Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Agency I anonymously blogged on threatens legal action?
Thread poster: 784512
784512
Germany
Local time: 14:01
German to English
+ ...
Jan 10, 2011

I am pretty sure they do not have a leg to stand on, though would appreciate some confirmation from others regarding where I stand, and advice on how to react.

The blog post to which this refers is: http://translatorsteacup.lingocode.com/?p=72

This is their message to me:


You have damaged our reputation based on assumptions. Posting my message on your blog suggests that we could be a potential scammer.
Instead of agreeing with xxx, you should ask him how he gets his information from that my messages are generated from China.

We ask you kindly to rectify your blog message within 3 days of this message or you will find out soon where we are located as we are gonna take this to the small claims court for loss in earnings. We are a legitimate registered Ltd company in the UK, but since we haven't a website yet we cannot disclose our official name until after a few weeks.
That you haven't disclosed our abbreviated name doesn't matter as the copy/paste of the message is recognisable by many other people to whom we sent out emails.
There is no law that says we can only be professional or legitimate with a hosted server and email address.

Your comments and suggestions are misplaced.
1. We cannot exactly disclose why we asked you all those questions or the questions from the Google Docs as this will disclose the way we work. However we can say that many translators didn't fill in the questionnaire correctly. Sometimes they stated a different native language than than their real native language, etc.
You forgot what you've filled in for your language combinations. You stated that you are very good in Dutch (not moderate as you stated in your blog) and near-native in German which made me think you could be bilingual. To make sure you filled in the questionnaire correctly we just asked you for a confirmation. Some people state that they are bilingual while they are not and others like Belgian translators suggest that they are Dutch natives why they are in fact Flemish natives, which is completely different.
2. You're assuming that we don't proofread translated documents. Again we cannot disclose the way we work or why we ask these questions, but we don't think that you should hang a conclusion on a suggestion we make.
3. We also found it strange to translate 8000 words a day and that's why we asked for a confirmation. Instead you've chosen to conclude that we expect you to translate 8000 words

We hope that we have answered your questions and you will see that you are damaging new businesses and the economy in the UK without any proper proof of us being scammers. You will find no one speak evil about our business and we always pay our translators in full and in a timely manner.

* In case of any linguistic mistakes - I am not an English native.

Kind regards,
Director


Honestly, this Director did not even sign with their name...

I responded:

Dear "Director"

I will not change my blog. There is no claim for loss of earnings, either, since there is no link to your company. You will be laughed at by any lawyer who hears that you are "gonna" [sic.] take this to the "small claims court" [sic.]. There is no law that says I cannot post parts of emails, with all identifiable information specific to the company removed. See ProZ.com forums for many such examples.

You should, instead, consider taking a more professional approach to your "business".

As a professional translator, it is my duty to protect the industry from disrepute and fellow translators from potential unprofessional agencies.

If you are a legitimate business, are you registered at ProZ.com (with Blue Board entries) or Companies House?

Find me some satisfied translators with a reputable standing (KudoZ points, WWA entries) on ProZ.com who have worked for you and been paid by you, and I will gladly remove the post.

Kind Regards

"Translator"


So, can anyone confirm exactly where I stand? Like I say, I think I am pretty safe, but could do with the assurance.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My2c Jan 10, 2011

784512 wrote:
I am pretty sure they do not have a leg to stand on, though would appreciate some confirmation from others regarding where I stand, and advice on how to react.


1. You have a responsibility as a translator to protect not only the identity and intellectual property of your clients and potential clients, but also their dignity. This is why posting whole or nearly whole messages from clients onto public forums is something not to be done lightly.

2. As a blog owner you have a responsibility to your readers and to the subjects of your blog posts to ensure that the discussion on the blog itself stays on topic. You don't have to aggressively delete comments but you have to be careful when responding to comments, because although your response is to a single person, the response is very public and actually becomes part of the original message you were trying to convey in your blog post.

What was the purpose of the blog post? Was it to discuss the client, or was it to discuss other issues (e.g. unprofessional behaviour) using the client's message as an illustration? If you wanted to discuss the client, you should have done so in a closed forum, at least. I suspect your blog post was to discuss issues. This means that the client himself should not be discussed. The moment you responded to the "He is from China" comment with the affirmative, the blog post changed from a post about the issue of unprofessionality to a discussion about the client himself.

As for what the client had written:

You have damaged our reputation based on assumptions. ... That you haven't disclosed our abbreviated name doesn't matter as the copy/paste of the message is recognisable by many other people to whom we sent out emails.


Although the client's identity is not revealed in the blog post, he does have a point -- people who receive the same boilerplate e-mail from him who have also read your blog post may regard him as a scammer now, because of your blog post. His message is fairly generic but there are unique elements to it which would be identifiable by other people receiving the same message.

