Could this be a scam? Or just a run-of-the-mill deadbeat?
Thread poster: Glenda Janssen

Glenda Janssen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:00
English to Italian
+ ...
Jun 18, 2011

I decided to stay away from this person, but I slightly regret I did. After basically giving him the silent treatment (my bad), this gent posted two more jobs, one for 13K and another for 19K words.

On the other hand, I really feel like there is something fishy going on, if nothing else that it would turn out he is a deadbeat.

This gentleman posted a job on another translator's website I'm on. He asked for rates, and gave no other information on the project. I replied with a range of rates, asking him about the nature of the project, maybe with a sample, to give him a more accurate quote. Maybe this is something I am doing wrong (I work mostly as an interpreter, or through agencies that offer me a project, show me the document, and TELL me what they will pay for it), but I feel there is a huge difference between translations, and knowing what I am going into gives me a chance to quote so that I actually make decent pay per hour. Anyway, I guess that is a subject for a whole 'nother post.

Back to the story. I gave him a high and a low, and asked him to send me a sample. He sent the ENTIRE document. It was 11 pages of PDF medical reports. Basically a bunch of forms, some handwritten, some typed in. Seemed like a bit of a nightmare, because I would have to use tables to format the stuff. Plus, of course, he did not know how many words they were. I told him what I wanted to get per page (a pretty high amount), and asked him to please get back to me with his agreement, method of payment, and deadline in what timezone. He replied saying he would pay me (no mention of how much) per target word, and that the deadline was going to be about 16 hours from then. I told him that under such deadline I needed better assurances of what I was going to get paid, and that maybe I could do some of it if he split the project between translators. I also told him that I would be willing to work with him in the future if he had projects that were a little less time-sensitive, and in a more workable format. Lo and behold, he got back to me right away, saying he would pay me my price per page, and asking if it would be ready by the deadline. I did not answer. At this point, it was 10pm here, and I smelled something really fishy. If I had to meet his deadline, I would have had to wake up really early and decline interpretation work (which I get regularly over the phone).

One of the things that struck me about this is that he didn't offer any information as to which company he worked for, or if he was a freelancer looking to farm out some work. He also used a gmail account. And he said he needed his work done by a certain UK time, while the time stamps on his email said he was an hour ahead of GMT. Lastly, when we were exchanging emails it was between 1am and 3am GMT. That just seems a strange time to be doing legitimate business.

What do you guys think?

Hope you're all having a good day!

Glenda


Direct link Reply with quote
 

sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:00
English to Russian
+ ...
Glenda, always go with your gut feeling Jun 20, 2011

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. Too many red flags as I was reading you post. I would do the same - and did it several times.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:00
English to German
+ ...
Proper times for legitimate business? Jun 20, 2011

Glenda Janssen wrote:
Lastly, when we were exchanging emails it was between 1am and 3am GMT. That just seems a strange time to be doing legitimate business.



Aside from the fact that I don't do business with anonymous people either, especially candidates with unverified email addresses, there is one issue that makes me strongly disagree:

Never judge people / offices / companies by the hours they do business. If anyone would ever consider my office illegitimate, simply because I sometimes do business after midnight, I would be seriously ticked off. Since when are 9 to 5 people more proper, decent and trustworthier and holier than others?

I even have regular clients who send emails in the middle of the night.




Direct link Reply with quote
 

Wolf Kux  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:00
Member (2006)
German to Portuguese
+ ...
... could be a connection from Lybia. Jun 20, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Glenda Janssen wrote:
Lastly, when we were exchanging emails it was between 1am and 3am GMT. That just seems a strange time to be doing legitimate business.



Aside from the fact that I don't do business with anonymous people either, especially candidates with unverified email addresses, there is one issue that makes me strongly disagree:

Never judge people / offices / companies by the hours they do business. If anyone would ever consider my office illegitimate, simply because I sometimes do business after midnight, I would be seriously ticked off. Since when are 9 to 5 people more proper, decent and trustworthier and holier than others?

I even have regular clients who send emails in the middle of the night.




Weeks ago I read on newspaper site that on Ghadaffi's Lybia people with higher education work usually at night, maybe due to the daily heat.

Working on a big worldwide IT company, sometimes I had be present at teleconferences on working hours of India, equal as sleeping hours in my country. On other teleconferences it was opposite, e.g. my working hours and their sleeping hours.

So, sometimes such exotic working hours could make sense.




