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Possible dodgy agency?
Thread poster: Fiona Paterson

Fiona Paterson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:06
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
Oct 28, 2005

I'm just setting up as a freelancer, and have read several articles on Proz.com [...edited...] about dealing with agencies, and spotting potentially dishonest ones.

Yesterday, I was looking at the web site of a professional translators' body and saw an ad from an agency looking for translators, qualified or non-qualified for all languages. They have a web site, but are using free email addresses because "their web site is being updated". Their web site is very translator-friendly and encouraging (I find most agencies' web sites very discouraging as a beginner!). I emailed them, and almost at once got an email back saying I was suitable to join their team and benefit from their high rates of pay. Work is allocated according to points, based on experience and the number of other translators you recommend to them.

The whole thing is beginning to smell very fishy to me. They give their address as London and appear to be a UK-based company, but do not appear to have a Companies' House listing.

So, after this long spiel: I think they smell, but can I do anything to warn other translators? should I contact the professional body (which of course has a disclaimer on its site) with my concerns? Or is so obviously apparent to everyone else that something is wrong that they won't touch them?


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Javier Herrera
Spanish
The normal thing is... Oct 28, 2005

...for agencies to be sick of receiving CVs. Once in a while they do request them because they're "expanding their database", but there's usually a list of requirements.
I think I know what professional body you mean. I contacted them more than a year ago about a dodgy agency and still have no reply. But you can try.
I would warn all my friends and acquaintances privately, especially if you know somebody who's starting up and might be cajoled. However, tools like the BlueBoard and similar ones in other translators' sites are not an option because your bad impression is based on suspitions only, not facts.
J.


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Elizabeth Sumner
Local time: 02:06
Russian to English
+ ...
Impossible to really tell until you've worked for them Oct 28, 2005

Hi Fiona,

I find you really can't tell until you've worked for someone, although the Blue Board does help. If I haven't worked for someone before and they sound a little dubious I would only accept a short translation and see how it goes.

As for the free email addresses - it does sound a little odd that they're all using free email - but again you can't go on this alone. One person I've worked for at a very good agency uses gmail half the time as he's constantly on the move from office to office. It's always worth googling the name with a couple of negative words (complaints, non-payment, etc.) and see what comes up.

Hope this helps.

By the way, I'm glad Heriot Watt is doing Russian again. When I was looking for MAs a few years ago I phoned them up and was told, "We've stopped doing Russian. There just isn't any call for it now the cold war's over". I'm sure 143 million people would disagree!

Elizabeth


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Fiona Paterson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:06
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I'm not going to sign up with them, anyway Oct 28, 2005

Thank you for your comments...

I'm not going to sign up with this agency, and I think I'll look at their web site in a few months time to see if they've added proper email addresses and phone numbers. I'm curious!

I've just had a look at the Heriot Watt website, Elizabeth - yes, it looks like they're at least offering Russian at postgraduate level but not at undergraduate level anymore. The Russian department at HW is a close community (both my partner and my best friend studied Russian there) and we were all very disappointed when we heard the department was being shut. And hopefully that means one of my favourite lecturers will get to keep his job!!!


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:06
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Company listing Oct 30, 2005

Fiona Paterson wrote:

The whole thing is beginning to smell very fishy to me. They give their address as London and appear to be a UK-based company, but do not appear to have a Companies' House listing.


Hi Fiona, I agree with the comments you received, but I would like to point out, that just because they are not registered as a company, that in itself shouldn't detract from their credibility.

I have no idea what the proportion is, but I would say fairly large number of agencies are not registered as companies. A lot of them are one-man bands, maybe with some part-time or specialist help (accounts, admin).

On the other hand, if they give the impression of being a larger, established company then you may question why they are not registered.

On a different note, you may sign up with an agency, but that doesn't mean that you will get work from them. They may not have work in the area/language, or have a trusted translator or two already, and you are taken on just in case.

On the other hand, you may get a call or email from them in a year's time, asking if you could do a job.

Signing on doesn't mean much either way, but if they give you something, it is safer to start with a small job, and make sure all the terms - particularly terms of payment, - are clear, and written down.


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Julie Allison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
Be cautious-here's my advice and some thoughts Nov 2, 2005

All I can advise you is what the Chartered Institute of Linguists advise us professional linguists here in the UK. Be wary of anyone who does not want to send you a Purchase Order for your services or, failing that, agree to your terms and conditions (in my case those advised by the I.O.L.)

This is your agreement and your guarantee of working conditions including payment, turnaround time etc. This is topical for me right now as I have just been offered work by a Canadian gentleman/company (??) who sent me files to translate without a Purchase Order. Naturally, I sent my Job Agreement as I do with non-language companies who request my services.

