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Proofreading issues: with translator and agency
Thread poster: zwestwind

zwestwind
Local time: 01:59
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Jul 2, 2006

I was contacted about proofreading job by an agency I have worked with once before on friday. We agreed terms and hours, and I was told I would recieve the translated text from the translator by 1pm today. It is now 14.42. The translator claims that he was told to have it finished for the proofreader (ie me) by "about 2pm," but his final deadline is not til 6pm. He also told me at 13.20, when I contacted him about the jobs non-arrival that he would be finished around 2pm and contact me if it was any later.
Obviously something is amiss here. The job is now going to be very inconvineient for me to finish by my deadline due to outside commitments, but I don't want to get a reputation with the agency for causing problems. The difference in the time of reciving the job means that now I will be working outside my office hours to complete it, something which would have meant I charged a higher hourly rate. It also means I've wasted two hours of my time waiting for the translator.
What do you think I should do about this? Should I contact the agency? Should I contact the translator again, should I do nothing? Suggestions would be more than welcome.


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zwestwind
Local time: 01:59
Norwegian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
more information Jul 2, 2006

I have now recieved further correspondance from the translator stating that he was supposed to have the translation for me by 2, and that he will have it for me "shortly."

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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not unusual Jul 2, 2006

This happens to me every now and then (about 40% of my work has to do with revisions/proofreading).

What I do is contact the agency, and let them know that I will charge extra if they want me to wait around.

I never contact the translator because: 1) that is not my job, and 2) the translator might have made different arrangements with the agency.

--
Dyran


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:59
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Copies to the agency Jul 2, 2006

It seems that there has been a lack of communications between the agency and the translator. Obviously you can't be expected to spend your Sunday waiting around for the translator to finish!
If you have any further correspondence with the translator, you might want to consider sending copies of the messages to the agency so thye know what's going on - and so that you don't get the blame if the translator sends it to you at 8 o'clock tonight! You might not have enough time at this point to respect YOUR deadline!
Obviously, the translator needs to know that you are sending copies to the agency, so a Bcc is to be avoided.
To be honest, I would have charged extra in the first place. Working Sunday is not supposed to be considered "regular office hours".
FWIW
Catherine
PS: Just curious, but has the translator said WHY s/he is late with the job?


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zwestwind
Local time: 01:59
Norwegian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
acting on advice Jul 2, 2006

cbolton wrote:
To be honest, I would have charged extra in the first place. Working Sunday is not supposed to be considered "regular office hours".

I did in fact charge extra in the first place, but extra for sunday afternoon, not extra for "Sunday evening/night, now working through dinner with my family."

cbolton wrote:
If you have any further correspondence with the translator, you might want to consider sending copies of the messages to the agency so thye know what's going on - and so that you don't get the blame if the translator sends it to you at 8 o'clock tonight! You might not have enough time at this point to respect YOUR deadline!
Obviously, the translator needs to know that you are sending copies to the agency, so a Bcc is to be avoided.

I have contacted the agency about the situation and told them that I now expect a higher rate for the job and that I will not proceed until I receive confirmation that this is acceptable. I also forwarded the correspondance between myself and the translator.

cbolton wrote:
Just curious, but has the translator said WHY s/he is late with the job?

The translator's story is slightly confusing. At first they seemed to be saying that their deadline was not til 6pm. Then they said they were late, but I've had no explanation as to why. I'd be interested to know what the problem is my self!


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:59
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
Sounds familiar Jul 2, 2006

I am almost certain I know this agency. They always send a mass email and their deadlines are always around the corner, very tight and contingent on another party's actions. I always reject their offers.

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xxxsarahl
Local time: 17:59
English to French
+ ...
Sounds *very* familiar Jul 2, 2006

Yes, I think I know this agency too. Sometimes the deadlines are tight but doable and I'll take the job. Other times, I say no but someone else takes the job then tells them at some point that it's taking longer than planned and they'll be late delivering.

I still don't understand why 1) translators are doing this and 2) this agency is not learning how long it takes to do a decent job.

Oh well, unprofessional people are everywhere.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:59
English to French
+ ...
Happens to me all the time Jul 2, 2006

I don't get into any discussions with the translator in such situations. I always communicate through the agency, as my contract is with them.

When this happens, my clients either offer to pay me for the waiting time and have me charge the regular rate for the actual job (I know, there are not many like that), or they simply accept the fact that there was a delay in my work caused by a delay in the other person's work. They usually give me reasonable delays at that point so I don't have to work through supper with my family. They pretty much allow me to complete work on the following day by the end of the day, unless it's just a page or two.

Just remember, your contract is with the agency and whatever happens to the translator is not a factor to be considered in your situation. Also, whatever the reason the translator is late in delivering the translation, it's up to the agency to deal with that - after all, this has to do with the contract THEY signed with the translator, which is completely separate from your contract. In other words, this is a situation beyond your control and you can't be held responsible.

By the way, I don't think any of you knows who the agency is, as many, many, many agencies work like that. At least, they are OK as they do get their translations proofread - most of them never proofread, and this information is from the LISA survey - which means the agencies said so themselves.

Good luck and have courage!

