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Blue Board vs. Glassdoor - Translators Beware
Vestluse postitaja: Med_Trans

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
Ameerika Ühendriigid
Local time: 13:35
Liige (2002)
hispaania - inglise
+ ...
I guess that I just prefer to keep things simple Jun 16

I send a simple invoice immediatetly along WITH each project. If necessary, I will snail mail a paper copy. I will not use automated invoicing systems. If the company wants an invoice in their system, they can create it themselves.

If not paid within 30 days, I do not do another project until I am paid. If the company's payment terms are longer than 30 days, then they can't use me again until I am paid.


[UPDATE: Perhaps I misunderstood the original post. I thought that the poster had not been paid for 1 million words. After re-reading, it may be that rates were so low that ends could not be met even with 1 million words. If I translated a million words, that would be over $120,000, so I don't understand at all. If you're not charging enough to pay your bills, then it's not the agency's fault (although they are perhaps being unethical).]

[Edited at 2017-06-16 20:11 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:35
inglise - hispaania
+ ...
Don't just read the fine print Jun 16

William Tierney wrote:

You post is a good example of why the translation industry is in its current state. Don't waste our time unless you willing to name names and provide enough information for your readers to draw a conclusion.

You didn't spell it out, so let me attempt to do it for you. Correct me if I am wrong. This company had a clause in their contract that prevented you from making any negative comments about them? If a company has this clause in their model contract, scratch it out, put your initials to the side, or walking away. Conversely, you could agree to everything and be a good little serf, but don't wonder why you are selling things on ebay to get by.

While you are checking the contract, if the company transfers all liability to you, scratch it out. You did not make representations to the client, the translation company did, so let them back it up. If you let them get away with dumping all liability on you, the net effect is that they do not have to perform due diligence in hiring the best translators. They get the profit when things go well, and dump the losses when things go poorly. Where have we heard this before? If you have worked hard to hone your craft and are better than most, you are cutting yourself off at the knees by accepting liability.

Begins with "T" and ends with "t?" Welcome to the translation industry.

Also, pay for Payment Practices. It is worth it.


[Edited at 2017-06-15 15:31 GMT]


Glad William brought this up. Most so-called standard agreements between translation companies and independent translators contain punitive clauses (i.e. they load most of the liability onto the contractor). For years I have made a standard practice to scan and scour my agreements with potential clients to eliminate such clauses. If a company gets defensive about or is reluctant to remove such clauses, I do not sign and I go elsewhere with my expertise.

Well reasoned, William.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Madalmaad
Local time: 19:35
Liige (2006)
inglise - afrikaani
+ ...
The problem with Glassdoor Jun 16

Med_Trans wrote:
Thank you to the fellow linguists who previously mentioned Glassdoor. I wish I had heard about it sooner.


I've just visited Glassdoor and had a look at the reviews for one of my agency clients. Initially I was surprised that so many of the reviews were placed by previous employees of the agency, until (after a few reads) it dawned on me that none of these people who claim to have been full-time employees have actually ever been employed by that agency. Instead, they're mostly freelancers. Why would so many freelancers lie about their relationship with the agency?


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Itaalia
Local time: 19:35
Liige
inglise - itaalia
+ ...
White lies Jun 17

Samuel Murray wrote:

I've just visited Glassdoor and had a look at the reviews for one of my agency clients. Initially I was surprised that so many of the reviews were placed by previous employees of the agency, until (after a few reads) it dawned on me that none of these people who claim to have been full-time employees have actually ever been employed by that agency. Instead, they're mostly freelancers. Why would so many freelancers lie about their relationship with the agency?


Because, AFAIK, that's the only way you can leave a review on Glassdoor...


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
Ameerika Ühendriigid
Local time: 13:35
Liige (2003)
hispaania - inglise
+ ...
Who the hell cares? Jun 17

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:

I've just visited Glassdoor and had a look at the reviews for one of my agency clients. Initially I was surprised that so many of the reviews were placed by previous employees of the agency, until (after a few reads) it dawned on me that none of these people who claim to have been full-time employees have actually ever been employed by that agency. Instead, they're mostly freelancers. Why would so many freelancers lie about their relationship with the agency?


Because, AFAIK, that's the only way you can leave a review on Glassdoor...


