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Transparency of Translation Agencies
Thread poster: Michael Newton
Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:48
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Jan 4

Today I received an e-mail request from an agency that is proz.com registered. I turned down the job because even after searching for the agency on the Blue Board, only a post office box number was given (a post office box in Times Square, New York. Hmmm.) There is nothing dodgier than an agency which prefers to remain in the shadows. How would I contact them if there were payment issues? The answer: impossible. While I can do my own due diligence (and I am sure other proz.com members can do the same), I am somewhat surprised that proz.com would allow this lack of transparency. I propose that agencies which do not provide full contact disclosure (i.e. street address) not be allowed to post on proz.com. This is hardly an unreasonable request.

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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 22:48
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
ProZ Jan 4

You are aware that ProZ's headquarters address is a PO box?

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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:48
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Transparency of Translation Agencies Jan 4

Yes, but who needs to chase after proz.com for payment? Its Argentine and Ukrainian branches provide street addresses.

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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:48
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Aggressive transparency Jan 4

Michael Newton wrote:
Yes, but who needs to chase after proz.com for payment? Its Argentine and Ukrainian branches provide street addresses.

That is a fair point, but I personally would like to see an genuine-looking street address for ProZ also. I value transparency and I think they should show the way.

For an agency, it would be a requirement, agreed.

Dan


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:48
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
This worries me a lot too, and I agree Jan 4

Michael Newton wrote:
There is nothing dodgier than an agency which prefers to remain in the shadows. How would I contact them if there were payment issues? The answer: impossible. While I can do my own due diligence (and I am sure other proz.com members can do the same), I am somewhat surprised that proz.com would allow this lack of transparency. I propose that agencies which do not provide full contact disclosure (i.e. street address) not be allowed to post on proz.com. This is hardly an unreasonable request.

It really annoys me that ProZ.com allows anybody in the entire world to post jobs, without having to give any information at all about themselves, whether they be:
- private individuals who haven't even registered on the site,
- companies who haven't registered on the site, or
- registered users with totally blank profiles.

IMO, job posters should at least have to register with the site AND provide identifying details. They want us to supply work, so they should specify up front who is going to be responsible for paying for that work. I've also seen many cases where they've managed to disguise the fact that they have a terrible BB record by setting up a new one under a slightly different name or address. (Zero entries doesn't necessarily worry me, whereas several negative entries does.) And a third situation I've encountered at least a couple of times is when everything goes fine with the job until you come to invoicing, and then they say you need to send it to some different company - often India or elsewhere where debt recovery can be much more difficult. If I've landed the job through the job board, with a full BB record present, in the past I expected those details to be valid for my invoice. I think the company name and address for the invoice needs to be specified, at least to those who qualify to quote.

Mandatory fields when posting a job should be:
- Company or individual's name for the invoice;
- The address for the invoice, with the country being an absolute minimum.

Today I received an e-mail request from an agency that is proz.com registered. I turned down the job because even after searching for the agency on the Blue Board, only a post office box number was given (a post office box in Times Square, New York. Hmmm.)

To be fair, I don't think we should expect the BB to be a 100% viable source of that information. AFAIK, outsourcers are not the ones who provide the address for the BB. We, when we wish to add a new outsourcer to the board, give as much information as possible and staff then check it (and maybe supply better details - I don't know).

I've had quite a number of potential client contacts (individuals and companies) over the years from people who registered in a basic way just to be able to make contact. It's made clear by their registration date and the fact that I don't accept contact from non-registered users. In the case of email requests, I don't think we can expect as much in the way of mandatory information. However, the contact form does ask whether it's "job related", so it would be easy to add a subsequent request for invoicing details in those cases. Whatever, I'm happy to accept more responsibility for gathering invoicing information in these "direct contact" cases. In your case, if that outsourcer didn't come up with anything better than a Times Square PO Box, it would be a "no, thanks" from me too.


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Marcella Marino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:48
Member (2016)
English to Italian
+ ...
I agree Jan 4

I also agree with Michael and Sheila, there should be a bit more control on job posters as well as on their details (both registered or operating office and invoice address). At least they should provide their full address and full details with these fields being mandatory.

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The Misha
Local time: 09:48
Russian to English
+ ...
Here we are, trying to change the world again Jan 4

And there's no need to. If an outsourcer/posting fails to meet your personal disclosure requirements, just say no. How hard could that be? Problem solved, and you are still no worse for it.

