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Non-payer warning: Ecole USA November 30, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Scam alert.

A word of warning against a notorious non-payer (there are quite a few – this one is my personal cross to bear…)

The company operates under the names EGS / Ecole USA / ecoleusa.com / Ecole Global Solutions. I like to call them Dear Client:. They don’t pay their bills. My unpaid invoice for $59.08 is 7 months overdue. Payment was due on April 11, 2011. They have given me nothing but excuses every time I contact them. You can read their excuses for why they can’t afford to pay a $59.08 invoice here, here and here. Their comment about there being a “global crisis around the world” had me rolling on the floor laughing. That’s good stuff! They are banned from posting jobs on Proz.com, but that doesn’t mean they won’t contact you directly. My hope is that translators will google them after being contacted and see this blog post as one of their hits.

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this one unpaid invoice – my very first non-payment – four blog posts (not including this one). 🙂 Luckily I never let the amount get too large. When they contacted me in July with another small job I said no because they hadn’t paid my first invoice. It is more of an irritation than it is a hardship, because I was so proud that I had never been stiffed on a job in 16 years. I’ll probably just write the invoice off as a loss when I do my taxes next April (when it will be a year overdue). But who knows what will happen – maybe they will google themselves and see this post and pay me 🙂 And maybe tomorrow pigs will fly…

Update: this blog post is the fourth hit when you google “Ecole USA”. I’ve succeeded!


Agencies and their online “time saving” sites November 27, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.

It is 5 PM on a Sunday. I have a 500 word press release that is due tomorrow morning. I unfortunately won’t be delivering it, because I have been locked out of my agency’s website. I input an incorrect password three times and am now locked out for 24 hours. And since it is Sunday, it is a small client, and the client is in Germany, they don’t have tech support working today. I admit that I hold most of the blame in this, because I waited until Sunday night to translate the document. However, why do agencies believe that we will remember all the login information for their sites? I have about 30 clients. Those clients who have their own websites all have assigned me a unique user name and password. It’s enough to drive anyone truly batty. I have learned my lesson and have now started a master list on my hard drive of all the sites and the respective user names and passwords, but I really shouldn’t have to do this, should I? Oh, did I mention that the site only works with Internet Explorer, which is a browser I never use and therefore don’t have a password management tool like LastPass installed on it? It would have been much easier for this client to just attach the file to the e-mail last week… Maybe if I’m lucky they will be able to send me the file at 2 a.m. when they get into the office. After all, sleep is overrated and I guess I don’t need a good night’s sleep to function at the law firm tomorrow…

Update: the client sent me the files last night and I woke up at 6:30 to translate it. The file is now delivered, and I won’t be billing for it. I hate when I screw up like this, but luckily it doesn’t happen that often…

P.S.: I already use LastPass, but it is an add-on in Firefox. I will be looking into a standalone version.

Ten things for which I am thankful November 14, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.
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1. I’m thankful for a roof over my head under which I can work when and how I want.

2. I’m thankful for money in the bank, because it affords me the ability to say no to outrageous job offers.

3. I’m thankful for the Internet. If it weren’t for the Internet I wouldn’t be able to work from home with clients all over the world (and so affordably).

4. I’m thankful for my smartphone, because it allows me to run errands and not miss important e-mails.

5. I’m thankful that I’ve gotten to travel so much. I think that visiting other countries has broadened my horizons and made me a much more interesting and understanding person.

6. I’m thankful for my health – although I need to really start exercising more so I don’t lose it…

7. I’m thankful for my pets who give me unconditional love and offer stress relief (Just the simple and relaxing act of petting your cat or dog can reduce stress, hypertension and lower your blood pressure).