Good point, Mirko.

In the case of the company in question, there are numerous reviews that share a common theme of a pressure-cooker work environment, abusive labor practices, low salaries, incentive bonuses for assigning jobs at below-market rates, and a culture where lying to translators is not merely accepted but actively encouraged. Many of these reviews contain specific anecdotes reflecting the reviewers' experiences.

Collectively, these reviews resonate with a deafening clang of truth.

In this light, I really don't care if the employees in question were employed full time or part time, or even if they were unpaid interns or relatives of the managers who simply hung out at the office. They have performed a public service by unmasking the unethical practices of this company and corroborating longstanding suspicions of translators such as myself regarding such practices.

I for one don't have a problem with them having told a white lie in order to be able to post their reviews. I do, however, have a problem with an attitude that would dismiss the reviews out of hand because of the employment status of the persons who posted them.

[Edited at 2017-06-17 13:55 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brasiilia
Local time: 14:35
inglise - portugali
+ ...
The whole point in the Blue Board: LWA Jun 17

William Tierney wrote:

At an ATA Conference a few years ago, a former staffer from [Outsourcer] acknowledged that translators "graduate" from [Outsourcer]. [Outsourcer]'s approach is to target new translators who can provide a functional translation, but are not seasoned enough to realized they are being exploited. I you are trying to break into the field and are taking jobs from [Outsourcer], I can understand that. If you have been working for [Outsourcer]for more than a year, it is time to "graduate." If [Outsourcer] wants to refute my assessment by pointing out that they have long-term relationships with freelancers, I would ask if these translators care what they get paid, or know that their translations are so poor that they can't get work elsewhere.

I gave up on BB years ago. Besides censorship from agencies, ProZ is filled with so many translators desperate for work that the vast majority will give glowing reports on agencies that don't deserve them.


LWA stands for Likelihood of Working Again. Well, after the few and short (and bad) experiences I had with the Outsourcer implied in this thread, I would certainly work for them again, if only they made full payment of my stated price for the entire job in cash before I started working on it. AMOF this applies to any prospect, translation agency of otherwise.

So what's the point here? My LWA = 5 there would conditional, like many other should be. It's a matter of mincing words, using euphemisms. I guess nobody would turn down a prepaid job, as long as they are capable of doing it without breaching their personal ethics. Hence there is no point in the WWA score.

Over and over again I suggested that Proz should adopt an objective grading system, i.e. a small number of Y/N questions that can be evidenced with FACTS, if required. For instance:
  • Did you get clear, complete, and accurate instructions? YES or NO?
  • Was the original request maintained as made, without disruptive and wasteful changes, all the way through? YES or NO?
  • Was communication efficient and effective so that you had adequate support without wasting time? YES or NO?
  • Were adequate terms and conditions mutually agreed at the outset? YES or NO?
  • Were you paid the amount agreed and on the date agreed? YES or NO?


These answers not only cover the major issues objectively, but any YES or NO answer can be easily backed with evidence; no point in denying or censoring/hiding the truth, if anyone wants theirs to be seen as an honest and trustworthy organization.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
Ameerika Ühendriigid
Local time: 13:35
Liige (2003)
hispaania - inglise
+ ...
Agree that LWA not especially useful Jun 17

I agree with José that the LWA system is not especially useful. As he rightly points out, there are a good many "ifs," "ands," and "buts" that qualify - and in the end render meaningless - any such rating.

In the case of the outsourcer in question, I would gladly accept (and in fact recently have accepted) work from it under particular conditions (i.e., what I consider an acceptable rate given the work and deadline involved). Technically, this would require me to rate the agency a "5." Yet doing this would give the false impression that I am deliriously happy with the company.

There are many reasons that a translator might choose to work with an agency that he or she generally does not have a high opinion of. The business world is full of such uneasy partnerships. Taking work from a company does not imply being in love with the company, or a full-throated endorsement of its policies and conduct.

[Edited at 2017-06-17 17:04 GMT]


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Tšehhi Vabariik
Local time: 19:35
vene - inglise
+ ...
Agree with Robert Jun 17

There are many reasons that a translator might choose to work with an agency that he or she generally does not have a high opinion of. The business world is full of such uneasy partnerships. Taking work from a company does not imply being in love with the company, or a full-throated endorsement of its policies and conduct.

