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Agency not paying - saying quality not acceptable
Thread poster: Bharg Shah

Bharg Shah  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 09:13
French to English
+ ...
Feb 12, 2002

I performed a fairly large translation a month back for an agency. Today I get an email saying that the end-client has found the quality of work unsatisfactory. They have asked me to revise the translation again and send it back - and if the client still doesn\'t like it they say they won\'t pay me for the job as they would have to get it done by someone else again.

I have asked them for specific comments about what exactly they have found \"unacceptable\". They haven\'t given any concrete points as yet.

I find this totally unacceptable - one can\'t merely say that something is not ok and so they won\'t pay. What do my colleagues have to say? Any such experiences?

This is the first time I have had such a situation in my career as a translator (5 years).

What can I do to remedy the matter? And believe me - I have spent a lot of time on this translation and I still find it rather good - even after going through it critically a second time!
[addsig]


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CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 23:43
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
ask for an independent revision Feb 12, 2002

Dear Bharg, the situation can be very frustrating and demeaning to a translator, if they cannot come up with specific examples of what is unacceptable.

The open contract I signed with one of my clients (governmental agency) is that my translation shall not contain more than one major mistake in 400 words and forgot how many minor ones they allow.

With another private client, my contract specifies that any revision required to my translation will be deducted from my final payment. The same client is not so strict in applying this clause (I had to revise translation for them and it was applied in only one case, in which the translation was truly a disaster in form and content).

You could bring these precedents to the attention of your client and point out is the trade usage in this respect.

Also, make sure that you include a clause to that effect in any future contract you sign or arrangement you make with a client.

Keep asking for specific example, and ask a colleague on proz.com to act as independent revisor on samples of your translation.

Good luck and all the best to you



paola l m

co-mod EN>IT



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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 23:43
German to English
+ ...
Get more information from the client (and end client) Feb 12, 2002

You should contact your client (and possibly the end client) to discuss this issue rationally. You have every right to see the alleged mistakes identified by the end client.



Remember: when you purchase some goods, and an item is found to be defective, the customer has to fill in a report detailing the exact nature of the defect.



No one can expect you to do guesswork or to try to get into the end client\'s head, so to speak. They have to provide you with specific examples - this is their duty! If they fail to do so, you will be entitled to full payment: no report, no claim!



Reliable clients with a viable claim would send you a list of the mistakes, no doubt. The very fact that they cannot, or do not want to, do that shows that their claim may not be legit. Maybe they are just trying to avoid payment. Be careful.


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Egmont
Spain
Local time: 05:43
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
ASK ALWAYS 50% OF THE FEE IN ADVANCE Feb 12, 2002

It is advisable to get 50% of the fee in advance.

It is a good test of the quality of the client.


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Silvina Beatriz Codina  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 00:43
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Most probably there is bad faith Feb 12, 2002

Bharg: I told in another forum (in Business Issues, Agencies and Quality Control), my experience as a victim of one such situation: an end-client complained about the quality of a translation I had done, and when I asked them to send me the corrected version, they plainly refused to do so. It turned out that the client had expected to get the translation for nothing, by complaining about its quality. I don\'t know if the agency got paid, but the agency did pay me, acknowledging so (I believe) that they understood that the complaint was groundless.



Unfortunately, I have heard similar stories from other translators. Of course, clients may have real reasons to complain, but in such cases they never fail to point out exactly what is wrong with the translation, because, after all, they want the best result they can get for their money. For example, I was recently asked to revise a translation I had done because its vocabulary was too complicated and its target audience was people with a low educational level (something I hadn\'t known). But the client was quick to point out that they were happy with the quality, and they were the first to admit that I had not been warned about the document\'s potential readers. However, in many cases there is simply bad faith on the part of the agency or the client: they expect to get a reduction in price or even to pay nothing if they complain, and the fact that they won\'t give you the corrected version certainly points in that direction.



This is a very disagreeable situation, but you must make a stand. You must insist on seeing the client\'s corrected version, before starting with any new revision. After all, you cannot defend yourself if you don\'t know what you are up against, can you? Don\'t suggest you suspect bad faith, simply insist on your right to see what\'s wrong with your work. If you do get the correction, assess the alleged mistakes and make a short report defending your choices. Remember that it is not only your payment, but your reputation that is at stake. Good luck!



[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-02-15 20:50 ]


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bochkor
Local time: 23:43
English to German
+ ...
They're just trying to get away with not paying! Feb 12, 2002

I also think that in lack of hard evidence of major mistakes they\'re just trying to get off easily. What I especially suspect is that they\'re realizing all too well that you are in a different country (India), so legally there\'s not much you can do.



Not much, but something! If it\'s a U.S. company, I strongly recommend for you to do an search on the Internet for the Better Business Bureau and the Department of Consumer Affairs in THEIR city/state (the former might be state only, but not sure). Then on those websites fill out a complaint form or get an e-mail address and write them! The BBB spoils their reputation (but not their bank credit!) and the Dept. of Consumer Affairs may revoke their license in their city.



But if it\'s a fairly large translation, as you said, I would then consider contacting Dunn & Bradstreet (again, do a search!). They are a credit-reporting agency that can ruin their bank/loan or credit card credit effectively, if they don\'t pay up. They report the credit of businesses and your client is a business, so that\'s the right place. Usually you have to be a member, but they also have the option of a one-time basis, which costs $150 regardless of the amount in dispute. You\'ll have to fill out a form, which is hopefully available online or they\'ll send it to you. You may lose $150, but if you\'re desperate, you really can teach a lesson to those crooks that don\'t want to pay, just because you\'re in India.



Good luck!


