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Negative feedback and discounts
Thread poster: Kelly O'Connor

Kelly O'Connor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
Italian to English
Mar 30, 2009

Hello all

I need your opinion on a sticky situation. I was contacted late last month (February) to do a large job for an established and very large translation agency. I delivered the job in early March. Since I was having some issues with the software, I was compelled to send in the translation in batches and meantime, the PM said they would get on with revising it. Just before delivery, the reviser sent some comments to my work through the PM, which I answered and then a few more just after final delivery. Everything seemed fine and I was contacted by this agency again for other jobs during the month

This morning, I receive an email from a different PM from that agency telling me that they received negative feedback on my translation. In the email, there were +/- 20 points that needed correcting out of a 13000 word file. They said that the client had found some terminological errors that caused them to doubt the quality of the translation and they say they had the whole thing revised. They are now telling me they are taking off 50% of the total (that's right 50%). Just so it's clear, the job was 13000 words to do in 5 working days.

Needless to say, I reacted with anger and said that they have no right to unilaterally discount my rate 50% and they should have come to me first to revise the translation or at least advise me that there was a problem. I was available, in fact, I was doing other jobs for the agency. I feel that the job was a bit rushed and probably could have been done better, but I cannot see where they have the right to simply dock my fee. I also asked to see the file which the PM said she would send me. She didn't. I contacted the original PM by email, and while she received my message (the return receipt came back to me) she never responded.

Any thoughts?

Kelly

I am cross posting this to another site, hope that's okay


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Daniel Meier  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:14
English to German
+ ...
An established and very large agency? Mar 30, 2009

And they do not know how to properly handle negative feedback issues?
Or worse, they do know, but take the easy way and try to satisfy the client (and probably themselves) and let the translator pay for it.
These quality issues all come down to proper communication - unfortunately the translator is often completely left out, which is very frustrating.
Nevertheless I would advise not to ventilate any anger or frustration and tell the agency in a friendly way, that you think they didn´t handle this issue in a professional manner.
First of all, they should have contacted you immediately with qualified feedback (not just "there are some terminological mistakes"), giving you the chance to redeem. The fact they did not contact you at all during the "revision process" is a major communication mistake on part of the agency and/or the client.


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 00:14
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
common practice ! Mar 30, 2009

Kelly O'Connor wrote:

Hello all

I need your opinion on a sticky situation. I was contacted late last month (February) to do a large job for an established and very large translation agency. I delivered the job in early March. Since I was having some issues with the software, I was compelled to send in the translation in batches and meantime, the PM said they would get on with revising it. Just before delivery, the reviser sent some comments to my work through the PM, which I answered and then a few more just after final delivery. Everything seemed fine and I was contacted by this agency again for other jobs during the month

This morning, I receive an email from a different PM from that agency telling me that they received negative feedback on my translation. In the email, there were +/- 20 points that needed correcting out of a 13000 word file. They said that the client had found some terminological errors that caused them to doubt the quality of the translation and they say they had the whole thing revised. They are now telling me they are taking off 50% of the total (that's right 50%). Just so it's clear, the job was 13000 words to do in 5 working days.

Needless to say, I reacted with anger and said that they have no right to unilaterally discount my rate 50% and they should have come to me first to revise the translation or at least advise me that there was a problem. I was available, in fact, I was doing other jobs for the agency. I feel that the job was a bit rushed and probably could have been done better, but I cannot see where they have the right to simply dock my fee. I also asked to see the file which the PM said she would send me. She didn't. I contacted the original PM by email, and while she received my message (the return receipt came back to me) she never responded.

Any thoughts?

Kelly

I am cross posting this to another site, hope that's okay


So called big agencies always do that ! They try to find errors to get a discount on big projects ! It happened to me once.

What you need to do is to tell them that you talked with your lawyer and he said you'll win in court and ask them to pay you or you will sue them.

Make your point saying that the law makes it clear that they should have come to you to fix it ! Which is true as almost all the laws out there clearly state that in case of a problem they should ask the translator to fix it ! And I doubt that the mistakes were so huge that you wouldn't be able to fix it by your own means !

[Edited at 2009-03-31 06:48 GMT]


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Dr Lofthouse  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:14
Member
Italian to English
+ ...
There's Bears in the Woods Mar 30, 2009

I've just returned to Translating after a few years - in the past year, I 've had one agency refuse to pay me for a website and book into 2 languages - they said it was really bad. I asked them to highlight their concerns, and they sent back a document that was not the original, and tried to pass this off as the original!

ODDLY, they have already posted my translation, completely unchanged ,on their websites! How can this be a bad translation???????


It leaves you very angry, a) to be accused of doing a bad job, and b) to know that realistically, you cannot sue anyone across two borders and the English channel,as it would cost thousands of pounds more than the fee they owe.

There is an economic depression - many of these 'high profile' companies are in huge debt themselves, and in some instances, I think that staff are 'skimming' money from their employers by keeping the translation fees themselves.

Its a very different climate to ten years ago, when you could be almost certain that business was conducted honestly.

Maybe the best thing would be to write out a standard Email contract covering this sort of eventuality? Perhaps ProZ could add a statement of 'Dispute Resolution' to this effect in their Invoice, and ban people from recruiting through their site if they were not prepared to agree to it?

