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agency not willing to pay
Thread poster: Rita Bilancio

Rita Bilancio  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:28
English to Italian
+ ...
Sep 3, 2008

Dear colleagues,
I am in the middle of a dispute with an agency.
I had to translate a source text which was not so well written, so I did everything I could to deliver a good job, besides the difficulties. The result was exactly what you could reach with such a text.
Now the agency is telling me that the client was not happy with my job, sending three examples of mistranslations that in fact are only a new version of the text as the meaning is nearly the same. I told them it is not sufficient as a proof of bad work but they insist I simply had a bad day and do not want to pay.
Could you help? Thanks in advance!

[Modificato alle 2008-09-03 12:15]


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Alex ST  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 18:28
Member (2009)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
My sympathy Sep 3, 2008

Rita Bilancio wrote:

Dear colleagues,
I am in the middle of a dispute with an agency.
I had to translate a source text with not so well written, so I did everything I could to deliver
a good job, besides he difficulties. The result was exactly what you could reach with such a text.
Now the agency is telling me that the client was not happy with my job, sending three examples of mistranslations that in fact are only a new version of the text as the meaning is nearly the same. I told them it is not sufficient as a proof of bad work but they insist I simply had a bad day and do not want to pay.
Could you help? Thanks in advance!



Dear Rita,
First of all I would like to convey my concern on you. Well, sometimes disputes can happen between people in doing a contract. Do you have written contract with them? So, you may bring the matter to legal body. Is the agent a member of Proz.com? So, you can contact the dashboard, the web organizer. Don't give up. at least they have to pay half of the translation result.

Hope my quote can bring an idea to you.

Regard,

Alex

[Edited at 2008-09-03 11:51]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:28
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Ciao Sep 3, 2008

did you inform the agency of the difficulties with the poorly written text? I always do, and include a disclaimer in my e-mail when I deliver the job...

G


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Rita Bilancio  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:28
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
this time not but Sep 3, 2008

I always do but this time unfortunately I didn't as I wasn't sure of what to do.
It was a colloquial style, it was also a transcription, a poor quality transcription.
As I did not get a reply by the agency stating they had received my file I got suspicious and then received an e-mail saying that both my translation and the Fench version weren't fine. I admitted I had difficulties translating but the job was acceptable and reported mistakes were not proper mistakes.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:28
English to German
+ ...
"The result was exactly what you could reach with such a text." Hm.. Sep 3, 2008

I am very sorry to hear that, and I hope that everything will turn out well.
I do have a couple of questions:

- Did you notify the client in good time about the pour quality of the source text?

- Did you notify the client that, to obtain a reasonably good result, you might have to modify and rewrite the text to meet your quality standards?

- Did you ask if you are supposed to stick extremely close to the source text for legal reasons, or if you are allowed to make improvements, even if they might vary significantly from the source text?

- How much text are we talking about? It makes a huge difference if three mistakes occurred in 1000 words or in 10,000 words.


Here is an outsourcer's prayer:

This is meant in general and does not necessarily refer to the problem mentioned above.

- If there are any problems, let me know in due time. Don't agree to a deadline before you haven't read the text carefully. I will be happy to move heaven and earth if you need more time. Or raise your rate, or something.
Just let me know before due date. Don't tell me in the accompanying email when you send your last minute-"translation" that your translation is actually only a draft.

- Don't tell me that you couldn't do any better because the source text was already a translation from a third language. We all have to deal with this problem from time to time. If you truly can master your source language, you should have noticed in advance or at least during the course of the project, and you will not use it as an excuse for the poor quality when you deliver.

- Avoid the blame-game. It was you who agreed to the job and nobody else, and nobody forced you to do so at gunpoint.


I am outsourcing high-quality work (95% world market leaders), I don't take on trash clients, I hire only highly experienced translators (min. 8 years experience), I pay any desired rate and I am paying within 24 hours or 7 days latest.

Yet I am receiving at times brainless work, excuses, lots of nagging about the source text or I am expected to hold hands or I am bombarded with an email exchange, that in one particular case even exceeded the word count of the translation ordered.

Insane.

Amen.

Thanks for listening.


However, Rita:

It's all about communication and cooperation.

My very best regards,

Nicole





[Edited at 2008-09-03 13:10]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:28
Member (2004)
English to Italian
mmm... Sep 3, 2008

you should have informed the agency. You are in avery difficult postion now. I recently translated a manual from English (about a grinding machine). Being the machine Japanese, I received a very poorly written source file, clearly a translation from Japanese done by a non mother tongue. I immediately informed the agency and they talked to their customer. Result: do what you can, they said, the client is aware of it. As Nicole said, communication is key in these situations...

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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:28
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
What kind of mistakes exactly? Sep 3, 2008

Rita Bilancio wrote:
reported mistakes were not proper mistakes.

Style? Lexical?
How did you prove that your translation is good?
With references?
When I receive a complain I really take the time giving detailed statements in order to justify my choices.

Nicole, thanx for sharing the prayer with us.
I'm not religious but I always try to answer those kind of prayers.
Don't like the blame game either.


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Rita Bilancio  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:28
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
in 3 examples Sep 3, 2008

Tuliparola wrote:

Rita Bilancio wrote:
reported mistakes were not proper mistakes.

