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END Client not paying
Thread poster: because Group

because Group  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:41
Member (2007)
May 15, 2008

Hello everybody,
I run a small translation agency based in Italy, having always paid its translators on time, who always has been paid by end clients - not always on time, but anyway, not a big problem - and never received a claim, until today. This is the first time we stuck in this problem.

We performed for this NEW client the translation of a commercial / technical brochure, so translation & proofreading to guarantee content coherence, grammar and technical skill

First of all, the end client complained about some too much -ing, correcting good sentences with wrong ones; the corrections were done by an italian employee.

We explained that 50% of the correction were absolutly wrong, 25% too much -ing (well, if you don't like so...) and other 25% susbtituting a word with another (maybe reasonable). So, we performed these corrections, delivered a new version, and suggested them to make the text checked by an english mother language, not an italian one.

Two weeks later their reply, by letter: they have our translation checked by english mother tongue, that found severe mistakes of grammar and style and still do not accept our translation and of course are not willing to pay at all. I got them on the phone, their point is: "your tranlation is like a broken machine: it doesn't work, I won't pay it".

I re-sent the final translation to our proofreader and this is his opinion:

Having re-read the three files I maintain that they are adequate - if not inspirational - translations. I use three elements to evaluate when proofreading,

1. Grammar
2. Terminology
3. Style (tone/register)

In this case I find that the files pass all grammatical tests, all style tests.
As to the terminology, translations have been used by the translator which seem correct.
However, the client may fel that they do not fit his PARTICULAR context.
If this is so, it should be taken up with the translator.
As to the grammar, I did have to correct quite a bit of this.
As to style, the Italian original does not lend itself very well to a more
"florid" style. While it is not bland, there is no room for interpretation of the text.


now, I'm having the text revised by a second translator, and I'm still waiting for the response.

I know that many of you are not beeing paid by bad translation agencies, and it is really frustrating. What do you suggest me to do? I don't like lawyers, courtroom at all.. the amount is not much (450€) but still frustrating..

Thanks for your replies
Davide


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 16:41
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
What language pair? May 15, 2008

... We performed for this NEW client the translation of a commercial / technical brochure ...


Just curious.

TiA

Vito


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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:41
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
Your side of the story May 15, 2008

As a freelancer it is interesting to hear your side of the story

I can see your problem. However I don't understand that even after proofreading the end client still found grammatical problems?

As I see it, the problem is that the end client to begin with never trusted your agency's capabilities - why else have the text checked over by an Italian employee *and* and external mother tongue English speaker? Did you give him any reasons to feel this way?

In my experience it is relatively common that the end client makes changes before the final text goes live - but ten end client should do this without complaining to you, you can not read his mind regarding stylistic matters etc.

He should pay you - it was his choice to make changes in the text.

And you should pay your freelancer - this is one of your responsibilities as an agency, and the reason that you pay the freelancer less than the end client would, had you not been the middleman.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:41
Italian to English
+ ...
Independent opinion May 15, 2008

If you'd like an independent opinion, I'd be happy to have a quick look at the original and translation for you (assuming it's Italian to English).

However, I don't understand your own proofreader's comment -

first he said:
the files pass all grammatical tests, all style tests


but then:
As to the grammar, I did have to correct quite a bit of this


While style is always a matter of opinion, if the file sent to the client contained grammatical errors I'd say they have a right to complain - especially if they'd given you/your translators a chance to correct the original translation.

So I think you need to clarify what your proofreader meant - did the translation pass his grammatical tests or not? If it did, then why did he have to correct the grammar?


