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Clients From Hell post October 1, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Fun stuff.
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This post was posted on clientsfromhell.net on September 23, 2016. It’s too good not to share.

I am a translator who specializes in translating from from English to Croatian and Slovenian. One day I received this message:

Client: Hello, I am in a rush to have my website translated to both Slovenian and Croatian. The site has about 20.000 words; how much you charge for that? Please give me a quote without writing too much.

Me: Hello! I charge between $0.05 to $0.08 per word translated. That would be $1000 for one translation, and $1800 for both languages.

Client: I said you need to quote just your price. And why would I hire you if you haven’t told me how much experience you have?

Me: (trying to be as nice as possible) Ok, let’s make this clear. I have years of experience, and as you can see, a 100% positive feedback from previous clients. As for the price, I told you all about it as concisely as I could.

Client: Gosh you just don’t understand me? Do you understand English at all? TELL ME YOUR PRICE FOR THIS TRANSLATION IN BOTH LANGUAGES.

At this point, I started to wonder if the client was drunk, but tried to remain as polite as possible.

Me: I am so sorry, but you are so confusing. I said that the final price for this project would be $1800 for both translations.

Client: And why didn’t you tell me that at the beginning? The price sounds fair to me.

Me: I am glad that we agree on that. When is the due date for this project?

Client: The deadline is tomorrow.

Me: Tomorrow? You think that is possible to translate 20.000 words in 2 languages in one day? That is just impossible.

Client: Don’t be difficult. I need it by tomorrow at 5 PM.

Me: You know what? I’m going to pass on this one.

The client didn’t respond, except that he wrote me again a week later.

Client: Hello, are you available for that translation we talked about?

Me: Oh sorry, I thought the due date was last week? Did that change?

Client: I was just testing you. You passed! I want to work with you, but on one condition. Your price is way too high for me. Can you do it for $200?

Me: (laughing) Are you for real? $200? Would you accept that pay for that much work?

Client: I know I won’t do it for $200 but that’s me and I want you to do it for $200. If not, I will find someone cheap who will do it and you will lose your money.

Me: Feel free to search for somebody else, because I will not work on that project for $200. I am just warning you, that there are many people willing to work for low price, but in the end, quality matches price. If that happens to you, please don’t ask me to fix their mess.

Client: You wasted my time, goodbye.

A month later:

Client: Hello again. I am so sorry that I need to speak with you again, but I have no other options. It happened exactly like you said it would. I handed this project to a guy from Vietnam and my website was “Google translated. Can you please fix it? I will pay as much as you want.

Me: I think I’m going to have to take a hard pass. You’ve been exceptionally rude to me and I’m not interested in working with you. Sorry.

Client: Why you! How dare you! This is ridiculous, I’ve never met someone so unprofessional! Take this job or I will sue you and make your life a living hell!

Me: Feel free to sue me if you think you have a shot. Have a great day.

He never spoke with me again. And guess what? He never sued me either.

Advanced Skills and Training Day, November 2 August 26, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices, Tools.
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There’s a new change to this year’s ATA conference. You’ve asked for more advanced and in-depth sessions, and ATA has heard you. This is your chance to prove to the ATA that they are welcome and needed. The pre-conference sessions are now a full day of three-hour courses taught by invited presenters. It’s now called the Advanced Skills & Training Day. Come join me and Allison Bryant from 8:30am-12:00pm on November 2 at “Mastering PDFs using OCR and Advanced Formatting Features in Word.” This hands-on session (bring your laptops!!) is limited to 30 participants, so register soon to ensure you will be a part of it. I’ve already had several people reach out to me about it and express their excitement. Through hands-on activities, you will learn how to stop wasting your time and start impressing your clients. By learning OCR technology, advanced formatting techniques in Word, and other tricks for easily manipulating PDFs and other non-editable documents, you too can become a formatting guru.

You can learn more about it here: http://www.atanet.org/conf/2016/astday/

The only caveat is that people *must* register for the conference in order to attend AST day. You cannot register for an AST session alone.

2016 East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit August 1, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices.
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I am presenting at the DVTA Summit in September along with several other notable speakers. It should be an informative and entertaining weekend. Please think about joining us.


