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Gullible People: translators who fall victim to non-paying agencies
Thread poster: Yasutomo Kanazawa

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:49
English to Japanese
+ ...
Nov 11, 2010

This question has been boggling my mind for a while, and I wondered whether I should post this topic under "Scam" or "Money Matters", but anyway, I'm posting it in the former category. Please correct my categorization if I'm wrong.

Recently, I have been seeing quite a number of translators/interpretors who work in this industry for several years on various translation sites including Proz who became victims of translation companies (existing ones, even at this moment) which are infamous as non-payers and still fall for them.

My question is, why are these service providers so gullible enough to fall for these traps? Once in a month or once in two months (sometimes a few weeks), I see people posting negative feedbacks on the BB for companies which I think everybody knows that they don't pay at all. And 99.9% of the contents are of course about not getting paid. Most of them are banned from posting jobs at Proz, and you can also see their names on other translation sites with negative feedbacks for the past FEW years including Proz, with an overall rating of 1.5 or 1.2. And half of these victims, speaking only as a Proz user are basic site users, but the other half are members (some with even Pro-certified) who I believe have full access to the Blue Board and could check them out in a minute or two about their potential clients.

I won't give names, but there was one person who contacted me directly via Proz asking me how s/he could retrieve one's money from a bad client which I have entered a low score on BB a few years ago. I'm not talking about companies in the grey zone (i.e. companies with a LWA of 5 two weeks ago, and 1 one week ago, and 3 today with an overall rating of 3.5 or something like that).

Am I the only who's been noticing these kind of people, and are they just careless, or could someone come up with a good explanation(s)?





[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2010-11-11 09:56 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:49
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Some people are just plain naïve Nov 11, 2010

Yes, I know what you mean. It is really funny when some translator complains because he/she was fooled by a company that contained, among 20 good Blueboard entries, 2 very bad entries. They just take the bad comments statistically and think that they were posted by angry translators and that 2 comments in 20 is not that bad.

Well, indeed they were posted by angry translators... and for very good reasons!

I have made a very clear note about this in a Wiki about risk management. It reads like this:


...if you are a Proz.com member, you can look for the company in the Blue Board. Even if you really need the work, do not underestimate the negative comments if you find any about an outsourcer. Translators rarely give a bad opinion about an outsourcer unless there are important reasons to do so. On the other hand, read good comments carefully, since some people write a good comment after a first job and regret it later. The good comments that have a real face value are those from people who have done a number of jobs for the outsourcer over a long time including payment dates.


I really hope it helps some people not to get fooled!


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 17:49
English to Croatian
+ ...
Moneyless or careless? Nov 11, 2010

.. could it be that these people have freelancing as their only source of income and will take any job from anybody without thinking much? Or perhaps they are just clueless about internet security and will trust anybody.

About low-rated companies with most 1's: I still see these companies posting jobs. How many 1's do they need to get to be banned from posting the jobs?


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:49
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Support ticket to ban bad companies from posting! Nov 11, 2010

Lingua 5B wrote:
About low-rated companies with most 1's: I still see these companies posting jobs. How many 1's do they need to get to be banned from posting the jobs?

I frankly think that, whenever any of us find that situation, we should post a support ticket to have the company banned from outsourcing via Proz. If we request it, it will very probably done!


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Jared Tabor
Local time: 12:49
SITE STAFF
A note on LWA ratings Nov 11, 2010

Hello all,

I just wanted to insert a note here about LWA ratings on the Blue Board. A rating of "1" does not necessarily mean that non-payment is involved; alone, it is merely the lowest rating possible for a translator's likelihood of working again with that outsourcer, and the reason(s) can be varied. When entering a rating, there is the option to declare that a non-payment issue exists, though. In some cases this option is skipped by the person making the entry, and the comment entered makes it clear that non-payment is involved. In those cases, staff usually contact the translator to confirm, and gather the relevant information.

An outsourcer is not prevented from posting jobs for receiving a series of 1's on their record. They can be prevented from posting jobs if a series of non-payment reports have been entered, however.

In general staff is aware of non-payment reports entered, and these cases are acted on promptly. If you are aware of a record where it looks like this hasn't happened, as Tomás says, put in a support request and staff will investigate.

This aside, it is of course important to use the Blue Board, and other risk management tools out there, to investigate a potential client fully before beginning work with them.

