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Potential agency client wants my bank details, references, details of past work
Thread poster: Jenny Forbes

Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:40
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Sep 26, 2007

I've recently been approached through ProZ by an agency wanting me to work for them - they have a good BB record.
First, they wanted me to sign a complex contract with many terms I couldn't agree to. They climbed down on that and said I could delete the terms I didn't like. Now they've sent me a form to complete, requiring my full bank details plus the names of two referees and details of three recent substantial jobs plus clients' names.
I'm not happy about revealing any of the above. I don't mind giving the bank details, but only once I've done a job for them. As regards details of jobs and clients, again, I'm not happy.
Am I being "difficult", or am I right to have misgivings?
Regards,
Jenny.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:40
English to Dutch
+ ...
Set your own limits Sep 26, 2007

Hi Jenny,

I've had contact with a few agencies who asked me all of this too.
I only gave them what I thought was necessary.
So, I've given some bank details (I want to get paid, after all): account number, SWIFT and IBAN, adress of the bank (they seem to need that for international payments). Don't think they can do much with those in terms of abuse, so I'm not taking a risk there.

For references I refer them to my ProZ profile (WWA). I don't give details of jobs and clients. If necessary, I tell them I've signed NDA's and will happily do the same for them. I also have a project list that describes the projects, but in such a way that they cannot be identified.

Sometimes agencies have online registration forms that ask for all of these things as well. I don't know if my refusal to fill it in completely has cost me any jobs so far, but I don't feel comfortable with it if I give all of this information. Client confidentiality is important to me.

I don't give details about other clients or projects to existing clients either. It is none of their business, as far as I'm concerned. I set my own limits, and I don't think that's being 'difficult', I think it is only wise.

In your case, I think your years of experience speak for themselves. Why not tell them that?

Good luck!
Margreet

[Edited at 2007-09-26 16:51]


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Ali Al awadi  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 23:40
English to Arabic
+ ...
You are right! Sep 26, 2007

Hi Jenny,
As freelancers, we are legally and ethically bound to keep any and all information regarding our clients confidential no matter what BB record a potential client may have. It is merely a freelance assignment rather than a permanent position, isnt it? You can offer to do a short paid translation test, if necessary. Remember: when you see a new doctor, you cannot ask him/her for his/her patient list !!!

Regards


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:40
French to English
+ ...
stick to your guns Sep 26, 2007

Hi Jenny,

You are running a business. You set your business' rules (within the law of course!), you are not an employee who must bend to those of the corporate hierarchy.

A prospect who insists upon your revealing information you are not comfortable making public is not going to be a good and respectful client. Other glitches down the line would probably occur.

For my part, I provide banking details, do not give out client references (unless they have given me prior authorization to do so - and I would only ask them for the benefit of a direct client, never an agency), and provide evidence of my work that is in the public domain only.

HTH

Patricia


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:40
Dutch to English
+ ...
Ditto Sep 26, 2007

Similar to what Patricia says, I provide banking details (but normally say these will be supplied with my first invoice), do not give out client references and only provide samples of my work that are either in the public domain or for which I have specific permission.

If they want to make an objective assessment of my work, they can pay for a short test translation.

And if they get too pushy, I send them packing, simple as that.

In fact, some of the best agencies I work for have the fewest administrative hoops to jump through, just simple and clear procedures that don't take up too much of my time.


Take care
Debs


[Edited at 2007-09-26 17:20]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:40
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What I will give Sep 26, 2007

Jenny Forbes wrote:
Now they've sent me a form to complete, requiring my full bank details plus the names of two referees and details of three recent substantial jobs plus clients' names.


* Bank details = yes
* Two referees = give them the names of PMs at two translations agencies whom you've worked before
* Details of three jobs = certainly... but don't mention the exact nature of the text

* Clients' names = tell them you'd agree to an exchange... they tell three of their clients' names, you'll tell three of your clients' names (just kidding... the answer is "no").


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:40
French to English
History shows.... Sep 26, 2007

Jenny Forbes wrote:

the names of two referees and details of three recent substantial jobs plus clients' names.


I know you're fairly active on the forums - have you not seen the recent threads (within the past month, I'm sure) about people giving out this kind of info and then attempts being made to poach the clients?

Wiser folks than me have also often pointed out that the more hoops you have to jump through, the less likely you are to actually get any work.
My own experience bears this out. I have only ever been asked to sign (and fax back) 3 confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements. Have I ever had a single syllable to translate from the agencies in question?
Nope.
Still, it got me out the house. Three times.


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Channa Montijn  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:40
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Same here Sep 26, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

Similar to what Patricia says, I provide banking details (but normally say these will be supplied with my first invoice), do not give out client references and only provide samples of my work that are either in the public domain or for which I have specific permission.

If they want to make an objective assessment of my work, they can pay for a short test translation.

And if they get too pushy, I send them packing, simple as that.

In fact, some of the best agencies I work for have the fewest administrative hoops to jump through, just simple and clear procedures that don't take up too much of my time.


Take care
Debs


[Edited at 2007-09-26 17:20]


I could not agree more!
All the details they need can be found on Proz, translation tests... fine but have to be paid for.... and remember the payment of the test translation is a test for you as well... do they pay? And in time?
And should they require a copy of your degree... that's fine as well... just scan it and send it by email.


[Edited at 2007-09-26 18:43]


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Anik Aminuddin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:40
Member (2007)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Clients' details are confidential Sep 26, 2007

First of all, in any business, clients' details are confidential and should be kept that way, unless you have specific permission from your clients to disclose the information.

