Options when you're not 100% sure whether to trust a job offer
Thread poster: Mark Hemming
Mark Hemming  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:38
Slovenian to English
+ ...
Feb 15, 2010

I recently received an email asking for my rates for a particular language combination with the document to be translated attached. I then received a second email stating that I'd got the job. I'm a little concerned by the offer, as the email came from a Gmail account with no sign of the job offerer belonging to an agency (ie no contact details at bottom of email.) and the person's grasp of English is a little shaky. I have no indication of which country they're from. While on one hand it may well be a genuine offer, the last thing I want is to do the job and for them to disppear without a trace. What would you do in this situation? Should I ask for a percentage of the fee up front, and if so how could I word this diplomatically?

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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:38
French to English
+ ...
Mystery clients Feb 15, 2010

Hi Mark,

I'd proceed with caution in your shoes. If a prospect is legit, he/she will understand perfectly you need to know with whom you are dealing and not take umbrage when you ask for details on this mystery client. Up front total or partial payment is a good idea -- once you have verified this person's organizational details

HTH

Patricia


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mohaase  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:38
Italian to German
+ ...
Insist ! Feb 15, 2010

Recently I had a similar offer for a collaboration. No address - only an email-adress and a name.
I insisted to receive some details about the agency such as address, VAT-ID etc. before giving them what they wanted. Some more references will be even better. All commercial offers and orders should have these details so it is more than fair that they give us these informations in order to check their existence and seriousness.
You will still have the risk whether they pay or not !
In case you will not receive these informations they are not serious at all so it's not worth loosing time !


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Vitals  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 08:38
Member (2008)
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
BB Feb 15, 2010

Hi,

You can also ask them if they have a Proz.com BlueBoard profile, among the other questions you were suggested to ask.

You may even ask for the VAT-no and other data for the sake of your invoice, and that is a good reason to request such info anyway.

Let us know what is the outcome of this situation...sounds interesting.

Best regards,
Vitaly


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Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:38
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
On 100% upfront payment vs. partial payments vs. other options Feb 15, 2010

My experience is that 100% upfront payment rather rarely (maybe by 1 out of 7 or 8 prospects) gets accepted in the case of direct clients, whereas it almost never gets in the case of agencies (I'd say the acceptance ratio there is WAY below 5%). So one would suppose that you would be much better off requesting a partial payment of, say, 75% of the total amount, as 75% of something still is much better than nothing. That way you give the prospect the impression you are trustworthy.

The strange thing is that I've never had a potential client who agreed to this kind of payment term. But maybe I was just unlucky. Can someone shed some light on this?

Because it happens quite often that you get contacted by someone where you would most likely be doomed if granting that prospect a credit period.

Some colleagues report having succeeded in requiring the prospect to pay upon sending a password-protected deliverable, with the password to follow immediately following either arrival of payment or receipt of some kind of payment evidence. I have never tried this because of the (minor!) risk of the prospect no longer being willing to accept your work at the time of you delivering it or of them hacking the password, with me having put in a lot of work in vain, but if you are a little bit more daring than me, this might be the way to go.

[Edited at 2010-02-15 10:57 GMT]


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Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
My solution Feb 15, 2010

When I have a doubt with a new client, I ask for 50% of the payment in advance...I think it is important to play safe, especially with large projects and large sums of money.

Most of the time, they don't even bother answering my email...which confirms my doubts.

Still, I was once proven wrong by a genuine client who paid 50% in advance and the balance within a week of submitting the translation

[Modifié le 2010-02-15 10:12 GMT]


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:38
Spanish to English
+ ...
Serious clients pay upfront Feb 15, 2010

I have always asked new direct clients for payment upfront - generally 100% for jobs under 300 euros and 50% for larger jobs. Most have agreed immediately. I am certain that the majority of companies or individuals that refuse to pay upfront are time-wasters or frauds.

Agencies are a different and more complex story.


PS. I was a little hasty here. I do accept jobs from new direct clients without an advance payment - providing they are large PLC companies or state organisations.

[Edited at 2010-02-15 11:43 GMT]


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:38
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Comment Feb 15, 2010

Geraldine Oudin wrote:


Most of the time, they don't even bother answering my email...which confirms my doubts.



[Modifié le 2010-02-15 10:12 GMT]


This doesn't necesarily confirm that the job offers were fake. It might just confirm that the client did want to pay upfront.


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Alex Eames
Local time: 06:38
English to Polish
+ ...
How big is the job? Feb 15, 2010

Mark Hemming wrote:
Should I ask for a percentage of the fee up front, and if so how could I word this diplomatically?


I'd say it depends on the size of the job. If it's short, you might as well chance it. If it's longer, I'd say requesting "50% as you are a new client" is reasonable.

Having said that though, if it smells bad - and just a gmail account with no other contact details does smell bad to me - then forget about it unless they give you something up-front. If you don't hear from them again, you've probably avoided a headache.


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RichardDeegan
Local time: 01:38
Spanish to English
Another caveat Feb 15, 2010

Be cautious about accepting work from someone whose grasp of the target or source language is "shaky", especially as to the target language. If they are lost in the target language, they will be totally clueless as to the final quality of your work, which can lead to serious problems if they are not capable of reading or understanding at the level of the product produced.

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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:38
English to French
+ ...
At the very least, ask for a PO Feb 15, 2010

It is just legitimate to ask where they are located. You can then check on the Internet if the information they provide looks valid. If you decide to take the job, you must get a purchase order BEFORE YOU START.
Make sure that the purchase order mentions the payment terms.
Accept the job only if you consider that you can take the risk. If the agency is serious, the job should be of limited size (because serious agencies test their translators on small jobs first). If the job is huge, it's a caveat.
Don't be too confident : there are some bad players, on this market, who thrive on translators in need of business.


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Mark Hemming  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:38
Slovenian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the pointers Feb 15, 2010

Thanks for the advice. Given the fact that it is a job of around 8000 words I'm going to try the "50% up front" approach and see what happens - I really don't like the prospect of ending up in a non-payment situation given the potential loss involved. I will keep you posted as to the outcome.

Mark


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:38
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Trusting job offers Feb 15, 2010

Under no circumstances would I ever accept work from someone with just a free e-mail account.

I would politely ask them for a purchase order and a company e-mail address. More than likely they will just disappear after that and you will know that the offer was not legitimate.




[Edited at 2010-02-15 14:09 GMT]


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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:38
Spanish to English
+ ...
Google the phone number Feb 15, 2010

I received something similar today from someone with a google address and no Blue Board record. There is a new scam going around, in which they require you to buy their platform before giving you the "work". I just heard from them today, googled the phone number at the bottom of the letter, and found some very helpful comments on ProZ!!

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