I think I've been conned into doing work for nothing
Thread poster: B Honeywell
B Honeywell
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:57
English to French
+ ...
Mar 15, 2007

Hi

I recently completed my first "real" translation job however I am now rather suspicious of the person I did it for.

A few days ago I received an email from someone asking if I could do a job with a deadline on the same day of up to 1000 words and also if I could do another job where the deadline was 2 days later of around 5000 words. We had good communication throughout and if one can be intuitive about a person through email, I had a good feeling about them.

The first job was delivered on time and the next day the person stated that the text seemed to be of a good standard. So, feeling good about this work and feeling that at last all my hard work was starting to pay off and my new life was really beginning I set about doing the next job which was quite technical and in an unfamiliar field (it was a first job, I had to accept it!) but I'm confident I did a good job and spent over 16 hours perfecting it.

Anyway, the job was near complete on the day of the deadline when I had a thought - 'who am I actually working for?!' - I checked the email which seemed to indicate an agency. It was a free email address - myway.com. I then get this sinking feeling and realise this could be bad news. I finish the job and email the person asking for their details - no reply. I email them again a few hours later stating that I need their details before I can send the completed job - no reply. I ponder on whether to actually send the job or not and swing from 'no ******* way' to 'well they may be in a different timezone' or 'they may be out the office and have set an email rule to forward it to a proofreader/associate'.

With the deadline looming I sent the job, knowing full well there was a (big) chance I wasn't going to get paid. This was yesterday ...

I am now resigned to the fact that I probably won't get paid and that I just have to put it down to experience. At least I have another area of work that I know I can translate in with a little more practice.

This experience begs the question, how do you know who to trust, even if the person had given me some details like an address or phone number they could have still done the same thing.

Overall I feel pretty depressed about it, but I'm trying to look at the positive side and look forward to my first real job.

From the grumbling coming from my husband I really REALLY hope he never finds this person ...

[Edited at 2007-03-15 16:49]

[Edited at 2007-03-15 21:27]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I sympathise, but ... Mar 16, 2007

BDW wrote:

Hi

I recently completed my first "real" translation job however I am now rather suspicious of the person I did it for.

A few days ago I received an email from someone asking if I could do a job with a deadline on the same day of up to 1000 words and also if I could do another job where the deadline was 2 days later of around 5000 words. We had good communication throughout and if one can be intuitive about a person through email, I had a good feeling about them.

The first job was delivered on time and the next day the person stated that the text seemed to be of a good standard. So, feeling good about this work and feeling that at last all my hard work was starting to pay off and my new life was really beginning I set about doing the next job which was quite technical and in an unfamiliar field (it was a first job, I had to accept it!) but I'm confident I did a good job and spent over 16 hours perfecting it.

Anyway, the job was near complete on the day of the deadline when I had a thought - 'who am I actually working for?!' - I checked the email which seemed to indicate an agency. It was a free email address - myway.com. I then get this sinking feeling and realise this could be bad news. I finish the job and email the person asking for their details - no reply. I email them again a few hours later stating that I need their details before I can send the completed job - no reply. I ponder on whether to actually send the job or not and swing from 'no ******* way' to 'well they may be in a different timezone' or 'they may be out the office and have set an email rule to forward it to a proofreader/associate'.

With the deadline looming I sent the job, knowing full well there was a (big) chance I wasn't going to get paid. This was yesterday ...

I am now resigned to the fact that I probably won't get paid and that I just have to put it down to experience. At least I have another area of work that I know I can translate in with a little more practice.

This experience begs the question, how do you know who to trust, even if the person had given me some details like an address or phone number they could have still done the same thing.

Overall I feel pretty depressed about it, but I'm trying to look at the positive side and look forward to my first real job.

From the grumbling coming from my husband I really REALLY hope he never finds this person ...