Saturday, September 10,
2016 East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit

Business Skills * Translation * Interpretation* Transcription

Saturday, September 10 at La Salle University – Philadelphia, PA

Bonus: A Computerized ATA Exam Sitting will be given on Sunday morning, September 11

These top speakers and sessions will be featured:                               

DOROTHEE RACETTE    (Keynote Speaker)

Session I (Keynote Address): Productivity Strategies for Freelance Professionals

Practical strategies to help independent contractors produce high-quality work while promoting their business and staying organized. Practical, hands-on productivity methods and ways to make the most of working hours.

Session II: Principles of Time Management

Best approaches to stay on top of your tasks without stress and hours of overtime through specific techniques to manage time and to make the most of working and leisure hours.


Beyond the Basics: Tips for Better Formatting in Microsoft Word

Practical knowledge and techniques for working with MS Word and negotiating other formats.

Session I: The Voice of Compassion – Interpreting for Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse

90-minute workshop focusing on specific techniques, strategies and self-care practices for interpreters who encounter trauma in any setting

Session II:  Here Be Monsters! Intervention Skills for the Gray Zone between Legal and Medical Interpreting

90-minute workshop offering specific techniques that work well when both legal and medical interpreting overlap.

Session I: Transcription/Translation (TT) of Forensic and Other Recordings
This session will present an overview of the specialized practice of transcribing the audio content of recordings and translating the resulting transcript, outlining currently accepted procedures, protocols, ethics and techniques. Handouts containing the PowerPoint and pertinent documents will be provided on a DVD.
Session II:  Transcription/Translation of Audio Files:  Software to make it easier!
The instructor will show how to use software to turn your computer into a transcription machine, rip audio files from video recordings, convert file formats, enhance the sound quality of audio files for more efficient and precise listening, and simplify the translation phase. A DVD with software programs and links will be provided, along with some practice materials.

  • Guest Certified Public Accountant (Patricia L. Keller, CPA, MBA of Independent Tax & Financial Planners itfp.com)
  • Guest Attorney (Stephanie M. Shortall, Esq. of HighSwartz, LLP highswartz.com)

APPROVED FOR 6 ATA CE Points, 6 AOPC CEUs (including 3 for Ethics),
6 Delaware AOC and 6 Maryland AOC CEUs

For more information see:  DVTAECSummit10Sep2016_Flyer

Scam warning July 14, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Scam alert.
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This email was posted on WPPF today. It never hurts to verify if you question something. Just today I questioned an email sent to me that I think might not have been legitimate.

Hi all,

I work at U.S. Translation Company (http://www.ustranslation.com/) and wanted to make you all aware of a scammer who is using our company name to pose as a legitimate PM and scam translators out of payment for their work.

They are using the email stela.ustranslation@gmail.com, and the following email signature:

Stela S. Mahuika| Vendor/Translation Technology Specialist
U.S. Translation Company
320 W. 200 S., Third Floor
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
p 801.393.5300 x 120
d 801.456.8663

I had my first run-in with them a little under a year ago, but hadn’t heard anything since then until this week when we had two translators contact us to check if this person was legitimate. We’ve forwarded all emails to the Translator Scammers Directory; you can see the entry here http://www.translator-scammers.com/images/scammer%20Stela%20Mahuika.jpg.

As someone who actually works for US Translation, here is more evidence that this is a scammer:

  1. We are a small company – I can easily name all of my coworkers and their positions without going to our directory – so I can definitely confirm that there is no “Stela S. Mahuika” at this company.
  2. The “Vendor/Translation Technology Specialist” position no longer exists – it was dissolved and re-formed under a different job title over a year ago.
  3. All of our email addresses follow a “firstname@ustranslation.com” format; no gmail addresses!
  4. However, the company name, address and phone numbers are all real – if you call or go to that address, you will reach our office. (This is likely a stolen email signature from one of our previous employees.)

As a side note, we recently got a new translation management software; if anyone from our company ever approaches you about doing work for US Translation and doesn’t get you set up in the system before they issue a PO, that should be a red flag. Sometimes this gets postponed a little if it’s a rush project, certificate translation, or interpretation event, but usually you have to be set up in the system before the PM can even quote the project.

Sorry for the long post, hope this helps, best of luck to everyone!

Update on AATII April 18, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Scam alert.
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The CEO of this “not for profit association” is now claiming that it was a misunderstanding (yeah, right) and that if you do NOT want to be listed there you have the choice to contact them and ask to be removed, so send an email to customer_service@aatii.com. If you want to add a comment at https://aatii.com/a-message-for-concerned-translators feel free. Jennifer makes an excellent point. On eBay buyers and sellers have all set up their own accounts. This company has no clue how to do business. How embarrassing would it be for a potential client to contact one of the translators in the database only to be met with: “What company? Never heard of it. And what rate am I supposedly charging? No, my rate is double that. Sorry.” What company would ever take this database seriously? Unbelievable. Way to completely ruin your reputation in the industry and not realize it. No, we aren’t jealous. We don’t like our identities being misappropriated.

AATII is having a bad day April 15, 2016

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

I woke up this morning to a flood of emails from pissed off translators on listservs covering both sides of the Atlantic. People were pissed because they were listed in a directory no one had heard of before. No one had signed up for the directory, and everyone was apparently offering $0.08 a word and had five star ratings. Every single translator. They were wondering whether it was identity theft and how they got our contact information. One enterprising translator requested a 4 word job and tried to hire herself. The job disappeared into Nirvana. As the morning went on translators were sending them irate emails, official cease and desist letters, filing reports with their local police, and even talking about a class action suit. I only wish I had popped some popcorn.

Is your name and profile there?
Many of you may have received an email announcing a “translation contest” sponsored by an outfit calling itself AATII (suspiciously using two names, “Alliance” or “Association of Applied Translators and Interpreters International.” The text to be translated is marketing copy for their company (although they claim to be nonprofit). Supposedly the prize is $1,000 for each winner in around 8 languages (“That’s $2 a word!” they joyfully proclaim), and a chance to win a $100,000 trip. Yeah right. I know none of you fell for it. The Translation Scammers Directory has posted an alert http://www.translator-scammers.com/translator-scammers-note…
However, it gets WORSE. This outfit has stolen the names and identities of at least 20,000 translators, fabricating specialties and other professional information, and adding a “rating” next to each name (1 to 3 stars, from “acceptable” to “excellent”). They posted rates for each individual (funny thing, everyone was charging 8 cents a word) until this evening after receiving many outraged phone calls and emails. But the names and false info are still there.
IS YOUR NAME IN THE AATII LIST?? Check it out at www.aatii.com. Above all, don’t be silent or let them get away with this. It is illegal identity theft and it will cause reputational damage to every translator or interpreter listed.
Extra info: http://www.translator-scammers.com/translator-scammers-notes.htm#n123

The CEO issued a statement in a discussion on Proz.com trying to explain their actions.

We’d like to thank everyone for your interest in AATII and our contest. We are a young company who soft-launched a few months ago, and #IAmATranslator was created to announce our presence with a splash.

As the day went on AATII started feeling the heat and mass deleted all the profiles from their database. The CEO then issued another statement:

The database is cleared and under review

Hello fellow translators,
We have heard a lot of concern about how your names are listed on our website. I understand why some of you are upset, so I have instructed our IT department to remove all the accounts from the website except for those users who signed up for themselves. We supposed to send invitation to everybody first, but a mistake was made so some of you received the message about the translation contest instead.

Just like you, I am a hard working translator who started working from his home and growing. AATII.com never meant to do any harm to anybody but aiming to build a community and marketplace that will attract customers without being limited to borders. There are some misunderstanding about us and we’d like to clarify the facts. What I can tell you is that nobody has even lost a dollar to us. You have my word.

AATII.org as a not for profit organization is aimed to establish internationally compatible standards for translation, so that service providers listed on AATII.com can be recognized by customers who are not translation savvy. We take every effort to keep everything legitimate here. We are small now and have big goals to benefit customers and language workers alike. We are not born a giant multinational, but we are not ashamed of it. Life is worth living for because we have dreams, isn’t it?