Style? Lexical?
How did you prove that your translation is good?
With references?
When I receive a complain I really take the time giving detailed statements in order to justify my choices.

Nicole, thanx for sharing the prayer with us.
I'm not religious but I always try to answer those kind of prayers.
Don't like the blame game either.




In three examples they gave me changes I noticed were in the style: the text was changed and is more formal, and this seems more a mistake considered it was full of colloquialisms.
I realise I should have told them I had difficulties with the source text, but do you think I should not be paid at all?


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:28
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Business 101 (cont.) Sep 3, 2008

Rita,

1) In all business transactions, it's the client who has to prove that the product/service is bad enough not to pay (unusable). It's not you that has to prove it. The one who raises a complaint has the burden of proof.

2) Some editing is reasonably expected in our line of work. If the client made some changes here and there, that's called "editing" (reasonable and customary process in our line of work). If the client's editor changed your expressions to synonym expressions, then this is called "preferred language" and it does not render your product bad (it's like changing tire size to a car after the client bought it).

3) If this case went to Court, then the client would have to prove (you don't have to prove anything, it's the accuser who has the burden of proof, always) that the translation was unusable. If you bring two witnesses to testify that the translation is "reasonably acceptable" according to the source, then you won the case.

In conclusion, you should be paid your full price, or negotiate (in good faith) a small discount. The client cannot refuse payment, since they have to prove (objectively and with experts' opinions) that your product was unusable. In Court, they have no case whatsoever.

Lefteris

PS. However, it's annoying, isn't it? Think about it next time as far as your rates are concerned... this type of "business risk" should be taken into consideration when calculating rates. That is, if our business was professionally established and regulated... for the time being, it's a shot in the dark.
Personally, I do not take jobs anymore with bad source text, or jobs that "smell" trouble. I've seen a lot.
And in any case, I always ask for documented reviews, if a problem arises (about once per year or so... 1/331 jobs). I ask for "professional reviewing" (most people do not know what this is...).





[Edited at 2008-09-03 16:24]


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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:28
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Without style guide - not a real mistake Sep 3, 2008

Rita Bilancio wrote:

In three examples they gave me changes I noticed were in the style: the text was changed and is more formal,

If they did not deliver you a style guide, nonpayment would be inappropriate.
If I translate a Dutch text in colloquial style with business partners as target group I have to be more formal in German in several branches to avoid intercultural clashes.
Maybe that's the same with translations from English into Italian?


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Why was it badly written? Sep 3, 2008

What constituted it being a poor source text? If it had already been translated from another language, ie it was not an original, then it is bound to be problematic. But if this is not the case then you just string the document together to make it sound good. It's always important to make the document sound good, using good grammar, good sentence structure, even if the original is colloquial.

I think you will probably know if they are trying to pull the wool over your eyes. If I were you and I believed that I was in the right I would pursue payment through the courts otherwise I think I would try to negotiate a discount. But either way, I wouldn't work with them again.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:28
English to German
+ ...
With Tatty. Why was the text so bad? Sep 3, 2008

Tatty wrote:

What constituted it being a poor source text? If it had already been translated from another language, ie it was not an original, then it is bound to be problematic. But if this is not the case then you just string the document together to make it sound good. It's always important to make the document sound good, using good grammar, good sentence structure, even if the original is colloquial.


Was it crawling with typos which distorted or even reversed the meaning of words or entire sentences? Did it sound like machine translation?

Then there is no reason to accept such jobs in the first place.

On the other hand, I can't help but noticing a phenomenon, especially in the KudoZ forum. Whenever a phrase (usually idiomatic or a little bit antiquated) isn't understood, it is more often than not labeled laconically: Poor quality.

Oh my.

I am still happily waiting to finally encounter a text that was written by a scientist, a medical doctor, or even worse: a computer programmer, that may be considered "well written".

What constitutes "badly written"?


Addendum:

I didn't mean to stray away from the topic, and I wish that everything will turn out perfect for you. I just want to know why so many texts are considered "badly written". Because one can sense a touch of French in a Canadian text? Because the author happens to be 45 years older than the translator and the text sounds kind of weird to younger ears? I am just curious. It should still be possible to convey the meaning.







[Edited at 2008-09-03 19:59]


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:28
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
About badly written texts Sep 4, 2008

I sympathize with you and I know that at times there's nothing one can do.

I've seen several badly written texts during past some weeks. And it's not always a result of machine translation.

Sometimes, there are typos. Sometimes the writer is not aware of correct terminology/ spellings (and believe me it is really difficult to search). Not to forget lack of coherence of thought. Sometimes he/ she starts writing a sentence, leaves it mid-way and starts another sentence that is not at all related to the first one... e.g.

Reading Wordsworth I love pizzas.

Now translate that and try putting some sense into it

And this is not a joke. I have actually seen documents like this.

[Edited at 2008-09-04 06:30]


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Rita Bilancio  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:28
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
it was Sep 4, 2008

A transcription, but it contains also lack of punctuation and some bad constructed sentences. I didn't think about a translation from another language, I think the person in charge for transcription did not a good job and now the blame is mine...

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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:28
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
A transcript? Sep 4, 2008

You are not supposed to change transcripts, especially if they will be used in Court. You are not supposed to make them sound better.

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