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Agencies omitting editing - is it a new trend?
Thread poster: Katalin Horváth McClure

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:10
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Mar 12, 2008

Recently two of my long-term clients (both large agencies, and I always thought they had a good approach toward quality) stated for specific projects and in one case, for all future projects for a certain end client of theirs, that they will NOT use an editor after the translation, the translation submitted to them by the translator will go directly to the client.
Therefore, they expect/require the utmost attention to quality by the translator. In that one case when they do this for all future projects for that specific end client, they even require a new test. (The test by the way is a timed test, an absolute nonsense in my view. You get the file, and you send it back X minutes later... But anyway, I do not want to focus on that.)

My question is:
Is it only me with this experience, or is it something that others also see lately as a trend - are agencies "cutting curbs" this way?


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:10
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
What's the point of using an agency then? Mar 12, 2008

Seems like they are cutting out any value they might be able to add. So cut them out and go for direct clients yourself.

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xxxBrandis
Local time: 12:10
English to German
+ ...
The point is the agency is your end client. Mar 12, 2008

Hi! I would try to reserve as many rights as possible to save my work, before my end client changes, edits or reforms my work and cuts on the price. Brandis

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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:10
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I am not sure I understand Mar 12, 2008

Brandis wrote:

Hi! I would try to reserve as many rights as possible to save my work, before my end client changes, edits or reforms my work and cuts on the price. Brandis


Maybe I was unclear with describing the situation.
I perceive the agency as my end client, sure, that's why I do my best to provide them with the best quality I can. That said, it is normal procedure to have QA on the side of the agency, either using in-house or outsourced resources. These editors make changes as needed, and I never had a problem with or arising from it. In fact, I am usually glad when the rare occasion arises and I receive constructive feedback from the editor. I do not treat my translations as my "babies", I do not get overly protective about them. (If someone butchers it down the line, that is a different issue, but this is not what I am talking about here.)
The normal QA step of review/editing has been performed with these agencies, without any cuts in price, so it is not a concern.


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Héloïse King  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:10
French to English
+ ...
It does happen... Mar 12, 2008

I'm not sure how normal it is, but I do know (not that I've been told formally, but I've worked out) that at least 2 agencies that I work for either do not check translations at all before sending them on to the client, or only give them a quick check by the (non-native) project manager (basically just looking to see if all the sentences are there). I find this very worrying as, no matter how much care I take, I can never guarantee that a translation is perfect, and if a mistake has crept in, I wonder whose responsibility it would be in these circumstances...

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:10
English to French
+ ...
By not performing QA, they hand their responsibilities over to you Mar 12, 2008

If an agency does not perform QA, that means that you are solely liable for the content of the translation, having been the last person to touch it. This is ridiculous, but sadly, it is a trend, and not even a new one at that. I would make sure to have my client sign a terms and conditions document wherein you specifically state that the translation is sold as is and that you will not be liable in case the agency's end client doesn't like your translation. Another thing you can do is hire your own reviewer/proofreader, pay them and add their rate to yours to charge the agency (I don't think they would be keen to accept a new, much higher rate and this may persuade them into holding you harmless in case their client doesn't like the unreviewed, unproofread translation). If an agency doesn't use reviewing/proofreading services, they choose so at their own risk. Make sure your client understands this.

Finally, as Daina pointed out, it is better to go for direct clients, who are willing to pay better money for quality and who you will have the chance to educate in order for them not to have unrealistic expectations, as opposed to dealing with agencies where most of the time, people don't take the time to educate their clients (which often serves the agency's interests as well - just think about fuzzy matches charged as no match to the client but paid at a rebate to the translator, an dother such classics).


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:10
Swedish to English
+ ...
Ditto Mar 12, 2008

"I am not sure I understand"
Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:
Brandis wrote:
Hi! I would try to reserve as many rights as possible to save my work, before my end client changes, edits or reforms my work and cuts on the price. Brandis


You're not the only one Katalin.

[Edited at 2008-03-12 19:55]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:10
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I'm not sure if this is true... Mar 12, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
If an agency does not perform QA, that means that you are solely liable for the content of the translation, having been the last person to touch it.