He did not agree to my terms and proposed his own to which I did not agree, ergo - no agreement upon terms reached - no job underway. The purpose of a Purchase Order or Contract is to establish these conditions so that everyone knows where they stand and everyone's "back is covered"

The issue of a Purchase Order or Agreement requires full contact details of either party - no-one with nothing to hide would object to providing these, so if you cannot find any contact information on this company anywhere, be wary.

Whose door do you knock on when you hear nothing after submitting your translation and your invoice? Anyone can tell you anything about themselves - in fact even on this site, anyone can upload any photo and provide any name etc


I recently also (must be going through a phase at the moment) was asked to quote on the translation of a small document, which the enquirer agreed to. When I asked for his full details for the Job Agreement in order to confirm payment terms etc, I was told that he would provide a credit card to make payment.

I reiterated that I required his full details, name and address, for the Agreement which must be signed and returned prior to commencing any work. Guess what? Funnily enough I haven't heard from him since!

There are a lot of people who will try it on and many newcomers to the industry will be caught out - be cautious, be safe and be firm!


[Edited at 2005-11-03 08:20]

[Edited at 2005-11-03 08:20]


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Steve Melling  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:06
French to English
+ ...
Be upfront Nov 3, 2005

If an agency offers you work, ask about their conditions of payment. The bigger ones usually have fixed terms and although you may have to wait, you'll get paid.They often make transfers/send cheques on say the 10th/20th of each month.

In an ideal world, you accept a small project and hope to see some money before undertaking further work. However, this is rarely possible as the quickest agencies take 30 days to pay and if they are happy with your work they'll be back before the 30 days is up. You can put them off maybe once but rarely twice.


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Terejimenez  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
Defining Terms and Conditions Apr 24, 2006

Julie Allison wrote:

All I can advise you is what the Chartered Institute of Linguists advise us professional linguists here in the UK. Be wary of anyone who does not want to send you a Purchase Order for your services or, failing that, agree to your terms and conditions (in my case those advised by the I.O.L.)

This is your agreement and your guarantee of working conditions including payment, turnaround time etc. This is topical for me right now as I have just been offered work by a Canadian gentleman/company (??) who sent me files to translate without a Purchase Order. Naturally, I sent my Job Agreement as I do with non-language companies who request my services.

He did not agree to my terms and proposed his own to which I did not agree, ergo - no agreement upon terms reached - no job underway. The purpose of a Purchase Order or Contract is to establish these conditions so that everyone knows where they stand and everyone's "back is covered"

The issue of a Purchase Order or Agreement requires full contact details of either party - no-one with nothing to hide would object to providing these, so if you cannot find any contact information on this company anywhere, be wary.

Whose door do you knock on when you hear nothing after submitting your translation and your invoice? Anyone can tell you anything about themselves - in fact even on this site, anyone can upload any photo and provide any name etc


I recently also (must be going through a phase at the moment) was asked to quote on the translation of a small document, which the enquirer agreed to. When I asked for his full details for the Job Agreement in order to confirm payment terms etc, I was told that he would provide a credit card to make payment.

I reiterated that I required his full details, name and address, for the Agreement which must be signed and returned prior to commencing any work. Guess what? Funnily enough I haven't heard from him since!

There are a lot of people who will try it on and many newcomers to the industry will be caught out - be cautious, be safe and be firm!


[Edited at 2005-11-03 08:20]

[Edited at 2005-11-03 08:20]


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Terejimenez  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
Terms and Conditions Apr 25, 2006

Dear Julie,

I just went through two bad experiences at the time of defining my terms and conditions and your contribution to the forum made me feel better.

This is one of the stories. I got a 55k project with some instructions, the rates (some files stated a rate in pounds sterling and in others the rate was in Euros) and the deadline. I ask the agency for a P.O. to clarify the rates. The agency insisted there was no need for a P.O. so I told them I would not start until receiving my P.O. I got a P.O. without signature, a lower rate and a shorter deadline. I asked for the corrected P.O. and the next day they replied with mails such as "There may have been misunderstanding regarding the conditions, but that is no reason to jepardise our project". "I really need you to help me complete this project, and I don't understand why things are so difficult " "Can you please begin the translaton in the meantime? - this job is very urgent and we would like the documents as soon as you can possibly finish"
I started to translate the files but did not tell them. Finally, I decided to decline the project and they offered to pay me a higher rate but I did not accept. I feel very bad about all this experience and do not want to go through it again.

I am an excellent translator but very bad at the time of doing any type of business. I would like to learn more on how to deal with terms and conditions (like learning some strong sentences to tell the customers) before starting a project and how to be stronger at the time of closing business.

Thanks a lot.

Tere


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