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Client banns from asking help on terms
Thread poster: Burrell

Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:12
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Mar 31, 2005

I have a project - translation of company's A product manual for an agency. Due to the fact that A is a very well known company and has to keep up with the competitors, their technology is always new and the technical terms in most cases do not have an official or even any translation in my native language. Not surprising that I lost more time than anticipated chasing the terms throughout the web, and did not even find all of them. So wrote to my client explaining the problem, told I will contact company A and ask for help with certain terms and asked if B, if worst comes to worst and I needed more time for term research, would like me to deliver the first part of the translation without the certain term translations that I would deliver asap (while the proofreader checks the doc) or they would like to wait till I get all terms. I contacted them 4 days before delifery date, which is tomorrow. They answered that they have now made available translation of the A product manual for me in another language I know. And that is the only answer I got from them. So when I contacted Company A with my request, the agency was informed and went ballistic, coldly forbidding me to contact A ever again????
Now, I would have understood the reaction had I done that without warning. But surely, when you write and warn your client, who has not provided glossary of the terms nor offered to help out with the difficult terms, you are not supposed to just sit around and write the issue off.
I did post some of the terms here on KuroZ but after a couple of the simplest ones went on without replies I had to think of some other form of help.
I have a very tight schedule with this and another project I am working on now and basically cannot spare any time on postings, but this issue has just completely unbalanced me. Maybe I am wrong after all? Maybe I am supposed to know all the terms used in the original without even the use of dictionary?

Thanks for any input!
Burrell


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Mary Lalevee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:12
French to English
Problem with client Mar 31, 2005

As I understand it, the agency was not happy that you contacted the company directly. Is that it? If so, this is perfectly normal. They don't want the company to deal with you directly!

The way I usually do it is I prepare a list of terms and my proposed translation or question, and send it my email to the agency. They then send it to the client, which may or may not reply. If the client doesn't reply there's not much you can do.

Good luck!


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Seadeta Osmani  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 07:12
English to Croatian
+ ...
My opinion only Mar 31, 2005

When an agency gives me a job, then I report any possible problems, including lack of references/glossaries, to the agency only, asking them to ask their client. If the agency does not ask their client, or fails to provide any references/glossaries, then I do my best and any possible negative feedback due to the lack of reference for translation of terms is now agency's/client's responsibility. That's so simple. I don't see why complicate this agency-translator-direct client relationship?

I don't see agency's response as their expectance of you to know all the terms, but as an issue of confidentiality.

Oh well, maybe I'm wrong...

Happy translating!

Seadeta


[Edited at 2005-03-31 16:15]


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:12
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
You have a difficult one there, Burrell! Mar 31, 2005

I can see why they would not want you to contact company A - but you asked to do it. Perhaps you should have asked again and waited until you got a response before contacting the company.

How would you know everything or even look things up if it is all new stuff. It still takes a bit of time for cutting-edge technology to have books on itand even resources on the net.

How far is your client from you? Is it feasible to travel to their offices/factory? Perhaps you can go there and see what they mean. When I was working on a meat-cutting guide (not knowing much of the technical stuff about meat cutting) I spent a couple of days in the meat department of the supermarket chain I worked for. In fact, I went to a couple of meat departments and deli's in their stores to see the different equipment and things that I had questions about and also talked to local Subject Matter Experts.

If going there is not an option, perhaps they you can get in touch (email, phone) with their Subject Matter Experts and ask them for clarification. The fact is that you need to understand things before you can translate and most likely only then you can make it clear to readers of their manuals. And that is their ultimate goal, right?

I hope that this helps; good luck!

Take care, Lucinda


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 08:12
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Do they have a representative in the target country Mar 31, 2005

or do you know who imports their stuff? They would probably know what you need. Better phone to the sales persons and ask around.
Regards
Heinrich


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:12
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I informed on my intentions before Mar 31, 2005

The point is, I am not that sure I acutally contacted the clients client. Or I would say, it was not obvious then(is now after their reaction).
I was really tight (and still am) on time, spent s..t loads of it on research, informed the client on what I intended to do next, got ananswer from them (no coments on contacting the company at all). The problem is, I have a deadline, if I need to find a specialist to help me with terms, I have to do that well in advance, because, first, it takes time to locate a specialist, then it takes time to catch him, then it takes time for him to get back to you. When the deadline is only 4 days away and the client has not reacted badly to your suggestion, then you just do as you suggested.
And I did write to the client after the hell broke loose, explaining all of this. I still have not heard from them, although that was several hours away.
The thing is, I really only wanted to get in touch with a technitian who knows his stuff. Where to get him?
OK this will be a lesson to learn from. I suppose I should feel bad about it, but I just feel angry that I should be waisting my time on destructive emotions now, when I cannot even affort a weekend or half an hour of TV before bed.
Actually, the idea on presenting a list of unknown terms does not sound that bad (apparently until now I did know all my terms).

Thanks, eveybody.


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:12
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That is what I did Mar 31, 2005

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

or do you know who imports their stuff? They would probably know what you need. Better phone to the sales persons and ask around.
Regards
Heinrich



You see, Heinrich, that is exactly what I did. Except that the company needed to know what I am working on and this way got back to my client. That was the last thing I expected to happen.


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 08:12
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
You should not do it, imho Mar 31, 2005

Hello Burrell,

I think if you deal with an agency, you have to arrange all your question via it. For me, this is an ethical rule.

In my case, I work on a regular basis for some agencies whose end clients are known to me (I mean I perfectly know what are the end clients for the jobs I do via these agencies). Whenever I have a question related to my translations, I contact _only_ the agencies (luckily, the managers are great and always helpful!). Anyway, this is what they are for and how they earn their money -- agencies manage and coordinate translations! I think in your case I would be more insistent in my communication with the direct client (an agency) but I would never contact the end client directly. The end client is theirs, not yours.

