who knows. But the translators were duped. I still see them advertise jobs on this site. Go figure!

Then there are agencies with excellent scores and comparable business practices.

So having a BB high BB entry may or may not be the guarantee for a reliable agency.

With a new client, I would slowly establish a working relationship - a few shorter projects at first - and if it is a larger project, ask for milestone/partial payments.

And sometimes you just have to trust. That is all to it.

Good luck!
Lucinda


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 21:58
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Hi Lubain, Feb 1, 2007

Lucinda wrote:

Dear Lubain,

So having a BB high BB entry may or may not be the guarantee for a reliable agency.

With a new client, I would slowly establish a working relationship - a few shorter projects at first - and if it is a larger project, ask for milestone/partial payments.

And sometimes you just have to trust. That is all to it.

Good luck!
Lucinda


Lucinda has put it forward very clearly. For a new client, complete contact details and good-looking website may be enough to take on their offered job. Ask for normal payment term for small job, but ask for installment payment for large job.

P.S.: Its listing in the directory of the chamber of commerce and the Yellow Pages directory may also serve as additional criteria for accepting an offer.


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:58
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
no risk - no fun? ;-) Feb 1, 2007

I started with freelance work just several weeks ago and I found myself in the opposite position: Agencies didn't know me and I did not have any references except my in-house positions.

So I started with small jobs for private persons - and what a surprise - they paid!

For really big jobs with unknown agencies I would try to negociate a payment 50/50 after receipt of order or anything similar.
And if they do their job as well as you are doing yours, they soon will have their first blue board entry....


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Lubain Masum  Identity Verified
Bangladesh
Local time: 20:58
Member (2006)
English to Bengali
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Feb 2, 2007

Marie-Helene Hayles wrote:

you need to go to the Blue Board, search for your outsourcer and if (as in your case) it's not there, click on add outsourcer. You'll need to enter the name, telephone, address and I think a contact name. Once you've entered the outsourcer, you can call for entries (panel on the right).


Thank you Marie-Helene.

Thanks also to all who gave good suggestions and opinions.

Best regards

Luibain


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Maximiliano Jozami  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 11:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
My experience with an agency without a BB record Feb 8, 2007

Hi,

well, I had to deal with a situation similar to the described one on last September.
I applied for a job posted on Proz.com by an agency without any BB entry. It was a large one (115,000 words), so I had to perform some research before accepting.
First of all, I looked for references on Google. Since the agency was from China, all references I found were useless (in Chinese).
However, they had a very professional webpage, and they seemed very professional when dealing with me. They called me on my cell phone and the phone number on their webpage did work (as a matter of fact, they had an automatic phone system that sounded very professional).
They sent me a very professional-looking contract and insisted that I should send ASAP my bank account details.
So well, I thought, it is a serious company making their first steps on Proz.com...
I accepted, and I am still waiting to be paid... I was insulted and threatened; they even forced me to translate an additional file for free (3,500 words), which was not on the contract, telling me that if I did not translate it, they would stop any contact with me.
Anyway, I also got work from clients that did not have any BB entry and turned out to be excellent...
The thing is that: a) you cannot simply discard a client only because he/she/the agency does not have a BB record; b) but when this happens, keep your eyes open ('intuition' is never enough).
After I had this terrible experience, a colleague told me she always asks the client to send the signed contract by fax along with a photocopy of the Passport or a valid ID card.
Anyway, it's never enough, so from now on, I am not accepting large jobs from new clients without a front payment.
Best regards,


Max


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