[Edited at 2006-07-02 22:51]


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zwestwind
Local time: 01:59
Norwegian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Update Jul 2, 2006

I finally recieved the full "translated" text at 16.30 today. The translator emailed me, seperately to the email he sent to the agency with the completed job, to tell me that he thought there were a few mistakes, but that would make my job have more of a purpose! I'm just now finishing up correcting the document. I could have (and almost have) translated it myself in the time it's taken to read through and correct his work. The job has taken me just over 7 hours, excluding time for a dinner break, and not counting the 3 hours I sat waiting for the job to reach me! This is definatly over and above the 3.5 hours that the job should have taken and that I agreed with the agency, thinking that 5500 words proofreading in that time would be fine.
In addition I still have had no contact with the agency about my change in rates and circumstance.
Is this sort of situation common with a proofreading job? I've not done one before and thought I could expect more professionalism, from both the translator and the agency.
Does anyone have any advice about the likelihood of the agency agreeing to pay me for more hours, and at a higher rate? I don't want to walk away from this time and frustration with nothing, but at the same time the terms I agreed with the agency were dependant on me receiving the job at a certain time, and as such are now void. In addition the job reached me in a state not really fit for proofreading. How would you proceed?


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:59
Dutch to English
+ ...
In no particular order ....... Jul 3, 2006

Few points Zoe:

1. Legally, although you called for a rate increase, the agency's stance may well be you proceeded with the job in any event without waiting for their acceptance. Since you cannot unilaterally determine terms, they are entitled to say the original ones stand and that by continuing without waiting for them, you elected to then tacitly accept them.

That is the general legal position - they may surprise and accomodate you, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

2. For future reference, you were promised the translation by a particular time and booked to do the work from that time onwards.

Make sure in future that you therefore have an emergency e-mail AND contact number for your PM over the weekend if you are prepared to work directly with the translator. I am not - if an agency wants editing/proofing done over a weekend, they must make sure they are also around to handle the admin/deliveries etc.

Why?
Unfortunately, some colleagues don't feel the same need/pressure to respect their commitments towards other colleagues the way they do with an agency and you seem to have been on the receiving end of that attitude from the translator here.

3. Consider charging for proofreading/editing by the word and not the hour in future. I personally prefer it but must also add I only proof/edit work that has been done by (1) a native translator of the target language (in my case, English)(2) with proven experience in that field.

The agency must guarantee that the translator was selected on that criteria and if I quickly review the translation and see otherwise, I am in immediate contact with them for them to either find someone else prepared to do someone else's work at a fraction of the price or to negotiate a retranslation fee. Editing/proofing should never amount to retranslation.

Both sides know that upfront. Sounds harsh, but I have firm editing contracts on that basis and have an excellent working relationship with those agencies that accept them.

4. Finally, I would not hesitate to furnish the agency with a copy of the highly unprofessional e-mail you received from the translator. The sham artists need to be worked out of this industry and agencies need to be told the real facts about what is going on behind the screens.

Good luck.
Debbie


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Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:59
Member
French to English
This is why I no longer accept revision work.... Jul 3, 2006

Zoë Wheeler wrote:

I finally recieved the full "translated" text at 16.30 today.

snip... snip...

I could have (and almost have) translated it myself in the time it's taken to read through and correct his work. The job has taken me just over 7 hours, excluding time for a dinner break, and not counting the 3 hours I sat waiting for the job to reach me! This is definatly over and above the 3.5 hours that the job should have taken and that I agreed with the agency, thinking that 5500 words proofreading in that time would be fine.


Hello Zoe,

I feel for you. This is exactly why I no longer accept revision work, unless the client is willing to pay my $75 per hour fee with no limit on the number of hours because the work some people produce is horrendous.

I have been through way too many of these situations, even with translators who have degrees in translation!!!!

Chances are also not great that the agency will accept the longer hours or higher rate after the fact.

It is too late now, but I would have stood my ground and not worked on this revision without the agency's confirmation.

BTW, this is not proofreading work -- this is revision work.

Proofreading should be a final check to make sure layout is correct, numbers match, fonts are correct, etc. When you need to correct the translation, it is revision.

Simple rule I follow: If I have to compare the source and target language, the work is revision. If I only need to check the target document, it is proofreading work.

Good luck,
Karin


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Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:59
Member
French to English
Revision work should be at an hourly rate Jul 3, 2006

Deborah do Carmo wrote:

3. Consider charging for proofreading/editing by the word and not the hour in future.



I do not agree with this at all. In fact, I was going to say that it was lucky payment was by the hour.

Payment by the word does not compensate for lousy translation work. When you are paid by the word, you are paid a flat rate regardless of whether the work takes 3 hours or 3 days.

Take care,
Karin


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zwestwind
Local time: 01:59
Norwegian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
outcome Jul 3, 2006

I've agreed with the agency that I shall be paid for 10 hrs work, rather than 3.5, albeit at the same rate I would've charged. I'm happy with this as I think that it is fair and won't sour the relationship with the agency permanently.
This seems to be a relativly happy ending!


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:59
German to English
+ ...
Outrageous! Jul 5, 2006

The behavior of the other translator in this case was outrageous. I would definitely write/talk to the agency about it (diplomatically) so that they know not to use this person in the future. Be ready to point out specific examples that illustrate the lack of quality in the translation, too.

I agree wholeheartedly with everything Karin says. There is one client I am willing to edit for because they have pretty solid TM/terminology/QA processes in place; otherwise an experience with a recent "proofreading" job has definitely pushed me toward not taking proofreading/editing/revision work (whatever the client chooses to call it) at all anymore.

I can't say I have ever enjoyed reading the translations I have been given to proof. They have been abominable across the board. I feel as if I have been taking on liability foolishly by being responsible for fixing up these sorts of messes. Enough! I think translators who take on this sort of work should be honest to the client about the quality of the original translation. I did this with the recent job, and the agency went back to the end client with this information (thank goodness).

I also agree that an hourly rate is the way to go, and good for you, Zoe, for getting it!


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