Be alert to companies that don't pay
Thread poster: Mike (de Oliveira) Brady

Mike (de Oliveira) Brady  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2008)
Portuguese to English
Mar 24, 2009

I don't know if site moderators have flagged this up somehow already (I've not seen it) and I hope it is appropriate for me to do so here.

I did a translation for a company giving its contact details as in China (which fits with the content of the translation I did), but have neither been paid nor received any communications since receipt of my translation was acknowledged.

The blue board entry was new, but soon after my experience someone posted an entry complaining of non-payment and non-communication. I tried all means of communication, re-sent my invoice, sent my invoice via Proz.com, sent messages via Proz.com, even tried telephoning China etc. etc. I left a LWA rating of 1 earlier than I would normally do as the company was continuing to post jobs, some of them very large, and I wanted people to be aware of the risks.

Sadly since then there have been three other entries to the blue board complaining of non-payment and non-communication. Site staff have added links to three other outsources with a total (at the time of writing) of 6 entries with the same complaints, all giving contact details in China.

In the case of the company I worked for, the details are actually for an internet portal, a Chinese equivalent of Yahoo or Hotmail, so the email address appears to be a company one, but is presumably a free sign up one. So it's like chasing yahoo because someone used a @yahoo.com address and claimed to be the Yahoo company.

I guess these people simply re-register and start again with a new clean Proz.com blue board whenever people get wise to them. So I for one will be very wary of accepting work from any outsourcer without positive feedback and will take a closer look at contact details and websites in future. The fact that an outsourcer has just registered is also a reason to be cautious. That said, at least one of the outsourcers linked to by site staff has a translation company website.

[Edited at 2009-03-24 12:36 GMT]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:20
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
You need to carefully consider the topic of business risk Mar 24, 2009

Hi Mike!

Sorry to hear of your experience.

As regards business risk, it is a reasonably good idea to arrange to obtain at least a certain percentage of orders (e.g. 70% or 80%) from outsourcers within your own country. After that, you can take some small risks with outsourcers in neighbouring countries, or at least within the EU. If you go farther afield, I think you must know before you accept the work that the business deal is based 100% on trust, on your side, and there is really no way that you can collect from outsourcers at the other side of the world if they do not happen to want to pay for the translation.

All the best for your future business dealings!

Astrid


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Mike (de Oliveira) Brady  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2008)
Portuguese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Chasing payments Mar 24, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Hi Mike!

Sorry to hear of your experience.

As regards business risk, it is a reasonably good idea to arrange to obtain at least a certain percentage of orders (e.g. 70% or 80%) from outsourcers within your own country. After that, you can take some small risks with outsourcers in neighbouring countries, or at least within the EU. If you go farther afield, I think you must know before you accept the work that the business deal is based 100% on trust, on your side, and there is really no way that you can collect from outsourcers at the other side of the world if they do not happen to want to pay for the translation.

All the best for your future business dealings!

Astrid


Thanks Astrid.

My job was a two-page newspaper article so worth the risk, but some of the other jobs have been far larger. I know one translator is using a debt collection agency to try to gain payment. It is well worth those affected contacting others who have left bad news stories on the blue board to see if they can combine in their action.

Once I had a client via another site who didn't pay and, it turned out, had only registered an email address (I'm wiser now). I investigated the header data in her email to find out who provided her connection to the internet and then wrote to the company to request contact details. This may have required a legal action, but telling the client that I was doing this and would add all costs to my claim prompted her to pay before I had to take it further.

But in this case, I don't speak Chinese!

In the past I've asked unknown outsourcers to accept making staged payments for large jobs, or an advance payment when it is a rush - none has ever taken me up on this!


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 19:20
English to Croatian
+ ...
Lottery game Mar 24, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
there is really no way that you can collect from outsourcers at the other side of the world if they do not happen to want to pay for the translation.



A nice little lottery we are dealing with around here.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:20
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
We all are fools... Mar 24, 2009

...as we (or I, if you want) believe in people and that people will behave professionally with my money and effort. I have been fooled four times in my life (luckily, not in relation with my professional life as a translator, but rather in the private sphere), had to go to court in three of the cases, where I lost money even if I won the cases, and am at the verge of having to go to court again.

I cannot help believing in honest behaviour. 99,7% of the people I have done business with in my life are trustworthy people. Should I distrust everyone because of the remaining 0,3%? I don't want to live that way!!!


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Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 14:20
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
With all due respect? Mar 24, 2009

I completely agree with Tomás, it would be sad indeed to go through life believing that everyone will try to cheat you unless there's some sort of legally enforceable contract behind human relationships.
Cheers to those optimists out there!
Laureana

Edit: Sorry if I offended anyone by repeating a previous poster's offensive words. My post was devetted for use of offensive language, for which I humbly apologize.

[Edited at 2009-03-24 23:06 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-03-24 23:07 GMT]


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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hold the insults, please Mar 24, 2009

Many of us will take a little risk now and then in life and in our careers. We may have free time, or the job may look interesting, so we give it a shot.

If we lose our gamble, and therefore decide to warn our fellow proz-ers in a clear-eyed, intelligent non-whiny posting such as the original post, we should not be opening ourselves up to criticism. We are doing the community a service, even as we expose the unflattering fact that we we were depending on Lady Luck on her night off.

So, I would like to thank the original poster for alerting us to the nuances of one more scam. Not only that, in his follow-up, he gives us one more extremely un-foolish tactic for hunting down the scammers using their IP address.


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Mike (de Oliveira) Brady  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2008)
Portuguese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Contracts aren't everything Mar 24, 2009

Generally I work on trust with my clients, in that terms and conditions are clear in an exchange of emails and away we go.

I've yet to have to go through contract negotiations with a client or sign anything other than a memorandum of understanding on the price and delivery (which I presented in one case for a large project and which was paid and delivered in two installments).

Having a contract and recourse to a legal system is only of benefit if you will use them if the need arises. When a lot of jobs posted here are at most a few thousand words one lawyer's letter will wipe out your income from the job meaning you have to spend time and money in the hope of recouping both the payment and legal costs.

I'll be a fool and trust when the amount is not too large (after doing my due diligence on trustworthiness). For large jobs I think it is more relevant to ask for pre-payment or staged payments or to only accept them from customers who have a track record.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:20
French to German
+ ...
Red alert lights Mar 24, 2009

It has been said over and over again, but there are definitively some red alert lights we should be aware of:

- outsourcer at the other end of the world;
- non-issuance of clear documents (PO...);
- large translation jobs as 1st or 2nd projects;
- rates too low or too high;
- professionals using free e-mail addresses;
- multiple company names;
- multiple PM for one project;
- rush jobs;
- etc

The list is endless, and by checking some of its points and getting the red alert signal, I know that the better choice is to keep clear from the entity who contacted me.

Like Tomas, I still believe in honesty and straightforwardness, but now these go hand in hand with some basic precautions which will not damage my relationship to persons in any way.

Laurent K.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:20
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Entirely agree... Mar 24, 2009

...with this:
ScottishWildCat wrote:
...I still believe in honesty and straightforwardness, but now these go hand in hand with some basic precautions which will not damage my relationship to persons in any way.


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