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Who are these people sending me random translation requests?
Thread poster: Rachel Braff

Rachel Braff  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:05
Member (2014)
French to English
+ ...
Aug 25, 2015

I just got another e-mail of a type I get periodically, and I'm curious about who these people are who send this kind of e-mail out (though not curious enough to go straight to the horse's mouth and respond). Just wondering what other people's take on this is. What I'm talking about is a very short, very informal message, saying basically: "Hi, I need this document translated by X time tomorrow [usually a tight deadline]. Please confirm ASAP." Normally I just don't respond at all, because a) they're not even asking for a quote at that point OR offering me a certain rate; b) I'm put off by the casual tone (though generally I'm all for being casual and to-the-point) and the fact that my name isn't anywhere in it; c) the deadline is usually too tight anyway; d) they're not even telling me who they are. Not to mention that I don't make a habit of blithely opening attachments from unknown random recipients.

Does anyone actually know who these people are? Are they cheapo agencies? Individuals contacting random ProZ members who just aren't aware that they should probably go into a little more detail when looking for someone to translate their document? Just someone with a poor command of English and no awareness of how to be polite when speaking it? Has anyone actually responded to anything like this?

This is mostly a matter of curiosity, since I suspect these people are probably only offering a couple of cents a word. But if anyone has actually gotten a decent job this way, I'm open to being pleasantly surprised.

I just realized my title sounds a bit hostile. Hopefully it's clear that I'm not objecting at all to being randomly contacted about a job--in fact, I'd welcome lots more random job offers! I'm just not convinced that these are good ones.

[Edited at 2015-08-25 18:05 GMT]


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 05:05
German to Serbian
+ ...
Registered users or not? Aug 25, 2015

From your description, I'd say first thing to check is the bottom of their message and whether they are external visitors or Proz registered users (of course this doesn't vouch for anything, but it makes some difference nonetheless).

The kind of messages you are describing I was receiving mostly from non-registered users and of course I just ignore them. At times they come from agencies whose project managers write bad English, or they just send requests that don't make much sense (again in bad English, with little correspondence courtesy). Again I just ignore them. Sometimes bad English and lack of courtesy are related, ie. not that a person is impolite, they just don't know how to be polite in English.

Then again, sometimes there are just good old mass emails, where the job description is more or less OK but nobody addresses you by your name or refers to your profile specifically, so you can't stop wondering how many other people received the same mail and what to do about it all.

In conclusion, I would advise sticking to clear, polite offers, with professional tone of voice (hopefully from registered users with some profile history).


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:05
English to French
+ ...
Usually, some sort of crooks/spammers Aug 25, 2015

I get that also, not frequently but to often for my taste.

I usually consider them some sort of phishing attempt (and usually don't even open any attachments).

However, it is also clear that people who are not in the habitual business of requiring translation services, i.e. most of the rest of the world except translation agencies and direct-customer type outsourcers, have absolutely no clue about translation as part of the service industry. Many people assume that translation is free or very heap, have no idea of the time required for a translation, or anything else.

I see a lot of these clueless would-be customers since a lot of French agencies started requiring translations made in the USA to be done by ATA-certified translators, at the beginning of this year.

But there are other clues to clueless customers: "translation agencies" with @gmail addresses, for example, or those who send messages in the evening (often, late evening), well after normal after business hours in the time zone where they can be tracked down.

Or, those who ask whether I am available, for a job they are bidding on. To which I politely refrain from responding "Ma'am, please call again when you have something to be translated."

I could go on and on. You get the feeling.


 

Rachel Braff  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:05
Member (2014)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not ProZ users as far as I can tell. Aug 25, 2015

Lingua 5B, none of the ones I'm thinking of have had any visible connection with ProZ. They're always e-mails directly to me (not through ProZ) and, of the ones I've bothered to look up, I haven't been able to find any sign of them on ProZ.

I did notice that this last one was bcc'd, and my guess is that all or most of the others have been too.

JL01, I know for sure this one was from a gmail address (within regular business hours my time, but who knows where they were sending it from). I'm with you on not opening the attachments, although the thumbnail for this one did look like a legimiate PDF of some legal type document (still didn't open it, though).

My guess is that these are some kind of [poorly paying] outsourcers who are sending direct e-mails to a long list of addresses they find on ProZ, but I'm still curious if anyone has actually responded to anything like this.


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
There is only one positive aspect about this business: Aug 25, 2015

If the email is not personalized, nobody will notice that you have not responded…

It only takes a glance:

- Word count: 1200
- Deadline: today
- Rate: 0.0364 euros

....delete

4.09876 seconds lost.


