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Negative blue board comments about agencies
Thread poster: Tina Jylhä

Tina Jylhä  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:36
Member (2005)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Aug 30, 2005

Dear colleagues,

have you had experience that, after you have send a negative comment on blue board about a company, they call you and more or less threaten you (if you dont erase your comment, there will be bad consequences...)? Well, this just happened to me.
This was the first time, I had something negative to comment, so Im a bit chocked. The company was also enjoying 1-point-status already before my comment.
If this has happened to you, how did you react?


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:36
English to German
+ ...
It hasn't happened to me... Aug 30, 2005

...but here's what you should do.

I'm one of the Jobs/BB moderators. Please contact me through my profile, identifying the outsourcer, and indicating the content of their communication.

The Blue Board FAQ contains clear rules in this respect:


If there seems to have been a misunderstanding, outsourcers are encouraged to communicate directly with those making entries. However, making threats or exerting pressure on a ProZ.com member to cause him or her to change his or her "likelihood of working again" with your business is prohibited, and may result in your right to use ProZ.com being restricted.


Best regards,
Ralf


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Joanna Krahelska
Local time: 20:36
Polish to English
+ ...
notify proz.com! Aug 30, 2005

Dear Tina, luckily this has never happened to me, but here's what I would do: immediately notify proz.com so that they can ban the company frm posting jobs, and add the info about their threats to the negative comment on the blue board!
The best, jk


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Adela Van Gils  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:36
German to Dutch
+ ...
Dear Tina Aug 30, 2005

I had once a company asking me to take off my comments as it was affecting their business. I told them that the blue board exists to warn my colleagues and is a right we have to inform one another. For that reason it was created.
As in your case, I would tell them to stop calling me and at the same time I would add their threat to the blue board. It shows very well who they are. A good reason never to work for them.
Why chocked! I would be delighted; it shows you did good to put it on the blue board.
Adela

Dear colleagues,

have you had experience that, after you have send a negative comment on blue board about a company, they call you and more or less threaten you (if you dont erase your comment, there will be bad consequences...)? Well, this just happened to me.
This was the first time, I had something negative to comment, so Im a bit chocked. The company was also enjoying 1-point-status already before my comment.
If this has happened to you, how did you react?



[/quote]


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 20:36
English to Swedish
+ ...
Mea culpa Aug 30, 2005

The Blue Board was created on my suggestion. I envisaged a VERY SIMPLE system, but failed catastrophically in my endeavours to convince ProZ.com to keep it SIMPLE and FUNCTIONAL.

The original concept was:

A simple binary choice: Yes, I would work for this agency again / No, I would not work for this agency again.
No space for any comments by the translator, thus avoiding the risk of upsetting any agency, and consequential libel suits!
No space for any comments by the agency.
Translator updateable, enabling the Blue Board to reflect current status.

The original concept was based on very simple ideas:

A solid string of “Yes” would have been a positive indicator.
A solid string of “No” would have been a negative indicator.
Details about reasons for “No” were to be dealt with in private communications between translators.

What we now have is a system that is worse than no system, sort of a safety line that breaks under less than a man's weight.

The agency mafia quickly discovered how to work the system:
1. Hand out a small job to a new translator and pay for it double-quick.
2. Encourage the translator to make a Blue Board entry.
3. Enter “Thank you very much!” as response to the “Yes”, and block thereby any further entries from the translator.
4. Give the translator a big job and neglect paying for it.
5. Start from “1” with another translator.

I apologise humbly for having failed to convince ProZ.com to keep it SIMPLE and FUNCTIONAL.


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:36
German to English
+ ...
Abuse of the BB Aug 30, 2005

Sven Petersson wrote:
. Enter “Thank you very much!” as response to the “Yes”, and block thereby any further entries from the translator.
[...]
[/quote]

Am I not getting it, or is this not something that contacting a moderator would solve?


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 20:36
English to German
+ ...
A moderator moderates Aug 30, 2005

Derek Gill Franßen wrote:

Sven Petersson wrote:
. Enter “Thank you very much!” as response to the “Yes”, and block thereby any further entries from the translator.
/quote]

Am I not getting it, or is this not something that contacting a moderator would solve?[/quote]it is not his/her function to solve individual problems, at the best he can adv. or arbitrate, this is the way I understand. Best regards, Brandis


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Aleksandra Kwasnik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:36
Polish to German
+ ...
Yelling clients & BB Aug 30, 2005

Some time ago I've been contacted by the secretery of a small agency to do some simultaneous interpreting job. In the BB I found just one entry saying: "1: They are threatening to sue me for saying here why I won't work for them again - I'll let you guess what they don't want me to say."

I contacted the translator who wrote me some details about her very unpleasant (and short) cooperation with the agency (no feedback after receiving a translation, afterwards: no payment; then: "less payment, because the translation was horrible" etc.; it took her several months to get SOME money).

