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Improvements to \"outsourcer\'s section\"
Thread poster: xxxeurotransl
xxxeurotransl
German to English
+ ...
Jun 22, 2001

Some outsourcers are very efficient in describing their projects, while others stubbornly refuse to include all the relevant factors.



Would it be possible to add the following boxes to the outsourcer\'s page that the outsourcer would have to fill out before placing a job?



1. Format of the original document:



Is the original document available in an electronic format (Word, Excel, PageMaker, ...)?



Or as a hardcopy/fax?



2. Volume



No. of words (either the exact source word count or an estimate)





These 2 are very crucial in determining the price, etc., but too many agencies just fail to provide this information.


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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 19:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jun 26, 2001

YOU ARE RIGHT. BUT WHAT ABOUT THEIR E- MAIL ADDRESSES? SOME OF THEM GIVE HOTMAIL OR YAHOO E- MAIL ADDRESSES.WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO CROOS CHECK WITH THEM, HENCE THE E- MAIL ADDRESS OR TELEPHONE NUMBER. DON\'T YOU AGREE?

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xxxeurotransl
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Jun 28, 2001

I agree with you, telef, and I have been calling for enhanced checks of outsourcers all along. And I believe that Henry and ProZ are working on several possible ideas.



But you must also understand the efforts that are involved: programming the system to not accept certain e-mail addresses might prove to be too much and it may also shut out a few legitimate outsourcers (or freelancers that simply want or need to outsource some larger translation project).



I believe that the best approach is for every individual to employ common sense when receiving a job offer: request all relevant contact information from the outsourcer before agreeing to anything. If that outsourcer then never replies to you, then, at least, you\'ll know that they were not trustworthy to begin with (so, you will not have lost anything).



Every ProZ member should read the ProZ guidelines (note to Henry: you have some really good information \"hidden away\" on this site; perhaps you should place these particular pages in a more prominent position - many have never read those information pages and don\'t even know about them!).



My personal approach has been as follows:



1. Never respond to yahoo or hotmail addresses unless additional reliable information has been provided



2. Never accept a job from an agency that gives you only a PO Box address



3. Never accept a job from an agency that constantly asks for the impossible (e.g., there is one agency, in particular, that posts jobs almost every day, but their expectations are totally unrealistic in terms of volumes, etc.)



4. Some agencies provide www addresses; go there and check them out; again, some, stubbornly so, refuse to list full contact information on their sites. Go to WHOIS and get the full information of the owner of the dot-com name (this should usually be complete with phone numbers, etc.)



5. Call them: I can usually tell what kind of operation they are by spending 5 minutes on the phone with them - some time ago, someone from Vancouver contacted me - a real fast talker, going on about the large number of shady agencies out there and that his agency was totally different. As it turned out, they really did have a bad track record.



6. Stay clear of agencies or individuals who try to \"get on your personal side\". This is usually a sign that something may be up. I had one freelancer who tried to talk me into fiddling with the value-added tax - a gross violation of our local tax code (as it turned out - I had done one translation for him previously - he tried to \"postpone\" payment on that previous job; I did get paid eventually, but it took some \"threatening\").



7. When you get hired by a new agency for the first time, they - hopefully - will send more jobs your way if they are satisified with your initial job. But again, watch out: I have a case like this right now (we all have to learn the hard way, I am afraid): an agency in Switzerland sent me a job in April. I did it and they were happy. Then, I would receive one job after the other from them - almost on a daily basis. When the 30 days were up, there was no sign of any money. I contacted them, and they told me that they have to sort out some problems. Now, I will have to engage a collection agency. But as luck would have it, one of their clients, on whose documents I was working, is a Swiss collection agency (specializing in small amounts for a reasonable fee), and I have already contacted them to take care of this \"problem\" for me.





Never be afraid to be stern about your terms of payment. I know many translators (especially those starting out) are afraid to do so, but if the agency is for real, they won\'t mind that. It is only those that have something to hide that will drop you if you insist on your payment and terms. So, even if you lose an agency like that, don\'t despair - it is their loss, not yours. The very fact that they dropped you because you \"dared\" to insist on getting paid is proof that they would have taken you for a ride down the road - and you would have lost a lot more money.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 09:28
SITE FOUNDER
Jun 29, 2001

Quote:


On 2001-06-26 04:58, telef wrote:

YOU ARE RIGHT. BUT WHAT ABOUT THEIR E- MAIL ADDRESSES? SOME OF THEM GIVE HOTMAIL OR YAHOO E- MAIL ADDRESSES.WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO CROOS CHECK WITH THEM, HENCE THE E- MAIL ADDRESS OR TELEPHONE NUMBER. DON\'T YOU AGREE?





Why is it that complaints about yahoo and hotmail addresses always come from yahoo or hotmail addresses?







Just a joke, of course, but the point is that is very difficult to gauge trustworthiness from an email address, or any other sort of contact information.



ProZ will do what it can to provide tools for parties to establish trust and qualify counterparts prior to an initial transaction. However, as outlined in the ProZ.com users agreement, this site will not, and can not possibly, assure the reliability of parties to a transaction. It can also not confirm that accuracy of any information provided.



As a site user, then, it is important to realize that it is up to you, and no one else, to assess risk when you enter into a transaction. This fact applies online, just as it does offline.



