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Money is not the only thing that matters, proz.com!
Thread poster: Iuliana Bozkurt

Iuliana Bozkurt  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 11:25
Member (2008)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Feb 2, 2016

This post is mainly addressed to proz.com staff, but nonetheless I believe my initiative should be supported by as many translators as possible. Maybe we can all write to proz.com staff and ask for STRICTER REGISTRATION REGULATIONS.

As I said above, I believe Proz.com has a flawed procedure when allowing translation agencies to register on this site. We know that for each business account proz.com gets some $$$, but their main concern should be their main contributors' - the TRANSLATORS - safety.

Yesterday I responded to a translation agency's job offer, posted here. The agency is registered with proz.com. The PM seemed friendly and all, the agency was based in Northern Europe (this geographic location would not make you think immediately about scams, like you would if you were dealing with an agency located in... other parts of the world, so to say). All was fine and I agreed to be paid 30 days later. The agency made a mistake and provided me with their VAT number (although I had not requested it). That mistake prevented me from working for free, as I checked it in VIES and that VAT no. was associated with another translation agency with a very poor rating on proz.com. So basically this agency was posing as someone else, otherwise no one would work for them considering their BlueBoard rating.

Now, dear proz.com staff, why DO YOU allow an agency to register 100 different profiles? Why don't you ask for a certificate of registration in their country of origin? Why don't you forbid double/multiple accounts for the same agency? ONE agency per ONE registration certificate. No certificate? Then no access to agency account!

I am going to notify proz.com staff about this serious problem. If it were solved, I bet 50% of the agencies currently registered with proz.com would disappear, as many of them work under several identities. Money is not the only thing that matters, proz.com!

Signed: a disappointed translator.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:25
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Wrong again Feb 2, 2016

Iuliana Bozkurt wrote:

.....the agency was based in Northern Europe (this geographic location would not make you think immediately about scams, like you would if you were dealing with an agency located in... other parts of the world, so to say).....


This is a widespread misconception that has no basis in fact. The difference with scams in northern Europe is that they have become enormous, legalised and institutionalised, and made respectable to the extent that they are not even thought of as scams. You could begin by looking at land ownership in the UK, or British tax havens like the British Virgin Islands, etc. In other parts of Europe the scams are discussed much more openly *as scams*.

[Edited at 2016-02-02 12:36 GMT]

PS by the way just a few days ago I was approached by a translation agency which (they didn't tell me, but my investigations revealed) is based in the British Virgin Islands. I refused the job because the only reason why any company is registered in the BVI is a way of avoiding tax. That's an example of a large-scale scam in which thousands of companies participate and which thanks to their friends in the British government, is *perfectly legal*.

[Edited at 2016-02-02 13:54 GMT]


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Iuliana Bozkurt  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 11:25
Member (2008)
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Tom, you are absolutely correct, but... Feb 2, 2016

my point was not where the scammer originated from. My point was that Proz.com is not protecting our interests, simply because it allows one entity to open x accounts without requiring supporting documents.

Hopefully proz.com will share with us their perspective on the matter.


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WordCreative  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 17:55
Member (2015)
Korean to English
indeed be a huge problem and Proz needs to address it. Feb 2, 2016

If what Iuliana is saying is correct and any agency can pose as any other agency,
that is a serious flaw in the system which needs to be corrected.

I rely very heavily on the Blue Board to decide whether I should bid for a job;
I make sure the company has a track record long enough with a good enough rating,
but all this would be futile if any bad agency could pretend to be a good one..
What protection is left for us translators then?

I'm also somewhat new to the practice, and I see a lot of notifications about scams on a weekly basis.
How do you guys protect yourself from potential scammers and what safety measures do you take other than checking the blue board? What is the VAT number and VIE?


This is a serious concern that's been on my mind ever since I started freelancing and found out how rampant scams are
and other more seasoned translators' opinions about the subject would be very helpful for me and many others in a similar position as well.

