Feedback from Agencies
Thread poster: Theodore Quester

Theodore Quester  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:06
French to English
+ ...
Mar 18, 2002

I am wondering about professional behavior in a situation in which I have found myself.

I turned in a translation which I thought was correct, although I had a few doubts, since the text itself was a little purposely abstract and opaque at times (art criticism) and partly since I could see I was making a translation of a translation (Italian- English, when it was obviously an Italian translation of a German text).

I received an email a few days later telling me not to worry, they would pay me in a full, but there were \"many many errors\" although the text was very well written in English; they therefore had doubts about my understanding of the source language. Please reply ASAP, etc.

I requested the proofreader\'s comments and was told I would receive them the next day. Then I received two nice emails from the secretary and the translation manager telling me the text was really technical, not to worry, they would consider me for future projects, etc, but no comments about what the actual problems were.

Am I wrong to, as I did, continue to insist on receiving the comments or the edited text? I find it hard to just drop the thing, after being told there are \"many many\" errors in a text of 1500 words, and having my ability to correctly understand the source text questioned.

I feel a lot of anxiety about this, although this client is very poor paying anyway, and in any case insists they want to keep working with me.

I would appreciate knowing other people\'s opinions. I am already feeling like a pest, repeatedly asking this agency for the same thing, but it is hard to let things drop when you are given a comment like \"many many errors\" without any specifics; it makes me feel extremely self-conscious and unsure of myself; at the same time I want to behave in a professional manner with the agency and I appreciate the friendly understanding tone of all their correspondence excepting the first \"many many errors. Please contact as soon as possible\" email.

Should I have just put it behind me, i.e. get over it? Or is it appropriate to insist?


Theodore Quester


Patricia Posadas  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:06
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I would have done the same thing! Mar 18, 2002

I believe it is the minimum thing to do, to give a full report of your \'mistakes\', because \'many many errors\' means nothing. The proofreader might be wrong!

Besides, insisting in getting feedback for your work only reveals that you are a good professional, doesn\'t it? Ignoring such an \'abusive\' remark would give a poor image of you.

That\'s how I see it.


Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:06
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
I think it is appropriate to insist Mar 18, 2002

I had a similar experience a couple of years ago, and they ended up not paying me for the translation. After I delivered the translation, I got an email that said that there were a few errors in the translation. When I asked what the errors were (and I also requested the translation to be checked by a third party along with offering to correct the errors by myself), the agency (in Belgium) quit any type of communication with me: they would not reply to phone calls or faxes, and they disconnected their email address. To this day I do not know what was wrong with the translation and I have not been able to contact them anymore (neither has my attorney who finally got tired of them and closed my case). I hope this is not the case with you and your translation though, and I sincerely hope you will get paid for the service you rendered.



Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO) (X)
Local time: 21:06
German to English
+ ...
By all means, insist! Mar 18, 2002


A situation like that can be very annoying, and you have every right to see the full report on your \"mistakes\". If the agency doesn\'t feel it\'s necessary to inform its translators of potential errors, they will have a rude awakening one day. How can they expect their subcontractors to grow and improve if they don\'t tell them what\'s wrong? In other words, errors will be perpetuated, and, eventually, they will not be so nice to you and won\'t pay you if it happens again.

Your case is a special one (translating a previously translated document); in fact, the agency may be referring to mistakes that stem from the bad, original, translation. As I always say: you need to have a good and well-written source text to produce a good-quality translation. You just can\'t make a silk purse out of a sow\'s ear.

You should definitely insist on seeing those \"mistakes\". My feeling is that they are withholding the report because they don\'t want to end up arguing with you, perhaps. But in their opinion, you have handed in a lousy translation, and that could hurt your future bargaining position with them. So, do everything you can to set the record straight.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-19 02:09 ]


Silvina Beatriz Codina  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:06
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Ah, ye olde complaint about quality... Mar 19, 2002

This kind of situation happened to me twice, and at the time there were no forums such as these, so I thought these things only happened to me. I have learned differently here: unfortunately, this kind of hanky-panky seems to be pretty widespread. Whenever there is a complaint about quality but a refusal to be specific, there is something definitely suspicious going on.

The first time, which I told about already in another forum, was clearly a case of a client trying to get a job done without paying, by complaining about the quality. On that occasion, I insisted on seeing the corrected text and the client refused. The second occasion was a far murkier affair and, I believe, more similar to your case. After I did a translation for a new agency, they got back to me a few days later saying that the client had complained about the quality of the text, but that I should not worry, because they would pay me anyway. Also, they said up front that they would not give me the corrected version because it was in hard copy (!) and that they could not give me a list of the errors because they were so many.

However, they apparently didn\'t count on the fact that the translated document was a website, and if I wanted to see the client\'s corrections, I only needed to visit the website and check out the text. I did that, not because I suspected of any monkey business, but sincerely willing to see what had gone wrong. To my surprise, the text they had sent online was my very own text, without a single comma corrected. I even copied the online text and my own text in Word documents and did a document comparison, to make sure. I got back to the agency telling them exactly that and asking what was going on. I never got any reply. They paid me all right, and that was that. To this day, I don\'t know what they intended to do, other than ruining my day.

Months later, they contacted me again about a job, but the whole business had left me with a bad taste in my mouth and I declined the offer. They never contacted me again, which was all for the best, because I have learned from the Blue Board that this particular agency went el foldo last year, leaving lots of translators on the lurch.

Bottom line, I also think that you must insist on seeing the corrected text. Not really because this particular agency is worth keeping as a client, but because of your own peace of mind. You have all the right to know what went wrong with your translation. You have the right to defend yourself against the agency\'s claims, so don\'t feel bad about insisting.


Maureen Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:06
Member (2009)
Italian to English
Maybe they weren't so sure about their own solutions Mar 19, 2002

I wonder if someone spoke too soon--once the proofreader got ahold of the document, he realised that he wasn\'t so sure about his own solutions either, and they did not want to get into a long discussion about each sentence. Or maybe the whole agency was in disagreement about a not-easily interpreted piece!

You were and are certainly right to insist--I am offering the above simply as an explanation. They acted wrongly to mention \"many many errors\" and then expect a professional not to be curious! However, if you want to keep the client you may just decide to let it go. If it\'s an Italian agency, many work with very tight profit margins and don\'t take the time for good feedback. Your decision whether you can live with that(and their low pay), and for how long.


Ron Clarey
Local time: 02:06
Quality check Apr 7, 2002

It won\'t hurt to see proof readers comments good or bad because translation is as much about interpretation as anything. Sometimes you may be unsure of a way of putting something and be interested in a different view point. Also it could be used as a selling point to new customers that your translations are independently proofread and you consistently achieve a high level of skill. Of course if you are a lousy translater forget my last sentence icon_smile.gif


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