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iweiss
Local time: 04:43
German to English
+ ...
No revision without specific instructions Feb 12, 2002

The fact that you were asked to \"blindly\" revise your text proves that the agency is not very professional. How can you revise your own translation without some guidelines what to change?

You should have asked for specific instructions at that stage, rather than spent more time on your translation.

However, if you are/were translating into a language that is NOT your native tongue, I strongly advise you get your work revised by a native speaker. It is true that a lot of work is being done now which is of very inferior quality where it is almost not worth pointing out the errors and where the only remedy is in fact a complete re-translation.



Isabelle Weiss, ALPHA CRC Ltd.


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:43
French to English
Before doing anything, get a list of what they think is wrong Feb 12, 2002

Hi Bharg,



It took [bold]one month[/bold] for the end client to decide that it was unsatisfactory?! Perhaps if the document was large, but not for a small document. Too much time has lapsed.



Contact your client and tell them that you can\'t do anything until you have a list of the end client\'s concerns. Tell them once you receive the list, you\'ll go through each point, one by one and free of charge, and send your reply back to them. As you said, you can\'t guess what the end client is thinking.



I also wonder whether someone at the agency or the end client made changes to your translation. You could also ask for a copy of the document they have and do a comparison.



I think the most important thing to do first is to ask for that list (I once had a client ask whether the three documents I had just translated represented the quality offered by my company. There was nothing wrong with my translations, which is what I replied, but it got me doubting my abilities. I asked for a list of specific points that I would address. I never did receive that list, but kept receiving documents for translation...)



Good luck and let us know what happens,



Erika



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Bertha S. Deffenbaugh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:43
English to Spanish
+ ...
Totally agree with Werner [ Abacus Trans] Feb 13, 2002

I think these guys do not want to pay and they are trying to get away with it.



As Werner pointed out, why on earth don\'t they tell you what it is EXACTLY that they did not like? Besides, let me tell you another thing: clients often know NOTHING about translations. Most agencies do, that\'s right, but CLIENTS? Naaaaaa. What I do think is that whenever an agency claims that it is the \"CLIENT\" who is refusing to pay, it is THEM trying to get the translator\'s money into their own pockets.



You have to be very tough. Insist that they have to show you your \" mistakes\" one by one and if they do not, then GET YOURSELF A GOOD ATTORNEY IN THE COUNTRY WHERE THE AGENCY IS LOCATED. Do not let them get away with it.



I know of a translator in Australia that got herself an attorney in Germany to fight an agency in Germany that refused to pay. And the best thing of it, the translator WON the case and she did not have to pay a cent because it was the agency that had to pay the attorney\'s fees.



Regards and good luck!



Bertha



PS: And , please, remember to tell us how you are doing on this!


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kairosz (Mary Guerrero)  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:43
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Payment refusal Feb 13, 2002

Another thing you could do is publish the agency name in ProZ and write some articles read by translators that mention their practice.

But I hope you get your payment.


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Bharg Shah  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 09:13
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Latest Development Feb 13, 2002

Hi everyone,

I am overwhelmed by the sympathetic response that I have received from all of you!! I am so happy about the solidarity that we have amongst us.

The latest development on the front: I just got an email from the agency saying that the client is not complaining about anything in particular but says that the translation in general is not good and there are some portions that they cannot understand! THey still haven\'t told me which portions! The agency seems \"scared\" of the client saying that they can\'t afford to antagonise the latter as he is one of the very important clients for them.

At the moment I have said that I will go through the document one last time and revise it and if they still make a fuss - we\'ll see how to proceed.

ANother point worth mentioning is that I did another translation for this same agency about a month back and my translation has already appeared in a printed booklet published by the end-client (it\'s another client, of course - not the same troublemaker!)

Thank you all once again - I will keep you posted


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:43
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Offer to fix the translation after they tell you what is unacceptable by them Feb 13, 2002

I suggest that you ask the client what is wrong with the translation and how they want you to fix the translation. Offer to fix the translation (of course if they tell you what is unacceptable) and do it. Maybe ask another translator to review it if you still think that there is nothing wrong with it. Doing all these, hopefully you will get the money you deserve. Good luck.

Monika
[addsig]


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 05:43
English to Swedish
+ ...
Step 1: Post the name of the agency under "Agency ratings". Feb 13, 2002

Step 1: Post the name of the agency under \"Agency ratings\" to assess if other translators have had the same experience with the agency in question.



Step 2: In the future, only accept jobs with fair and explicit Agreements!



Best regards,



Sven.


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Tatiana Neroni
English to Russian
+ ...
can you sue? Feb 13, 2002

I don\'t know what country the translation agency is from and I don\'t know how much they owe you. But if this is USA, here you can sue them to pay, and the court will have to apply some reasonable standards of translation industry to verify if there was something wrong with your work. If there was nothing wrong, the court MIGHT force them to pay at a reasonable rate for a work of such complexity, topic and urgency.



The pitfall of this is that you will have to pay a lawyer, litigation can drag for a long time, \"industry experts\" to infer reasonableness/unreasonableness of your agency\'s judgement cost money, and there is no guarantee of winning. So, if it\'s worth it (a big translation, they owe you a lot), go for it. Otherwise - you might just try to ask them repeatedly to quote specific mistakes you\'ve made, but it depends on their true intentions if they would listen and respond to your satisfaction.



I would listen to those answering you above who just advised to be careful re. such things in the future and include the necessary clauses into your future contracts...


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Bharg Shah  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 09:13
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Finally got paid Jun 18, 2002

Dear All,



This is to inform you that the agency finally did pay me after 3 months without any further hassles!! Nevertheless they go into my \"Black Book\".


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