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Is it ethical to deduct cost of fixing work from translators invoice?
Thread poster: xxxLibelula09
xxxLibelula09
Local time: 17:01
English to Spanish
Feb 14, 2010

I will try to be brief...

A translator who did some work for me submitted a piece of work as Adobe Illustrator files. When posting the job I emphasised the need for AI experience. When I sent details of the project to the translator, I reiterated the importance of AI knowledge.

The work was submitted to me (within deadline), however since I wanted to make sure I was giving the client 'perfect' results, I asked a colleague who often proofs work for me to check if it needed anything fixing before I sent it over.

It transpires that there are mistakes on almost every page (not in the translation, however in the layout - text boxes have been ignored, some places the text overlaps other text so is illegible, and a few other things).

Now here is my dilemna - my deadline for this project is the end of today. I have emailed the translator concerned and told them they can either fix the mistakes themselves (which needs to be done by 3pm today so I can meet my deadline) or I can get my proofreader to continue his editing at a cost of €20 per hour, which I will have no choice but to deduct from their invoice. I have also sent them the files showing the before and after editing, so they can see I'm not being overly picky.

Is this unethical? I'm really not too sure what the 'right' thing to do is here, however I don't see why I should be out of pocket when they have essentially failed to meet the brief.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:01
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
How did you check the translator's experience of Adobe Illustrator? Feb 14, 2010

Did you look at his or her CV before assigning the job? If so, did it clearly indicate that he or she was experienced in the use of Adobe Illustrator?

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xxxLibelula09
Local time: 17:01
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Yes it did. Feb 14, 2010

Yes it did.

I gave him/her until 12pm to reply to my email and let me know what action they wanted me to take, since if I am to meet my deadline I need to give the editor time to fix it. I haven't had a reply.

He/she sent me an unrelated message a few hours ago so was online around the time I sent my email.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:01
English to German
+ ...
Did you pay extra for DTP? Feb 14, 2010

Then you may deduct a portion of the DTP fees.

You can NOT deduct anything from the translation fee, as the translation apparently was flawless.

Overlapping text boxes are an indicator of mere technical problems because no person of sound mind would or could type into overlapping text boxes. Did you make sure that you are working with the same version of Illustrator?

And most certainly should the translator be given the opportunity to "fix" the "mistakes" him/herself.

Please make sure that this technical problem is not based on your side. Also, have the translator send you a copy of the file as PDF.

No, you can not deduct anything automatically. This would be highly unethical.


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:01
English to Polish
+ ...
first Feb 14, 2010

I just love 'is it ethical' questions

Either it's legal or it's not, right?

If the translator's duty was to deliver a document meeting certain criteria then he or she either did or did not deliver. I don't think that (in)sufficient care in the selection process would be a relevant argument.


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xxxLibelula09
Local time: 17:01
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
We agreed a rate for translating and DTP... Feb 14, 2010

since the project required both.

I made it clear in all correspondence exactly what was required of them.

We have checked the files in Adobe and as PDF's, the mistakes are clear.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:01
English to German
+ ...
Things to consider when outsourcing DTP Feb 14, 2010

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

I just love 'is it ethical' questions

Either it's legal or it's not, right?

If the translator's duty was to deliver a document meeting certain criteria then he or she either did or did not deliver. I don't think that (in)sufficient care in the selection process would be a relevant argument.



The slightest difference in settings can garble up files.

Example: Let's say that the outsourcer didn't send the original pics together with the file to be translated. The translator has different settings in terms of wrap around or snap to grid or layers or whatever. It might look fine on the translator's screen, but the recipient of the file might experience a nasty surprise because frame sizes have changed - and the bits and pieces just refuse to fall into place.

So. Who is to blame?

But hey, let's deduct money first. And think about the cause of the problem later.


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xxxLibelula09
Local time: 17:01
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Nothing was taken out of the source files before sending Feb 14, 2010

And I have checked the files as .ai files and as .pdf.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:01
English to German
+ ...
It has nothing to do with deleting elements. Feb 14, 2010

Libelula09 wrote:

And I have checked the files as .ai files and as .pdf.


It has to do with the fact that elements might be hidden when you see the file again on your screen after it has been worked on by another person and on another work station.

For whatever reason I have the feeling that your problem is neither party's fault but a problem in regard to compatibility. I have been dealing with DTP for more than 25 years and I could write a book about those little glitches.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:01
English to German
+ ...
Did you talk to each other on the phone? Feb 14, 2010

Libelula09 wrote:

Yes it did.

I gave him/her until 12pm to reply to my email and let me know what action they wanted me to take, since if I am to meet my deadline I need to give the editor time to fix it. I haven't had a reply.

He/she sent me an unrelated message a few hours ago so was online around the time I sent my email.





I am just asking.



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Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:01
Italian to English
+ ...
Other considerations Feb 14, 2010

Before doing anything, have a think - are you going to be working with this translator again, particularly as s/he is excellent? How much are we talking about deducting here here - hundreds of pounds/dollars, whatever the currency may be or virtually peanuts, how long will the extra work take, and you've already spent the equivalent in time terms here on proz, and you will damage any future relationship. Have you discussed the problems with the translator so they could give an explanation?
Obviously, not a very straight forward situation.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My comments Feb 14, 2010

Libelula09 wrote:
A translator who did some work for me submitted a piece of work as Adobe Illustrator files.


Are you an agency or a mere middle man? In other words, who is responsible for paying the translator -- you or the client? To put it differently, who is responsible (or liable) if the quality of the work delivered to the client is inadequate?

And... does the translator know what you are (agency, middle man, etc)? Is it possible that the translator is under the impression that you yourself are a publishing house with in-house staff who checks DTP files for formatting issues?

When posting the job I emphasised the need for AI experience. When I sent details of the project to the translator, I reiterated the importance of AI knowledge.


Good. But did you tell the translator that his submitted files should be print-ready? In other words, does the translator know that his work is not one of the middle stages but is in fact the final stage of text preparation, and that no further checking or alterations will be done on the files before it is published?

The work was submitted to me (within deadline)... It transpires that there are mistakes on almost every page (not in the translation, however in the layout - text boxes have been ignored, some places the text overlaps other text so is illegible, and a few other things).


I don't think it is the translator's job to edit any portions of the file that do not have text or are not related to the text. However, I do think that the translator should submit his text in a way that is legible. If he hid his text behind text boxes (and by not assuring that the text doesn't creep in behind the text boxes, that is in effect what he is doing -- hiding his own text), so that the client has to uncover the text first, then it cannot be considered legible.

I have emailed the translator concerned and told them they can either fix the mistakes themselves (which needs to be done by 3pm today so I can meet my deadline) or I can get my proofreader to continue his editing at a cost of €20 per hour, which I will have no choice but to deduct from their invoice. ... Is this unethical?


Well, the fact that you ask the translator do fix the problems is a good thing. He may be able to do it cheaper than your own proofreader, and he should be given the opportunity to save himself some money in this way.

The question is whether the translator had done what was asked of him. Let's suppose that he didn't. Then, sure, he submitted something before the deadline, but if what he submitted was not what was asked of him, then he can't expect to be paid for it. It is his responsibility to fix it, or forego all payment. If he is unable to fix it himself, he should hire someone (or let you hire someone) to fix it, at his own cost.

Just remember that you can't use his translation unless you pay him what is due to him. So, if he refuses to fix the errors or if he fails to fix the errors before the deadline, you can refuse to pay him anything... but only if you don't use his translation (fixed or unfixed). Also remember that you can't charge the translator more (for the proofreading) than what you owe him.

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
How did you check the translator's experience of Adobe Illustrator? ... Did you look at his or her CV before assigning the job? If so, did it clearly indicate that he or she was experienced in the use of Adobe Illustrator?


This is a valid question. What if he did indicate it? What if he didn't? What difference would it make, Astrid?

Also, if the outsourcer says "AI knowledge is important" and the translator says "I accept the job" without saying "I have very little AI knowledge", then we can assume that the translator was saying (or implying) that he has sufficient AI knowledge to do the job.

Nicole Schnell wrote:
Did you pay extra for DTP? ... Then you may deduct a portion of the DTP fees. ... You can NOT deduct anything from the translation fee, as the translation apparently was flawless.


I disagree. You seem to say that formatting is not part of a translator's job. My opinion is that the only time formatting is not part of a translator's job is when the source text is unformatted (i.e. a plain text file or a columned file) or if the source text is in an uneditable format (e.g. if the translator tells the client that he doesn't have an editor for the source format) or if the translation is to be delivered in a format that differs from the source format (e.g. if the source text is AI and the translation is MS Word).