I don't give details about my clients. If pressed, I just refer the potential client to my project history on my proz.com profile which has entries from clients who were willing to corroborate my works.

Now, regarding bank info. Identity theft is a big issue here in the US. That's why I don't give any financial information to anybody/any institutions other than government agencies and financial institutions.

Fortunately so far, all of my clients either send me checks, money orders or pay via Paypal/Moneybookers. It helps that from the beginning, I made it clear that I only accept these methods of payment. The only 'potential client' asking for my bank info was the Nigerian scammer, LOL.



[Edited at 2007-09-26 19:51]


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Beatriz Galiano
Argentina
Local time: 18:40
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not for you Sep 26, 2007

Apparently this agency is not your cup of tea, maybe they were thinking of hiring you on a permanent basis thats why they asked for so many details, maybe they are not the kind of agency you would choose...

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xxxcmwilliams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:40
French to English
+ ...
No, you're not being "difficult" Sep 26, 2007

I agree with what Patricia and others have already said. I provide bank details only when invoicing and do not give out names of clients. You could offer to provide a sample of your work or offer to do a short paid translation.
Like Lawyer-Linguist, I find that some of the best agencies are those that have the simplest administrative procedures.


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
So true Sep 26, 2007

Jenny, I have to laugh when I see some of these posts because they are so true! Some of these agencies are ridiculous - isn't your proz.com profile enough? On top of that, it's so true that after all this you might not get any/ much work from them after all that hassle and poaching of your clients and personal info!! I can cite personal experiences of time-wasting, although thankfully I am quite cagey so I haven't been lured into coughing up info on my clients!

I think I am getting cynical about this as well. There was a job recently on proz asking someone to work doing something specific in my location. I noticed it quite late in the day and also realized no-one else had quoted - I guess not too many proz members live here.

Anyway, to cut a long story short it was one hour's work but I quoted an outrageous rate about 2-3 times what I normally earn because of the administrative pain I suspected would be involved with joining a new agency. The PM wrote back to say, sorry, they could only pay US $X.

Suffice it to say, the paperwork sent my way was so long and prying in the information requested, and so special in its conditionalities (it had to be signed and faxed) that I had to craft a polite response declining the job. I am sorry, but waiting 30 days for payment from an agency I don't know (good BB rating, but I have been burned before) for a tiny job with lots of unecessary paperwork at a low rate wasn't going to cut it!!!

There are other fish in the sea.

[Edited at 2007-09-26 23:36]

[Edited at 2007-09-26 23:39]


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 23:40
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
waste of time Sep 27, 2007

I have noticed a simple tendency - those agencies who really need work done by you, they simply give you a job and you work. Well, sometimes they might ask for some details for their database (just for convenience). And those who send pages of registration form (where they themselves do not quite know what the translator should fill in), they usuall collect data and that is it. Do not waste your time and do not let all the world have your data even with bank account numbers...What sense does it make? You will in their forms, spend almost a couple of hours for that + they usually ask for a free test translation and in 9 of 10 cases all ends up here...And those people who want a real job to be done, would not afford to waste their time on all those nonsensenses. And also be careful for that data - this is sensitive personal data. Do you really know and trust the people to whom you give such data? Do you ask for a CV of the cook when you do to a restaurant? All those forms sound just stupid for me...

P.S. Ask the CV of their CEO or accountant living address + the list of their clients with contact data + to make a test money transfer. Why? Simply to be sure they are really professional


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Ahmad Suhaili
Local time: 05:40
English to Malay
+ ...
Analogies Sep 27, 2007

Some people have compared the request from outsourcers for credentials/references to a patient asking his/her doctor for their patient list/references.

I think thats not fair. If you were ill, you would seek a doctor from a clinic or hospital, an established place for doctors. You would not need to question the doctor's credentials in such a place. Similarly, you would not go to an online site where "freelance doctors" & "patients" congregate.

I think an outsourcer is well advised to request references as credentials/experience/qualifications can always be made up. Of course, the translator can always refuse for their own reasons.

[Edited at 2007-09-27 05:53]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:40
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, everyone - advice taken Sep 27, 2007

Thank you, colleagues, for your helpful advice.

Yes, it's an agency seeking to recruit me as a freelancer. It has branches in several countries and a good BB record.

I've said I won't give my bank details until I get an actual job from them, and then include them on my invoice, as usual. I've also briefly summarised some recent large jobs in a way that will not enable anyone to be identified, but declined to name the client "for reasons of confidentiality". I've also suggested that the best way for us to establish relations would be for them to send me an actual job.

Re references: I think it reasonable for a client to seek some kind of reference on a new supplier. I mean, what is said in our "profiles" here or elsewhere is only what we ourselves have said. According to these forums, there are even some "translators" who lift other people's CVs! Two of my regular clients have said I can quote them as references, so I've followed your advice and given the name of a PM at two of my regular agencies. If I were having a big building project carried out (new roof, major alterations, etc.) I'd ask the building firm for references before agreeing a contract. But it's hard to compare the translation biz with any other (doctors, etc.).

I agree re getting work from these fusspot agencies. In my own experience too, those who ask for the most information seldom end up becoming real clients. It has happened, but not often. It makes me wonder - they must pay their "research" staff to do all this unproductive work - how odd and what a waste of time and money!

Thank you again,
Jenny.


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