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-   -   Researching new contracts/clients to avoid non-payment (https://www.wahm.com/forum/transcription-services-scopists-55/695774-researching-new-contracts-clients-avoid-non-payment.html)

JoetteB 04-19-2013 04:30 PM

Researching new contracts/clients to avoid non-payment
I am so sad that the threads about certain companies who don't pay just keep growing. Here are some ways to help make sure that A) the company who has asked you to test is legit and pays, B) the individual you're bidding on a freelance site is really who he says he is, and C) how to get in touch with your client/contract if payment issues arise.

Here are some of the steps yu can take to research new contracts or clients.

First do a quick Google search, pairing up the business or person's name with complaint, scam, rip off, non-payment, etc. to see what comes up.

If it's an individual or you have the company owner's name, check their page at LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/

At LinkedIn, you'll be looking for business connections and recommendations. Generally speaking, the more of each they have the more likely they are to be legit. Now, this doesn't mean that people who have sparse LinkedIn profiles are scammers. There are plenty of people who have created profiles there that they don't really use or who haven't bothered to create a profile at all that are perfectly legitimate business people. But a complete profile there with connections and positive reviews can help to put one's mind at ease when trying to decide on signing a contract.

A complete LinkedIn profile is no guarantee, though. A very well-known non-payor has both a company profile and individual profiles -- though your Google search should already have raised lots of red flags if you did that first. At any rate, don't stop at LinkedIn.

Now that you have some more information to work with, you can start to see if what they've said is backed up by their information.

Check Whois information at Network Solutions if you know their webpage address or found it on LinkedIn.

If they claim to have been in business for 20 years, but their domain was registered recently, that would indicate at least some need for caution. They might have a perfectly legitimate reason for having recently registered a new domain (business name change being first among them), but that's something that will require more research and/or some direct questions with your contact.

Is the mailing address on their Whois information a residential address or commercial? Verify the address at Melissa Data Address Verification. If it's a commercial mail receiving agency, the results will tell you that. You can then go to "Street Detail". If there's no business name next to the address you've searched, it's quite likely to be a residential address. If you're still not sure whether the address is commercial or residential run the address through the Melissa Data Address Check. That should clear up any questions.

You can reverse the phone number at SearchBug. If it's a listed landline phone number, you should get the home address. If this address is different from the address on Whois, you should run it through the verification tools too. In some cases you may only get the name if they've listed the number in the phone book with no address provided. If you get no result from that search, it could indicate a cell phone or an unlisted landline number. Collect the caller ID on any calls you might receive from the company/contract while you're in negotiations, and check that number too. Make sure that what you're being told matches up with what you have learned through research.

What you're looking for here is preferably someone who is not hiding behind a mail drop and cell phone. One or the other of these pieces of information should ideally be verifiable. Scammers will generally use a mail drop and 800 number -- or some kind of registration service -- to prevent any real information about them being available in the event of business problems.

None of these things by themselves means someone is or isn't legitimate, but when potential red flags start adding up, I'd recommend asking the company for references of people who currently work for them and asking around this and other forums. Don't get into any questionable client or contract too deep without some kind of milestone payments. If the company is NET 30 or NET 45 and withholds the first check, be very careful! One of my contracts is NET 30, and the wait for the first paycheck was long, but they're a great company to work for. ANP is (approximately) NET 45 and, well, we know how that goes. Be sure you talk to as many people as possible. Don't take just one person's word for it, either good OR bad. This is part of why the very first step is in bold. The more people say that they've had problems with a client or contract, the more likely you are to get stiffed for your work!

kaitykaity33 04-19-2013 08:45 PM

This should probably be pinned as a permanent resident at the top of this forum. I have asked in the past for a related thread where we could post our bad experiences with nonpayment. Never got any kind of a response.

When I was looking for a fill-in client for a contract I had recently given up, I read an offhand suggestion by someone that ANP was always looking for qualified Ts. I applied and they signed me up right away. It seemed like a good fit at the start until I ran into one of the team leads who had people skills she must have learned edited not to offend EXPRESSED politeness sensitivities. It's really offensive when censorship takes on such pretty bloomers, END EDIT...