And the negative reply you've got is very natural. If you contacted the end client, the agency risks to lose their customer which may start to work with you directly, for your mutual benefits. But stealing clients is not ethical, that's all.


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:12
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree with you, Kirill Mar 31, 2005

Kirill Semenov wrote:

But stealing clients is not ethical, that's all.




I completely agree with you, Kirill. And just to illustrate it - I know it sounds a bit naive, but until I saw the first answers to my posting, I honestly had NO IDEA why the client had got angry. After reading the first couple of replies, I hit my forehead in realisation, of course!
The same way as when I contact the best bird expert when translating the book on bird watching, I thought I would go looking for the best person to answer my questions on this technical issue.
I would never dream of stealing anybodys else clients.


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 08:12
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
I didn't mean you intended to steal the client ;-) Mar 31, 2005

Sure, I didn't mean that. As other people here, I just tried to explain how the agency might interpret your action and its possible consequences.

And this is very different from contacting an author of a book you translate (I had such experience). In most cases, publishing houses are all for their translators to communicate with authors directly, and this is very useful. But this is not risky: authors of books are not really "end clients" at all. Usually, publishing houses themselves are seeking for books to translate and publish, not vice versa. And royalties for translated books are usually very small to care much about.)


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Claudia Digel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:12
English to German
+ ...
One more point... Mar 31, 2005

Hi Burrell,

I agree with what the others have said: the normal way of dealing with this kind of problem would be to prepare a list of unknown terms, send it to the project manager at the agency and ask them to forward this list to someone at the end client who can answer questions or provide you with the necessary terminology.
If the project manager cannot get answers, you can't normally do much and need to complete the job to the best of your knowledge even though this might be unsatisfying. There are some very rare occassions where either the agency or the end client will prefer the translator to establish a direct contact with a representative the end client so that all queries can be discussed directly.

I think apart from the agency being afraid that you might want to steal their client (which I don't believe you ever intended to do), there is another problem: the end client might be just as unhappy about you contacting them. End clients tend to need translations into several languages and they prefer to farm out their translation jobs to agencies that will take care of all the languages because this way they have to deal with just one point of contact, i.e. the project manager at the agency, rather than with several translators for different languages. Similarily they also prefer to receive queries for all languages channelled through one person. So if you try to contact them directly they might be complaining to the agency because the are being "botheres" by translators even though they gave the job to an agency to avoid this.

Just my thoughts...

Claudia


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esoft
Canada
Local time: 02:12
Italian to English
My experience with clients once or twice removed Apr 1, 2005

My experience with clients and agencies

I empathize with you in this situation. What you describe is a type of situation that most translators would like to avoid.

It is indeed disheartening to work diligently on a project only to hear how badly one did.

When I read your cry for help, I hear multiple scenarios: it could be a symptom of unreasonable deadlines, failed communications, or a sign of people feeling the strain of working very hard - a condition well known to translators and project managers.

My suggestion would be to reconnect with your contact at the agency, as soon as possible, but once you have had some rest. I believe that connecting with the person as a colleague will give you insight to his position. Also, I would be looking to understand the agency communication protocol so to avoid a situation such as this one in the future. If the agency does not have a communication protocol for this type of situation, then I would suggest possible options. I expect the contact would see your approach as helpful hence consider you a valuable member of the team; also, I expect you may find it could be the start of a new great relationship with a translation agency.

Hope this helps


Antonella


Burrell wrote:

I have a project - translation of company's A product manual for an agency. Due to the fact that A is a very well known company and has to keep up with the competitors, their technology is always new and the technical terms in most cases do not have an official or even any translation in my native language. Not surprising that I lost more time than anticipated chasing the terms throughout the web, and did not even find all of them. So wrote to my client explaining the problem, told I will contact company A and ask for help with certain terms and asked if B, if worst comes to worst and I needed more time for term research, would like me to deliver the first part of the translation without the certain term translations that I would deliver asap (while the proofreader checks the doc) or they would like to wait till I get all terms. I contacted them 4 days before delifery date, which is tomorrow. They answered that they have now made available translation of the A product manual for me in another language I know. And that is the only answer I got from them. So when I contacted Company A with my request, the agency was informed and went ballistic, coldly forbidding me to contact A ever again????
Now, I would have understood the reaction had I done that without warning. But surely, when you write and warn your client, who has not provided glossary of the terms nor offered to help out with the difficult terms, you are not supposed to just sit around and write the issue off.
I did post some of the terms here on KuroZ but after a couple of the simplest ones went on without replies I had to think of some other form of help.
I have a very tight schedule with this and another project I am working on now and basically cannot spare any time on postings, but this issue has just completely unbalanced me. Maybe I am wrong after all? Maybe I am supposed to know all the terms used in the original without even the use of dictionary?

Thanks for any input!
Burrell


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:12
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Everything gone back to normal Apr 2, 2005

Thanks, Antonella! That is exactly what I did and everything seems to have fallen into place again. I explained my motives to the agency and they admitted they have been bussy with another project to pay enough attention to mine.
But as you said - I am overworked, overstressed, especially as this project falls on school holidays which means I have my three kids running around and refusing to understand the link between work and money.
Thanks again for support!
Cheers,
Burrell


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 02:12
German to English
Logic/efficiency vs. client requirements Apr 2, 2005

By now you've figured out that sometimes the most logical and efficient way of working isn't always what will make your client happy.

Some lessons are generally only learned the hard way. I hope you can smooth things over with the agency.
Kevin


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