In all cases (with or without QA) the agency is a reseller of translations. So if the agency decides to resell a product (labelling it "adequate translation") without checking that it is indeed an adequate translation, why should the liability for product failure fall to you?

Look, the client approaches the agency and asks "Can you sell us a translation that fulfills these and these requirements?". The agency says "Yes, give us a week" and then the agency approaches the translator with the same request. The translator sells the translation to the agency, and the agency sells the translation to the client for a profit.

But I don't believe any translator should deliver substandard work to an agency, even if the agency has QA procedures in place. Your work should always be the best you can do. You should always be able to say "as far as my skills allow, I believe that this work fulfills the requirements of the work".

In a sense, the QA is simply a value-added service offered by the agency to the client.


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 13:10
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
There are different trends on the market Mar 12, 2008

Cutting down one's expenses wherever and whenever possible is one of them - not exactly new, really, as Viktoria Gimbe points out. Another adjacent trend is to turn translators into providers of a service package called TEP (translation + editing + proofreading). Some agencies jut tell you, all of a sudden, "From now on we won't proofread your translations". The good news is that they are pretty confident about the quality your provide. The bad news is that certain clients see this quality as aan easy way to reduce their expenditures by deleting the editing/proofreading stage altogether.

This week's examples to illustrate the trends.
1. My colleague told me a client of his informed him that his rate had been increased by € 0.01; but he should be aware that from now on, his translations would not be QAed and go to the client as is.
2. On Monday, a client of mine asked me if I could deliver the translation I'm working on in the final version - edited & proofread. The PM said they will add 0.07/sw for editing/proofreading to the job budget.

As you see, the clients in the two examples want their translators to do the E&P either - but their approaches are obviously different.


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 12:10
English to German
+ ...
it is fairly easy to understand Mar 12, 2008

Hi! For me the agency is the client, because I have no contract with their end client. I reserve to improve or incorporate any changes required, as suggested by the agency in order to satisfy their customer to the fullest extent. Or it is clear to all the involved parties of the project that I do only the translation part and deserve to be paid for it, proof-reading and improving etc., is the agency´s responsibility and they usually understand this argument. Brandis

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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 12:10
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
"Is it only me with this experience" Mar 12, 2008

To start with a disclaimer - I have yet to get this kind of a message. However ...

What is my ultimate concern, is the quality of the service, I (among others, including the agents) are providing to the client, what he/she is asking for. Who's doing what and what's the good of it? In this food chain, everybody HAS to prove his/her/its worth.Seen from this perspective, the agency is pretty much in a similar situation as some little bank office retailing/pawning some loans to me. As the saying goes (see Eddie Murphy / Raw) "What have you done for me lately?")

There's no exception to the rule of the market. So - who survives?
I dare to say, that without a translator, there's no translation.

So we can all sleep peacefully.


[Edited at 2008-03-12 22:15]


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:10
Portuguese to English
+ ...
This is a common occurrence for me Mar 12, 2008

I currently work for two companies that have no one to check translations. If there is a complaint from the client, the PMs send me an e-mail explaining the situation, or a copy of the e-mail they received from the client. In most cases, I've found that these complaints are unfouded, with the exception of an occasional typo, but it is time consuming to have to defend myself and explain why I used certain words, etc. (the clients are never native English speakers, but often seem to think they know better). One of the companies always sides with me, but unfortunately the other always blames me - go figure.

Amy


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
liability? Mar 12, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

If an agency does not perform QA, that means that you are solely liable for the content of the translation, having been the last person to touch it.


QA doesn't enter the issue here, surely? The chain of liabilities: I am liable to the agency, the agency is liable to the client. That happens irrespective of whether there are QA mechanisms in place.





[Edited at 2008-03-12 23:29]


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 12:10
French to Dutch
+ ...
Agencies omitting editing - is it a new trend? Mar 13, 2008

No, this is common for me too. 98% of my translations are not proofread by the agencies but delivered directly to the direct client. Who in some cases doesn't proofread neither. These agencies are not "omitting" this, but for them it is not a standard practice, and I suppose that they know to which translator they give their translations.

Besides, if you are working for direct clients - big companies or industries, or a government, there will not always be proofreaders in all language pairs, so your translations must always be ready for printing.


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