Unethical outsourcers
Thread poster: Marcos Cardenas

Marcos Cardenas  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 04:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 22, 2015

Dear colleagues:

I would like to share my experience regarding increasingly unethical practises of outsources.

As you know, when you are contacted by outsources, especially for large translation projects, you are requested to sign NDAs as part of the tendering process and sometimes even adhere to their regulations i.e discounts, penalties, etc. Having said that, I was part of tendering process in which I was finally offered the translation project and for which I had to sign a number of documents that were requested by the end client. To my surprise, and fortunately I had not started yet, they contacted me again to inform that the end client had finally declined to continue with this project. I asked them about what happened and just told me that, no further explanations.

After a couple of weeks, I found out that this honorable, well-known translation company, which also has a perfect reputation and a high WWA rate, had reassigned this translation project to a different translator in their country, which is also Spanish-speaking. No replies at all to my E-mails after they were busted in their deceitful behaviour. I say "deceitful" because our profession is based in mutual trust and ethical behaviour. I considered to pursue legal actions but finally desisted not to waste time, energy and money.

So far, I have come to some conclusions (I might be wrong):
1. Reconsider asking my outsources to also sign a translation contract to protect my interests;
2. Today some "serious" companies are not playing fair and actually scam professionals who hold a university degree, have experience and a robust CV to be awarded contracts; they get rid of such professional and then go for a cheaper bilingual (at this point I do not know whether they are contracting professional translators or not).
3. For being good and trusting dies the lamb.

I share this so that you be aware of the risks when disclosing and signing legal documents. If your country has strict regulations in the translation field, you might even be involved in legal actions because of dishonest and unscrupulous third parties.

Have a nice day!


[Edited at 2015-04-22 16:41 GMT]


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Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:58
Member (2002)
English to Russian
Showcasing best translators' CVs only to switch to lower-paid alternatives if awarded a contract Apr 22, 2015

Marcos Cardenas wrote:

2. Today some "serious" companies are not playing fair and actually scam professionals who hold a university degree, experience and a robust CV to win contracts; they get rid of them and then go for a cheaper bilingual (at this point I do not know whether they are contracting professional translators or not).


It seems to be the case with certain agencies bidding for EU contracts.


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Pierret Adrien  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 15:58
Chinese to French
+ ...
There's always someone allowing them, even passively Apr 24, 2015

The real question here is how come end clients don't prevent themselves from such deceitful methods. I'm sure the contracts they sign provide for this.

Anyway, if it were me, I wouldn't have put my name on any NDA or promise of any kind without a proper order of work or whatever they call it going along, including penalties of cancellation/responsibility waivers or anything preventing ME from being the deceived end.
But yeah, I know we don't always have it our way, which is why a suspicious eye is my default stance on these type of bids and I like to ask all sorts of questions beforehand.


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Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:58
Member (2002)
English to Russian
New EU regulations with regard to public procurement of translation services Apr 24, 2015

Pierret Adrien wrote:

The real question here is how come end clients don't prevent themselves from such deceitful methods. I'm sure the contracts they sign provide for this.


As far as I am aware, EU institutions are going to start verifying that the actual translation work is done by the translators indicated in the winning agency's bid.


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Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
The same thing happened to me Apr 24, 2015

Some time ago an agency from Czech Republic offered me a large German - Latvian translation project. I signed all documents requested and was asked to send a copy of my University diploma. Thereafter the agency vanished. I believe that the only intent was to "present" to the end client a translator with relevant education and practice.

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Pierret Adrien  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 15:58
Chinese to French
+ ...
Unbeatable logic Apr 24, 2015

Vladimir Pochinov wrote:

Pierret Adrien wrote:

The real question here is how come end clients don't prevent themselves from such deceitful methods. I'm sure the contracts they sign provide for this.


As far as I am aware, EU institutions are going to start verifying that the actual translation work is done by the translators indicated in the winning agency's bid.


Which leads me to wonder why can't they do it in-house, or at least of least manage it in-house instead of opening tenders and having to cross check everything with the occasional mess-up.
But I'm sure they have perfectly valid reasons, not like I'd have a say in their business anyway, I'm just a EU citizen.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sometimes it's a matter of availability Apr 24, 2015

I have been working for a thoroughly ethical agency since 2006. They have a "preferred team" of 3 translators in my language pair there. Once they had an urgent request, and all three of us were loaded above the lid with other jobs. A while ago I had referred a fourth translator to them. So I suggested they used her. The answer was, "We can't. She never submitted her paperwork."

I am not defending the agency you referred to, only pointing out that there IS the possibility that their usual translators were all taken up. Perhaps their end-client gave them more time, so they could assign the job to someone from their preferred team.

Just as I prefer to work with my usual clients, it is normal that an agency will prefer assigning jobs to their usual translators. No surprises on either side.


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Maria S. Loose, LL.M.  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 09:58
German to English
+ ...
replacement of initial highly qualified translator Apr 24, 2015

Vladimir Pochinov wrote:

Pierret Adrien wrote:

The real question here is how come end clients don't prevent themselves from such deceitful methods. I'm sure the contracts they sign provide for this.


As far as I am aware, EU institutions are going to start verifying that the actual translation work is done by the translators indicated in the winning agency's bid.


Yes, they verify that the actual translation work is done by the translators indicated in the winning agency's bid. An agency has to ask for authorization if it wants to replace an existing translator by a new one. And this authorization is only given if the new translator fulfils minimum requirements: University diploma plus translation experience. Furthermore, the delivered translations are checked by in-house-translators. If the quality is not good enough, the agency loses its position on the ranking list. It will get new work only, if nobody else wants it, or won't get any new work at all. Sometimes, if the quality of the submitted translation is really bad, the agency won't get paid. So it's in the interest of the agency to stick to translators initially proposed.

