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WWYD: Disagree with failed translation test, for third-party client
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Mar 13, 2011

G'day everyone

What would you do in this situation? Let's suppose for the sake of simplifying this question that I have no signed NDA with any of the parties involved, so the only "NDA" here is professional translator ethics.

I did a paid translation test for agency A (a regular client). Some time later, agency B (also a regular client) asked me to do a paid review of a test translation, and I agreed. However, when I saw the translation, I realised that it was my own translation, and I told agency B that I could not in good faith review my own test translation.

Some time later, agency A contacted me again with the test results, saying that two reviewers had reviewed my test, and one of them said that I had failed miserably. Agency A asked me to comment on the review (the errors were individually marked), which I then did. Essentially, I disagreed with 99% of the so-called "errors" indicated by the reviewer (and I feel my case is very strong, as I could back up my opinions with recent, authoritative dictionaries).

I have no idea whether agency A got the reviews directly from agency B or from the end-client, or whether agency B would be informed by the end-client of my comments (or whether the end-client would simply make a decision about it without asking agency B for a second opinion).

However, I'm quite concerned about how agency B now regards me, because agency B knows that I was the translator of that test, and (if it was their translator who had failed me) agency B also knows (or thinks) that I had miserably failed the test. What would you do? Would you feel it within your rights to contact agency B with regard to the test results? If so, what would you be willing to disclose to them?

My own opinion is that I should explain that the test was reviewed by (a) an unspecified number of reviewers and that (b) one of the reviewers had failed me and that (c) I strongly disagree with the review and that (d) I would like to ensure that I don't lose them (agency B) as a client because of this, and then (e) ask whether their reviewer had failed me or not. My opinion is that since I have no idea which route that test and that review had taken, I can't safely simply share my comments (which I sent to agency A) with agency B unless I can be absolutely sure that that review (in the exact state that I had received it) had originated from agency B. But what is your opinion? Would you be less strict about this kind of disclosure ethics?

Thanks
Samuel


 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:06
One question Mar 13, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

G'day everyone

What would you do in this situation? Let's suppose for the sake of simplifying this question that I have no signed NDA with any of the parties involved, so the only "NDA" here is professional translator ethics.

I did a paid translation test for agency A (a regular client). Some time later, agency B (also a regular client) asked me to do a paid review of a test translation, and I agreed. However, when I saw the translation, I realised that it was my own translation, and I told agency B that I could not in good faith review my own test translation.

Some time later, agency A contacted me again with the test results, saying that two reviewers had reviewed my test, and one of them said that I had failed miserably. Agency A asked me to comment on the review (the errors were individually marked), which I then did. Essentially, I disagreed with 99% of the so-called "errors" indicated by the reviewer (and I feel my case is very strong, as I could back up my opinions with recent, authoritative dictionaries).

I have no idea whether agency A got the reviews directly from agency B or from the end-client, or whether agency B would be informed by the end-client of my comments (or whether the end-client would simply make a decision about it without asking agency B for a second opinion).

However, I'm quite concerned about how agency B now regards me, because agency B knows that I was the translator of that test, and (if it was their translator who had failed me) agency B also knows (or thinks) that I had miserably failed the test. What would you do? Would you feel it within your rights to contact agency B with regard to the test results? If so, what would you be willing to disclose to them?

My own opinion is that I should explain that the test was reviewed by (a) an unspecified number of reviewers and that (b) one of the reviewers had failed me and that (c) I strongly disagree with the review and that (d) I would like to ensure that I don't lose them (agency B) as a client because of this, and then (e) ask whether their reviewer had failed me or not. My opinion is that since I have no idea which route that test and that review had taken, I can't safely simply share my comments (which I sent to agency A) with agency B unless I can be absolutely sure that that review (in the exact state that I had received it) had originated from agency B. But what is your opinion? Would you be less strict about this kind of disclosure ethics?

Thanks
Samuel


Don't both agencies read the language which you translated into?