Eurotrans said: \"Never be afraid to be stern about your terms of payment. I know many translators (especially those starting out) are afraid to do so, but if the agency is for real, they won\'t mind that.\"



This is good advice. Consider asking for partial payment up front. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.



For other suggestions on protecting yourself from fraud, proposed by ProZ.com translators, go to the \"tips\" area of this site\'s info section.

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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 19:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jun 30, 2001

Thanks Henry, for that clarification and sound counsel in dealing with agencies.( Yahoo or others). That was an eye opener.

Thanks again for giving your precious time and this great site.



Telef.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:28
French to English
Jun 30, 2001

Taking up on Henry\'s point...



As a matter of course, I ask for 30% upfront in the following cases :



- first-time customers whose job is above a certain amount



- ANY job over that amount



- historically bad payers



Not only does this quite simply mean you have some security, it decreases the amount you might have to chase them for later and helps your cashflow, it quite simply makes them realise that you too are running a business (not a slave trade) and that you take your business seriously. If you take yourself seriously, there is a fair chance they will too.



Agencies here often pay two full calendar months after your bill has been received. One agency even had the audacity to say their client had not paid them so they would not pay me. Once I explained that that was their problem not mine (doctrine of privity of contract explained sweetly but firmly) I received my cheque. I never worked for them again but never wanted to anyway. This was a big agency and put me off them for life, unfortunately. I\'m lucky in that the type of work I do is pretty much direct client.


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xxxeurotransl
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Jun 30, 2001

Well, nikscot, this sounds like my story with the Swiss agency I mentioned. The gave me the same excuse (\"our client hasn\'t paid us either\") - I also explained the basic rules of contract law to them.



But, lo and behold, they wired all outstanding amounts within 24 hours of my posting here. I suppose they were afraid that I was going to reveal their name to any ProZ member who contacted me.



In my case, too, I am sure, I will never hear back from them. But you know what? Every time this sort of thing has happened to me, there were always at least 2-3 new clients taking the place of such a \"loser\".



And who would want to continue with an agency or client that has tried to cheat you?


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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 19:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 1, 2001

Thanks for that piece of valuable tip. I hope nothing of this sort happens with job postings om proz. Henry has assured us that he has taken all the required precautions.

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 09:28
SITE FOUNDER
Jul 1, 2001

Quote:


On 2001-07-01 01:42, telef wrote:

Thanks for that piece of valuable tip. I hope nothing of this sort happens with job postings om proz. Henry has assured us that he has taken all the required precautions.





No, telef, I must clarify: I said ProZ.com will do \"what it can.\"



There is no way for ProZ.com to guarantee that every person and company that uses the site will be honest and reliable. ProZ.com makes no guarantees at all.



Do everything you would do offline to ensure, for yourself, that each of your transactions goes smoothly.



In this sense, ProZ.com is nothing more than a directory.

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:28
French to English
Jul 1, 2001

Quite Henry. When you think about it, the would-be client takes a risk with the \'unknown\' translator too!

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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:28
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Jul 2, 2001

Surely there are many ways to improve this aspect of the agency/freelance relationship through ProZ.



Here is a short list of ideas that spring to mind:



1. Vet all agencies before allowing them to use the job posting section

I mean, take membership from anybody, but authorize job postings only after some kind of quick vetting procedure.

If this is expensive in terms of administration, get these businesses to pay for using the resources made available to them.

The translators directory is \'precious\' for the agencies and they will be more than happy to pay a fee for using it.



2. Allow translators to rate the agencies in terms of reliability, payment, etc... or just as general satisfaction after a completed job.

I believe there is a similar mechanism in place from agencies to freelancers.

I would feel much safer applying for jobs offered by agencies with a good record rather than to anonymous postings.



3. Control that the job postings contain a minimum set of essential fields properly filled, in particular Company name and contact/email address.



4. List agencies separately from freelancers, or highlight them in the members lists, so that freelancers can scan and verify the data available in their profiles.

At the moment ProZ works \'one way\'.

It is a freelancers directory with agencies mixed in, with no special attributes to identify them.

In my opinion these are two separate categories that can better served with different listings.









[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-07-02 03:14 ]


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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 19:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 2, 2001

This a very good suggestion. This is what, at least, the translators want.

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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 19:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 2, 2001

Thanks again , Henry for that educative follow -up. Telef

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xxxeurotransl
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Jul 2, 2001

Gianfranco\'s suggestions are all good ideas, but I doubt that all of them will be practical for ProZ.



ProZ is a \"conduit\" - they cannot be expected to become our own personal \"private investigators\".



Here\'s what they should do:





  • Require outsourcers to fill in a certain number of \"required fields\" - name, phone/fax, address (no PO Box address allowed!), e-mail, www, volume, deadline - all of these should and must be \"required fields\"



  • Require all outsourcers to register with ProZ and to create a full profile so that we can all check out their information for ourselves



  • Agencies should be clearly marked off as agencies; when doing a search for pros, there should be an additional option to specify \"Freelance\" or \"Agency\"



  • Any outsourcer who fails to fill in all of the above required fields and does not create a ProZ profile should not be allowed to post any jobs - some might say that we might lose some job postings, but an outsourcer who does not want to reveal their true identity and full information is the kind of outsourcer we don\'t want anyway.





This way, we will have more control over those outsourcers without putting too much of a burden on ProZ.


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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 19:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 2, 2001

It is a very good input, Werner. It will go a long way to protect the translators.

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