[Editada em 2011-06-20 03:06 GMT]

[Editada em 2011-06-20 03:06 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Glenda Janssen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:00
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sorry about the business hours thing. Jun 22, 2011

As I sit here at midnight (about to turn in, though)... And as I myself have worked the overnight shift for YEARS, as an over-the-phone interpreter (guess what? People in Europe are awake when it's the middle of the night here!)...

I didn't mean to say that no legitimate business takes place at that time, nor that that in and of itself is a concern, but it just seemed one more odd thing.

Thanks for your replies!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxValerie35
Local time: 17:00
German to English
Frankly ... Jun 22, 2011

A deadbeat is someone who owes you money and doesn't pay.

This guy was just asking about terms, and not everyone does it the same way. Not everyone has a lot of experience in the translation business.

If you had gone back and forth with him on terms, and then suspected he was playing some kind of scam (that is certainly not definite from your description), then you could have at least sent a message back that you weren't able to take on the job.

In other words, the guy hasn't done anything wrong yet and you were rude to just not answer him after a back-and-forth about terms.

Sorry, but I just can't see it any other way.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
No, you erred, I think Jun 22, 2011

Glenda Janssen wrote:
1. This gentleman posted a job on another translator's website I'm on. He asked for rates, and gave no other information on the project.
2. I gave him a high and a low, and asked him to send me a sample.
3. He sent the ENTIRE document. It was 11 pages of PDF medical reports.
4. Basically a bunch of forms, some handwritten, some typed in. Seemed like a bit of a nightmare, because I would have to use tables to format the stuff.
5. Plus, of course, he did not know how many words they were.


So far so good.

He can't give you a sample because he doesn't know how to extract individual pages from a PDF file.

He's not going to count the words for you -- that is your job, because you're the one who needs to give him a quote. We have per-word rates to make it easier for clients to pre-calculate a price, but determining the final price is still our responsibility... and if the client can't or won't count the words, then we have to (or, we have to base our price on something else).

Perhaps he doesn't quite realise how much work it is to do the translation -- perhaps he thinks that you translate as you go along, and that you can format the text as you go along. If he has never seen a translator in action, he might not have any idea about how much work this would be.

You seem to have had the ability to outsource some of the work, so what I would have done in your case would be to first outsource the typing of the original to a fast typist, and to outsource the formatting to the same person or to someone else, and then after the text is all typed, then you can translate it.

I told him what I wanted to get per page (a pretty high amount), and asked him to please get back to me with his agreement, method of payment, and deadline in what timezone. He replied saying he would pay me (no mention of how much) per target word, and that the deadline was going to be about 16 hours from then.


Did you also tell him what the total price would be? I think sometimes we as translators get so used to quoting per unit that we forget that clients often just want a single figure without having to do the calculations themselves.

When he did not send you all of the information that you requested, you should have asked for that information again. It's no use if you ask for information but the client doesn't provide it. Don't forget that some people can't write proper e-mails and they can't read e-mails properly, and if you ask too many questions, they might miss a few. Especially if writing e-mails at 2 o'clock in the morning isn't something he normally does.

I told him that under such deadline I needed better assurances... Lo and behold, he got back to me right away, saying he would pay me my price per page, and asking if it would be ready by the deadline.


It sounds like he was getting desperate to get the translation done, and that the negotiations were dragging out a little too long, so instead of sticking to his original request to pay per target word, he decided to let you have it your way, and pay you your per-page rate, just to get the darn thing finally going.

And what on earth are "assurances"? Did you mean that you had wanted him to pay in advance? What kind of "assurance" would you have wanted -- and more importantly, did you tell him what kind of assurance you want him to give (or did you just leave it to his imagination)? After all, what kind of assurance can one possible give in an e-mail, except cross-your-heart and pinky-swear?

It is also possible that he had hoped that you would be the one to split the file among several translators (and that may have been why he decided to give in to your original price demand).

I did not answer. At this point, it was 10pm here, and I smelled something really fishy.


In this, I think you did the wrong thing. You had already indicated to him that you would be able to do the translation and that you would be able to make his deadline, and that all you're now negotiating about was the price.

What must he have thought when you did not reply and did not specifically tell him that you have decided not to do the translation? If I were him, I might have assumed that silence means affirmation. Now his deadline comes, and you have disappeared.

If you decide (for any reason, as is your right) not to do a translation job, then you must inform the client without delay, especially if you are fully aware that the client is on a very tight deadline and may not be negotiating with several translators concurrently for the same job.