 

Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
ProZ.com Professional Guidelines Aug 25, 2015

The delete button approach is not available to ProZ.com members who have stated that they endorse the site's Professional Guidelines, one of which is to "answer, courteously, inquiries related to services, fees and available equipment." Here's the link: http://www.proz.com/professional-guidelines?pg_version=1.1

[Edited at 2015-08-25 20:10 GMT]


 

Rachel Braff  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:05
Member (2014)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What happens when you respond? Aug 25, 2015

Jessica, if you respond to everyone who contacts you, maybe you can satisfy my curiosity--when you respond to e-mails like this (sent randomly out of the blue, from a gmail address, with no information about who they're coming from or any use of your own name, and neither a proposed rate nor a request for your own rate), what has their response back been? And how do you respond to e-mails like this? Do you propose your own rate when none is mentioned in the e-mail, or do you just say, "sorry, I can't do this job"?

 

Rachel Braff  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:05
Member (2014)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Anonymous requests to an anonymous crowd of translators Aug 25, 2015

Merab Dekano wrote:

If the email is not personalized, nobody will notice that you have not responded…



Good point. I always wonder how many address are in that bcc list, too.


 

Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
My response to such "offers" Aug 25, 2015

Good question, Rachel. "Thank you very much for contacting me. I am unavailable for this type of work," is my standard response--even when I often don't know what kind of work it purports to be. I definitely get my share of these letters -- maybe 3-4 a week, and I assume that most of them are scams. Still, it seems to discourage them, in that I never hear back from them (at least under the same name).icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2015-08-25 20:42 GMT]


 

Rachel Braff  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:05
Member (2014)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Jessica Aug 25, 2015

Makes sense that they don't respond back, since they seem to be casting a wide net.

 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:05
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Unfortunately.... Aug 25, 2015

.... it seems to be a part of the business, just ignore them.

[Edited at 2015-08-25 21:55 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-08-25 21:56 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-08-25 21:57 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Scammers! Aug 26, 2015

99% of them are scammers. They normally ask you to do some translation of a text they find online and send you a check for a much higher sum and which apparently clears OK at your bank. They then ask you to send back the difference to their account and, when the check is found a fake some days later, you end up losing the money you sent to the crook.

There is nothing to gain answering these emails. Do not respond. Do not trust that you are smarter than them. They are experts at A) luring people into doing what they want and B) disappearing.


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:05
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Another option: state your terms Aug 26, 2015

I have a pre-prepared rates sheet with terms. It includes my VIES number, combinations I work in, quota I can guarantee per day in each combination, minimal job rates, rush terms and any surcharges, should they be applicable.

I find it shortens the time I need for explanations. I may get an answer or not.

Also, if people write through your profile, you usually get an IP address that helps you locate the client and run any checks you may consider pertinent (country risk, etc.)

I used to go along with "don't bother", but people told me early in the game that anything you can contribute to client education is appreciated.


[Edited at 2015-08-26 09:00 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Simply sigh, roll your eyes, and then treat it professionally Aug 26, 2015

Rachel Braff wrote:
I just got another e-mail of a type I get periodically, and I'm curious about who these people are who send this kind of e-mail out (though not curious enough to go straight to the horse's mouth and respond).


There may be any number of reasons why people don't write professional-looking e-mails. It may be that they're using a smartphone to write the e-mail, with limited editing capabilities. It may be that they are used to using e-mail in the same way as you and I would use IRC or ICQ. It may be that they're in a hurry and chasing a deadline. After all, they're not selling anything, so why put up a show?

You, on the other hand, are selling something -- translation services, plus professionalism. Fortunately, e-mail is not like a phone call in that they can hear what you really think of them. So sigh, roll your eyes, and then proceed to write back a professional-looking reply that gives all the necessary information and graciously educates the client in the process as well. You'll end up with more business that way than you would have using the "other" type of response.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:05
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Scam or spam? Aug 26, 2015

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
99% of them are scammers. They normally ask you to do some translation of a text they find online and send you a check for a much higher sum and which apparently clears OK at your bank. They then ask you to send back the difference to their account and, when the check is found a fake some days later, you end up losing the money you sent to the crook.

There is nothing to gain answering these emails. Do not respond.

I don't think most of those that correspond to the OP's format are scammers; they're more likely to be spammers, offering very small, derisory even, amount of money in return for a lot of quality work. The scammers normally go into vast detail, most of it totally irrelevant, about their health, families or whatever. Responding to those is a seriously bad idea as it proves your email address is valid. It then becomes saleable.


 
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