Strange Agency Behavior - India
Thread poster: Sommerfeldt

Sommerfeldt
Norway
Local time: 15:41
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Jun 29, 2011

I was contacted by an Indian agency today, by email. They had a 7000-ish word project, therein a little over 2000 repetitions which they didn't want to pay for. They also listed that they would like to pay USD 250.00 for the whole job, and a 2-day deadline.

I did what I usually do, and replied with the standard "below my minimum rate" emal, and also added that if they had miscalculated or wanted to negotiate for an acceptable, they were welcome to strike up a GMail-chat.

About ten seconds after my email was sent, the lady from the agency called me. She wanted to know why I couldn't do the job for USD 250, and when I said that the rate was far below what is acceptable, she wnted to know what acceptable was. I told her my number, in Euros, to which she goes into hysterics because they can't pay in Euros. She doesn't quite understand me when I say that she could just convert the number into USD, and hey presto, there ya have it, and I subsequently do it for her.

She relents and we negotiate to a level where the rate is (almost, but not quite) acceptable, so I say I can take a look at the files and let her know if I can take it on. I do this, analyze them for myself and realize that their numbers are wrong, and that makes the potential deal definitely grind to a halt.
I let the lady know that she would have to find another translator, and that I can't take on the job. She then goes on to say:
"You asked for USD XXX.XX and we agreed for USD XXX.XX. Would you now be a man of your words and complete this job on time?"
I'm offended now, so I reply with this:
"Oh, please. We agreed that you could go as high as XXX.XX, and I said I would look the files over and get back to you by email. That is all we said. I'd ask you to kindly not draw my honor into question."

Well, long story short, I didn't get the job.

Here we are, a few hours later, and who pops up in my GMail chat? You guessed it - same lady. She wants to know if I can take on a 100 page tourism text for "the Ministry of Tourism". Sure, I think to myself, with an acceptable psw rate and advance, that is quite possible indeed. So I ask for a word count. She doesn't have one - they're still negotiating for the job, she says.
Word count or no, she needs a copy of my passport and a copy of my BA degree-certificate. So now I get suspicious. Maybe I'm too suspicious, but even though the agency has a 5-rating in the BB, they only have 9 reviews and quite a few of those are non-paying members.

I tell the "nice" lady that I can show my certificate to a consular clerk or other proper embassy / consulate employee along with any certificate I may or may not have - either that or the ministry would have to contact me personally. No can do, the lady says - she needs the copies herself. After some light sparring, I ask if her agency has a reference of some sort that I can contact, preferrably a member here that can confirm that they're legit, and can be trusted with my info.

"Not necessary", the lady says. I am firm but polite when I disagree with her. I am too suspicious, she says, and they don't want that.

It all comes down to me asking if they have something to hide, and don't want me to talk to previous collaborators, at which point she goes into hiding, and still hasn't said anything more to me - now about 20 minutes has passed.

---

I guess this could be a legitimate company. It does, however, underline the need to remember that we do much of our work and negotiation online, where the person on the other end isn't necessarily who they say they are (especially when they have a free GMail-address...).

Be extremely careful when someone you don't know asks you for personal info, even if you live in a country where passports etc. are copied fairly regularly. For me, a passport is potentially very sensitive information, as is a degree certificate. I will gladly hand them over to someone I can meet in person, someone who works in a company I know to be real, a police officer, border enforcement or embassy personnel, but I will never, ever send it to someone with a GMail address and who've been rather rude on top of that...

The same goes for driver's license etc. What might an agency need from you? Well, a VAT number if applicable, of course, your name and your CV, perhaps a phone number and your address. That's it, really, and if they absolutely require proof of education or references, make sure you know the agency and the person you're communicating with before you send them anything at all. No one should need your passport, since a passport far from proves your ability in translating.

Long post, but I think it's a bit important. I'd also recommend that everyone take a look at 419eater.com for more info on advance fee scams, ID theft scams, etc. There are enough stories to make your skin crawl.

