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Client complains about one of several projects - what would you do?
Thread poster: Nicolette Scholte
Nicolette Scholte  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
English to Dutch
+ ...
Oct 28, 2008

I have the following problem, I have just sent in three different big projects to an agency (They are normally very good, not a problem with anything, have been working for them for many years without problem).

Now I'm getting an email from the PM that apparently another smaller translation that I did before those big translations, that has no connection whatsoever with the bigger files, was proofread and apparently many mistakes were found. I did get a revised file, but nothing is marked in there, which would mean that anything can be changed.

Now the PM also gave me three revised PO's for the other three projects, because apparently they also have to be checked now and she pulled in total about 50% of the total price of the original PO's just so they can also be proofread.

I've just send her an email back to ask for a file with the revisions actually in print in it so I can check (I've been burned before with an 'over-active' proofreader that just changed sentences and words to show how much better they are than their original translator to get more work with that PM), and that I think it's unfair to just change the PO without any talking about it to me.

Now my question is, What would you do in this situation?
Thanks in advance for your answer.

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-10-28 09:42]


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:20
Member (2004)
German to English
Compare the file they sent with the one you delivered Oct 28, 2008

If they are in Word that's relatively easy to do: "Compare documents". See if you can see any changes.

Gillian


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Nicolette Scholte  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Oct 28, 2008

Gillian Searl wrote:

If they are in Word that's relatively easy to do: "Compare documents". See if you can see any changes.

Gillian



Thank you for that, I didn't know that was possible.
Well just as I thought, many words are indeed switched around or changed for other similar words.


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:20
Member (2004)
German to English
so are the changes justified or not? Oct 28, 2008

If they are, arguing could be difficult.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 22:20
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
I would invoice according to original po Oct 28, 2008

Proofreading and editing is normal part of the work of an agency. I would not except changes to the original POs.
Regards
Heinrich


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Nicolette Scholte  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Some are Oct 28, 2008

Gillian Searl wrote:

If they are, arguing could be difficult.


In fairness, some (maybe 5%) are, but certainly most of them are words changed for similar words or words in sentences changed.


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Simon Mountifield  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
French to English
Agency's responsibility Oct 28, 2008

I'm with Heinrich on this one.

Proofreading translations is surely one of the agency's responsibilities as part of their supposed quality control process. If they want the translations that you did for the project to be proofread, that's their decision and you should not be footing the bill. Besides, you said that the small translation in question has nothing to do with the larger projects. So my advice is to stick to your guns.

I can't believe the gall of some people!

Simon


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Andrei Yefimov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 22:20
English to Russian
+ ...
stylistic preferences Oct 28, 2008

hi,

you should try to calmly explain to your PM that all these changes are actually stylistic preferences and not mistakes (if this is the case).

Another option is arrange an independent brief review by a third translator/proofreader.

If PM pretends he doesnt understand you (this also happens unfortunately), you can also negotiate on proofreading the jobs by yourself or a competent colleague of yours.

Best,
Andrei


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:20
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
different projects - no link between them Oct 28, 2008

Have you been paid for the previous, small translation where they found so-called mistakes ?

If no, and depending on the number/nature of the "mistakes" you could accept some discount on this one - I don't say you must, it's up to you to see.

But this has nothig to do with the 3 other projects. It is totally unacceptable to change PO's terms just after delivery ! Stick to the previously aggreed terms and rate.


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Nicolette Scholte  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
English to Dutch
+ ...
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Not been paid yet Oct 28, 2008

nordiste wrote:

Have you been paid for the previous, small translation where they found so-called mistakes ?

If no, and depending on the number/nature of the "mistakes" you could accept some discount on this one - I don't say you must, it's up to you to see.

But this has nothig to do with the 3 other projects. It is totally unacceptable to change PO's terms just after delivery ! Stick to the previously aggreed terms and rate.


No I haven't been paid yet for them, the weird thing is; I delivered that little one about 2 weeks ago, so why suddenly come now with that proofreading?

It really does feel wrong, because I never had any trouble with them before and they were one of my first clients.

I guess I'll have to sit down, and write down every so called 'mistake' and explain why it is virtually the same or why my choice of words is also right, and send it back to the PM.

Edit due to small mistake.


[Bijgewerkt op 2008-10-28 13:11]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
Italian to English
+ ...
The translator should never be required to pay for revision Oct 28, 2008

There are two issues here and I think you need to deal with them separately:

1) Possible problem with past translation: you already seem to have found out that the changes are cosmetic only, and therefore do not justify criticism. If they had been justified, I would have suggested offering a retrospective discount on this job, to be applied to your next invoice.

2) Agency now wants to charge you for revisions of your future translations: no, no, no. Revision is a service offered and charged by the agency to the end client - it's part of the added value that the client gains by using an agency rather than an individual translator. It should never be paid for by the translator, that's ludicrous.