You are welcome to check back at aatii.com and make sure you are not listed if you have not given us the permission.

Yours truly,
Lixin Cheng, “Clint”
CEO, aatii.com

João Roque Dias responded perfectly:

1. You were forced to scrap your illegal and fradulent database.

2. On your last (first) post, you are, once again, trying to confuse people with your outfits:

aatii.COM = the “Alliance” created by you and your translation company, “Princemountain Transnational Services Inc.”

aatii.ORG = a “Translators Association” with the same name as the Alliance’s, also created by you and your translation company, in which the “certification examinations” are to be done by your Princemountain translation company!!! I also read the “Bylaws”.

3. Dream all you want, just not at other people’s professional reputation and credentials’ expense.

c54650b7278f88a3eeaa7aa7d5fce4f7In any event, be sure to keep an eye on AATII.com. There’s some question as to whether the profiles have been deleted or are simply hidden for now until the heat blows over. Have a good weekend.

This is what happens when you reply to spam email January 8, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Scam alert, TGIF.
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This guy is my hero. I love his sense of humor. Don’t we all wish we could be him? I usually hit the delete button if it slips through Mailwasher, but I’ve sometimes been tempted. Here’s to a year of hummus in 2016.

In news that shocks no one… December 22, 2015

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
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Language Line got busted!

Translation firm must pay $1.47M to 2,400 underpaid workers

Money-saving strategies for attending the ATA conference November 18, 2015

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices.
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Every year people complain about the cost of the conference, but I find I can’t afford not to go. The new business and contacts it generates for me and the pleasure of being around like-minded people who get me make it one of the best weeks of the year. I was inspired to write this after reading a recent post on The Simple Dollar entitled 12 Strategies for Saving Money on Convention or Conference Trips. Here are my tips for saving money for or at the ATA conference, some of them inspired by the article and some from past experience at our conferences.

1) Get a roommate or several. I always stay at the conference hotel, because it allows me to go up to my room if I need a break and it is where a lot of my friends stay. Even if you stay at a hotel that is nearby, ATA offers a roommate referral service every year. I had booked a single king bed room this year when that was all that was left and was approached shortly before the conference asking if I would consider a roommate with a roll-away bed. Instead of paying $800 for my room, it only cost me $400. In past years I have also been known to have a couple roommates. The Kent State students always sleep 4 to a room. Having a roommate really saves money.

2) Save throughout the year. The conference generally runs me about $1500 including registration fee, hotel room, flight and meals. By putting a little bit of money aside every month it isn’t as painful. It also helps to register as soon as registration opens, book your flight a month or two later and then just deal with hotel and meals at the conference. By spreading out the cost it isn’t as painful.

3) Plan ahead and register early. This ties in with number 2. By registering by the Early Bird Deadline you can save some money, because the price spikes after the deadline. Also, flights are cheaper the longer out you book them.

4) Take advantage of the Welcome Reception, breakfast, and coffee breaks. The Welcome Reception always offers some food stations with nibbles and beverages (this year they cut it down to one, but every little bit helps). Even if you are staying at a nearby hotel as a conference attendee you are allowed (if not expected) to fill up on pastries, fruit and oatmeal every morning. Instead of hitting Starbucks or a nearby coffee shop make sure you hit the coffee breaks for a coffee or tea. I learned a tip from Marian Greenfield to bring my own ATA mug with me so that I can bring one to go into the next session.

5) Attend exhibitor parties and client dinners. Some of the software vendors, such as Wordfast, have parties which are quite popular. Back in the day, Trados also used to have a great desserts party. I even won a software package there once. Ah, the good old days… Pro tip: get there as early as you can to make sure you can get some food. Also, see if your clients are having a get-together for their vendors. Even if they are just buying a drink at the hotel bar that will still save some money. Plus, you will meet the people you work with in person, and that is invaluable networking.

6) Set a spending budget for your business. I used to always buy one dictionary a year at the conference. The conference is also a great place to save on translation software. Most companies announce their special conference prices ahead of time, so if you are looking to buy a new TEnT or upgrade an existing one this is the time to do it.