When ANP decided not to pay me for two months' worth of work, that didn't go well for them either.

Anyway, my point is I didn't do the rip-off report or the scam search ahead of time and I should have. Edited to add -- And I have no excuse. I'm a veteran in this business. This is an issue that deserves someone coming in here from much more than the aside kick from the accidental post when a nonpayment thread has active participation.

Really excellent post.

mully 04-20-2013 05:36 AM

Excellent post JoetteB, and I do hope people pay attention to these tools to use. I hadn't heard of some of them - thanks so much!

It does amaze me how many people will still sign up with companies that several people have reported pay problems with. It is true you shouldn't just take one person's view of a company as total truth, as some people just don't mesh.

I know people get tired of hearing it, but research, research, research can save so much heartache in the end. It's amazing what comes up when you search different companies.

Alba 04-20-2013 09:07 AM

Yes, excellent post, JoetteB. Thank you.

The other thing is that when a newbie does start transcription (having got on with the well-researched company/client) this is a great example of how to use available tools to hone one's general research skills for doing the actual work.

JoetteB 04-20-2013 09:33 AM

Thanks everyone
Thank you for your kind words. This is something I may have posted here before (I can't recall) and I know I have posted elsewhere in the past, but it bears repeating. A little basic research in general and in the transcription community in specific can prevent a lot of heartache.

I'll be happy to contact the admin at wahm to request this be stickied, but it might help if others did the same.

Cyndi318 04-20-2013 06:25 PM

Fantastic post, Joette. Entry level transcribers don't realize that research is just as important as the proper headset, foot pedal, text expander, etc. More rookies reading and learning this today will be that many fewer victims tomorrow! I'm happy to have seen this.


Originally Posted by kaitykaity33 (Post 3112299)
It seemed like a good fit at the start until I ran into one of the team leads who had people skills she must have learned from Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber. Her name is Kristina.

Is this type of character bashing really necessary? I put in two years with ANP, and I don't have anything great to say about them either, but Kristina is a friend of mine. She no longer works for ANP, but she was ALWAYS the fall guy there. People don't seem to realize that her "position" was that of an IC just like the rest of us. The only thing separating her from you -- general you -- was that she was abused from both ends of the chain of command! If you think she was getting paid on time and treated like royalty, you are sadly mistaken.

asuied 05-06-2013 07:46 PM

ANP has an "A" rating with the BBB
Hello All!

Just wanted to post that the majority, if not all of the Non Pay issues are in the past and have been resolved. If you were overlooked. First let me say sorry and please email me and I will look to get your issue resolved. Currently ANP has an "A" rating on the BBB and is in the process of being an accredited business with them.

kaitykaity33 05-16-2013 08:50 PM


Originally Posted by asuied (Post 3119127)
Hello All!

Just wanted to post that the majority, if not all of the Non Pay issues are in the past and have been resolved. If you were overlooked. First let me say sorry and please email me and I will look to get your issue resolved. Currently ANP has an "A" rating on the BBB and is in the process of being an accredited business with them.

Please, please, please don't believe this. Don't go through what I went through in the struggle to get paid with ultimately Albert using quote/unquote my "unprofessionalism" as an excuse for not paying me timely the money I was owed. From what I understand, ANP's excuses were many and varied, but the outcome was the same. The audio they provided was really bad, their team leaders were harsh and difficult to work with, and then to add insult to injury, they weren't able to pay you for the work you did.

Tris Duquette Johnson 05-29-2013 01:46 PM

You can buy an "A" rating from the BBB. To a certain extent, the BBB is in the business of sales.

JoetteB 06-03-2013 10:52 AM

This is true, Tris, and you'll notice that checking the BBB was not one of my recommended research steps. The BBB is far more a professional organization than it is a valid way to determine the legitimacy of a client or contract.

Additionally, the BBB takes reports of actual customers -- in our case, the people who supply audio -- more seriously than it does a stiffed sub-contractor, probably because any business that's been around for a length of time is going to have disgruntled workers for whatever reason. Regardless, reports to the BBB are more for reporting and (hopefully) resolving customer service issues, not labor disputes.

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