Posting my message on your blog suggests that we could be a potential scammer. ...


Your blog post does not mention scamming at all, but the reply you made to the one reader's comment does say that you believe the client to be a scammer. Your original blog post was about unprofessionality only. The reply you made to the reader's comment turns your blog post into a post about how the client is a scammer. I believe the client's concern would be soothed if you simply remove your reply to that comment.

By making your its-a-scammer reply, you make it appear as if all the points you mention about unprofessionality are actually points that identify a scammer, which is not so.

...we are gonna take this to the small claims court for loss in earnings.


Unless I'm mistaken, the onus would be on him to prove loss of earnings. He would have to prove that some translators who would otherwise have registered in his database had as a result of your blog post declined to register in his database, and that the number of translators who did so was so great that he had been unable to find other translators in those language combinations, and as a result had been unable to offer those language combinations to potential clients who would otherwise have certainly made use of his services. A tall order, if you ask me.

On the other hand: do you think the blog post would void your professional indemnity insurance?

We are a legitimate registered Ltd company in the UK, but since we haven't a website yet we cannot disclose our official name until after a few weeks.


Surely the moment a company is registered, their business' details (including business name, contact details, type of business and names of directors) become public knowledge via the companies' register. Not being able to tell you what their name is until after they get a web site doesn't seem like a valid excuse to me. Is there such a law in the UK?

Honestly, this Director did not even sign with their name...


Yes, but is that a sign of a:
a) scammer
b) unprofessional person
c) careless person in general
d) person who is angry, who then forgets to sign his name?

There is no law that says I cannot post parts of emails, with all identifiable information specific to the company removed.


The client's grievance is not that you posted part of his e-mail, but that you called him a potential scammer after posting enough of his e-mail that it would be recognisable by someone else receiving it.

As a professional translator, it is my duty to protect the industry from disrepute and fellow translators from potential unprofessional agencies.


I'm not convinced that that was what you were doing, though.

Find me some satisfied translators with a reputable standing (KudoZ points, WWA entries) on ProZ.com who have worked for you and been paid by you, and I will gladly remove the post.


With this statement you have effectively placed the onus on the client to prove that he is not a scammer (i.e. he is a scammmer until proven otherwise). This is not only unprofessional and unfair to the client, but also potentially slanderous (particularly since you have now posted it here in this public forum).



[Edited at 2011-01-10 20:34 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
784512
Germany
Local time: 14:01
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks... Jan 10, 2011

Hmm... I see your point about that comment regarding the client coming from China. I'll just delete his comments - I don't want that commentator to get into trouble, either.

No, there is no reason why they cannot reveal their name until after they have a website in the UK, it's quite ludicrous that he states that.

My last comment about finding reputable translators was more a response to his claim that he is running a legitimate agency... which I doubt.

Hmmm. Perhaps I shall edit the post, but keep the comments.

My intention with that post was to highlight the strangeness of some agencies and misperceptions of people about the way our business works, even within the industry. I felt that, in asking such ill-informed questions, they were revealing their own lack of knowledge and therefore lack of long-term interest in the industry. Yes, I certainly felt this suggested they were marketing themselves as a translation agency to earn a quick buck.

I don't think many translators seriously would want to work with a company after they asked such ridiculous questions as that company asked me. I mean, do I translate into my "near-native" language, or from a language that I say I have only basic knowledge of?

What would be your suggestion on how to proceed?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

veratek
Brazil
Local time: 11:01
French to English
+ ...
why not talk to a lawyer? Jan 10, 2011

If you know of a competent one, why not? If the lawyer does their job and explains to you where you stand, legally speaking, they will be able to advise you in a way that most lay people cannot.

There are also some legal blogs where you could also explain your situation and ask for advice.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
No advice... just a thought Jan 10, 2011

784512 wrote:
No, there is no reason why they cannot reveal their name until after they have a website in the UK, it's quite ludicrous that he states that.


Whenever I get an e-mail from someone who would normally be serious that contains something that is ludicrous, I take a step back and try to consider how what the person had written may not be so ludicrous after all. When we write e-mails we do so while having an imaginary discussion with the recipient, and we don't always realise that (or how) some things that make perfect sense to us would make no sense to the recipient.

The client writes:
We are a legitimate registered Ltd company in the UK, but since we haven't a website yet we cannot disclose our official name until after a few weeks.

It could be because he is under the mistaken impression that that is indeed the case, owing to something that his lawyer or accountant told him that he had misunderstood. If this is so, then it means that he is acting in perfectly good faith and is merely mistaken in his beliefs. That is no reason for the recipient of his mail to take an aggressive stance.

He says "we can't" but that doesn't mean that he means "it is illegal for us to do so". It may simply mean that his superiors believe it is unwise to do so (perhaps to retain a competitive edge, or not to endanger a very carefully negotiated high-profile deal, who knows?) and have instructed him and his colleagues not to reveal it.

My approach here would not be to second-guess the things that he wrote in his e-mail to you, but to consider only the reasonable things that he had requested.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
784512
Germany
Local time: 14:01
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Would you work for them? - Email removed from blog Jan 10, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:
My approach here would not be to second-guess the things that he wrote in his e-mail to you, but to consider only the reasonable things that he had requested.


That's just it... The questions... they really seemed bizarre. Being uninformed about the law... maybe.... but uninformed about basics of our industry?

You don't mean to say you would work with such a company? I mean, what about that odd question about the proofreading, or wanting me to translate from a language I call myself a beginner in?

I have changed the blog now to remove his email, and it is now summarised. What do you think?

Thanks for your honest opinion, I appreciate it.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:01
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Best to think twice Jan 10, 2011

I just want to add a note to say that, independently of whether your prospect has solid reasons or not to initiate legal action (I think they do not, but this is just my personal opinion since I am no lawyer), it is always good to write your blog post as a draft and let it lie for a couple of days if there is a risk that someone will be offended by it. Things always look different after a couple of days.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:01
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I recently had a bad experience... Jan 10, 2011

784512 wrote:

I am pretty sure they do not have a leg to stand on, though would appreciate some confirmation from others regarding where I stand, and advice on how to react.


Hi Rosalyn- on reading your blog post twice, I cannot find any reference to any specific agency mentioned by name or that any other casual reader could identify in any other way.

Therefore I would suggest your best option is to deny that you were referring to the people who have contacted you, and that you politely ask them not to contact you again. With the emphasis on the word *politely*.

Their assertion that the text you posted on the blog meant that they could be identified is surely not sustainable. Many agencies might have used very similar or identical texts. And in any case from the way they write English, I would doubt that they are based in the UK. That last point, however, is irrelevant.

In more general terms, one should always be very careful of posting anything, anywhere, on the Web. I learned this recently to my cost when, miffed by the performance of a supplier of non-translation-related goods, I posted some negative remarks about them on a "reviews" website.

This led to a rather unnerving experience that came pretty close to them taking legal action against me. Luckily we came to an amicable settlement, but it called for considerable effort and time on my part, and a lot of cold sweating; the experience taught me to always be very careful in future.

I'm not a legal expert but based on my own experience, I suggest you deny that your blogpost was about these people who have been contacting you, cross your fingers, pray a little, learn your lesson as I did, and in future be most careful!


[Edited at 2011-01-10 22:14 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
784512
Germany
Local time: 14:01
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, and lesson learned Jan 10, 2011

As more than one person has commented, the essential point is to be a bit more cautious about what we write on the web - even if justified. I doubt I will hear any more of it, especially as I did not do anything illegal in the first place (their name was not mentioned, and they would have extreme difficulty proving loss of earnings).

I will definitely moderate comments more carefully, and think twice before posting direct quotations from people that have contacted me.

Thank you to all people that posted on this discussion.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
gad
United States
Local time: 08:01
Member
French to English
Don't know if they have a legal leg to stand on Jan 11, 2011

...but their response is sure strange. First of all, they can't disclose why they ask those questions - are they serious? How does that promote a good business partnership? To me, it doesn't. The rest of the language combination stuff does not match what information you had provided them and how they had replied to that. Then, the business about you assuming they don't proofread....they stated that your quality should be excellent so they wouldn't have to - what were you supposed to think? And then the thing about the 8000 words per day...I don't buy what they are writing now. They seem to be clueless about some basic things regarding translation and agencies. They should try to learn a thing or two instead of threatening to sue someone who IS professional.

JMO.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Rosalyn Jan 11, 2011

784512 wrote:
You don't mean to say you would work with such a company?


I would prefer to know the name and physical location of the client before I start filling out a vendor form. Apart from that, there is nothing in this client's exchange that sets off alarm bells ringing for me.

I mean, what about that odd question about the proofreading...


The way I interpreted (or speculated about) the "odd" question about proofreading in the previous thread about this issue was confirmed by the client in his e-mail to you, namely that he was simply querying the quality that he would get if you did 8000 words a day for him.

... or wanting me to translate from a language I call myself a beginner in?


Do you have a copy of the form you filled in for him? If so, check if what the client says (namely that you mistakenly had filled in that you were not a beginner in that language) is true.

My response to being asked for extra language combinations is to simply say "no" and (if possible) refer the person to a colleague who is able to do those language combinations. I don't guess or try to figure out why the client is asking for more language combinations. But that is just my approach.

I have changed the blog now to remove his email, and it is now summarised. What do you think?


Well, the unfortunate fact is that an extract from a real or a "real" e-mail looks more interesting in a blog post than just a large block of text. That said, having removed the client's original message from your blog may well have been the safe thing to do.

==

As for unprofessionality:

The terms "unprofessional", "unethical" etc are not neutral and some people take exception to being called unprofessional. Some translators use these terms a little too freely, IMO, to refer to anything about a client that they dislike or would not do themselves or which in their opinion might harm the client's business or fail to let the client's business thrive.

Using a gmail address, having no web site, using Google Docs, and unnecessarily asking for confirmation of facts are all things that may ultimately make the client lose his competititve edge, but none of these would really be termed "unprofessional" by me.

Not giving one's name or not mentioning it in every e-mail might be unprofessional (the same applies to *neglecting* to give one's company name). However, *refusing* to give one's company name or further details about the company is definitely unprofessional, IMO.

Refusing to divulge information about the company's internal workflow or reasons for doing something might be annoying, but it is not unprofessional if knowledge of these things is not required by the client's clients for quality control purposes. Sure, a translator-client relationship is built largely on trust, but each party is also entitled to its secrets.

As for GoogleDocs:

What if the client's answer to your "why use GoogleDocs" was "because (a) we want to use an online vendor form that (b) can be easily imported/exported to standard wordprocessing formats", would you have accepted the answer? Actually I'm wondering why it is necessary for the client to answer such a question at all. Would you also have suspected unprofessionality if the client had sent you a PDF form or an OpenOffice Writer file instead of a Microsoft Word file to fill in? What is it about GoogleDocs that qualify using it as one of the alarmbells for detecting unprofessionality?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:01
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I'd say.... Jan 11, 2011

I'd say: just disengage from this whole thing and move as far away from it as possible, as quickly as possible.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
784512
Germany
Local time: 14:01
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
niaghhh... I am a snob.... Jan 11, 2011

He is right that I may have put my Dutch was "very good" and not moderate, since I believed it was worded in such a way that it applied to my understanding and reading ability - which is very good, but my spoken and written Dutch is terrible.

I was referring to his suggestion that I translate from Turkish and Arabic, and there is absolutely NO way I would have said I was anything but a beginner - I assumed I had been asked simply for purposes of, would I understand very basic instructions from a client in this language, or to find out more about my interests.

The GoogleDocs aspect was more in combination with other things... And perhaps some snobbery.

I think that as translators, we can all sometimes be a bit snobby when someone is using poor English, and appears to be running a business from an English-speaking country, and appears to be a native (i.e. errors of using slang as opposed to standard errors made by a non-native, which would be forgivable).

In addition to that, as an IT translator with my own knowledge of websites etc., I am a bit snobby against agencies that a) do not have one b) cannot figure out how to create a simple web form.

I'll try and be less snobby. As I am hoping for IT and business jobs, though, I still think I would not work for a company that makes such a (okay, not unprofessional, shall we say... less efficiently put-together?) impression. Why waste time on an agency when my own efforts are more appealing? They would be very unlikely to attract top rates.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Get the book! Jan 11, 2011

I would not avoid a confrontation. And I would not even consider apologising.

My understanding of the law is that the agency would have to prove that your statements damaged its image and were untrue.

As you have not named the agency, then I would feel you are safe.

In any event, you could ask for legal advice - or buy a book on UK libel law for journalists.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:01
French to English
seconded Jan 11, 2011

Tom in London wrote:

I'd say: just disengage from this whole thing and move as far away from it as possible, as quickly as possible.


This would be my inclination, but not in any head-in-the-sand way. I'd bone up on the small claims procedure (I thought it had to be actual out-of-pocket losses/not getting what you paid for/debts, not potential loss of future earnings, but I could be wrong) and mebbe a bit of libel just so you can make plausible initial responses if you must, but it all sounds a bit like bluster to me. Don't ignore, but keep engagement to the absolute minimum.

Trouble is, from their point of view, once you've posted it, the damage is done. Other people read it, link to it (like me, although not for the reason you might expect!) - the genie is out of the bottle....


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Alejandro Cavalitto[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Agency I anonymously blogged on threatens legal action?

Advanced search







memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
WordFinder
The words you want Anywhere, Anytime

WordFinder is the market's fastest and easiest way of finding the right word, term, translation or synonym in one or more dictionaries. In our assortment you can choose among more than 120 dictionaries in 15 languages from leading publishers.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search