I say pick your battles.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:48
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I also agree Jan 4

Adding my voice to the swelling chorus.

In the case of agencies, this is to my mind a no-brainer. (Is there anyone who would really argue that a P.O. Box address is suitable?) I also do not understand the view that anyone other than the posting agency has the responsibility to provide correct contact information.

Finally, I think this site should also provide street addresses of its offices.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Transparency Jan 4

I was approached by one of these scammers but luckily I saw straight through it

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JL01  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:48
English to French
+ ...
That is about all there is to it Jan 4

Thanks for making it clear in a concise form.

The Misha wrote:

And there's no need to. If an outsourcer/posting fails to meet your personal disclosure requirements, just say no. How hard could that be? Problem solved, and you are still no worse for it.

I say pick your battles.


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 22:48
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Outsourcers Jan 5

Well, smaller outsourcers are often little more than freelancers who dabble in project management. They don't necessarily have an office space and I think think of a thousand reasons why they don't want to publish their home address. And a brick-and-mortar office is less and less important in this day and age.

To play devil's advocate, I don't know how many in this thread would be comfortable publishing their business address publicly, which in many cases would be their home address. Many of us are, after all, registered businesses. Lawyers and accountants rent office spaces and publish their address. If some of us want to be treated like lawyers and accountants, maybe it's time to act like one.


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 15:48
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Not sure about either approach Jan 5

Michael Newton wrote:

Today I received an e-mail request from an agency that is proz.com registered. I turned down the job because even after searching for the agency on the Blue Board, only a post office box number was given


What I don't understand is why you didn't just simply email them back requesting further details - street address, etc..... I'm not saying you should just gleefully take their word for it, but you could have had more information to go on, do your background check to make a decision before refusing.

The Misha wrote:

And there's no need to. If an outsourcer/posting fails to meet your personal disclosure requirements, just say no. How hard could that be? Problem solved, and you are still no worse for it.

I say pick your battles.


Thing is, instead of a problem it might well be an opportunity.

Imagine an agency that's willing to pay your rates, is well organised, a prompt payer, with interesting material...but due to an oversight on their part or simply because it never crosses their mind in the first place, they fail to provide sufficient information and you turn them down.

So you've both lost out, and for no good reason.

Rather than adding more "rules and regulations", ProZ could simply include a clear, strong warning that agencies that fail to furnish such information and clearly identify themselves should not be surprised if their response rate is on the low side.

Edited to sort out an ungodly mishmash of sing. & plural

[Edited at 2018-01-05 05:33 GMT]


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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:48
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Transparency of Translation Agencies Jan 5

They declined to provide the information even after I asked them to.
Ikken rakuchaku (case closed)


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mariealpilles  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:48
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
Transparency of Agencies Jan 5

I also fully agree that it should be mandatory for anyone posting to provide a proper address and contact details. It is a bit like a shop. How can you go shopping if you do not know where the shop is and what kind of shop? I would also stay away. But then ProZ could also improve its posts if there was a mandatory bottom rate and people who do not comply should simply not be allowed to post. It is an insult to anyone to offer some of the indecent rates one can see, just as well as people shopping for "students" to perform the jobs their clients are no doubt being billed for at a very high price.

A suggestion would be for the mediators to compile a questionnaire members could answer and make suggestions.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:48
English to Portuguese
+ ...
An option for Proz Jan 5

Just as there are identity verification procedures for translators, Proz could set up an equivalent system for translation agencies.

As the agency creates (or has) a record on the Proz Companies Directory, they'll have the option to have their address verified, for a modest fee - e.g. $2~5 - to cover costs.

If they choose that option and pay, the Proz system will print a postcard with a random code, which will be snail-mailed to the address they provided. When the agency receives that postcard and enters that code on the proper page on Proz, their record will be labeled as "address verified".

Even if they refrain from publishing that address on Proz and/or their web site, Proz will disclose it to service providers having proven issues with them, when refraining from doing so would be conceptually equivalent to 'aiding and abetting' a scammer.

This would also evidence their ability to make payments.

An outsourcing translator posing as a corporation, and using free clip art pix to show its ritzy offices on a web site, can go on operating from a shed on his ex-mother-in-law's backyard without disclosing it, as long as he pays all invoices.


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