[Edited at 2007-03-15 16:49]

[Edited at 2007-03-15 21:27]


Dear BDW,
I sympathise with your situation, but it's early days yet and I hope you do hear from your elusive client. I'd probably have done the same as you when I was a beginner eager to get clients and start work.
However, sad experience teaches one that, however "urgent" the job, it's always wise to get some contact details before accepting it. At least the person's name, location and if possible, postal address, website if any and telephone number. The cost of a quick phone call to the client is well worth it. If they won't give you this perfectly reasonable information, they're probably not worth the risk.
Best of luck,
Jenny.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 01:57
English to Russian
+ ...
I am sorry to hear that... Mar 16, 2007

Doesn't look pretty at all.

When you say "good communication", how do you mean? What did they want to know about you - CV, payment methods etc? Did they mention how they found you? In other words, was there any truly business exchange in the middle of a nice chat?

Please be more careful in future.

Irene


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:57
English to Dutch
+ ...
Check the Blueboard Mar 16, 2007

I always check the Blueboard (one of the great features of ProZ) before entering into a relation with a new client. It will tell me if other translators have had good or bad experiences with the agency in question.
If the comments are unfavourable, or if the client is unknown, I stay away from him.
You might still want to check your client against the Blueboard. Maybe there is something worthwhile to be read there.
And if your dark premonitions turn out to be true, please make an entry into the Blueboard yourself, so that your colleagues will know to stay clear of them guys.
(BTW, if you turn out to be wrong, and I dearly hope so, and you DO get paid, make an entry into the Blueboard too!)


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B Honeywell
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:57
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
From Germany or German ... Mar 16, 2007

IreneN wrote:

Doesn't look pretty at all.

When you say "good communication", how do you mean? What did they want to know about you - CV, payment methods etc? Did they mention how they found you? In other words, was there any truly business exchange in the middle of a nice chat?

Please be more careful in future.

Irene


The person mentioned they were from Germany and that they had seen my information through my website which sounds perfectly reasonable.

It was suspicious that they were giving me work that was out of my specialties and areas of interest. I have since looked at my profile visitors and on the day the job came through someone searched for eng/technical French native, English-French translator. This had to be the person but when I tracked the ip it was located in Sydney. So when the person said they were from Germany maybe they lied or maybe they meant they were German?!


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Marie-Céline GEORG  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:57
English to French
+ ...
Forget about intuition Mar 16, 2007

Hi,

I'm sorry to read your story, but sadly it's a well-known one here...
You say
if one can be intuitive about a person through email, I had a good feeling about them.
- Well, that's not really a good idea in business, at least it's not enough to have a good feeling.
If you don't know a customer at all, before accepting a job you should learn as much as possible about them - everything Jenny and IreneN wrote (with a correct invoicing address), some kind of official ID number (e.g. VAT number in Europe). Ask for a detailed PO - not as a favour, but simply as a normal business exchange.
In the meantime, do a rapid check about the client: look for a web site, search proz, google, the professional phone book site of the country... There are mailing lists and groups dedicated to bad payers, too - no guarantee if your contact is not listed, but no waste of time if they already have a reputation!
Asking that kind of questions will help you sort between prospective customers and frauds. If they don't answer, you'll probably be able to spend your time more usefully working on something else.
Knowing who to trust is indeed quite difficult, but with time you will notice more easily the details that will make you really confident about a customer.

Finally, if you don't get paid for this job but have enough details about this agency/person, don't hesitate to make an entry in the Blue Board so that everybody knows about them...

Keep looking at the positive side, not all customers are bad payers and now you'll be more careful.
Best regards
Marie-Céline


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Gert Hirschfeld  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:57
English to German
+ ...
Get references! Mar 16, 2007

Let's face it, it doesn't sound great.

There's one thing we should learn from that: Anybody could ring up and ask for your services. There's absolutely NO POINT in going ahead if they cannot identify themselves.

That's what the Blue Board is for. If you haven't got access yet as a newbie, maybe one of the full members could help you out by looking someone up for you. That's what Proz is all about: making contacts with others.

So if they are not listed on the BB, go the traditional route and ask them for at least two references from translators who have worked for them. If this is supposed to be a long-term business relationship you could even ask for more documentation. That should be totally acceptable.

Tip of the Day: Don't waste your time!

