Have you ever been contacted by a potential client on Skype? Have you ever been contacted by a client who does not have a website and/or any digital platform to verify their identity? Oh, many! Well, want to learn how to deal with those who are weird somehow?! Read on to find more about risk management practices, pre-production tips, and more in such a scenario. For me, working professionally and managing any potential risks with clients are top-of-mind. So, I always start assessing that potential client from the very beginning; how will I be contacted? Therefore, in this article, I will give a scenario and pose a couple of questions to shed some light on how to manage any potential risks in such a scenario.
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The unsexy side of this industry is that you may be contacted by intruders and scammers who do not have any digital identity (i.e. website, LinkedIn profile, ProZ profile, well-known reputation, etc.). Let’s say that you were contacted by a client (Here I mean an individual) to translate a medical project from English into Arabic in a PowerPoint format with a total 10K words in just 5 days. That client did not ask to use a computer-aided translation (CAT) tool and a final PowerPoint format is needed in the deliverables.
For more like me, I do not trust job offers from unknown clients, especially those who do not try to verify their digital identity by whatever means. That said, I ask them to document their communication via email and a purchase order (PO) in case we agreed upon everything on Skype, for example.
Questions & Solutions
• What are the best practices you should follow when you answer that client?
• What are the best practices you should follow in the pre-production phase?
• What are the best practices you should follow to make sure your payment will be processed on time?
Best practices when answering such clients
When you are contacted by a client, whether an individual or a translation company/agency, it is always advisable to check their digital platforms to verify their identities (e.g. websites, LinkedIn profile, ProZ profile, etc.). Even when a potential client reaches you on Skype, it is recommended to document your communications via email. The risks might be higher when that client does have a free email address (i.e. Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc.). That said, a paid email address from that client will give more credibility and trust. Also, ProZ provides a good feature when an unregistered one contacts you via its platform since it gives you the IP address of that potential client. Therefore, you can use that IP address to know the country from where they contacted you. The next step is to ask that client to document important project details in a purchase order (PO), which includes but not limited to, project language pair(s), total or weighted word count, the agree-upon deadline, the payment method, your rate per word/hour. The PO should also mention whether you received a down payment or not.
Best practices in the pre-production phase
According to the scenario, the client’s file format is Microsoft PowerPoint and most professional translators know that formatting a final PowerPoint file after translation, especially if it is translated into Arabic for example, may be time-consuming. Also, PowerPoint files could include notes and/or comments. So, consider asking that client if translating notes and/or comments is within the project scope or not. Although the client did not ask to use any computer-aided translation tool, you can make use of it to create a translation memory, maintain consistency throughout the project, and more. In case the client asks to translate all notes and/or comments throughout the PowerPoint file, it is necessary to configure the settings of PowerPoint format on SDL Trados Studio through Files > Options > File Types > Microsoft PowerPoint 2007-2016 > Common. After that, you can check the boxes in both ‘Notes’ and ‘Comments’. Plus, among the features SDL Trados Studio provides is Pseudo-translate. It is a procedure which simulates how a translated document will look after translation and how much extra desktop publishing (DTP) or other work will be required before actual translation is done. This feature can help in the project’s planning to set appropriate estimates and expectations. You can easily process it through Home > Batch Tasks > Pseudo-translate. So, you can export a simulated format from the PowerPoint to check whether the final file will require much DTP and, consequently, you can charge that client the DTP time per hour in your quotation.
Best practices of payment from such clients
Since there is no online identity from that client, it is advisable to avoid any risks related to payment. You have the right to ask for a down payment before the actual start of the project and this should be documented in the client’s purchase order. Based on the scenario above, the project should be complete within 5 days. So, processing the payment through a bank transfer may take 2-5 working days and it is not recommended in such cases. Therefore, having an e-bank account, such as Skrill and/or PayPal, can be used to make sure the down payment has been already processed. As for the rest of your payment, you can agree with that client to receive the rest of your payment before the final delivery. Professionally speaking, you can convert that PowerPoint file into a PDF format and upload it to any cloud storage platforms, such as Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. Such cloud platforms can restrict any access to the file based on your settings. So, you can easily restrict downloading the file and you can share it with your client to view it only, not to download.
In a nutshell, there is no need to jeopardize your services, time, quality and money. Try as much as possible to verify clients’ identity through all possible channels, including but not limited to, their websites, ProZ corporate profiles, LinkedIn profiles, etc. You can also check Translator Scam Alert Center. ProZ defines this service as a quick guide to help you identify the most common scams affecting the translation industry separated in two broad categories: scammers who want to steal your work and those who want to steal your money. Therefore, you can report any potential scammer. Finally, always remember that “it is better safe than sorry!”