Like essay writing services, there are plenty of bogus websites offering editing and proofreading. These sites use unqualified people, often with English as their second language, who have little experience and won't give you the support you need. So how do you choose a good proofreading or editing service?
Ensure the website belongs to a genuine company, registered at Companies House (you can check for free using their free web check information service). Find their company number and ensure that the details on the website (name and address) match those lodged at companies house. Some websites quote company numbers that don't belong to them.
There are few genuine UK companies that don't have an office! So choose somewhere that does. You don't have to actually visit them, just satisfy yourself that the office really exists and you know it's there if you need to chase them up for anything. Google Maps street view is really helpful for this.
Go to Google and click 'Maps' in the top menu and type in the company name and town. For example, if you type in 'Roma Pizza Sutton Coldfield' you see the listing for the business together with a street map view of the premises. There is no doubt they exist!
Having a UK bank account that you can pay money into is a good sign that the Company are UK based - it's hard, although not impossible, to get one if you're based abroad. If you're spending quite a lot with them, take the time to verify the bank account by depositing a few pence and asking them to tell you how much you paid in. Don't pay for your editing or proofreading directly into the bank though - it's far better to pay on a card, as you'll sometimes have the option to charge back the transaction through your card provider if things go wrong.
A UK landline number is another sign but do give them a call and listen carefully to the ringtone - some foreign scam sites have a UK number that redirects to a foreign line. You can often hear this because they have an unusual ring tone. Of course, you can also call up to see how their office staff sound - it's quite hard to fake an English accent!
Take time to understand how their editing or proofreading service works and exactly what they will cover, including any features they offer as part of the price. Look for any evidence of past/other happy customers and ideally some independent evidence or third party endorsements. Samples of their work can be useful to help you understand what you will get for your money.
Check the website's guarantees, so you understand exactly what your rights are if things go wrong. Make sure these are backed up in the terms and conditions - there are many websites that clarify the scope of their guarantees in the small print, and they are often nowhere near as good as they sound at first glance.
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