If the translator accepts a format rich source file and delivers his translation in the same format, then it is not unreasonable to assume that the formatting is intact and at least usable.

Overlapping text boxes are an indicator of mere technical problems because no person of sound mind would or could type into overlapping text boxes.


Well, I don't know AI myself, but some DTP programs have text export and import functions, so if he had used such a function to export the text, translate it and import it again, and not check the formatting afterwards, it would explain why some of the text overlaps with text boxes. Even if he had done his translation in MS Word or Notepad and then pasted it into AI later, it may have caused overlapping text boxes if he didn't watch out for it. Worse, what if he did notice the overlapping boxes (after pasting the translation) but thought to himself that it is not his problem?

Also, some programs have alternate views (i.e. print view, normal view, draft view, web view, etc), where some elements may not show as overlapping on one of the views used by the translator. For example, in MS Word I rarely use Print View when translating. And, in MS Word, a kind of picture display is disabled by default (I have to enable it manually to see all pictures in the file). If these issues also exist in AI, then it may explain why the translator is unaware of the overlapping boxes.

Did you make sure that you are working with the same version of Illustrator?


This is a *very* important question.

When I do translation of diplomas (in MS Word), where the formatting should mimic that of the original, I always print out a PDF file of the translation and send this to the client along with the translation, so that the client can see what the translation looks like on my computer, in my version of MS Word. I also ask clients to tell me urgently if what they see in their version of MS Word differs substantially from what the PDF shows.

The translator can prove his innocence easily by printing (exporting) the translation to PDF himself, to prove that his version of AI doesn't have overlapping text boxes. I see Nicole also said this in her post.

No, you can not deduct anything automatically. This would be highly unethical.


I'm not sure if it would be unethical, but I do agree that you can't simply deduct from the translator's fee unless you have a standing agreement about such deductions, and even then the translator should have a fair opportunity to defend his position.

Nicole Schnell later also wrote:
The translator has different settings in terms of wrap around or snap to grid or layers or whatever. It might look fine on the translator's screen, but the recipient of the file might experience a nasty surprise because frame sizes have changed - and the bits and pieces just refuse to fall into place.


Assuming the versions of AI are the same, shouldn't this type of information be present in the file itself? I mean, if I create a document on my computer with my settings, then those settings should be present in the file when I send it to you, so that your program doesn't apply other default settings to it. Right? But as I said, I don't know enough about AI to know if this is always the case.


[Edited at 2010-02-14 13:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-02-14 13:29 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:01
English to German
+ ...
Indeed, Samuel. Feb 14, 2010

Samuel Murray wrote:

Are you an agency or a mere middle man? In other words, who is responsible for paying the translator -- you or the client? To put it differently, who is responsible (or liable) if the quality of the work delivered to the client is inadequate?

And... does the translator know what you are (agency, middle man, etc)? Is it possible that the translator is under the impression that you yourself are a publishing house with in-house staff who checks DTP files for formatting issues?


Excellent question.

Well, the fact that you ask the translator do fix the problems is a good thing.


Indeed. Except the proofreader has two professions and is a professional graphic designer as well. But then it would cost a bit more than 20/hour.

Just remember that you can't use his translation unless you pay him what is due to him. So, if he refuses to fix the errors or if he fails to fix the errors before the deadline, you can refuse to pay him anything... but only if you don't use his translation (fixed or unfixed). Also remember that you can't charge the translator more (for the proofreading) than what you owe him.


Indeed.

I disagree. You seem to say that formatting is not part of a translator's job. My opinion is that the only time formatting is not part of a translator's job is when the source text is unformatted (i.e. a plain text file or a columned file) or if the source text is in an uneditable format (e.g. if the translator tells the client that he doesn't have an editor for the source format) or if the translation is to be delivered in a format that differs from the source format (e.g. if the source text is AI and the translation is MS Word).


Sorry. Illustrator is a drawing programm, not a word processor. It is not meant to be used for text formatting and the likes. There are no such things as RTF. Using this programm is a graphic artists work.

When I do translation of diplomas (in MS Word), where the formatting should mimic that of the original, I always print out a PDF file of the translation and send this to the client along with the translation, so that the client can see what the translation looks like on my computer, in my version of MS Word. I also ask clients to tell me urgently if what they see in their version of MS Word differs substantially from what the PDF shows.


Excellent!