Finally, thanks Tomás for adding to the ProZ.com Wiki article on risk management! Building a strong knowledge base for subjects like this will help better inform others and illustrate the tools at their disposal in managing risk for translators. I'd like to encourage anyone else who can add to the article as well, to do so!

http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Risk_management_for_translators_and_interpreters

Jared


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Argyro Alykatora  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 18:49
Member (2009)
Greek to English
+ ...
I agree with Tomas Nov 11, 2010

What a nerve these poor rated companies have to still post jobs, I always wonder!! Is it because they know that someone will still apply? Ban poor-rated companies YES, but what happens to uprofessional translators who would take the job with no expectation to get paid or get paid ridiculous rates? We need to find a way to educate THEM!!!

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:49
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Once again with Tomás Nov 11, 2010

High ratings and enthusiastic comments on the Blue Board are to be taken with a grain of salt. Negative comments, on the other hand (unless plausibly rebutted with an indication that the translator did horrible work, etc.) are to be taken very seriously indeed.

Two credible negative entries out of 20, especially if the two were posted in the last couple of years, would raise red flags for me.


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:49
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all for your comments. Nov 11, 2010

First of all, I would like all of you who have posted replies to my topic so far.

Also, thank you Jared, for re-categorizing my topic to the appropriate category. I really wasn't quite sure where to post this topic, since the contents involves agencies which intentionally do not pay and who 'deliberately' evade payments with every excuse you can think of. And I thought this might fall into the Scams category, because I am sure that this is tricking potential service providers who believes that they would get paid as usual.

Anyway, back to the topic.

I'm not particularly targeting companies with 20 feedbacks, which 2 are very bad entries. What I'm trying to say is that the viscious companies which don't have any intentions at all from the beginning to pay are still indeed in business, like Argyro pointed out, using the same company name, address, phone no, etc. How audacious! And low rates or high rates doesn't matter here either. It's the poor old peers who fall victims of them, due to their gullibility or naiveness or carelessness or whatever you want to call them.

I know that a rating of 1 does not necessarily involve non-payment as Jared pointed out, but at this present moment, I could give you at least three company names in one second with at least 10-15 "1s" in a row with complaints regarding non-payment, excluding comments about no replies to emails, phones, registered mails, etc. which constitute part of the negative feedbacks from peers. And some of them have been working with those companies for months over several projects, and after 4 or 5 months, they realize for the first time that they were framed.

To Argyro: The note posted by Tomas would be a good start, don't you think? It's useless to re-educate those deceptive agencies. We should protect ourselves from those scammers by ourselves.

To Lingua 5B: Like Jared pointed out, entry of 1 does not necessarily lead to ban of posting jobs at Proz, unless these are all related to non-payment. You can always experience bad chemistry between yourself and the PM or the company you deal with, and if either the PM or both are rude to you, and you start a fight on the Net, you would likely enter a 1 even if you get fully paid, telling others that you would never want to work with that particular company because they don't know how to treat people right. Think of it, if 10 people entered similar comments that they were mistreated but got paid promptly and in full and entered a 1 or 2, that doesn't make that company from getting banned from posting jobs. Jared, am I correct on this?


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Jared Tabor
Local time: 12:49
SITE STAFF
LWA numbers + comments Nov 11, 2010

Hi Yasutomo,

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

Think of it, if 10 people entered similar comments that they were mistreated but got paid promptly and in full and entered a 1 or 2, that doesn't make that company from getting banned from posting jobs. Jared, am I correct on this?



Correct. The LWA ratings themselves are helpful indicators, but as some have pointed out previously, but it can be very insightful to pay attention to the comments entered as well, along with who made the entry. Many translators have no problem with responding to inquiries for more info on their work experience with the outsourcer in such cases.

By the way, I have requested that links to the Blue Board and to the wiki article on risk management be added to job posting pages. I'm sure much more can be done in the way of strengthening that article and in getting the word out to translators who may benefit from it.

Jared


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:49
French to German
+ ...
Great initiative! Nov 11, 2010

Jared wrote:
(.../...)

By the way, I have requested that links to the Blue Board and to the wiki article on risk management be added to job posting pages. I'm sure much more can be done in the way of strengthening that article and in getting the word out to translators who may benefit from it.

Jared


Great initiative!

Furthermore, and to reply to the other part of your post, we should have no hesitation to contact colleagues who gave bad ratings (like a 1 or a 2 in a "sea" of 5s).

I have found that those I contacted were really willing to share their experience in a more detailed way. And, in at least one case, it confirmed my suspicions about the modus operandi of an outsourcer. Ironia et fatalitas, my concerns about this outsourcer are now dealt with in a recent thread on unilateral contracts.

[Edited at 2010-11-11 13:44 GMT]


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Anne Bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:49
English to French
Personal experience... Nov 11, 2010

Until this year, I haven't had any payment problem, except for a PM who once contacted me over the phone for a small translation, and eventually never paid my minimum rate (1/2 hour).
But this year, I had two bad experiences. The first one was a private person, not an agency, who asked me to translate articles of incorporation and never paid (although he and his wife always pretended they would). I've not given up though.
The second was a translation agency who contacted me by email, then later over the phone. In the meantime, I had checked the BlueBoard and declined the job on the ground that their grading was 2 or so. As he insisted (saying that the situation had changed, of course), and as it was a small job (less than one day) and as I was actually available, I accepted. Of course it was a rush job, and the deadline was short. The deadline was given in Canadian time, and because they were in daylight saving time and I was not, I missed the deadline by one hour!
All attempts to getting paid have failed, up to now (and I don't think this one-hour difference is the cause - I won't have been paid anyway).
Am I gullible? I don't think so.
  • In the first case, I was considering declining all private customers, but I must say that all the others are very grateful (and relieved, sometimes), and pay promptly. So I will probably still take the risk of a "bad citizen" once in a while. Anyway, I'm not making my living out of that, but I like helping these persons.
  • In the second case, I knew there was a risk, and I mainly lost my time. I may spend some more time tracking this PM and searching for the end-customer. And of course will strenghten my rule of declining jobs from poorly BlueBoard-graded agencies, especially when I am contacted via proz.com (which is a red flag by itself).


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  • Nikita Kobrin  Identity Verified
    Lithuania
    Local time: 18:49
    English to Russian
    + ...
    Many of us simply allow swindlers to fool them. Nov 11, 2010

    Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

    It's the poor old peers who fall victims of them, due to their gullibility or naiveness or carelessness or whatever you want to call them.


    Yes Yasutomo,

    Sometimes it's gullibility and/or naiveness but sometimes we can use other words to describe the phenomenon: laziness and/or business ignorance.

    There many colleagues who simply still don't know how to properly conduct their business on the international level and there are also lots of those who are too lazy to do that. Whatever the reason is, they all simply don't do their 'homework': they accept jobs without checking either clients' credibility nor their contact details, they don't demand POs, etc.

    Frankly, taking into consideration those million times that all this have been already said, I personally don't feel much sympathy for those who were fooled because they allowed swindlers to fool them. It seems they do deserve what they get for their work as a result...

    NK


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    John Rawlins  Identity Verified
    Spain
    Local time: 17:49
    Spanish to English
    + ...
    Blueboard+disclosure+proximity+part advance payment Nov 11, 2010

    When I am asked to handle a job by a new client I usually decide on their credit worthiness in a three-step process - with a backstop:

    1. Blueboard

    Any negative feedback strongly suggests that they are bums.

    2. Disclosure

    If their website or email gives extensive contact details and names the owners then good. If the website says something like 'we are a young team with a passion for translation' and provides little hard information then they are probably bums.

    3. Proximity

    If somebody has contacted me from nearby then good. If they are from a distant part of Spain, or another nation, then I am immediately suspicious.

    Backstop:

    I ask for 50% in advance by bank transfer if I am not totally convinced that the buyer is trustworthy. Any hesitation by the buyer tells me that they are probably bums.

    This system has worked very well and in over 12 years of trading my bad debts have totalled 35 euros.





    [Edited at 2010-11-11 17:18 GMT]


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    philgoddard
    United States
    Member (2009)
    German to English
    + ...
    Guilty! Nov 11, 2010

    I have a letter on my desk here from the administrators of a translation company that's gone bust. I'm kicking myself for not looking at BlueBoard before I took the job - their entry is terrible. Sometimes it's not gullibility, but just laziness.

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    Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
    Ghana
    Local time: 15:49
    Member (2011)
    Japanese to English
    Thanks for this thread Nov 11, 2010

    I haven't fallen prey to any non-paying agencies yet, but I admit I have been lax in looking up agencies. Even non-Proz members can look up Blue Board entries by using browniz, so there's really no excuse.

    I've been working on trust so far, but as soon as I read this thread I went and looked up the two latest agencies I've been working with. Thankfully they all check out (more or less), so if they defraud me at least Mr. Kanazawa won't call me a "gullible person"!


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