Agree 100%.
Am I happy working for this company? Yes, because our business relationship has always been exemplary.
Do I endorse this company's policies? No, and I explain them the flaws in their policies on every suitable occasion. If they don't want my rants, it is their problem, not mine.
Would I recommend others to work for this company? Maybe, with reservations.
Do I believe everything the originator of this thread is saying? Sorry, no, there are just too many inconsistencies.


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Med_Trans
Ameerika Ühendriigid
Local time: 12:35
TOPIC STARTER
University of California? Jun 17

Anton, you mention you studied at the University of California, Berkeley? I grew up a few minutes from there.

I went to an elementary school, middle school and high school in the San Francisco East Bay. Then I continued at the University of California, Davis.

You should know how expensive the San Francisco Bay is these days. My family is still there, but now I also spent part of the year in Europe, where I want to stay.

I cannot accept what this company offers, so we arrived at an agreement and they broke our agreement...and I'm still fighting for even that.

They should have been honest about it and given the work to others who are glad with what they offer.

From what I read, they have a 270% markup. If true, then they charge clients almost 4 times what they pay the translator.

If your rates are within that range, then it might be why things go smoothly. If your rates go above that, then they have a few tricks up their sleeve to meet their markup.

Here's what I read:

-----------------------------------------------------------
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------
Pros
I have met some good people, all of whom have left [company] in the meanwhile

Cons
All you will do, is trying to push translators to work for you at ridiculously low rates.

Tactics used to get translators’ cooperation are making promises of better paid jobs at some point in the future (just do this one for next to nothing, next time I will make it up to you), providing misleading information about the nature of the job (“piece of cake, should not take more than two hours” when you know this is a hell of a job with lots of tables and formatting). Claiming the client “has got an issue with your translation” in order to cut payments while no negative feedback was received at all, and overcharging clients for services not performed (skip the proofreading, they won’t notice - add formatting, they don’t know what this is anyway, charge “project management”, they won’t protest).

[Company] senior management is fully aware of these shenanigans and have in fact raised the minimum mark up from 230 per cent to 270 per cent, forcing project managers to lie and cheat even more in order to meet these ridiculous demands.

Working at [this company] will destroy any sense of self esteem. You will become very good at telling half truths or downright lies: this is the only learning you will get from your job

--------------------------------------------------------------


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
Suurbritannia
Local time: 18:35
Liige (2014)
jaapani - inglise
It is still the translator's choice Jun 18

Med_Trans wrote:
From what I read, they have a 270% markup. If true, then they charge clients almost 4 times what they pay the translator.

No laws are being broken here as far as I can see. Their client accedes to those arrangements. The freelancer agrees to those rates. Profit is not revenue, it is revenue minus costs. Given that most translation companies that report public accounts have net profit margins of 10% or less, business can't be that lucrative.

If your rates are within that range, then it might be why things go smoothly. If your rates go above that, then they have a few tricks up their sleeve to meet their markup.

Quite possibly true, but hardly noteworthy. Such ugly practices existed a thousand years ago, they exist today, and they will probably exist a thousand years into the future.

More importantly, all you need to do to avoid each and every one of these "tricks" you quote is deploy one tiny word: "No".

→ No, I do not accept work at those rates.

→ No, this job of 5,000 words cannot be done in two hours.

→ No, I am not going to undertake the formatting free of charge.

→ No, I will not accept that there was a problem with that translation until you quote me specific examples.

→ No, I will not take another project until I am paid for the previous one.

As several people have already implied in this thread, the key misjudgment was for you to continue working with this company when you could not be sure you would be paid. You had an opportunity to stop the situation in its tracks and you failed to take it.

Pompous as it may sound, there's a valuable, if painful, life lesson in this experience somewhere. We've all been through them. Nobody enjoys them. Successful people learn from them.

Regards,
Dan


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brasiilia
Local time: 14:35
inglise - portugali
+ ...
The life lesson, loud and clear Jun 18

Dan Lucas wrote:

More importantly, all you need to do to avoid each and every one of these "tricks" you quote is deploy one tiny word: "No".

→ No, I do not accept work at those rates.
→ No, this job of 5,000 words cannot be done in two hours.
→ No, I am not going to undertake the formatting free of charge.
→ No, I will not accept that there was a problem with that translation until you quote me specific examples.
→ No, I will not take another project until I am paid for the previous one.

