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Unreliable freelancers-what to do?
Thread poster: Julie Allison

Julie Allison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 28, 2005

Any outsourcers out there had trouble with unreliable freelancers? What do you do when so-called professionals let you down and actually cost you money? Purchase Orders and Agreements don't seem to mean much to some people despite, as I understand it, being a legal contract.

Has anyone experienced a situation where a translator agrees to do a job,then does part of it and just doesn't bother, only to complain about the rate of pay half way through the job having accepted a Purchase Order agreeing to the job and its conditions?

To make matters worse, numerous errors such as misunderstanding of the source language, spelling and grammatical errors were present and the translator REFUSED to correct these! (this was when the complaints about rate of pay and the refusal to work came along, by the way)

Are we obliged to pay these people? There should be a Blue Board for unreliable freelancers as well as just agencies. I have been let down twice now and, of course, the end client only knows my name, not the translator's so it is only my reputation that suffers and my money being thrown at remedying the situation.

Any advice?


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Kim Hooper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:51
French to English
+ ...
Maybe the translator is being exploited... Sep 28, 2005

Hi! I have had a rather nasty experience recently with an Indian outsourcer who promised better rates for the next project and "Huge" projects for top money next time! I became sick and tired of losing money in bank transfers (and I mean losing about 40% of my earnings sometimes!!!)and being promised projects that never materialised... I was asked for quality work for ridiculous rates and deadlines were always for the next day! I was sent Purchase Orders too but failed to receive agreed amounts... Sorry, but I feel that if you are offering low rates these could be the reasons for you being let down...

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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:51
English to German
+ ...
Managing risk - handling contingencies Sep 28, 2005

Hi Julie,
Managing your risks is crucial - for me, this means the following:

- I only work with a carefully selected group of freelancers.
- I never entrust someone I don't know with a critical project.
- I actively keep communicating during the project, ensuring that all those working on it know what they're supposed to do.
- Last but not least, our prices ensure that we only work with true professionals. (I actually turn down cheap offers, unless I am convinced that a freelancer is underselling him/herself, in which case I raise the price.)

Based on this risk-mitigating strategy, I have had only a handful of situations where the work delivered was sub-standard. In these cases, I substantiate what was wrong (usually by providing an edited version and/or a document comparison, with added comments where necessary). I also quantify the extra cost incurred, together with a suggestion to reduce the invoice accordingly. I only had one case in ten years where this was not accepted - in which case I paid the invoice in full and terminated the relationship.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Julie Allison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree Sep 28, 2005

Ralf, thanks for your reply. What you suggest is what I generally do, but what about when the person has worked for you before and produce decent quality? At the end of the day I feel the translator should consider each project offer on its own merits (as I do)and if unhappy about any aspect of it, they should turn it down - that is more professional than changing your mind half or 3/4 of the way through a job they have agreed to.


Ralf Lemster wrote:

Hi Julie,
Managing your risks is crucial - for me, this means the following:

- I only work with a carefully selected group of freelancers.
- I never entrust someone I don't know with a critical project.
- I actively keep communicating during the project, ensuring that all those working on it know what they're supposed to do.
- Last but not least, our prices ensure that we only work with true professionals. (I actually turn down cheap offers, unless I am convinced that a freelancer is underselling him/herself, in which case I raise the price.)

Based on this risk-mitigating strategy, I have had only a handful of situations where the work delivered was sub-standard. In these cases, I substantiate what was wrong (usually by providing an edited version and/or a document comparison, with added comments where necessary). I also quantify the extra cost incurred, together with a suggestion to reduce the invoice accordingly. I only had one case in ten years where this was not accepted - in which case I paid the invoice in full and terminated the relationship.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:51
English to German
+ ...
General risk Sep 28, 2005

Hi again,
What you suggest is what I generally do, but what about when the person has worked for you before and produce decent quality?

That's a general risk you're exposed to, of course.

Did you ask for a reason, BTW?
Best, Ralf


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
See previous discussions about freelancer blueboard Sep 28, 2005

Julie Allison wrote:
Are we obliged to pay these people? There should be a Blue Board for unreliable freelancers as well as just agencies.


Search the forums for other discussions about a freelancer blueboard. Basically, it can't be done. Your best bet is to start with small or non-urgent jobs, or to do the unthinkable and rely on credentials.


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Julie Allison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Just say no! Sep 28, 2005

Hi Kim! Thanks for your reply. I see you have just joined us here at proz.com - welcome! As I replied to Ralf, I feel it is more appropriate for a translator or a company , for that matter, to consider every aspect of the job being offered and take it on its own merits.

Why agree to something you cannot realistically do or simply do not wish to do? It does not make sense. It is more professional to turn down a job offer rather than agree to it and put someone else in an awkward situation, whilst ruining your own reputation!

From a professional standpoint, there is no excuse for letting someone down. If I do that for a local company who hires me, they simply don't hire me again and neither does any other company in the same area.

However, send me a private message to tell me about this Indian company.I'd like to know more about them.


TraductionsKHA wrote:

Hi! I have had a rather nasty experience recently with an Indian outsourcer who promised better rates for the next project and "Huge" projects for top money next time! I became sick and tired of losing money in bank transfers (and I mean losing about 40% of my earnings sometimes!!!)and being promised projects that never materialised... I was asked for quality work for ridiculous rates and deadlines were always for the next day! I was sent Purchase Orders too but failed to receive agreed amounts... Sorry, but I feel that if you are offering low rates these could be the reasons for you being let down...


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Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:51
German to English
Communications Sep 28, 2005

Ralf Lemster wrote:

- I actively keep communicating during the project, ensuring that all those working on it know what they're supposed to do.