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because Group  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:41
Member (2007)
TOPIC STARTER
News from the second proofreader May 15, 2008

answering to Vito: ITA-ENG

aswering to IVANA: it was a brochure to be printed in thousand of copies maybe, so it's normal to be careful in these cases

answering to Marie-Helene: the american proofreader edited and corrected several error (the translation was performed by an ITALIAN technical translator), and returned to us the proofread version, which was controlled once more by the project manager and finally delivered to the end client

now, a second independent american proofreader tells me that: "the translation is too much litteral, and the overall sense has been changed. some example:"

- la componente di più alto valore – most valuable element (invece di highest valued element)

- contabilità personale – personal accounting (invece di finance)

- the only prerequisites to use these powerful tools – the only prerequisites for using these powerful tools

- allow the performance of quantitative and qualitative analyses – allow carrying out quantitative and…..

- avrei tradotto “concessionarie” e “concessionarie di pubblicità” = sales agencies ed advertising sales agencies (invece di advertising agent)

- Nelle realtà in cui gli agenti operano….. – non va bene “in our company” – dovrebbe essere più generico

- Effettivo = actual, non “effective”

- Struttura commerciale – avrei detto qualcosa tipo “commercial organization” oppure “business organization”, ma non “commercial structure

- Modulistica personale – bisognerebbe sapere se usanto “personale” per dire “personnel” oppure “personal”

- Will burden the work.... – forse meglio “will increase the work...” o qualcosa del genere

- on the aggregate efficiency of the structure – avrei ditto qualcosa tipo “on the overall efficiency of the organization” (sull’efficienza complessiva della struttura.

- sometimes favoured by the contact of more agents with the same customer – sometimes aided by several agents being in contact with the same customer (talvolta favorita dal contatto di più agenti con lo stesso cliente)

- historical file – avrei ditto semplicemente “records” (archivio storico)

- commercial proposals that were already refused – avrei ditto “business proposals that have already been rejected”

- organizing best the appointments agenda – avrei ditto qualcosa tipo “organizing the appointment book (o diary) in the best way possible” oppure “….as efficiently as possible”


what do you think now?


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:41
Italian to English
+ ...
I agree with the second proofreader May 15, 2008

The second proofreader's suggestions certainly read better than the original.

I'd add that you need to check the meaning of personale in the second example too, as I'd assume it meant personnel there as well. I'd also say simply allow quantitative and qualitative analyses - there's no need for anything more complicated.

So, just to make sure I've understood the sequence of events:

1) original translation proofread and sent to end client

2) client rejects translation

3) translation revised and re-sent

4) client rejects corrected translation

5) first proofreader says that second (corrected) translation is adequate

6) second proofreader says that second (corrected) translation is too literal and doesn't reflect the original.

I have to say I agree with the client here, especially if this is a marketing text where the client's image is on the line. I wouldn't pay for the translation he got sent either, judging from the examples you've given.

I think your first mistake was giving the job to a native Italian speaker - while I'm not in the camp that insists that non-natives will never do a good job (I know at least one Italian who can translate perfectly into English), I do think that except under certain special circumstances, it's better to use a native target language speaker - especially where style is important.
I doubt very much that a native English speaker would have said aggregate efficiency, burden the work, proposals that were already refused or organizing best the appointments agenda, for example, and I'm surprised that the first proofreader didn't weed these out.

I'd say that neither your translator nor your first proofreader were up to the job, to be brutally honest.

[Edited at 2008-05-15 15:44]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:41
Dutch to English
+ ...
Let's call a spade a spade May 15, 2008

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

I'd say that neither your translator nor your first proofreader were up to the job, to be brutally honest.


From the examples quoted, Marie-Hélène is right.

She's also far more tactful than I am. I wouldn't pay either. In fact, I'd have taken one look and binned it first time round. How did THAT rubbish - for want of a more descriptive word beginning with c - get past a proofreader and project manager? The mind boggles.

I don't translate from Italian, but don't need to - the type of very basic errors made here (e.g. effective instead of actual) are the type I see all the time in substandard PT»EN work.

Tip: Bite the bullet, have the job redone from scratch by someone actually qualified to do the job, and thank your lucky stars the brochure (apparently) hasn't gone to print in its current form.