I'm not sure if it would be unethical, but I do agree that you can't simply deduct from the translator's fee unless you have a standing agreement about such deductions, and even then the translator should have a fair opportunity to defend his position.


Yes.


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polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
knee-jerk reactions (again) Feb 14, 2010

I am always amazed, when subjects of this kind crop up, by the way the translator community almost to a man wades in at once to defend the translator....

Frankly, there are loads of bad or unprofessional translators out there so what reason have we all to assume that a translator will always be in the right ?
Of course, the reverse also applies - there is no reason to assume that translators will always be in the wrong.

All of which means that each case should be judged on its merits, so let's work our way through slowly:

"A translator who did some work for me submitted a piece of work as Adobe Illustrator files. When posting the job I emphasised the need for AI experience. When I sent details of the project to the translator, I reiterated the importance of AI knowledge.

The work was submitted to me (within deadline), however since I wanted to make sure I was giving the client 'perfect' results, I asked a colleague who often proofs work for me to check if it needed anything fixing before I sent it over.

It transpires that there are mistakes on almost every page (not in the translation, however in the layout - text boxes have been ignored, some places the text overlaps other text so is illegible, and a few other things).

I note in passing that, from the above statement, some people are now calling the translation as such "flawless" and "excellent" - I cannot find any trace of such a description in the initial poster's various comments - back to sweeping judgments...

Now here is my dilemna - my deadline for this project is the end of today. I have emailed the translator concerned and told them they can either fix the mistakes themselves (which needs to be done by 3pm today so I can meet my deadline) or I can get my proofreader to continue his editing at a cost of €20 per hour, which I will have no choice but to deduct from their invoice. I have also sent them the files showing the before and after editing, so they can see I'm not being overly picky.

Is this unethical? I'm really not too sure what the 'right' thing to do is here, however I don't see why I should be out of pocket when they have essentially failed to meet the brief.

I gave him/her until 12pm to reply to my email and let me know what action they wanted me to take, since if I am to meet my deadline I need to give the editor time to fix it. I haven't had a reply.

He/she sent me an unrelated message a few hours ago so was online around the time I sent my email.

It seems to me that, glitches in the system notwithstanding, the real problem is that the translator seems to be around and not responding to messages giving him or her a choice. For me, if there is unprofessional conduct, it would be in this unresponsiveness.
In the past I have given work on behalf of my patrons to other translators and sometimes been very disappointed. I have however never stopped payment - instead I corrected the texts in "track changes" and sent them back with a brief covering note. Naturally, I subsequently found other sources of supply. As with Libelula, you have your own reputation to think of also.

Whatever else a translator does, he or she should always stick with a project to the bitter end, including handling negative feedback from the "client" or "middleman". Failing to do so is a killer in my book.

Now it may be a problem of incompatibilty between systems (of late, I have found that normal files can arrive as gobbledegook) but it is then, again, a question of after-sales service which is where this person seems to be letting himself or herself down....


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Nicole Feb 14, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
You seem to say that formatting is not part of a translator's job. My opinion is that the only time formatting is not part of a translator's job is when the source text is unformatted ... or if the source text is in an uneditable format ... or if the translation is to be delivered in a format that differs from the source format ...

Sorry. Illustrator is a drawing program, not a word processor. It is not meant to be used for text formatting and the likes. There are no such things as RTF. Using this program is a graphic artists work.


I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say here.

I realise that AI is a vector graphics program, and not a word processor (and probably not what you'd call a DTP program either). But AI files can contain text, and text can be translatable. So if a translator has sufficient knowledge of AI to do the translation *and* ensure that his translation fits, then there is no reason to say that part of the work is not translators' work but graphic artists' work.

Also, while it is nice to say "X is not a Y program", the fact is that clients tend to use the programs that they feel most comfortable with when they decide to do something (even if there are better programs to do it in). If the client is an expert at AI but mediocre at MS Word or InDesign or suchlike, it would be silly of him to use those programs simply because they are supposedly better at the job. Clients don't always use the ideal program for the job.

If (only as an example) the client's file is a cartoon (comic strip), then AI would not be a bad choice, but even cartoons have translatable content, and a translator who claims that he can translate the AI file (not some exported text file) should be able to do something about it if his text is too big for the speech bubbles.

What is your opinion? You seem to know more about AI than I do.

What do you mean by your comment "There are no such things as RTF"? It appears to be in reply to something I wrote, but I can't figure out what.


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