Even if you think something is a scam, you should not simply disappear, but you should send notice that you are no longer available for the job. If a scammer repeatedly comes back to you after you have told him off, yes, THEN don't reply again. But FIRST tell the scammer (or the potential client) that you are no longer available.

One of the things that struck me about this is that he didn't offer any information as to which company he worked for, or if he was a freelancer looking to farm out some work.


Did you ask for this information specifically, and did you press him when he neglected to answer those questions? We translators know how to write proper e-mails that give all the required information, but most people who are not in this industry simply don't know how to do that. Lack of information in an e-mail is simply that: lack. It is not refusal, and it is not deception.

And he said he needed his work done by a certain UK time, while the time stamps on his email said he was an hour ahead of GMT.


The current time in the UK is one hour ahead of GMT.

Lastly, when we were exchanging emails it was between 1am and 3am GMT. That just seems a strange time to be doing legitimate business.


Not if he was desperate to get a translator for his urgent job that had a very tight deadline. And if his last e-mail was at 3 in the morning, then that would explain why he gave in to your per-page amount in the end -- he might have been desperate to go to bed and get the price negotiations behind him.



[Edited at 2011-06-22 09:04 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Glenda Janssen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:00
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Jul 9, 2011

Samuel, thank you for your reply.

I definitely said I erred not getting back to him. That was definitely a no-no, and it is a character flaw of mine. People not answering my questions drive me nuts.

And your analysis was exactly what I was looking for. I had a feeling that I might have jumped to conclusions too quickly, especially after reading so much about scams and deadbeats here.

Some of the things you point out about his lack of knowledge of the business were exactly the kind of red flags that made me think twice about contracting with him.

You are correct, many people do not know how to read emails. I am trying to find a way to send emails with less than three questions--it seems to be the absolute maximum attention span for many people. On the other hand, it is hard to negotiate a translation without asking more than three questions. I need price and currency, deadline and timezone, method of payment, PO or contract, and possibly also desired delivery format. I might need to know who I'm speaking to and if there is an NDA (in case, say, I wanted to farm out some of the work). This is definitely a big issue for me. I need to find a way to make my emails more readable. Maybe the easiest way to resolve this is by making a numbered list. It seems belittling to me, but it may be the most effective solution. What do you think?

Your total price suggestion is a fantastic idea! I actually much prefer offering a total price, but it seemed to me that the "industry standard" was to quote per unit. Only recently have I seen PO's quoting both a per-unit and a total price.

However, I disagree with some of your assumptions/interpretations.

I have no idea where you get the idea that I might have had the ability to outsource the work. I'm a freelancer, and I had a 16 hour deadline offered to me at 9PM local time, and 3AM GMT. I don't see how either of you could have thought I could outsource anything. I actually even suggested HE find some other translators to split the work with me, since this was a large job to be delivered in so little time.

I also don't understand how he or you could have gotten the idea that I had accepted the job, and that I was simply negotiating the price. In my first email I offered a price range and asked him to give me more details about the job, including a sample. He sent me the entire document. I replied telling him that the document was going to be hard to handle, but that I might be willing to do it for $XX per page, provided he replied to me with method of payment, currency, deadline and timezone, and either a PO or contract. He replied saying he would pay me (goodness knows how much) per target word and that the deadline was in 16 hours. I got back to him saying I needed more assurances (you ask on what. In my post I said about payments--i.e. he still hadn't answered ANY of my questions regarding payment amount, method, nor terms. And, yes, I did reiterate this). In this same email I told him his deadline was going to be almost impossible to meet, but that I *might* be able to help out with part of the project if he had other translators he was splitting this with. And I also said that I would potentially be available in the future if he had something with a less-tight deadline. At which point he replied he would give me my price per page and asked if I could do it by deadline. I really don't see how you (or he) could have assumed I had accepted the job.

Again, I should have replied to this last email, but I got exasperated because I had told him I could NOT do the entire job, and that I MIGHT be able to help out with part of it, if I knew how, when, and what he was going to pay me. He got back to me saying he'd give me my price per page, and asking if it would be ready by deadline. It denoted to me he wasn't reading what I wrote, nor answering my questions. But, apparently, you also have trouble understanding this story, so maybe the way I express myself needs some improvement.

I really appreciate all your pointers and all the valuable lessons.

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I thought I would get alerts of replies in my email. As I said, I'm new to the forum.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


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 »

Could this be a scam? Or just a run-of-the-mill deadbeat?

Advanced search







Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

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