[Edited at 2009-03-30 23:17 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:14
French to German
+ ...
No internal QA procedures? Mar 31, 2009

I am always surprised at the number of agencies only pushing on the "Forward to..." button while advertising high quality, internal QA procedures and the like. Does the translation industry need such actors? No!
While internal QA procedures are certainly not mandatory, it should be clearly stated to the end clients that the agency simply forwards the files to them, without even having a look at them - or only after the end clients raise quality issues.
In this specific case, the fact that the agency refuses to send you the revised files may point to the fact that there is some problem within the agency itself, a problem for which you cannot be held liable, such as a conflict between the two PM's who were involved in this issue.
I would insist on full payment or on a detailed QA document.

Laurent K.

PS: in order to protect myself and to deliver a good job, I now decline batch deliveries... Too much hassle here!

[Edited at 2009-03-31 06:49 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:14
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
They must let you evaluate the issues detected Mar 31, 2009

They should give you the edited file for you to evaluate and discuss with the PM. A discount without that premise is completely out of the question in my opinion.

Also, the changes made by the end client could be wrong depending on the situation. It is imperative that they let you see and comment on the "issues".


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casey
United States
Local time: 18:14
Member
Japanese to English
Blue Board Mar 31, 2009

If things do not get resolved favorably you should give them negative feedback on their Blue Board record to warn other translators about their unprofessional business practices.

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Stephen Gobin
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:14
German to English
+ ...
Deadline too short Mar 31, 2009

13,000 words in five days is quite a tall order in my book. It makes me wonder whether the agency knows this and is therefore in a good position to use this fact against you by saying that you accepted to do the project within this timeframe and a "flawless" translation is expected, despite the tight turnaround.

I think that this is the weak point in the whole saga and something that the client, agency and translator all need to take seriously on board to minimise the chances of it happening again.

I realise that everyone is different, but if this were a project that I'd been offered I would have asked for 7-8 days to complete it. If I can deliver by the evening of the sixth day, all well and good, but 7-8 days would be the optimum and allow me to translate 2,000 words a day with another day for final reading, checking, changing, improving.


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Kelly O'Connor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
no resolution as yet Mar 31, 2009

I am still working it out with the agency. They still have not sent me the file to review so for now, I am not budging.

But I appreciate your feedback. It is a lousy situation and the quicker I can get on with it, the better.

I'll keep you posted.

Kelly


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Buy them a new calculator Mar 31, 2009

Kelly O'Connor wrote:
... In the email, there were +/- 20 points that needed correcting out of a 13000 word file.
... They are now telling me they are taking off 50% of the total (that's right 50%).


Let's assume that in average each "point" involves 5 words, so it's 100 words out of 13,000.

Calculating...
100 / 13,000 = 0.0076923, rounding up 0.77%.

Considering they had someone go over that with a magnifying glass to find less than 1% "defects", it's like buying a Rolls Royce and demanding a 50% rebate because the undersides of the ashtrays were lightly scratched.

If this is the whole story, they may be established and large, but IMHO not any close to being honest.


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Kelly O'Connor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
indeed Mar 31, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Kelly O'Connor wrote:
... In the email, there were +/- 20 points that needed correcting out of a 13000 word file.
... They are now telling me they are taking off 50% of the total (that's right 50%).


Let's assume that in average each "point" involves 5 words, so it's 100 words out of 13,000.

Calculating...
100 / 13,000 = 0.0076923, rounding up 0.77%.

Considering they had someone go over that with a magnifying glass to find less than 1% "defects", it's like buying a Rolls Royce and demanding a 50% rebate because the undersides of the ashtrays were lightly scratched.

If this is the whole story, they may be established and large, but IMHO not any close to being honest.


So far, this is indeed the whole story. I am very curious to see the rest of the file, which has yet to cross my desk.

I am about send my bill for the month, we'll see if that pushes the issue.

K


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:14
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Did they review the whole text? Mar 31, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
100 / 13,000 = 0.0076923, rounding up 0.77%.


But here the matter is whether they have reviewed the whole text already, or found those 20 "issues" in part of the text.


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Kelly O'Connor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
No clue Mar 31, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
100 / 13,000 = 0.0076923, rounding up 0.77%.


But here the matter is whether they have reviewed the whole text already, or found those 20 "issues" in part of the text.


I haven't a clue. None of the PMs have answered me or sent the revised file back to me.

I've just submitted my invoice (no discount given) so I'm sure it will all come out sooner rather than later

K


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Rebecca Lowery  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:14
French to English
Did you not say that they had your work revised? Mar 31, 2009

Hi Kelly

You mention that you had to send in your work in batches so that the agency could get on with revising it?

If the agency revised your work before sending it to their client, this implies to me that the agency accepted your work to begin with. It was only upon receiving negative feedback from their client and revising the translation a second time that they have told you that they will not pay your fee in full.

Am I interpreting this correctly??

Have you received the agency's terms and conditions? These are often mentioned on the purchase order. Do the terms and conditions refer to their quality procedure or a disputes procedure?

Rebecca


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Alex Wang
Local time: 17:14
English to Chinese
+ ...
My 2 Cents Mar 31, 2009

Something almost exactly the same happened to me a few days ago. Then I looked at the Service Agreement they had me sign AFTER the translation was done. It has a sentence to the effect: "Once the translator has accepted the assignment, Co. XXX has the right to deduct payment at XXX's sole discretion."

So if you did sign a service agreement with them, I would read that carefully. If it has any clause similar to the one above, you are out of luck. I felt so bad because I know that by signing that agreement I am powerless.

Does everyone agree?

Alex


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