[Edited at 2007-03-16 13:27]


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the Train  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
English to Arabic
+ ...
Don't be discouraged Mar 16, 2007

Hi B,
So you've just had your first job but someone spoilt that for you. That’s really bad. I'm afraid there is nothing you can do now about it. But you gotta ask yourself an important question... why did you accept the job in a first place without making sure you will get paid? There are ways you can identify your clients. I ask them for a confirmation by fax using their official letterhead. I also give them a call on their landline. I take their website address and verify if they are members of any associations that I can file a complaint with if they act funny. I research them a little bit. When I first started my career, I was very reluctant to do that because I was so eager to start and I was also under the naive assumption that when you ask people for all these details they might get offended and never want to work with me again. Which is true. The ones who get offended –as it turned out later- were the ones who had no intention of paying in a first place. The problem will be the people whose identities can not be verified. Ask them to pay you a percentage in advance. It is good that you have a website. Have electronic payment facility enabled. If they insist that they will pay after completion, and you really wanna do this, then send them only the odd numbers of the translation and keep the even numbers. This is how they can verify that you completed the work but will not send the whole lot until they pay. Although, if they never pay, this is not helping either. An individual -who is not a company- is saving a lot of money by dealing direct with a translator instead of an agency. So they will WANT to work with you. If you are thinking 'oh but if I insist that I take money in advance they will go to a translator who doesn't'. The truth is if you do not take some money in advance, they might give you the work, you do it, then they simply change their minds and never claim their work. Several months later if they need a translator, they will go to that 'other' translator. So, if you can not verify them and they insist that they are not going to pay you in advance, ask yourself if you wanna work for free, if it is worth the try.
Telling a potential client that these are your rules and they gotta play by your rules, tells them that you are a pro. Do not be afraid of taking control of the situation.


[Edited at 2007-03-16 20:00]


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Navy Huang
China
Local time: 14:57
English to Chinese
+ ...
Information rather than intuition Mar 17, 2007

Marie-Céline GEORG wrote:

I'm sorry to read your story, but sadly it's a well-known one here...
You say
if one can be intuitive about a person through email, I had a good feeling about them.


I quite agree with Marie-Celine on that simply judging a person from your own intuition is far from enough for protecting you against possible frauds. Once I was cheated by a translator associate who I have met and talked a lot with for more than two months before I accepted a small translation job (around 3000 words) from him, I completed it and sent the translation with a confident assumption that the payment would be deposited very soon though it turned out he kept milking me since then by telling me he hadn't got paid (which the end-client proved a cheating in person in the end) . Corporate clients and private individuals alike, DO get more INFORMATION about those you work with and that simple strategy in itself will not only help you sort out some well-disguised liars from the very beginning but also will help you make up your loss to the maximum extent if possible when really cheated.
Good luck, BDW.

Huang Haijun


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Faruk Atabeyli  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 09:57
English to Turkish
+ ...
Clues in the text Mar 18, 2007

Does the text you worked on bear any clues such as company name, model number, or any other identifying information that may eventually lead you the eventual recipient of your service?

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B Honeywell
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:57
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Already tried it Mar 18, 2007

Faruk Atabeyli wrote:

Does the text you worked on bear any clues such as company name, model number, or any other identifying information that may eventually lead you the eventual recipient of your service?


No we already tried that, it appears they have removed any information that could be traced.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:57
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I agree and I disagree Mar 18, 2007

the Train wrote:
There are ways you can identify your clients. I ask them for a confirmation by fax using their official letterhead. I also give them a call on their landline. I take their website address and verify if they are members of any associations that I can file a complaint with if they act funny. I research them a little bit.


These are very good points. I also check out any new or potential client against (a) his web site, (b) his listing in any directories and (c) mention in payment practice lists.

Have electronic payment facility enabled. If they insist that they will pay after completion, and you really wanna do this, then send them only the odd numbers of the translation and keep the even numbers. This is how they can verify that you completed the work but will not send the whole lot until they pay.


I would never do such a thing. It says to the client "I don't trust you" and good relationships are build on trust (or at least the semblance of trust). My own solution would be not to accept large jobs from clients I can't verify, or to... take a chance if I feel up to it.

Telling a potential client that these are your rules and they gotta play by your rules, tells them that you are a pro.


This I certainly agree with, but keep it non-confrontational.


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