-S-


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why? Jun 29, 2011

From the start it is ridiculous to even think about dealing with someone like that. Makes a good story, though.

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Gerissen  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:41
German to English
India Jun 29, 2011

It's funny reading this, as I've had my own... colorful experiences with a translation company in India. As it happens now, this company has kept me very busy with work for the past couple of months solid (oi!), and now it's half a month past the deadline for payment. It's sadly not unusual for them to be very late with payments, but now I can't even get my contact at this company (also a "nice lady" - I'll call her R.) to so much as acknowledge my questions about it. I rarely know what to make of this company, as they have made their payments in the past, even if late by as much as a month, and communication has generally been very poor, but at least R. would answer my enquiries about payments in the past. It leaves me wondering what they might be hiding.

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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 15:41
English to Czech
+ ...
Forget about them Jun 29, 2011

I would simply forget about them. If they tried to play on the word count, chances are that you wouldn't be paid in the end.
Let's focus more on our work and less on the general business hassle.


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Sommerfeldt
Norway
Local time: 15:41
English to Norwegian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Stanislav... Jun 29, 2011

...has a point there.
I don't think we should spend too much time on agencies like this one - move on and do good work for the decent agencies is a better idea.

However, most of us encounter a new agency from time to time, and it might be a good idea to remember that people we don't know are strangers, and though we are all grown up enough to talk to strangers by now, we should still be careful.

Just because they say they want to give you candy.. I mean money, it doesn't mean they're automatically your friends.

-S-


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Juho Karhu  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 16:41
Member (2011)
English to Finnish
+ ...
same agency, similar experience Jul 3, 2011

I have a similar experience with what I am quite sure is the same agency. I did two projects for them, for which I received somewhat acceptable payment (and got paid somewhat on time). Things have been getting a bit more fishy since then, and I was also offered the same 7000-ish word project (but into Finnish) as you were. The lady also calls me up every now and then. They like to play with the wordcount and always tell me that "this project is only 3000 words, we will pay 150USD for this small quick task" or similar, when the project is in reality 3800 words plus 500 reps.

For this project I was offered the same rate as you were, and after I declined the project several times they offered to nearly double the rate. I declined again, since that rate was not acceptable either. By the way, this same job was posted at nearly the same time by another (what seems like) low-cost agency.

I have declined some other projects from them too, and I know for sure that at least one of the projects has then gone on to another translation agency, which also pays a good rate (instead of very low unacceptable ones). This at least proves that declining to do translations for too cheap can provide good results.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:41
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
India Aug 10, 2011

I had a similar experience with an Indian agency. They had supplied me with 3 jobs, paid well ahead! of the due date, and there was also contact via Skype. All in all, it looked like a long-term collaboration. Until...

A few months ago I did a job for them and received "fair" pay for it. All was good. Or so I thought. Then about 6 or 7 weeks after completion and payment of the last job, the PM of said agency contacted me in regard to precisely that same job. He asked me if I could do some more work on it, and we talk about twice as many words as the original work I had done for them. Of course I accepted - at the same per word rate. - Or so I thought.

After having delivered the file and obtained the PM's approval of my work, I sent the invoice. The more than slightly irritated PM contacted me almost immediately, asking me - in all earnest! - why I had sent an invoice and what exactly I wanted to get paid for.

To cut a long story short; I had actually been expected to delivery the additional files on a "complimentary basis", that is, not getting paid for 2 days of work at all! It took nearly 2 months to solve the issue, and another 2 weeks for me to get paid...very little, I must say. The bottom line is, both parties agreed to never work together again.


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Ligia Dias Costa  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 14:41
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Strange... or cultural? Aug 10, 2011

I completely agree with the adjective "strange".

This story brings to mind several other stories from Indian, Chinese and Japanese agencies I have dealt with. One of them is even French but run by a bunch of Japanese ladies, that are convinced that after I deliver a project, as small as it may be, I have to make changes to it as long as they ask me to... for free evidently.

Are these scams or just a "messy" - for us Europeans - way of doing things?

Just a thought... I really do not know.

Ligia


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