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How do I know if this company is reliable?
Thread poster: Iris Shalev

Iris Shalev  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 10:10
English to Dutch
+ ...
Jun 21, 2007

I would like to ask your opinions on something.

I have recently been contacted by a Chinese company that manufactures household appliances and is looking for a translator to translate their manuals into Dutch. They sent me a message through my ProZ.com profile and asked me if I would be interested in working with them.

I replied that I might be, gave some more information about myself and asked them to give me some more information about their company. This morning, there was a message in my inbox with a (very short) translation attached. They assured me that it was not a test and that I would be paid for it.

But they haven't given me any information whatsoever about their company, all I have is the name of their contact person (not even an electronic 'signature'). No purchase order, no contract, nothing. We've agreed about rates, but only in an email.

I am a bit hesitant to just send back this translation. I have no way of knowing if they are reliable. What would you do in this situation?

Any opinions appreciated.

Iris.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 10:10
Turkish to English
+ ...
Sounds suspicious to me Jun 21, 2007

I would certainly want to have a clear idea who I was dealing with, and place the transaction on a sound contractual basis, before doing work with an unknown company in a foreign country.
At the very least, I would ask for the photocopy of a utility bill showing the company's name and address (although if you don't read Chinese that may not help much), and draw up a brief contract governing the transaction, with the stipulation that disputes be heard in courts in your country, which they should sign and return to you. I would not work for them unless I had at least these safeguards in place.
On the other hand, you say that the translation is very short. Under such circumstances, if I believed that more work was likely to come from this source, I would send them the work, invite them to accept it as a free sample and inform them of the conditions under which I was prepared to work with them in the future. However, you seem to be saying that they have not even supplied you with the company's name and I find that very suspicious. I certainly would do nothing until I had the company's name and was able to verify through some googling that the company at least exists.


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Henrik Pipoyan  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:10
Member (2004)
English to Armenian
Hi Iris Jun 21, 2007

If the translation is short and doesn't require too much time to do, maybe you could do it and see how they react. After that it will be easier to negotiate with them the conditions how you'll be cooperating in future. But of course, I wouldn't do it if I were too busy or if it required too much time.

Of course, it's very important to have enough information about the company, but there are many reasons why they may not want to provide you more information immediately. Each country has its laws and traditions, and each company has its own precautions, and its own "protection" from these laws. If a company wants to use translators' services and not to pay, it's very easy nowadays to design an impressive website, get a domain name, etc. If they don't have such a well setup mechanism, than you know at least that they're not professional swindlers. If you turn it down, you'll be the loser, because they may find another translator, but if you don't, they may turn to be good clients. Of course, there is always a risk that they won't pay, but it's part of our profession. From my own experience I can say, that I have clients that work with me for years and always pay on time, but I've never been able to find any information about them, except for a free email address and a contact person's and payer's name. On the other hand, I have worked with several major international companies, who still owe me small amounts of money.


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Iris Shalev  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 10:10
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Jun 21, 2007

Henrik and Tim, thanks for your thoughts. I do have the name of the company, but wasn't able to find out anything about them through Google. They do use a free email provider, which I have been warned against, but like Henrik said, I have also heard people say that some of their best clients use free email providers.

In short, I don't really know what to think! The translation they sent me is really very short and will take me no time at all to do, so I think I might take your advice and send it to them, and then take it from there.

regards, Iris.


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:10
English to German
+ ...
Insist politely Jun 21, 2007

I'd tell them in a polite way I'd be very happy to work for them once we have worked out the basics, which means I need more information about their company.

Whether or not they do exist and are reputable, if they do not respect you enough to answer your questions right now, when in your business relationship do you expect them to start?

[Bearbeitet am 2007-06-21 21:02]


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 09:10
Member (2003)
English to Czech
+ ...
Ask for details Jun 21, 2007

Claudia Krysztofiak wrote:

I'd say tell them in a polite I'd be very happy to work for them once we have worked out the basics, which means I need more information about their company.


Exactly. If they are not willing to give you full company details, will they be willing to pay you?


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:10
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Refuse to work for them unless they provide full verifiable contact details Jun 21, 2007

Hi Iris,

I wouldn't work for them unless they provide full, verifiable contact information. Also, given the enormous significance of the Internet today, a "Chinese company that manufactures household appliances" should have a traceable web presence, the absence of which would look suspicious to me.

As for me, I politely refuse to enter into any business relationship with outsourcers that do not provide full contact details at the outset.

Steffen

[Edited at 2007-06-21 10:01]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Absolutely agree Jun 21, 2007

Steffen Walter wrote:

Hi Iris,

I wouldn't work for them unless they provide full, verifiable contact information. Also, given the enormous significance of the Internet today, a "Chinese company that manufactures household appliances" should have a traceable web presence, the absence of which would look suspicious to me.

As for me, I politely refuse to enter into any business relationship with outsourcers that do not provide full contact details at the outset.

Steffen

[Edited at 2007-06-21 10:01]


I agree absolutely with Steffen and others. It's perfectly reasonable for you to want to know the identity, contact details and terms of business of a new client, and if they refuse to tell you, it bodes ill for any future relationship with them. We read so much about dodgy practices here!
However, if you haven't anything else to do at the moment and the job is very short, do it, send it and forget about it. It's a bit like buying a lottery ticket!
Best of luck,
Jenny


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Patricia Fierro, M. Sc.  Identity Verified
Ecuador
Local time: 03:10
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Advance payment Jun 21, 2007

Hi Iris,

Another thing that you could do is to ask to be paid in advance by PayPal, Moneybookers or similar payment methods.

Good luck!
Patricia

[Edited at 2007-06-21 12:55]


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Ainhoa Bressers
Spain
Local time: 09:10
English to Dutch
+ ...
Don't do it Jun 21, 2007

Hi,

I believe I received an email from the same company.

At first they asked me if I was available for a translation (no mention of a test) and then they wanted me to do a test translation of 1 of the documents which was about 2000 words.

I said that it was too long and would not mind to do a short test of about 200 words. They tried to get me to do a whole page but I did not really trust it and decided to do a random bit of 200 words of that page.

I send the test back to never heard from them again. Hope this helps!

Noa


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Nicole Blanc  Identity Verified
France
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Of course: Advance Payment Jun 25, 2007

Patricia Fierro, M. Sc. wrote:

Hi Iris,

Another thing that you could do is to ask to be paid in advance by PayPal, Moneybookers or similar payment methods.

Good luck!
Patricia

[Edited at 2007-06-21 12:55]


Hi Iris,

Patricia has given you above the best piece of advice you could ask for. Just require a (substantial & immediate) advance payment and see how they react....
You may learn a lot from this request which will cost you absolutely nothing!
Best of luck! Nicole


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