I suppose you have to assume that the agency is in good faith as you have had a long-term working relationship with them, but their behaviour as you describe it seems very strange to me. I can't think of any justification for confounding these two issues - if your translation had been so bad that a radical revision or retranslation was required, the agency would be entitled to request a discount on the original translation and would presumably review its future relationship with you, but it has no right at all to change the terms of ongoing or delivered work.

[Edited at 2008-10-28 11:06]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:20
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It's like using the telephone... Oct 28, 2008

... where you don't see what's going on on the other side.

Maybe the end-client in that smaller, previous job is peskier than average.

Maybe the agency foresees cash flow problems with the larger projects, and it's setting the stage for dumping a post-delivery price reduction on your lap, by downgrading your status from a final-job-delivering translator, using that smaller project as an 'evidence'.

Maybe that PM (if it's the same) just had a bad day.

Too many maybes. I prefer to stick to what I know for sure: my quality, my price. I haven't yet found a way to lower my price by lowering quality. In other words, I haven't learned to do a sloppy job. Likewise, PMs know that they shouldn't pay me less than agreed because of an eventual slip, but let me fix it instead.

This happens in all service-providing trades. If you take your repaired car from the shop and it stalls on the way back home, you make a U-turn and return to the mechanic to fix it. However you shouldn't demand a rebate for that. If your repaired washing machine is leaking again, you call the guy back to fix it. Ditto.

Did good translation agencies ever find any flaws in my work? Sure! Once in a while they do. Actually they should, because I'm human. I fix them myself immediately. Maybe this goes in exchange for me finding flaws in the original text. For instance, once I spotted something like "both three options are available with...", and sent feedback immediately to the PM. The end-client was amazed, as the (original) text had been proofread umpteen times, and nobody had noticed that. Okay, one hand washes the other, but we never let such issues involve money.


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CFK TRAD  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:20
English to French
+ ...
This is definitely the right point of view. Oct 28, 2008

Hi everybody,

I write this post, because I'd like to give you my point of view both as a translator and as an outsourcer (I only have a translation agency).
Marie-Hélène is fully right, and in my humble opinion, she summed up the situation the right way.

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

1) Possible problem with past translation: you already seem to have found out that the changes are cosmetic only, and therefore do not justify criticism. If they had been justified, I would have suggested offering a retrospective discount on this job, to be applied to your next invoice.


Definitely. If there are misstranslations, mistakes, sentences which have been forgotten, etc., yes, you must understand that you cannot ask for a 100% payment. But, as far as changes are "cosmetic", this is YOUR style, your way of expressing yourself, and it's your freedom as a translator.
As an outsourcer, I always make the difference between cosmetic changes (which the proofer is not supposed to do) and misstranslations.
In fact, there are very few misstranslations, the proofing stage is a safety for the translation agency, for the client, and for the translator.
So, if the changes are purely stylistic, cosmetic, call it the way the way you want, you must not accept any discount.
If the reviewer has found mistakes (and if you accept taht these are mistakes), you should accept a discount. As an outsoucer I count the number of words which are misstranslated, and apply the per source word rate to propose the discount. I have never seen a translator who refuses this proposal (and, of course, the translator is asked to express his/her point of view on the changes !)

2) Agency now wants to charge you for revisions of your future translations: no, no, no. Revision is a service offered and charged by the agency to the end client - it's part of the added value that the client gains by using an agency rather than an individual translator. It should never be paid for by the translator, that's ludicrous. [/quote]
Is the Agency kidding ??? I invoice separately for translation & for revision (many clients prefer to have revision done by another agency and/or to do it themselves). No, you shouldn't accept. Agencies which do not invoice separately for translation & for proofing keep having enough money to pay for the proofer (and if they don't, is it your problem? No, it's theirs!!)

This is typically the kind of behavior that looks suspicious - and you've not been paid yet, right?? They're trying to have you work for free... or at least, to obtain crazy payment terms, outrageous rates, etc...
I have had exactly the same problem with a TA this summer... the situation came to a point when I told them "that's funny, you challenge my abilities... since I point out that you're more than 3 months late in payment... is it a joke?". Of course, we don't work together anylonger, but trust me, if the PM does not understand that you're not about to paid for the service they already invoice, consider getting other clients !

Best

Coralie.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
It is unethical to involve the three unrelated projects which you have just completed Oct 28, 2008

The price was agreed, you have just delivered them, and now you should simply invoice what was finally and bindingly agreed before you started work on them.

If they come back with any complaints, in due course, about any or all of those, that is a separate issue entirely.

[Edited at 2008-10-28 13:32]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Since when do we get paid so generously for proofreading? Oct 28, 2008

Nicolette Scholte wrote:

... she pulled in total about 50% of the total price of the original PO's just so they can also be proofread.

10-28 09:42]


In my experience, agencies usually want to pay a very small percentage for proofreading, certainly nowhere near 50% of the translation rate. A third of the translation rate is usually too expensive for them; they try to go for a quarter or a fifth.


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