[Edited at 2016-02-02 14:12 GMT]


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 06:25
SITE STAFF
Risk management in an integral part of freelance translation Feb 2, 2016

Dear members,

The premise that “ for each business account proz.com gets some $$$” is simply wrong. ProZ.com gets income from membership fees paid by professional and corporate members, but receives no direct income from guest accounts.

Both agencies and translators can register in the site without any validation process. Some risk management validation is made on posted jobs, and all claims made by agencies and translators via support are investigated (and acted upon).

Risk management is an integral part of the business activities that should be performed by freelancers and companies alike, and each one should manage risks in accordance with their own procedures, based on their own risk tolerance and business practices.

Regards,
Enrique


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 06:25
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with Enrique Feb 2, 2016

Enrique Cavalitto wrote:

Dear members,

The premise that “ for each business account proz.com gets some $$$” is simply wrong. ProZ.com gets income from membership fees paid by professional and corporate members, but receives no direct income from guest accounts.

Both agencies and translators can register in the site without any validation process. Some risk management validation is made on posted jobs, and all claims made by agencies and translators via support are investigated (and acted upon).

Risk management is an integral part of the business activities that should be performed by freelancers and companies alike, and each one should manage risks in accordance with their own procedures, based on their own risk tolerance and business practices.

Regards,
Enrique


+1!


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Iuliana Bozkurt  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 11:25
Member (2008)
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, Enrique, but there are still 2 things... Feb 2, 2016

that simply don't sound very OK to me:




1. “ for each business account proz.com gets some $$$” is simply wrong. ProZ.com gets income from membership fees paid by professional and corporate members, but receives no direct income from guest accounts.

2. Both agencies and translators can register in the site without any validation process. Risk management is an integral part of the business activities that should be performed by freelancers and companies alike.


Issue no. 1 - I am not saying that you receive direct income from guest accounts, as I know that you do not. But a registered account is paid, so if a company registers 2 accounts, it pays 2 times the fee.

Issue no. 2 - The NO VALIDATION process is a serious gap that needs to be filled. It would not be complicated to request any new translation agency who registers on proz.com to provide you with their registration certificate. If they are a legitimate business, they will undoubtedly be registered with their national Trade/Commercial Register. I am willing to pay more for my membership, for example, if that could support this new task for you. And I believe others too would share my point of view.


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Iuliana Bozkurt  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 11:25
Member (2008)
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
WordCreative, this is what EU VAT means... Feb 2, 2016

WordCreative wrote:
What is the VAT number and VIE?


EU VAT number is a code (like VAT ID) assigned to an European Union legal entity who requested it. The validity of this code can be verified on the VIES portal. This system allows VAT compensations between EU Member States.

The advantage is that if you are an EU company dealing with another EU company and both companies are EU VAT registered, the seller charges no VAT and the buyer pays no VAT, which is a great thing, as this means 20% lower prices. You cannot register for EU VAT if you are not established in an EU Member State - in your case the US. I am no tax expert, but I have recently joined the system and I have a general understanding about its purpose...

If a company gives you their EU VAT number, you can check whether they are a legit business on the VIES website (just google search the link to the official page). That's how I discovered that the scammer my post refers to has 1 company (registered on VIES) but he poses as another one.


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 06:25
SITE STAFF
Cooperative risk management Feb 2, 2016

Iuliana Bozkurt wrote:

that simply don't sound very OK to me:



1. “ for each business account proz.com gets some $$$” is simply wrong. ProZ.com gets income from membership fees paid by professional and corporate members, but receives no direct income from guest accounts.



Issue no. 1 - I am not saying that you receive direct income from guest accounts, as I know that you do not. But a registered account is paid, so if a company registers 2 accounts, it pays 2 times the fee.


Hi Iuliana,

You reported to support that two Blue Board records belonged to the same company, and the support team fused the information in a single record, so other translators will not be deceived. This is how the cooperative approach to risk management takes place, and all players benefit from it.

On the other hand, I don't understand by paid registered account in this context. As far as I can see, both BB entries were associated with the same guest profile, and ProZ.com gets not income from these. Only professional and corporate members pay a fee to the site.

