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Payment Issues - With regard to the client
Thread poster: Chinmayi Sripada

Chinmayi Sripada
Local time: 16:16
English to German
+ ...
Aug 1, 2007

I commissioned a 50K word project to a Portuguese translator. And after checking availability, and her sample was approved, she started working on the actual document. She was off on a holiday and we asked her to do only as much she was comfortable with and not the entire document. But in the span of about 8 days, she managed to complete it. She was off on the 26th June, and the deadline to submit the project was 3rd July.
I submitted the document to my client, who after a couple of days, got back to me saying that the project team were complaining because of language and grammar issues.
I had to get the whole work edited and in most cases, redone by another translator whose work was accepted without any questions, since my translator was not available or contact-able to make any revisions.
In this case, I was paid only for the translation and my client said they cannot pay for faulty work. And they cut 60% from the total work done and of course it was under my obligation to pay the proofreader for the whole 50K. I have mails detailing that all the Excel sheets about 10 and Powerpoint slides, about 10 again had to be redone, and some slides were left untranslated. The word documents had the same grammatical issues.

I transferred the 40% payment to the translator first, who of course posted a negative BB comment and said I was dishonest. And I receive EMails promising 'dire consequences' on an everyday basis.

I have worked with some stellar linguists thanks to Proz and this was probably the first time that such an issue has cropped up with a Foreign Language. And I have almost always paid immediately after I have received the document, in less than a few hours. In other cases payment has been made over a couple of weeks.

I believe that I have done my best to transfer whatever money was given to me to the first translator. And the proofreading costs were my liability as well. In addition, I lost a valuable long term client and equivalent business thanks to this issue.
My question is why should I as a company always be liable to pay even though the translator's work was shoddy, which is proven perfectly?

Please do help, and Thanks in advance

[Edited at 2007-08-01 04:46]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 13:46
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Why didn't you check first? Aug 1, 2007

Somehow I do not understand, why you did not check the translation first before sending it to the client. Your obligation would be to check the quality first and make the translator do the corrections.
Regards
Heinrich


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Chinmayi Sripada
Local time: 16:16
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply to: Aug 1, 2007

Mr Heinrich

Like every Indian MNC, they were in a tearing hurry. And the translator sent the document and left for her holiday. I contacted her several times to make her do the changes herself before giving it another linguist. She was not reachable Also my client alleged that it looked like a rush job, I had also told them that the sample they had chosen, was from a linguist who would not be reachable for ten days, so they asked her to do as much as she could before she left, and we decided we would find another translator.


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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 03:46
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
I agree with Heinrich... Aug 1, 2007

...and the whole thing seems to be quite a mess, mainly because both the company and the translator failed to fulfill their duties appropriately.

A) As the commissioning company, your duty is to check all translations and make sure they're adequate for delivery before delivering them to the end client. Given that, as a middle man, you make a profit without actually translating the document, the only added value you bring to the product delivered to your client is the guarantee that it will be flawless. Rush or no rush on behalf of the client, you failed to provide this small but crucial value, which is your responsibility and no one else's.

B) If the translator did in fact send you an unacceptable translation, there is no question that they did not do their job well. There are a couple of options to consider here:

- If you have an agreement regarding payment deductions or cancellation due to unacceptable translations, then abide by it.

- If you don't have such an agreement, provide the translator with clear examples of why their translation work is unacceptable and state that you have done so in your Blue Board response. If the translation is obviously lacking and the translator refuses to see this, then I'm afraid you're not going to be able to get them to change their comments. On the other hand, however, just letting the translator know about the reduction in payment without showing concrete examples justifying the reduction is not the way to go either.


I personally don't think that bad work should be paid for, but you first have to prove to the translator that the work was, as you claim, shoddy. Just because the client didn't like it doesn't mean that it was a bad translation.

Unfortunately, however, if you have done all this and the translator in question is not willing to take back their Blue Board comments, I don't think there is much you can do about that, except taking the subject up with the ProZ staff (but I would agree that full payment - if any at all - should not be expected by the translator if this is the case).

Also, and if nothing else, you might want to use this as a learning experience and see if you can detect any red flags that should have kept you from choosing this particular translator (rates that were too low, lack of translation samples or ProZ feedback, etc.)


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Levan Namoradze  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 14:46
Member (2005)
English to Georgian
+ ...
Yes, but ... Aug 1, 2007

I agree with Heinrich too. You said the client was in hurry. Yes, but initially you wrote (as far as I understood) that the translator delivered the translation even before the deadline. You also wrote that you asked her to do only as much she was comfortable with and not the entire document. I beg you pardon, but I do not see any logic between those two statements.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:46
Dutch to English
+ ...
Something doesn't gel Aug 1, 2007

According to your first posting: the translator returned the project on 26 June and your deadline was 3 July.

So I don't quite understand where the client's "tearing hurry" comes from in your second posting (to Heinrich).

There was almost a clear week for your agency to carry out quality control before submitting it to the client. Had you done so, you would have picked up the problem and still have your client. The buck stops with you in that regard.

The issue with the translator would still remain but the consequences for your agency wouldn't have been so dire.

Surely alarm bells went off when the translator managed to pull off 50,000 words - I'm assuming no substantial reps - in 8 days? Especially where there were PowerPoint and Excel files involved, which typically take longer.

You mention some PowerPoint slides were left untranslated. Correct me if I'm wrong, but did you not tell the translator to do what he/she could and leave the rest? I understand these may have been in the middle of others that were, but did you not even bother to check everything was done before delivery?

You make it sound like something unusual or untoward that you had to pay for proofreading/editing - does that mean it is not normally factored into your price? If this is the first time you've experienced problems without carrying out quality control before delivery, you've been playing a very irresponsible game of Russian Roulette.