You can't breathe life into something that should have been buried ages ago. Start again. It may a relatively small job in terms of invoice value, but word gets around and this is not the type of advert you want for your agency.

Best of luck sorting it out
Debs

[Edited at 2008-05-15 16:44]


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because Group  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:41
Member (2007)
TOPIC STARTER
I understand.. May 15, 2008

Now, all becomes clear: I perfectly agree with Marie-Helene and Lawyer-Linguist

Accepting a job that is not a technical manual (our field) was the first error
Having this done by an italian translator was the second
Trusting a new proofreader (not up to the job) was the third
Not having the translation re-done from scratch was the latest

We got confused by the strange complaints by the italian client that checked the translation the first time, which had nothing to do with the real problem of this translation

Thanks for your attention and your advice
Cheers,
Davide


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 17:41
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
+1 May 15, 2008

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:
I think your first mistake was giving the job to a native Italian speaker ...


I'd put in a more general way^ the job was assigned to a person who was not qualified to do it.

And
SM wrote: We performed for this NEW client the translation of a commercial / technical brochure, so translation & proofreading to guarantee content coherence, grammar and technical skill.

The entire structure proved to be inefficient.

Sometines it happens because agency owners try to handle a job within a budget offered by the end client instead of telling the client it's impossible to guarantee adequate quality at this rate.
Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
...the type of very basic errors made ... are the type I see all the time in substandard PT»EN work


The language doesn't matter. This type of errors can be found anywhere and anytime when and where the job is assigned to someone who can't actually do it (agnecu -> translator) or has no resources for doing it (end client -> agency).

Best luck in future endeavors, SM! And use this case as a lesson to learn!

Cheers,
Oleg


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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:41
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
Mystery solved May 15, 2008

- but did you pay the freelancer in the end?

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because Group  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:41
Member (2007)
TOPIC STARTER
A new beginning May 15, 2008

So.. I finally told with translators, proofreader and end client:

- translator & proofreader are not willing to be paid anymore, and this is good, since we never miss a payment, unless freelances accept it (it happens, rarely, and this is the case), and maybe we'll cooperate in the future again

- we settled for a 25% reduction for the inconvenience we caused with the end client, who was really kind with us, considering the circumstances, and will have this job re-done from scratch by a skilled mother-language translator and proofread by 2 proofreaders, just to be sure.

We are not gaining anything from this project of course, if whe take into account double job and reduction, but we are going to learn something from this story.

Thanks again for your advices

Bye
Davide


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:41
Italian to English
+ ...
Best of a bad job May 15, 2008

It sounds like you've made the best of a bad job, Davide.

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Stuart Dowell  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:41
Member (2007)
Polish to English
+ ...
Native or non-native? May 16, 2008

This is an interesting case as the problem, in part, seems to have arisen from commissioning a non-native to do the translation (according to people's comments).

Do you think it's true that a native translator and native proofreader on average will lead to a better result than a non-native translator and native proofreader team?

If there is a difference, what kind of differences would be acceptable in the final draft?

Surely the fact that this solution is used so frequently by agencies/clients must mean that they either believe there will be no qualitative difference in the result or that the difference is acceptable.

I'm interested in people's thoughts.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:41
Italian to English
+ ...
Interesting question... May 16, 2008

stuart dowell wrote:

Do you think it's true that a native translator and native proofreader on average will lead to a better result than a non-native translator and native proofreader team?

If there is a difference, what kind of differences would be acceptable in the final draft?

Surely the fact that this solution is used so frequently by agencies/clients must mean that they either believe there will be no qualitative difference in the result or that the difference is acceptable.

I'm interested in people's thoughts.




... but also off-topic. Perhaps you could start another topic to discuss this.


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Stuart Dowell  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:41
Member (2007)
Polish to English
+ ...
. May 16, 2008

[/quote]

... but also off-topic. Perhaps you could start another topic to discuss this. [/quote]

OK


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