As several people have already implied in this thread, the key misjudgment was for you to continue working with this company when you could not be sure you would be paid. You had an opportunity to stop the situation in its tracks and you failed to take it.

Pompous as it may sound, there's a valuable, if painful, life lesson in this experience somewhere. We've all been through them. Nobody enjoys them. Successful people learn from them.


The lesson is all about thwarting their game.

Outsourcers attempting to impose their game are banking on the likelihood of a translator looking at his/her pile of unpaid bills, feeling desperate, and biting that bait, in the hope that the payment from this job could mitigate their predicament. The way out is to realize early enough that, if they don't get paid as planned, it won't! (And they'll have wasted time and effort to make some crook wealthier.)

It must be borne in mind that the outsourcer needs the job done to make money. If they could do it themselves, they wouldn't be outsourcing.

If freelance translators can develop the sangfroid to realize that it is getting properly paid - and not merely having delivered a finished job - what will solve their problems, translation scammers will be the ones in trouble.


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Med_Trans
Ameerika Ühendriigid
Local time: 12:35
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, but... Jun 18

Yes, but you underestimate their creativity. Even putting your foot down is not enough. They seem to have a hard time finding linguists for some technical specialist-facing material. Some companies who have niche accounts that are understaffed might nod and agree to get you on-board, but they'll pull a trick on the background in order to undercut the competition but meet their markup.

There are hopeless cases where you plug one hole and two open up outside your frame of vision. You look around and the next thing you know, the boat is sinking and you find yourself cursing them as you swim away (trying to laugh here).

Yes, I left a few months ago. I've spent the past couple of months fixing the last PO errors with the PMs, managers and accounting, which culminated with the month here through Proz.

The only reason I'm putting myself in the firing line is to let others know that if a person complains about payment issues, it will be negotiated offline via Proz and it might stay off the Blue Board. It is a helpful feature, but it should be used in combination with other resources.

So if you're a newbie, or a busy professional who doesn't have time to lurk here often and doesn't know who is who, and you feel something is "off" but nothing serious has been reported on the blue board, then look deeper in Glassdoor.



As for me, I'm walking away from agencies altogether and a fellow medical colleague is helping me work directly with a couple researchers. I like being able to work directly with the author who is publishing scientific papers since I can ask questions and make suggestions. So far, they're okay with giving me several days to do things properly, so if something comes up at the hospital, I can balance both things and get them both done.

I guess you can call it medical writing/translation with no middle-men.

It's not high volume and there's less work, but it's more elegant and I hope it's enough to finish medicine.


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David GAY  Identity Verified
hollandi - prantsuse
+ ...
Very low rates Jun 18

The big company you are talking about is well known for their very low rates. Their BB is not glowing. There are plenty of good paying outsourcers in this field.Why did you work for them?

[Modifié le 2017-06-18 20:50 GMT]

[Modifié le 2017-06-18 20:59 GMT]


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Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Läti
Local time: 20:35
Liige (2014)
saksa - inglise
+ ...
5 commandments Jun 19

Dan Lucas wrote:


More importantly, all you need to do to avoid each and every one of these "tricks" you quote is deploy one tiny word: "No".

→ No, I do not accept work at those rates.

→ No, this job of 5,000 words cannot be done in two hours.

→ No, I am not going to undertake the formatting free of charge.

→ No, I will not accept that there was a problem with that translation until you quote me specific examples.

→ No, I will not take another project until I am paid for the previous one.

Regards,
Dan


for every translator who respects him/herself. I would like to add the "6th commandment": "You shall not behave like a desperate and miserable beggar, who cannot be a chooser".

[Edited at 2017-06-19 05:18 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-06-19 06:39 GMT]


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Tšehhi Vabariik
Local time: 19:35
vene - inglise
+ ...
An overdue apology Jun 19

On my part, I would like to apologize to Med_Trans for being way too harsh. Having discussed the situation in private, I have to admit that both of our situations (that is, negative and positive) are more or less likely, especially when you have hardly any free time and just get the work done, hoping that the rest will follow in due course. And we both were quite emotional in pleading our respective cases, which may have somewhat misled the public.

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