Seems, on the facts provided at least - notwithstanding some fault on the side of the translator - like some very sloppy or non-existent project management here.

In short: you are responsible for what leaves your office.

That's why you have a mark-up and if clients generally can't wait, it's your responsibility to educate them and/or refuse the job if they won't listen.

[Edited at 2007-08-01 08:12]


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Chinmayi Sripada
Local time: 16:16
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
reply to Aug 1, 2007

The deadline was the 3rd of July. And she was leaving way before, and I asked her to do only so much that she could comfortably do within that time, which means, not to rush the job.

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Chinmayi Sripada
Local time: 16:16
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply to: Marcelo Aug 1, 2007

I shall take this as a lesson to make a payment agreement with all the translators.
I have a letter in Hard Copy from Portugal, in Letterhead that the translator's work was bad and that they refuse to pay on those grounds. Even BPO s and IPOs work on the same concept of not paying if work is not good.
She refuses to accept the same and there were some insulting comments as well which I would not want to publish.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:46
English to German
+ ...
I suggest to clear up bilateral issues bilaterally Aug 1, 2007

Hi Chinmayi,
On a general note, I doubt whether the forum is the right place to settle a bilateral issue. (It is bilateral, since the translator does not have a business relationship with your client.)

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
In short: you are responsible for what leaves your office.

Precisely.

If you cannot control the quality before you deliver to your client, you probably shouldn't have accepted the job in the first place. Alternatively, if you simply place jobs and forward them without checking (a practice also known as 'box shifting'), you should be aware of the risks involved.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Chinmayi Sripada
Local time: 16:16
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply to Lawyer: Aug 1, 2007

I agree that work from my agency in this case as well, and I have paid for it nonetheless. I did a cursory check and did not go with a page by page check.
I informed the client that the work was done, and they said it will help speed up their process and they demanded to have the document immediately,.
Proofreading / Editing is not wanted by a lot of clients in India because they will not pay. We ask the translator to double check that the work is the best that they can promise. And sometimes the payment that I need to pay to my translator happens in such a manner that my agency does not make any money in some ways. Somehow thats the way some Indian companies work I guess.


[Edited at 2007-08-01 08:26]


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Chinmayi Sripada
Local time: 16:16
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply to: Ralf Aug 1, 2007

I make a note of this Mr Ralf.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:46
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My comments Aug 1, 2007

Chinmayi wrote:
I submitted the document to my client...


You submitted the document to a client without having had the document checked by a second translator.

I don't think the test can be regarded as part of the quality control process -- the test is simply a way to weed out translators who might cause the agency more trouble than usual.

In this case, I was paid only for the translation and my client said they cannot pay for faulty work.


I agree with the client. But... the original quote should have included the price of a second translator/reviewer.

...and some slides were left untranslated.


This should have been picked up by you or the reviewer before the work is sent to the client.

I transferred the 40% payment to the translator first, who of course posted a negative BB comment and said I was dishonest.


Perhaps it would have been better if you hadn't paid him at all, but simply initiated a process of renegotiation. That would have given you at least 30 days but perhaps as many as 90 days to pay him less before he could post a comment on the BB.

My question is why should I as a company always be liable to pay even though the translator's work was shoddy, which is proven perfectly?


I agree that you shouldn't be liable for sloppy work, but it may be best to (a) have procedures in place to prevent such mishaps and (b) have an agreement upfront about what penalties will apply to sloppy work.

Say, does this translator belong to a translation association in his country? It's worth a shot...


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 12:46
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
Quality check: first and foremost Aug 1, 2007

Ralf beat me to it.
Box shifting is not what 'playing agency' is all about.

Any assignment should indeed be quality checked (proofed and/or edited) before it leaves your office, no matter the urgency.
Unless you agreed with your client that s/he would receive a draft translation only.


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Levan Namoradze  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 14:46
Member (2005)
English to Georgian
+ ...
I believe ... Aug 1, 2007

Chinmayi wrote:

I shall take this as a lesson to make a payment agreement with all the translators.


I believe you shall always send any delivered translation to a proofreader/editor prior to passing it to a client. That may let you avoid any further problems like you referred to above.


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sandhya  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:16
German to English
+ ...
I beg to differ... Aug 1, 2007

The statement you made below I am afraid condemns the entire Indian translation industry. Many members reading this post will assume that is the way Indian translators and translation companies function....

... However, I beg to differ. As already pointed out by others, you are an agency, a "middle-person". The client belongs to you, not to the translator. In short, the entire responsibility of delivering quality work lies with you alone. On the other hand, it is the translator's duty to deliver quality work to you. If the translator fails to do so, it is ultimately YOUR JOB to ensure what leaves your desk is of the best quality.

As far as I can see, you have failed in YOUR duty, so why blame the translator? And please, refrain from making statements that Indian companies don't care about quality. That is completely untrue. When a company (regardless of nationality) pays for something, believe me, it expects high quality. It might not state it in obvious terms, but that is what it definitely expects. And as a provider, you must do your best.

BTW, I know several Indian translation companies that adhere to international level translation processes and still manage to make a good profit - that is called professionalism and good business sense!

cheers
Sandhya


Chinmayi wrote:

I agree that work from my agency in this case as well, and I have paid for it nonetheless. I did a cursory check and did not go with a page by page check.
I informed the client that the work was done, and they said it will help speed up their process and they demanded to have the document immediately,.
Proofreading / Editing is not wanted by a lot of clients in India because they will not pay. We ask the translator to double check that the work is the best that they can promise. And sometimes the payment that I need to pay to my translator happens in such a manner that my agency does not make any money in some ways. Somehow thats the way some Indian companies work I guess.


[Edited at 2007-08-01 08:26]


[Edited at 2007-08-01 11:18]


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