Requiring verification for all profiles (you would like to have companies verified but others ask for the validation of translators profiles) would be extremely cumbersome, and would in the end reduce the interaction that clients and service providers enjoy in the site.

A kind of "corporate identity verification" offered as a service tor corporate members, on the other hand, could be a good idea.

Regards,
Enrique


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Dani Karuniawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 16:25
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Try it Feb 2, 2016

Becoming a consumer is tiring.
Why do you not create a website in line with your description above?
Try it.




[Edited at 2016-02-02 15:13 GMT]


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Iuliana Bozkurt  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 11:25
Member (2008)
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good point Feb 2, 2016

Hi Enrique,

I think the idea that you mentioned - corporate identity verification - would be a great thing. Indeed, companies might want to undergo this (optional, I guess) verification, to make themselves more attractive to translators and maybe to end clients, why not.

Also, I was not saying that the company that I reported today had 2 paying profiles. It does not. I just put the things into perspective a bit. It would not be an exception if one and the same company opened 2 registered profiles. This Dutch agency has not gone so far. Now, let me ask: what if it hadn't (foolishly) shared their EU VAT number with me? Would I have worked for free? YES. Is there another translator who is now doing that job, instead of me? Yes, I bet there is. And that person will lose one day of work/life.

I also understand your point of view - if you receive a registration certificate, you must verify it. That takes time, plus you cannot know the registration procedures applicable in each and every country. You may as well get a forged certificate. I get that and it makes sense. So maybe that optional Corporate Identity Verification could be a positive change, so we can be sure that the verified agency is indeed law compliant.


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 06:25
SITE STAFF
Risk manager is the freelancer's responsibility Feb 2, 2016

Iuliana Bozkurt wrote:

Now, let me ask: what if it hadn't (foolishly) shared their EU VAT number with me? Would I have worked for free? YES. Is there another translator who is now doing that job, instead of me? Yes, I bet there is. And that person will lose one day of work/life.


Hi Iuliana,

Even if there was a second BB page (with no entries) that was fused with the previous one (thanks to your report), it was still your responsibility (and the responsibility of your hypothetical additional translator) to perform appropriate risk management verifications in order to make sure the client was sound.

ProZ.com provides tools and opportunities to help translators and companies do a better job, but it is still your job.

Regards,
Enrique


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Iuliana Bozkurt  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 11:25
Member (2008)
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Feb 2, 2016

Risk management is undoubtedly the translator's responsibility. At the same time, I am sure we can improve things. There is always room for improvement, isn't it? And I am really looking forward to seeing some advances regarding this topic that we've been debating

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The Misha
Local time: 04:25
Russian to English
+ ...
Their main concern is their bottom line. As it should be. Feb 2, 2016

Iuliana Bozkurt wrote:

... but their main concern should be their main contributors' - the TRANSLATORS - safety.


This site is a business, rather than some sort of an industry watchdog or a regulatory agency. As such, their only responsibility is being upfront about what they do or do not do, and what the rules are. For the most part, they are too.

As a freelancer, you are a business too, which, among other things, means that ALL the risks inherent in this business are yours, and yours alone. It is up to you to take any and all measures to control and reduce your risks - up to and including refusing to work for any particular outsourcer anywhere. If you think different, I am afraid you are dangerously deluding yourself.

Personally, as a risk control measure, I flat out refuse to accept work orders from anywhere I don't have direct and immediate legal recourse. I am also highly suspicious of any new client, regardless of where he or she may be located and thus use extra caution when dealing with those. Maybe that's why I hardly ever have any. That's all right, that's also a part of being out there on your own.

Finally, if you think of this place as a ready source of jobs, you are probably wrong again. It's a meeting place - a sort of a corner bodega to come see and be seen. It also provides a form of perverse entertainment through KudoZ and forum discussions such as this one. Anything else, I am not so sure about.


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Katarzyna Slowikova  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:25
Polish to Czech
+ ...
A bit confusing Feb 2, 2016

Iuliana, in your 1st post you talked about an agency posing as another agency, now you and Enrique are talking about 2 accounts belonging to the same agency. So could you please clarify which one was the case?

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