8. I’m thankful for my family and friends, because they help keep my life balanced.

9. I’m thankful for the beauty of nature in all its wonderful seasons. I choose to live in a state that has seasons. I don’t think I could handle living somewhere like Arizona, Florida or Texas where it is constantly the same boring weather. I love all four seasons, but fall is perhaps my favorite. Walking through leaves that crunch underfoot (and jumping in leaf piles when I was younger), the smell of leaves and bonfires burning, apple cider, the beauty of the changing leaves. I love every minute of it. I love spring when the leaves start to bud and then spring forth. I love summer and lazy days spent reading on my front porch. I love winter and the beauty of a fresh snowfall – and twinkle lights illuminating the night at Christmas.

And last but not least…

10. I’m thankful for chocolate.

Theft at conferences November 10, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices, Random musings.

This post deals with several recent experiences I learned about that occurred at the latest ATA conference, but it can apply to conferences in general. When people are at a conference they tend to act as if they are in a bubble and nothing bad can happen. This is not the case. One should behave at a conference in the same way as one would in a foreign country or even at home – with some caution.

One member of the Business Practices listserv was furious when her computer bag was stolen out of the room where the listserv was holding a happy hour. She had placed it on the floor next to the bartender station. After reporting the theft to hotel security, they found it 15 minutes later “on the 3rd floor, in an empty closed room, with all the zippers opened, conference materials left alone but [the] laptop was gone.” She was then upset with the way the hotel handled the situation because they would not give her the incident report because it was “confidential Marriott property,” claimed they did not have security cameras (although they initially told her they would check the cameras) and did not report the incident to the police. She felt the Marriott was covering the incident up and asked people to contact her if they saw any suspicious activity.

OK, first of all, shame on her for leaving her bag unattended. I always remind the first-time conference attendees to be aware of their valuables and to look back when they leave their seat, room, etc. to make sure they have not left anything behind. I never let my laptop or purse out of my sight – or in fact out of my hands or off my shoulder. I would never in a million years leave it unattended next to a bartender station or anywhere else. The fact is that hotels in general are public locations, and anyone can come in off the street and blend into the crowd.  Hotels warn theirs guests to protect valuables from hotel thieves by using the room safe and hiding expensive clothes under casual clothes. Why wouldn’t one think that an open room in a hotel bar would be fair game to thieves? Secondly, the hotel has a right to be skeptical of claims of theft, no matter how indignant the guest is. According to an online article entitled Protecting Valuables From Hotel Thieves, “[i]tems reported stolen from hotel rooms frequently turn up in the guest’s possession. And there is the not-uncommon possibility that the guest’s claim may be fraudulent.” I’m sure this was not the case here, but it helps to put yourself in the hotel’s shoes.

And may I remind my fellow conference attendees once again not to wear their conference name badges outside the hotel?!?! I can’t tell you how many people I saw walking outside or in the adjacent shopping malls wearing their conference name badges. Luckily the neighborhood was safe (unlike the neighborhood in Atlanta in 2002). If you are wearing your conference badge outside the hotel you might as well be carrying a sign saying “Hey, I’m a tourist. Please feel free to rob me.”

Finally, I was very upset to hear that one of our members had all her resumes, business cards and the plastic stand deliberately stolen/removed from the German table in the Job Marketplace. She went to get a copy of her resume for a potential client on Friday late afternoon or early evening, and it was nowhere to be found. How could someone do such a thing to a colleague? No matter how you feel about a person, you don’t do something like this and mess with their ability to work. I find this behavior childish and unprofessional. Whoever did this, shame on you!

I would like to conclude by saying that the ATA staff does a great job organizing these conferences for us, but one should never expect them to police the attendees’ behavior. It is up to us to act professional and be mindful of our surroundings.

LSPs are not just agencies! November 9, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.

I don’t know when translation companies and translation agencies started referring to themselves as LSPs. I started noticing this in the last couple of years. For those of you who don’t know what LSP stands for, it stands for Language Service Provider. Technically, agencies are language service providers because they provide language services, but so are the “lowly freelancers”. We are all language service providers! I really wish they would realize this and that everyone would stop exclusively referring to agencies as “LSPs”. OK, enough ranting from me. Time to get back to work…