Believe it or not, translation companies are main sources of income for translators, editors, and desktop publishing (DTP) specialists all over the world. As the number of these companies is always growing, unscrupulous people tend to create their own under the same umbrella in a bid to scam linguists, stealing their work, time and/or identity. You don’t want to be one their victims, do you? Below are some aspects that will help you spot an untrustworthy company in less than 10 minutes.
1. No website
Seriously, nowadays, anyone can afford a professional website! Can you imagine a translation company hiring people, doing business, earning money, but not affording to set up an online interface that tells a bit about its history, values, references, and shows its contact details? As soon as you’re approached by a recruiting/vendor/talent manager, just google their company’s name and start checking before even replying to the offer. Better safe than sorry.
2. Gmail/Yahoo/AOL addresses
Professional website packages usually include a hosting plan with Cpanel and several built-in features: custom email addresses, FTP access, website builder/importer, script auto-installers, etc. The point here is that if a translation company does not care to get custom email addresses (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), then it is not taking business seriously. Why should you give them credit?
3. No Clear Recruitment Process
From the first contact (either you applied or they got in touch with you), the translation company representative (recruitment/vendor manager) should provide you with some information about their standard recruitment process. This usually feature some basic steps, including but not limited to: CV review, test piece, reference check, legal formalities, full registration into the database, and start of work, etc. If the Manager is itching to start working with you right away, your inner red lights should switch on.
4. NDA or Contract
When starting business with any contractor, serious translation companies usually required their external vendors/suppliers to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and/or a contract as part of their recruitment procedure. In general, the NDA informs the freelancer about how confidential data should be treated and states the remedies/penalties relating to any unauthorized disclosure. Contracts complement NDAs by specifying rates, payment terms and methods, working conditions, termination clauses, etc. Upon signing these documents, both the translator and the company are legally bound.
5. Amazingly Low Rates
Serious translation agencies value translators’ work and expertise. They consider translators as their most valuable assets and understand the importance of human resources in the success of their business. On the contrary, untrustworthy companies don’t care to know whether translation is a business or a hobby. They hire bilinguals as translators and when they get in touch with professional linguists, they offer them terrible rates. From the onset, you’d better run away from these. I recently received a “request” from a world’s leading translation agency offering incredibly low rates. I couldn’t believe how bad they treat their translators. In a subsequent post, I’ll share the reply I served them.
6. Multiple Identities
Please, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying some companies are suffering from schizophrenia. But some are close to. Seriously. I sometimes receive “offers” from “leading translation companies” having multiple identities. The name indicated in the email signature is different from that on the email address. The Vendor Manager claims they are based in a country, but their address is pointing to a city in another country, plus their IP address is from a third country. Well, once you notice all this inconsistent information, you know what to do, don’t you?
You may have your own signs that usually ring the alarm bells and make you run away from translation agencies. Share these in your comments and let others benefit from your experience.