I decided to give it a try anyway (because I want to gain as much experience in the booth as I can), but be cautious and checked the "business conditions" at their website first. There I found the clause saying that they are paying after being paid by the client, which lead me to refuse politely their offer with a hint to that clause. Two days later I received an answer that they will include the clause "payment after 30 days" into my contract so I agreed.

I did the job, had a chance to learn a great new colleage, the end client was also very satisfied with our job, which she repeated several times.

Two weeks later I received a phone call from the company owner herself (which did not contact me before as I did manage everything with her secretary) YELLING at me (so that other people present in the room could hear her) and starting the conversation like this: "So! Now I will tell you how to behave properly and professionally as you seem not to know what the rules are."

I very silently told her not to yell at me, but she continued.
I learned that my colleague (the one I met while doing this job), who has been working for her regularly, finally got fed up with being paid up to three months later (!) and decided to include "my" clause (saying "payment after 30 days") into his next contract. When we met we of course did talk to each other and he complained about the payment practices and I of course did suggest this solution which I think at least appropriate.

The owner was not amused at all and told me that I will be contacted by her lawyer because I should have kept confidentiality about our contract terms. She was also agry because her secretary did sign my contract including that clause and told me that I was a "bloody beginner not knowing how to behave in a professional way" and trying to play tricks on her. She continued yelling that she will never ever give me another job, I told her that I will never ever work for her again and once again told her to stop yelling, but as she did not I just hang up.

In the end I got paid 6 weeks later.

Then I received a call for entry for the agency in question. I was wondering what to entry, my first thought was to enter "1" with a hint to late payment and the "communication practices", but I knew what her reaction should be (as I remembered the entry from the other colleague) and did not want to be contacted by this person in any case. So I did enter a "3" and - deciding to be diplomatic - added "Late payment, sometimes very unfriendly."
The agency's answer was: "Inexperienced interpreter, snooty, tends to dodge contract terms" - heh, heh

Now I'm angry about myself that I behaved so cowardly because I think that other colleagues should be warned about this company.
I mean: OK, I sometimes get paid late by my other clients too, but this client build up a Christmas buffet for me when I happen to work in her agency around Christmas time (true story, maybe I'm just spoilt...

But on the other hand I really don't want to waste my time and nerves for idle discussions with yelling clients.

Dear Moderators: What should be done in such cases?
Aleksandra

[Edited at 2005-08-31 17:00]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:36
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
An agency complained to me, but did not threaten Aug 30, 2005

Hi Tina,

I did have an agency complain bitterly to me about my Blue Board Entry. As a matter of fact, I had only selected a number, and had not made any comment at all, but the number was to reflect the fact that I was having difficulty being paid by them for a translation that they were happy with, and that I had done at the weekend on an urgent basis.

I think also on another occasion an agency grumbled at me about my Blue Board entry, however also did not threaten.

Both of the above agencies only complained on an occasion when I phoned them to enquire about how long payment would still take, but they did not harrass me.

I once got an extremely long, rude e-mail from an agency that I had graded on the Blue Board, again only numerically, however I was busy and, after glancing over the e-mail, simply deleted it and carried on working.

The recent adaptation to the system, so that Blue Board entries cannot simply be edited or deleted again the following day, is very good, because it stops agencies putting translators under pressure to change or delete the entry.

Astrid


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:36
French to German
+ ...
Bad -- for the agency? Aug 30, 2005

Tina Jylhä wrote:
more or less threaten you (if you dont erase your comment, there will be bad consequences...)?


... bad for them, perhaps?

There is the old story of an oriental itinerant teacher that came to a tiny village in order to preach. During his speech, his donkey was stolen. When the poor old teacher finds out about that, he coughs up a big scene, drawing up a big crowd. He swears, he shouts and he threatens, and in the end, he announces dramatically, "If this donkey is not going to re-appear right now, I will be forced to do something very dreadful. Something terrible is going to happen very soon, right here."

Nobody says a word, and nobody knows how it happened, but all of a sudden, the donkey is back. Slowly the crowd disperses.

There remains one passer-by who says, "Well, you've got your donkey, and that is the main thing. But just out of curiosity: what would have been the terrible thing happening, if the donkey had remained missing?"

"You ask me that?", replies the irate teacher, "Why, I would have been forced to go on foot. And you know how terrible this is for a man of my age?"




[Edited at 2005-08-30 10:28]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:36
English to German
+ ...
Contacting a moderator Aug 30, 2005

Hi Derek,
Derek Gill Franßen wrote:

Sven Petersson wrote:
. Enter “Thank you very much!” as response to the “Yes”, and block thereby any further entries from the translator.
/quote]

Am I not getting it, or is this not something that contacting a moderator would solve?[/quote]
Precisely, particularly where non-payment is involved.