This is so important, yet we who are in the communications business after all, so often fail to do it. It also gives us translators a chance to kick ideas around. Take one recent job: the agent wasn't wholly familiar with the content, but knew what his client needed. I had no idea that the client was most interested in aspect x which I knew happened to fall towards the end of the text. Had we not talked - yes, on the phone - the client could easily have sat waiting for the vital parts for his presentation; instead we re-scheduled the order in which the work was completed and kept everyone, me, the agent and the client working near capacity with a better result.

Before or during any job I would rather pick up the phone to an agent if at all possible. It enhances the human aspect of this difficult and down-to-earth business, the only business I've ever worked in where the phone is so neglected. I know that time zones sometimes work against us for instance, and we all need to sleep etc, but there are times when projects need that extra effort.

Be good everyone
DB


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:51
French to German
+ ...
yeah, so you have a huge, huge job next time, you have? Sep 28, 2005

TraductionsKHA wrote:

... who promised better rates for the next project and "Huge" projects for top money next time!


Well, the line I have for that one is: Since this translation is well below xxxxx words, I can only do it for my standard rate, I'm afraid; but I'm willing to discount it retroactively when the huge, huge offer materializes as promised.

I became sick and tired of losing money in bank transfers (and I mean losing about 40% of my earnings sometimes!!!)and being promised projects that never materialised... I was asked for quality work for ridiculous rates and deadlines were always for the next day! I was sent Purchase Orders too but failed to receive agreed amounts...


Well, it seems to have worked ... from the vantage point of the agency ... hasn't it? This is how some people from some places make their money!

P.


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John Walsh  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:51
Member (2004)
Italian to English
Exploiting translators? Sep 28, 2005

... Sorry, but I feel that if you are offering low rates these could be the reasons for you being let down...

If the translator accepted the rate/terms then he/she should deliver...that's it. I agree that you "get what you pay for" but that can't be used as an excuse to turn in a bad job.
Check out http://www.proz.com/topic/35277. Lots of input on the topic.


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Kim Hooper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:51
French to English
+ ...
But what if you're not paid... Sep 28, 2005

Hi everyone, I've read all your comments and can only say that we all make choices we sometimes live to regret! This is one experience I wouldn't wish on anyone so I was just trying to warn other translators not to fall for promises of any kind. I'm sure you all made mistakes when you started out and that's what happened to me I suppose. We learn through our mistakes don't we?

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Julie Allison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What happens when you can't get hold of someone? Sep 28, 2005

What would you do when a project is underway but you cannot get hold of one of the people who is supposed to be doing part of the job for you? If they don't respond, do you presume they've "disappeared" and get someone else quick? Or trust they're keeping their word and wait to hear from them with the completed project? Headaches, headaches,headaches!!


Daniel Bird wrote:

Ralf Lemster wrote:

- I actively keep communicating during the project, ensuring that all those working on it know what they're supposed to do.


This is so important, yet we who are in the communications business after all, so often fail to do it. It also gives us translators a chance to kick ideas around. Take one recent job: the agent wasn't wholly familiar with the content, but knew what his client needed. I had no idea that the client was most interested in aspect x which I knew happened to fall towards the end of the text. Had we not talked - yes, on the phone - the client could easily have sat waiting for the vital parts for his presentation; instead we re-scheduled the order in which the work was completed and kept everyone, me, the agent and the client working near capacity with a better result.

Before or during any job I would rather pick up the phone to an agent if at all possible. It enhances the human aspect of this difficult and down-to-earth business, the only business I've ever worked in where the phone is so neglected. I know that time zones sometimes work against us for instance, and we all need to sleep etc, but there are times when projects need that extra effort.

Be good everyone
DB


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Julie Allison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
We sure do! Sep 28, 2005

We certainly do learn from our mistakes and it's HORRIBLE when you've taken something on in good faith and you get excuse after excuse why they don't want to pay up or they "can't" pay up. I hope this hasn't happened too often for you.


TraductionsKHA wrote:

Hi everyone, I've read all your comments and can only say that we all make choices we sometimes live to regret! This is one experience I wouldn't wish on anyone so I was just trying to warn other translators not to fall for promises of any kind. I'm sure you all made mistakes when you started out and that's what happened to me I suppose. We learn through our mistakes don't we?


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Julie Allison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I like your style! Sep 28, 2005

Peter,
I like that line of yours and will borrow next time I'm faced with that situation - if you don't mind, of course.


Peter Bouillon wrote:

TraductionsKHA wrote:

... who promised better rates for the next project and "Huge" projects for top money next time!


Well, the line I have for that one is: Since this translation is well below xxxxx words, I can only do it for my standard rate, I'm afraid; but I'm willing to discount it retroactively when the huge, huge offer materializes as promised.


Well, it seems to have worked ... from the vantage point of the agency ... hasn't it? This is how some people from some places make their money!

P.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
outsourcing Sep 28, 2005

Hi Julie

All Ralf says is right, you have to limit risk, and BE extremely careful of whom you work with...I have been burned .... aboout twice was enough, now I only work with tried and trusted partners, and don't get involved in outsourcing.

One thing is being a translator, another is being an outsourcer, where you have to assume risks that maybe you can't control...in return you get a cut....you make profits.

[quote]Julie Allison wrote:

Why agree to something you cannot realistically do or simply do not wish to do? It does not make sense. It is more professional to turn down a job offer rather than agree to it and put someone else in an awkward situation, whilst ruining your own reputation!

From a professional standpoint, there is no excuse for letting someone down. If I do that for a local company who hires me, they simply don't hire me again and neither does any other company in the same area.



[quote]TraductionsKHA wrote:


As fro these questions, nobody can answer them...it shocks you that someone would behave like this becuase you wouldn't...it seems incredible that people shoot themselves in the foot...but it happens:-)


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