Scams and other crap a newcomer in the translation business has to withstand…


Scams and other crap a newcomer in the translation business has to withstand…

For a new Translator it’s really hard to know which offers are ok, which are real.

In 2008 I wanted to start working as a Translator; earlier I’ve only done volunteer translations; ie I didn’t get paid for my work. In November, just before leaving on my trip to Nepal and Japan, I was contacted – she actually called me – by an Indian company. Adith Multilingual Services. At that time I didn’t have my own company, and I wasn’t a pro member of neither ProZ nor Translators Café, which means I didn’t have access to the blacklisted agencies. Neither could I view any reviews from translators.


Headhunted by Adith Multilingual Services – who doesn’t get proud?


Of course I was thrilled with joy because they had contacted little, old me – headhunted by a company, and I wasn’t even done with my education, but in the whirl of happiness I didn’t really stop to consider why they had chosen to contact me. In hindsight, and after having read reviews about the company I understand why they chose me and other translators who weren’t self employed. You don’t have as much rights or possibilities if you don’t have a company.


Eager as a weasel I started translating the strangely formulated English sentences.


I started making the translations. I was excited, OMG so much fun. It was  a manual for a computer program, written in very, very poor English, so at times I didn’t understand a thing.


The next project came dropping in before the first one was even finished, which should’ve made the bells ringing loud and clear!


Before I was finished with the first translation project she gave me a new project. Adith kept feeding me project after project before I got to finish the previous ones. Busy with the projects I never really got to send the invoices, and I, being so deliriously happy to have work, thought it could wait. No hurry at all. I’ll send them over soon enough. What’s money, after all? Everything seemed to be in order, too. Adith sent me Purchase Orders, Confidentiality papers, all of which I printed, signed and emailed back. Everything was handled correctly. At least, that’s what I thought.


Any translator can handle translating 30 000 words in 2 days, right?


Soon we had passed the sum of 10 000 Swedish Crowns of the total amount they owed me, and by this time I’d also received a huge project of 30 000 words. A translator generally translates roughly 2000 words per day, depending on person, language combinations, text types, and a lot of other factors. There are quicker translators out there and there are also those who are slower. So in other words, 30 000  words isn’t something you translate in a couple of days, no matter how quick you are. Deadline was set at 10 days; I tried my best to get 14, but didn’t. Already after 2 days Adith started asking about the translation: How was my progress? Was it ready yet?


Unprofessional behaviour with various threats and unpleasantries was simply part of the deal with Adith.


I politely and nicely explained that the project was 30 000 words and not 4 000, so they would have to wait the 10 days we’d agreed upon from the beginning. She confirmed. Although it turned out it was an “Indian” confirmation: she continued to more or less harass me the following days, with emails asking about the progress, and when she could expect the translation to be finished. If I didn’t answer within the hour she became rude and hysterical. Extremely unprofessional, but small and patethic as I was, I didn’t put my foot down then and there to end it.


Translations for over 10 000 SEK, which I never even saw!


By this time we emailed about the payment for previous projects, which she solemnly promised were about to arrive. Nothing happened of course. I had sent them all invoices, so everything was in order from my end. Adith, on the contrary, still hadn’t paid me.


Completely stressed out I sat staring at the incomprehensibly combined English sentences and didn’t understand at all how anyone could have accomplished to create this spectacle.


Questions about when to expect the translation continued to arrive in my inbox, threats if I didn’t finish it soon one thing or another would happen, but now I had started to ignore her. I wanted to finish the translation though, so day and night I sat contemplating the uncomprehensible English in the documents and I was totally stressed out. The translation was long from finished and I had only 3 days left.


Magically I managed to put the translation together, and was finally able to take a breather.


But in some strange way I managed to get everything together. My contact at Adith was half hysterical since I hadn’t answered an email she sent me an hour ago. When I finally emailed her the translation, something had to be changed in the original text. But now I woke up and said STOP! I didn’t have the intention of ever working with these crazies again and definitely not since they still hadn’t paid me for the previous projects.


She, however, continued to threaten and plead in an unpleasant way that I should make the new translations.


Six months later, back home, I contacted some kind of debt collection agency who was working with collecting debts from businesses – internationally. He charged 40% of the debt, but I didn’t care, the only thing I was interested in was making Adith pay. By this time I’d read on the internet about others getting scammed by this company. On their website they claimed to be the largest translation company in all Asia; yes, well, is that so strange? If you’re not paying the translators working for you, of course you can develop and thrive as a company!


As a private person you don’t have a lot of rights to defend yourself against a company!


When we were about to start the suit, it turned out he only performed this on behalf of companies; as a private person I had no rights. That’s why Adith had chosen to contact me. Clever as they are, these companies know exactly who to contact to be able to take advantage of someone the most.


Why work if I’m not getting paid?


The sad thing is that I lost confidence and the drive to work in the translation business, and I got scared. Scared to take projects offered to me. I received emails from a man who appeared to be very serious, as did his company, but naturally, after having turned him down a fourth time, I didn’t hear from him again. My bad experience with this company, which is really my own fault, since I wasn’t careful enough or made sure I got paid for previous work before committing to a greater project, made me scared to go on.


What are your experiences?


What happened to you as a new translator? Do you have more stories you’d like to share, please comment. It’s always a danger when you’re working over the Internet, and taking on projects from clients you haven’t even met, so there might be other businesses where this could happen. Please share your own experiences. Who knows, it might help someone.


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