In fact, this was pointed out several times already, both by Henry and by moderators.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:36
English to German
+ ...
Removed entry and response Aug 30, 2005

Hi Aleksandra,
Then I received a call for entry for the agency in question. I was wondering what to entry, my first thought was to enter "1" with a hint to late payment and the "communication practices", but I knew what her reaction should be (as I remembered the entry from the other colleague) and did not want to be contacted by this person in any case. So I did enter a "3" and - deciding to be diplomatic - added "Late payment, sometimes very unfriendly."

ProZ.com moderators generally recommend to keep comments to facts (such as late payment), and to be upfront.

The agency's answer was: "Inexperienced interpreter, snooty, tends to dodge contract terms" - heh, heh

Which is a personal comment that is not permitted (cf. BB FAQ #11).

Dear Moderators: What should be done in such cases?

Contact a moderator - preferably straight away.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 21:36
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Agree with Sven Aug 30, 2005

A simple system simply telling if you want to work for this outsourcer again or not would be better for many reasons.
The Zahlungspraxis-list at Yahoo is another source for information about the essentials: do they pay or not and how fast.
Regards
Heinrich


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
binary system Aug 30, 2005

Sven Petersson wrote:

....

The original concept was:

A simple binary choice: Yes, I would work for this agency again / No, I would not work for this agency again.
No space for any comments by the translator, thus avoiding the risk of upsetting any agency, and consequential libel suits!
No space for any comments by the agency.
Translator updateable, enabling the Blue Board to reflect current status.

....


The agency mafia quickly discovered how to work the system:
1. Hand out a small job to a new translator and pay for it double-quick.
2. Encourage the translator to make a Blue Board entry.
3. Enter “Thank you very much!” as response to the “Yes”, and block thereby any further entries from the translator.
4. Give the translator a big job and neglect paying for it.
5. Start from “1” with another translator.

I apologise humbly for having failed to convince ProZ.com to keep it SIMPLE and FUNCTIONAL.


Thanks Sven for the original idea and for your eye-opening analysis of how it can be abused.

I agree with the binary choice, just possibly that an option for a positive comment maybe should be included, none for a negative rating. I personally like to express my satisfaction at working with someone and letting them know it:-)

Personally I ONLY rate people I am happy to have worked with. I haven't had hardly any negative experiences, but know that I am unlikely to enter a score/comment after my single experience in rating an agency negatively, described as follows for the benefit of the poster of this topic:

I did a job, for which we agreed a price. It was delivered as scheduled. On billing they disagreed with my charging for repeated headings (pre-Trados days for me and probably for the agency, but I still had to account for the repeitions and copy and paste them, etc.), which gave me a bad impression of their miserliness (the difference amounted to a couple of pesetas). By payment due date and for a while after, there was no pay and no replies to my emails (I ALWAYS allow a more-than-generous period of grace). I couldn't locate any agency of that name either for the address given.

So, suspecting a scam, I posted details in the BB, stating ONLY facts (non-payment and no replies to emails).

I immediately got a number of angry phone calls and threats of legal action - DESPITE the fact that they were entirely in the wrong, and that I was in my rights to expect payment AND receive replies to my emails.

So I 'retracted' somewhat, given the highly unpleasant situation that was developing, and 'qualified' my negative rating. Oddly enough they overpaid me in the end, probably an indication of inefficiency rather than deliberate fraud on their part.

I think there are probably others like me that wouldn't want to draw the wrath of agencies down on them, and so probably decline to give negative ratings. So I think a mere 'No' representing non-interest in working for someone might attract more responses from translators for less-than-satisfactory agencies.

Referring to FACTS then, a possible extension to the binary system could be what Heinrich suggests: Payment Received Yes/No Timely Payment Yes/No.



[Edited at 2005-08-30 12:53]


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:36
French to German
+ ...
Maybe... Aug 30, 2005

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
A simple system simply telling if you want to work for this outsourcer again or not would be better for many reasons.
The [Yahoo list] is another source for information about the essentials: do they pay or not and how fast.


Maybe. My experience with both sources of information is that you need to evaluate the text of every single entry that is less than excellent to get an adequate picture of the overall situation.
There seem to be collegues that put up with the most amazing circumstances and still enter a "4" rating. OTOH, others seem to issue "1" ratings for slight glitches.

Without at least some words of textual information, you wouldn't be able to differentiate and form your own opinion.

OTOH, I see the problem of putting up virtual pillories on the Internet for all to see. You might become liable even when the factual information you enter is quite correct.

It is perhaps just as well that ProZ is located in America and not in Germany (where people tend to go overboard with issues of Datenschutz). This will not help much, however, if the criticising party has the same nationality as the party criticised and the case is taken to local court.


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