Payment delay/reduction due to alleged low quality
Thread poster: Veroniki Velli

Veroniki Velli  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 06:01
English to Greek
+ ...
May 3, 2008

Hello,

Probably this issue troubles some of you out there, because there were about 7 freelancers working on this project (on different languages).

I expected to be paid about a project this week (quite a lot of money) and yesterday I received an e-mail from my client (a UK agency), asking of all the freelancers who have worked on the project to wait.

This is because, as they say, their client was not at all satisfied about the quality of the project, so their client demands not to pay the full amount. (It sounds to me that they actually will ask us not to be paid the full amount either).

Their client mentionned a percentage of errors for every language (from 10% to 60%)... My language had a 30% of errors.

And now we are all waiting to see the amended files (they did not informed us when we will receive them).

The question is how should I treat this case?

The thing is that the text was not that hard and during the 5 years that I am working as a freelancer I never received any complaint from my clients, so I do not really beleive that the quality of my work suddently deteriorated that much, and especially in a text not that hard.

Did anyone of you had to deal with a similar case? What would you advise me to do?
Note that the text was not sent to a proofreader and that the final client did a DTP on the text after the delivery. So I think that they weren't at all satisfied by the lay-out they got (a doc file full of text boxes in a rather bad lay-out, which was not my fault as I received it like that from the agency)

Sorry that my post is so long.

Thank you for any advise.




[Edited at 2008-05-03 09:08]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 00:01
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Errors in all the language pairs? May 3, 2008

Veroniki Velli wrote:

Hello,

Probably this issue troubles some of you out there, because there were about 7 freelancers working on this project (on different languages).

...
This is because, as they say, their client was not at all satisfied about the quality of the project,


Their client mentionned a percentage of errors for every language (from 10% to 60%)... My language had a 30% of errors.




[Edited at 2008-05-03 09:08]




I believe that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. If there was only one language pair with troubles, but no, they claim that EVERY language has mistakes. How come??? If that's true, them the translation agency is not good as it does not know how to select good translators. Or, what a bad luck! all six or seven translators did a bad job at the same time. Do you beleive it? I don't. I imagine this is another attempt of the final client to reduce expenses. How do they know now about the "bad quality"? Have they sent the files to an editor? Have the text been checked by them in-house?
If I were you, I would ask for a copy of the "edited" file to compare it with your translation. What kind of "errors" have they spotted? Sometimes clients consider a mistake the use of synonyms, or the fact that you used other words to transmit an idea. Those are not mistakes. Ask the agency the reviewed text and compare it. After seeing it, you'll have a valuable tool to defend your job or, on the contrary, accept the claims.
But be careful, while it is true that we are obliged to do a good job, every translator knows that a proofread is ALWAYS needed (because it happens that we do not detect some small mistakes, such as typos, omission of words, punctuation, sometimes we even fail to detect that we have a spelling mistake in our name). The translation agency should know it.


Kind regards

Clarisa


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Oleg Osipov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 06:01
English to Russian
+ ...
At this point... May 3, 2008

Veroniki Velli wrote:

And now we are all waiting to see the amended files (they did not informed us when we will receive them).
The question is how should I treat this case?



[Edited at 2008-05-03 09:08]


Hi Veroniki,

At this point the only thing is to wait for the detailed follow-up feedback from the agency, regarding the translation - what went wrong and where from their point of view. 30%-60% of errors - it is something I cannot imagine. They must have some strong arguments behind it.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
This story makes no sense to me May 3, 2008

This sounds to me like the customer in a restaurant who, after having all of a great dinner, upon being presented the (hefty) bill, says: I'm gonna deduct 30% from this total. It's my second time here, and again, the salad was too salty, the steak was overdone, and the dessert was way too sweet for me. I say it's the second time because the agency had all the chances to check the new translators' CVs, give them tests, etc.

Will anyone ask that customer why did he come there again? Will anyone ask that customer why he didn't complain as soon as he noticed the food was not pleasant to his taste?

Nope, in the present case that customer is not a gourmet, as you say the text was NOT sent to a proofreader. At most he was a gourmand. Before any such bad quality becomes grounds for cuts in pay, an affidavit by a duly qualified (ATA, government, anything equivalent) translator in that language pair confirming such flaws should be an absolute must.

Depending on the setting - at least I'm sure of my good quality in my pair and fields of expertise - I'd challenge the agency to get and produce such an affidavit with all relevant details. If the qualified expert confirms that my work is so badly flawed, I'll pay their fee within reason (e.g. their proofreading rate + the affidavit), and accept the deduction. If they are unable to produce such a document, they agency should commit to pay me not only the full amount agreed for the translation, but also a penalty equivalent to the discount they tried to impose on me, for moral damages.

My fantasy lets me believe that your end client is quite happy with the job they got, and this agency is trying to pull a fast one. I've seen jobs with 60% errors, even more. Some end-client was trying in goodwill to give an unpromising wannabe a chance. But if I ran a translation agency, I'd sack immediately any PM capable of hiring such a bad translator. Too risky to keep such a person in the office.

I am fortunate to work for some remarkably ethical agencies. In one job, there were several changes on the way, i.e. the end-client's big boss sent successive amendments to the original text that had already been translated. At the end, the PM sent an e-mail to the whole team, saying: "Each of you, please send me an invoice for $ 'X', on account of the additional inconvenience throughout this project."