7) Ask for a refrigerator and consider low cost options for lunches and dinners. If you are on a special diet, have to refrigerate medication, like real coffee creamer, or have leftovers a refrigerator is a must. Consider buying food and keeping it in the room for affordable meals. The conference in Miami was located across from a Whole Foods, which many people took advantage of. The concierge also offered me a refrigerator when I checked in, but booking one ahead ensures one is available.

8) Buy beer or a bottle and have drinks in your room. I had never thought to do this before, but it makes sense. The best place to socialize at the conference is the hotel bar, but if you are on a budget consider inviting some colleagues up to your room for a get-together. I might do this one night next year. My roommate bought a bottle of wine, and we had a glass together the first night of the conference in our room, which was nice. Just be sure to bring a wine bottle opener if you do.

9) Pack a water bottle. I do this for every trip I go on, but it came in handy this year because water was not as abundant as it has been in the past. Not to mention that the in-room bottles of water the hotel “provided” for us were priced at $6.50.

10) Write out a packing list. This year I thought I had forgotten to pack my toothbrush. Luckily I was able to call Housekeeping for a new one, but I still had to tip the Housekeeper who delivered it. I found my toothbrush in my suitcase the next day. If I had packed it with my toiletries like I normally do I wouldn’t have had trouble finding it. So pack based on your list and be aware where you stow things. A checklist that you prepare a month or week or even a day ahead of time ensures you don’t forget anything when you pack your suitcase.

11) Pack redundantly. Always pack a day or two of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on bag in case your suitcase gets lost! Make sure you have necessities like medication and contact lens solution as well. I remember getting stuck in Chicago due to weather on the way home from Seattle and having to beg a fellow traveler for some contact lens solution to put in a Dixie cup for my contacts.

12) Pack carefully based on the location and predicted weather. In addition to being surprised by just how cold it was in our air-conditioned hotel, several people were surprised by just how hot it was outside in Miami this year. Bring appropriate clothes, but also remember a shawl or sweater for the conference rooms. Conversely, I was completely unprepared for the unusually cooler weather in Phoenix and had to buy several pants and long-sleeve shirts at a clothing store. In addition, try your clothes on before packing them in case you gained some weight this year. We sit a lot in comfy clothes and might not be aware that our business casual clothes might not fit anymore. Also, remember that it can get cold in November in colder climates and bring a coat.

13) Consider presenting a session. Presenters are usually given a discount on the conference registration. Every little bit helps, and you’ll be boosting your presence and sharing your invaluable knowledge with others as well.

14) Be happy our conference is so affordable. People always complain about the cost of the conference, but conferences in other industries are often double or triple what we pay. Even with the price going up so much this year due to the Board decision for the conference to be self-sustaining it is still worth it. Consider everything we get for the price of the conference: the preliminary and final programs and daily updates; the conference app; name badges and ribbons; language dots to identify your languages; breakfast and coffee breaks; ice water (whether in the session room or in the hallway); the Welcome Reception and a drink; networking events like the Networking Brainstorm, Afterhours Cafe, division get-togethers and Resume Exchange; the Closing Reception; the Conference Dance; the Exhibit Hall; 175 sessions to choose from and enough rooms to hold them; division meetings; audiovisual equipment for the meeting rooms and the main ballroom; recording services for the eConference DVD; free wifi this year (!); the on-site ATA staff to ensure everything is running smoothly and temporary workers to staff the Registration booths; and probably a bunch of other things of which we aren’t even aware. Not a bad trade-off for the $485 registration fee. I do, however, dearly miss the chair massages in the Exhibit Hall!!

If you have a money-saving tip or I missed something, feel free to add it in the comments.

How NOT to write to your translators July 23, 2015

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

I apologize for the mass e-mail, but as I am dealing with a large number of languages, I thought it would be easier to send out a message this way.

Can you please provide me with your rates and also let me know if they are negotiable for a longer-term project. Kindly include your language in the message.

Thank you and best regards,

At least the PM didn’t ask me for my “best rates”. I hit Ignore for the send receipt request and sent it straight to the trash.