[Edited at 2015-04-24 13:08 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-04-24 13:10 GMT]


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Marcos Cardenas  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 04:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Still unethical from my point of view Apr 24, 2015

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Just as I prefer to work with my usual clients, it is normal that an agency will prefer assigning jobs to their usual translators. No surprises on either side.


I agree with you on the fact that agencies will prefer their usual or in-house translators. But in this case, they had to provide for a specific variant (ES-CL) according to the type of work requested by the end client. I actually read that on one of the documents I signed. So I come to the same conclusion: some agencies are using (scamming) translators to win contracts. To me, this is unethical, unprofessional and illegal. Perhaps we have a different notion of those concepts.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Giving them the benefit of the doubt, not the certainty of it Apr 25, 2015

Marcos Cardenas wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Just as I prefer to work with my usual clients, it is normal that an agency will prefer assigning jobs to their usual translators. No surprises on either side.


I agree with you on the fact that agencies will prefer their usual or in-house translators. But in this case, they had to provide for a specific variant (ES-CL) according to the type of work requested by the end client. I actually read that on one of the documents I signed. So I come to the same conclusion: some agencies are using (scamming) translators to win contracts. To me, this is unethical, unprofessional and illegal. Perhaps we have a different notion of those concepts.


I understand, and agree that in your case it was probably a bait and replace trick. I know I have been used as a bait too, like you here.

I just wanted to point out the other possibility, before this thread widespread the idea of the model "translators should seek agencies; when an agency reaches out to a translator, they only want the signed paperwork as evidence that they DO have contact with professional practitioners too".

I'll admit that I get more "fruitless" contacts originated by agencies than the other way around, but not all of them to make it a rule.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:58
English to German
+ ...
Thoughts Apr 25, 2015

Marcos Cardenas wrote:

Dear colleagues:

I would like to share my experience regarding increasingly unethical practises of outsources.

As you know, when you are contacted by outsources, especially for large translation projects, you are requested to sign NDAs as part of the tendering process and sometimes even adhere to their regulations i.e discounts, penalties, etc. Having said that, I was part of tendering process in which I was finally offered the translation project and for which I had to sign a number of documents that were requested by the end client. To my surprise, and fortunately I had not started yet, they contacted me again to inform that the end client had finally declined to continue with this project. I asked them about what happened and just told me that, no further explanations.

After a couple of weeks, I found out that this honorable, well-known translation company, which also has a perfect reputation and a high WWA rate, had reassigned this translation project to a different translator in their country, which is also Spanish-speaking. No replies at all to my E-mails after they were busted in their deceitful behaviour. I say "deceitful" because our profession is based in mutual trust and ethical behaviour. I considered to pursue legal actions but finally desisted not to waste time, energy and money.

So far, I have come to some conclusions (I might be wrong):
1. Reconsider asking my outsources to also sign a translation contract to protect my interests;
2. Today some "serious" companies are not playing fair and actually scam professionals who hold a university degree, have experience and a robust CV to be awarded contracts; they get rid of such professional and then go for a cheaper bilingual (at this point I do not know whether they are contracting professional translators or not).
3. For being good and trusting dies the lamb.

I share this so that you be aware of the risks when disclosing and signing legal documents. If your country has strict regulations in the translation field, you might even be involved in legal actions because of dishonest and unscrupulous third parties.

Have a nice day!


[Edited at 2015-04-22 16:41 GMT]



Thank you for posting this, Marcos!

It seems the important thing here is to make it harder for these agencies to cheat us or use our information illegally.

I don't send out resumes/CVs to agencies or other outsourcers anymore - I point them to the information posted on my websites - that's really all they need. Could they still "create" a fake resume/CV? Yes, they could, but it's probably or hopefully too much work for them.
I don't do test translations. Period (Full stop)!

Regarding your conclusions.

1. For direct clients who are companies, I always work with an order form I create. It's signed by me and co-signed by the client. If I work with an agency (which I do less and less), I will not work with them without a purchase order (PO) that lays out the project details and the payment procedure. If it doesn't reflect my terms, I will not accept the project. Lately, agencies have been asking for NDAs, and I usually don't sign them. Many outsourcers want you to sign these without having committed to a project or even shown you a specific project but you're supposed to give them a document with your signature on it. Go read what some of these NDAs will get you to agree to. Instead, I have my own contract which outlines my terms and conditions. If you need a template, check out ATA's website.
2. If I am not dealing with the end client, I won't submit a CV.
3. Trust needs to be earned. 5 star ratings on Blueboard are not good enough for me as a service provider to "assume" everything will work out fine. Most importantly, we are the service providers and need to step up and make sure clients understand that, be they agencies, other individuals who are also outsourcers, or end clients. This industry seems to be upside down when it comes to most agencies. They think it's okay that they dictate the terms. That's not okay, it's not professional, and I wish things would be much different on this site as well.

Now, clients who work with me fairly and respectfully get the royal treatment they deserve and that's what I want to do for each and everyone of them. I am not interested in other clientele. It would be a waste of my time and open up the opportunity for exploitation. Don't get me wrong, I run a fair business. Don't want to create the impression that I am too expensive, unfair or inflexible. Not at all.

[Edited at 2015-04-26 02:47 GMT]


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Huasha
China
Local time: 15:58
English to Chinese
+ ...
Be more careful Apr 27, 2015

Agree with Bernhard .
I, too, have signed a lot of documents with outsourcers a few years ago, only one or two were real in the end.
Now, I tend to spend more time on end clients and my usual partners.
But I always wonder if they are still using my signed documents without letting me know.


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