A translator is expected to deliver plain TEXT. Basic formatting is just a bonus some translators give. I do DTP, but not in languages that I don't know - though I don't translate some languages in which I do DTP. But when I do DTP, I charge for it, and never do it with MS Word. If a client wants because they want DTP done with Word, my price is at least 2-4x what I'd charge to do the same job with PageMaker. So another possibility is that they are trying to dump the DTP cost on translators.

Hope this helps. Sorry... this can't help! So I hope this sheds some light on the whole issue.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Errors? May 4, 2008

You say... (from 10% to 60%)... My language had a 30% of errors.

I don't understand that. A translation that is 99% is not very good, so how can they define it like that? A translation must be 100%; perhaps with a typo or an omission here and there, 99.9%, no less.

They owe you some explanation there, plus it has nothing to do with your language. It has do do with YOUR WORK. How do they rate YOUR WORK? How can they back it up with FACTS?

Don't let them cheat you.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:01
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Time May 4, 2008

Was it one of those jobs where you were asked to translate more than 2,500 words per day and/or for under .10 a word? If so, what did they expect?

[Edited at 2008-05-04 05:32]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Assimina Vavoula
Greece
Local time: 06:01
Member (2005)
French to Greek
+ ...
ASK FOR SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE... May 4, 2008

I had this problem some time ago with a US agency. I asked them to provide me with sufficient evidence that our work was unacceptable... They did so and I proved them that the claims of their client were wrong. The corrections were made by a person who had nothing to do with the terminology (law + economics).
Finally, they apologized for this inconvenience and we were paid the full amount of money.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Veroniki Velli  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 06:01
English to Greek
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
additional thoughts on the problem May 4, 2008

Thank you so much for your replies.

I totally agree with you.

Yes, it is a strange coincidence that all 8 translators were of a low quality, as they claim. (!!)

Also, I do not really believe that my work had 30% of errors. And as most of you said "how do they define errors?".

I just asked for your opinions, because I wanted to be sure that I am not crazy not to believe them.

I already asked for the amended files.

The thing that troubles me is that the project was delivered 45 days ago and they informed us on Friday (2 days after the agreed payment date).
Quite strange!! They just realised the situation 45 days after the delivery of the project???

Also, I just noticed yesterday in one of the e-mails, that they did the typesetting on the greek language, without even being familiar with greek. So there is a great chance that the text that they delivered had a lot of errors due to their typesetting.

The question is how long should I wait for the amended files? Because something tells me that I am not gonna receive them in 3 days.

I am totally inexperienced with this kind of situations (fortunately!), so your opinions are precious.

Thanks again!

PS. No, it was not one of those jobs where you were asked to translate more than 2,500 words per day.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A few specific comments May 4, 2008

Veroniki Velli wrote:
Also, I do not really believe that my work had 30% of errors. And as most of you said "how do they define errors?".


They define it wrongly. 30% of errors means that 300 out of every 1,000 words were wrong. Even machine translation can do better.

The thing that troubles me is that the project was delivered 45 days ago and they informed us on Friday (2 days after the agreed payment date).
Quite strange!! They just realised the situation 45 days after the delivery of the project???


This is a telltale signt that only when payment became due they realized that their finance manager might have gone overboard in a casino, playing the ponies or the stock market, or had an otherwise severe financial setback. So they rolled dice to determine what would be the quality level to be "assigned" to each translator, to make ends meet.

Also, I just noticed yesterday in one of the e-mails, that they did the typesetting on the greek language, without even being familiar with greek. So there is a great chance that the text that they delivered had a lot of errors due to their typesetting.


You bet! With all due respect, do you know what "Greek text" means in Latin DTP? It's when letter size is so small that it becomes unreadable on the screen, so you "Greek" it just to see the lay-out. I do DTP in five languages, but I wouldn't dare doing a simple job in German, of which I understand gar nichts. So what could I say about doing it with non-Latin chars?

The question is how long should I wait for the amended files? Because something tells me that I am not gonna receive them in 3 days.

I am totally inexperienced with this kind of situations (fortunately!), so your opinions are precious.


They tipped their hand already, saying your translation was 30% unacceptable. Not 29%, not 31% (nor 25-35, nor 20-40, the range doesn't matter), but 30%. This means they must have had a rather accurate assessment on its quality. Let them show evidence of their statement!

After the three days are gone, demand the evidence. Is it handwritten on hardcopy and their scanner is either broken or too busy? Let them fax it to you! Tell them your lawyer has already contacted a colleague in their country, and you'll just have to wave a flag for them to get started.


As a final note, here is a story about one highly ethical translation agency I work for. They team me up with a colleague in the same pair (English / Brazilian Portuguese); one translates, the other proofreads, and we often swap roles. There is a whole issue between Brazilian and European Portuguese; it's irrelevant here, but I described it at http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/1675. Anyway, a (rather ignorant, IMHO) European Portuguese interpreter accidentally saw our finished job, and said it was all wrong, possibly machine translation, a complete disaster! The PM questioned us immediately. We stood by our finished job as it was. They got someone qualified to check it out, who confirmed that it was okay. The point here is that nobody ever mentioned anything about payment reduction.
Were the translation as bad as that individual said, they'd most likely pay us in full on the scheduled date and never hire either of us again. But that would be a different story.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Payment delay/reduction due to alleged low quality

Advanced search







Across v6.3
Translation Toolkit and Sales Potential under One Roof

Apart from features that enable you to translate more efficiently, the new Across Translator Edition v6.3 comprises your crossMarket membership. The new online network for Across users assists you in exploring new sales potential and generating revenue.

More info »
memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs