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Quality complaints
Thread poster: Lucia Cantella

Lucia Cantella  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:55
English to French
+ ...
Oct 6, 2009

Hi,

I recently did a translation of +- 24000 words for a direct customer with a leadtime of 12 days (for translating and proofreading) which is quite reasonable.
I delivered translation on 28th September, and since than i haven't heard anything from customer since then. Yesterday evening I sent them the invoice, and miracle, today I get a phone call from customer saying that apparently there were some complaints from their proofreaders and that my translation (it was cooking recipes) looked as if it had been translated by a computer software.

Now I am a professional translator, and I did translate all those recipes myself using Trados.
This is the first time I'm facing this kind of issue, but what should a recipe sound like?
I mean a recipe is always a recipe, words used are always coming back...

What bothers me is that they didn't say anything for 1 week and now that they have received the invoice they are complaining about the work.

What should I tell them? How can I defend myself? How should I react? This is the first time I'm working for them...

Thanks in advance for your help,
Lucia


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Volodymyr Kukharenko
Ukraine
Local time: 08:55
Member (2009)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Ask for the reasonable analysis and the list of mistakes Oct 6, 2009

Without providing the list of needed reasonable corrections their statement is just empty words or someone's personal point of view.

So ask them to give the examples of translation which is claimed to be MT and their version of "human" translation. That would at least give you the idea what they mean.


[Edited at 2009-10-06 09:25 GMT]


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Maria Tsang  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:55
German to French
+ ...
verify Oct 6, 2009

Let them send you the reviewed text so you can verify if any of the changes are justified.

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Daniel Meier  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:55
English to German
+ ...
Ask for proof of complaints Oct 6, 2009

First of all: stay calm. Then ask the client to substantiate the complaint. Don´t try to figure out what might be wrong with your translation - that´s a waste of time and nerves.
You have delivered a translation to your best abilities and in good faith.
If the client is not happy with your work, there are certain standards (legal, custom) to be usually observed. As your client does not seem to behave in a professional manner in this case, there´s quite a chance there is no quality issue at all.
Don´t let the client make you part of this game.
HTH
Daniel


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Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:55
Italian to English
+ ...
Quality complaints Oct 6, 2009

A couple of thoughts:

- did you Blueboard this new client?
- where are they based?

I know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I might well have hesitated before accepting a substantial first assignment from a new client.

Good luck


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PRAKAASH  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:25
Member (2007)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Quality Complaints Oct 6, 2009

Hi,

Quality complaints and frauding translators in it's name are a common scenario nowadays. In the whole last year, I was in localisation industry in India as a full-timer for around a year or so and experienced the following bitter truths.

1. Quality Concerns are raised genuinely in some cases when translation/ knowledge of target language of a translator is very poor and to a very much extent irreparable wherein agencies/clients are fair enough to raise issue. But it is not fair not to pay translator, if he/she has devoted no. of hrs/days to accomplish their work. 90% of the times, it's always possible to repair the damage with a little bit extra cost, which clients do usually. They never send the translation for retranslation unless it is very bad and bad to the extent of becoming irreparable.
In such a case, they should pay a fair amount to translator (agreed by both) after proving the poor quality and should not give anymore work to him/her, if would like to punish him/her. In this case, it was more than 10 days, so it was really tiresome for him/her. In the days of liberalisation, concept of humanity shouldn't be ignored. Business is always prior but please don't do it at the cost of exploitation of translators.

2. Quality concerns are created by freelance proofreaders or reviewers or inhouse reviewers in such a manner that they raise such language issues, which can easily be avoided. Means they simply give another alternative, marking improvement as a major error, which is extremely wrong at their ends. They do it to prove their worth. else they are feared to be thrown out of job or work, in case of unnecessity of reviews. Fair reviews are rare nowadays. Moreover, I hope that evaluation method everywhere needs to be uniform, which is not. In each organisation, they have seperate specially designed excel sheet for evaluations.

3. Many a times, outsourcer/agency/company personnel/reviewer don't intend to let the translator grow because of jealousy, regionalism, office politics etc and other reasons despite of his/her excellent work. It becomes a big obstacle in the way of translator as his work's worth is evaluated much down.

There are many more issues which was of more a concern for me and didn't exist when I was a freelancer or I was not aware of till then. Despite of being freelancer, now, I am happier as I am away from all such annoying issues for the moment and heading towards a positive change.

I have gone through such situations while working as a freelancer and fulltimer both, so I understand the condition of a translator better, I feel so.

Hope above point helps you out to come to a solution. Where there is a will, there is a way. You should handle such situations with patience, I feel. Good Luck!

Thanks & Regards,
PRAKASH SHARMA

[Edited at 2009-10-06 11:20 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-10-06 11:22 GMT]


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PRAKAASH  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:25
Member (2007)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Blueboarding... Oct 6, 2009

Susanna Garcia wrote:


- did you Blueboard this new client?
- where are they based?


Many a times, Blueboard doesn't reflect the clear picture. In blueboard, it may be attractive and good but in reality the client may be a rubbish, non-cooperative and a cheat.


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VoiceTex
Germany
Local time: 07:55
English to German
+ ...
Leave the client time to complain but only till they receive the invoice Oct 6, 2009

I've started to say that complaints are only valid if sent within a reasonable time after delivery of translation and before receipt of invoice.
If I set about for example 3 (working) days as "complaint time", i.e. time calculated for proofreading and reaction time of client for small jobs, of course, I send the invoice four days after delivery.
That should be enough time to proof and/or verify the translation.
Any complaints issued after receipt of invoice are not taken seriously.

I've taken up this practice after having read about these quality issues.
I've fortunately haven't had any client who filed a complaint, but there's always a first.
I think, this is the best and professional method for me.

What really irks me, however, is that if I ask for the corrected file to change my TM accordingly that I don't get it. Or to receive the answer that nothing has been changed.

Well, it honours me, but I know I am not that perfect.

What do you think of my approach? Is it reasonable to reserve some time for complaints?


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Benoit HUPIN  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:55
English to French
+ ...
The client HAS to justify what he says Oct 6, 2009

Hi,

I have faced this kind of clients as any of us. The first time, I really thought something went wrong with my translation and I awarded the client a discount on my invoice.

However, after a while, I began to wonder about the so-called sub-quality of my work. Indeed, it seems that my translations are usually very appreciated by my clients and I did not had specific difficulties translating this document. Thus, I decided to invest a few pennies in a full external proofreading. Obviously, the translation was perfectly in line with the common standards of quality.

Since then, I always require a duly proofread version of my translation (with track change on) before even considering the claim of the client. No duly justified claim, no discount.

The translation industry has become a jungle during the last few years and everybody tries to cut costs more or less honestly. Never fall in this trap and always require proofs of what is being asserted. That is my opinion.
We are professionals and we have to show a professional attitude to the client and to require a professional attitude from him.

So, if you are sure that your translation is of good quality, dare to stick to your point and ask proofs. No matter if you lose this client in the end. We do not need crook clients. Take the money and chase a more honest and profitable client.

As regards the time awarded to the client to proofread the translation and accept it, I stick to the standard daily proofreading capacity. Thus, for a 3,000-words documents, the client has half a day, for a 6,000-words document, a full day, and so on. We have to meet tight deadlines everyday and one can think that the proofreading is done right after the delivery. A quality claim sent two or three weeks after delivery is not acceptable to me.

My two pence on this topic.


Regards,

Benoit

[Edited at 2009-10-06 11:41 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-10-06 12:59 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:55
French to German
+ ...
Allowing 10 working days Oct 6, 2009

Christina Heger wrote:

What do you think of my approach? Is it reasonable to reserve some time for complaints?

I allow ten working days for receiving and accepting quality complaints as such, a point which is also written down in my terms and conditions. Some colleagues think it is not enough, some other colleagues think it is way too much.
But I always will agree that having to deal with complaints when the invoice is received or the payment due does not speak for professional practices at all - and that's an absolute AFAIAC.

[Edited at 2009-10-06 12:53 GMT]


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Frances Leggett  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:55
Italian to English
+ ...
There are legal time frames... Oct 6, 2009

I don't know about the legal regulations of the country you are working in or the country the client is from, but there should be legal time frames to complain about work as per the civil code. For example, I did a job last year for a company in Italy which still to this day has not paid me the full amount. Now, after 14 months, the case is finally going to the Giudice di Pace in Italy to recover the money. After many many months, the client finally said "we had some issues with some of the texts". My lawyer told me that according to the Italian Civil Code, clients had only 8 working days to complain about the quality of work which they had to substantiate, otherwise they would owe the full amount.

It might be a good idea to look up the regulations for your country just as a back up in case the client decides not to pay. Just a piece of advice for this case or for the future...

[Edited at 2009-10-06 12:48 GMT]


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:55
Member
Italian to English
Terms and conditions - agree with Laurent Oct 6, 2009

When working for a direct customer I always ask them to sign a purchase order which includes various terms and conditions, one of which is that any problems have to be raised by the client within a certain number of days (normally 8) of receiving the translation.

You may want to consider this for the future; companies will try any trick in the book if they want to avoid paying their suppliers...

[Edited at 2009-10-06 13:03 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:55
French to German
+ ...
Speaking about any trick in the book Oct 6, 2009

Fiona Peterson wrote:

You may want to consider this for the future; companies will try any trick in the book if they want to avoid paying their suppliers...

[Edited at 2009-10-06 13:03 GMT]


This may sound obvious, but speaking about any trick in the book, also make sure that it is unmistakably clear that the ***client*** is, for you, the natural or legal person whose ***name and address*** are stated on your invoice...


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:55
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ask for a list of corrections made Oct 6, 2009

Our colleagues were right: The customer cannot say it was all bad and get away with it. Ask for a detailed list of proofreader changes or documents with review marks for you to examine.

If they don't send you that... it means that they did not have that proofread and they are clearly trying to reduce the price or delay the payment with an excuse. If they never send you reviewed materials for you to examine and delay the payment or try to pay you less with that excuse, you should post your LWA to the Blueboard.


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Lucia Cantella  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:55
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for all your answers and support!! Oct 6, 2009

Dear colleagues,

Thank you very much for your answers!! I will call my customer back tomorrow and ask them for an example of what they "think" has not been translated accordingly.
Will keep you posted:))

By the way I have no idea how the Blueboard works, and was not aware that I could add a customer to it myself. Will do so now.

Thanks for your support,

Lucia


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