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not relevant Mar 13, 2011

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:
Don't both agencies read the language which you translated into?


I don't see how that can be relevant here. Why do you think it is relevant?

To answer your question, however:
* As far as I know, neither agency can speak or read my language.
* As far as I know, the end-client is based in a location that makes it unlikely that their PM can speak or read my language.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What I, personally, would do Mar 13, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:
My own opinion is that I should explain that the test was reviewed by (a) an unspecified number of reviewers and that (b) one of the reviewers had failed me and that (c) I strongly disagree with the review and that (d) I would like to ensure that I don't lose them (agency B) as a client because of this, and then (e) ask whether their reviewer had failed me or not.

But what is your opinion? Would you be less strict about this kind of disclosure ethics?


I prefer to stay really strict in this area. My personal reaction (possibly - after all it's hypothetical for me) would be to do your steps a,b,c,d. I'm not sure e is such a good idea. Instead:

Agency A asked me to comment on the review (the errors were individually marked), which I then did.


Do you still have your comments? Perhaps your next step could be to send these. If their reviewer was the one concerned then they can investigate further. If their reviewer said the test was fine then I don't think they will be bothered about anything and will only see you rightly defending yourself.

Makes my problems seem very simple!icon_smile.gif


 

Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:06
French to English
Find out first Mar 13, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

However, I'm quite concerned about how agency B now regards me, because agency B knows that I was the translator of that test, and (if it was their translator who had failed me) agency B also knows (or thinks) that I had miserably failed the test. What would you do?


Ask them what happened in the end, did they find someone to do a satisfactory review of the test (what with your segment being so small and all), and what was the outcome. If they tell you that the outcome was they now think you suck, *then* launch your defence. No point going overboard with complex strategies if nothing has in fact changed.


 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:06
My reason for asking was Mar 13, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:
Don't both agencies read the language which you translated into?


I don't see how that can be relevant here. Why do you think it is relevant?

To answer your question, however:
* As far as I know, neither agency can speak or read my language.
* As far as I know, the end-client is based in a location that makes it unlikely that their PM can speak or read my language.


because I thought if both or one of the agencies could read or speak your language, the PM or the person who got in contact with you could do a fair assessment of who's right or wrong.


 

Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:06
Member (2010)
English to Polish
+ ...
? Mar 13, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:
I did a paid translation test for agency A (a regular client). Some time later, agency B (also a regular client) asked me to do a paid review of a test translation, and I agreed. However, when I saw the translation, I realised that it was my own translation, and I told agency B that I could not in good faith review my own test translation.
Samuel


Hi Samuel,
Your regular client asked you to do a test translation? And then they sent it to another client of yours for a validation? That's pretty strange I would say. Unless I'm missing something here.
Ewa


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What's strange about it? Mar 13, 2011

Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak) wrote:
Your regular client asked you to do a test translation? And then they sent it to another client of yours for a validation? That's pretty strange I would say.


What's strange about it? Tests are often requested not by agencies but by end-clients -- this is why a regular client might ask you to do a test even though they know you're a good translator. And if the test is paid, then there is nothing to complain about. And don't forget that my two clients don't know each other, so it's just a coincidence that the test was sent from the one to the other.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Yasutomo Mar 13, 2011

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:
...because I thought if both or one of the agencies could read or speak your language, the PM or the person who got in contact with you could do a fair assessment of who's right or wrong.


Even if they (agency B) could speak my language and would be able to do a fair assessment, the fact is that I don't know if my rebuttal would be received by agency B, so all they have to go on are the reviews done by the other translator (and in the absence of commentary, it could look valid).


 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:06
@Samuel Mar 13, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:
...because I thought if both or one of the agencies could read or speak your language, the PM or the person who got in contact with you could do a fair assessment of who's right or wrong.


Even if they (agency B) could speak my language and would be able to do a fair assessment, the fact is that I don't know if my rebuttal would be received by agency B, so all they have to go on are the reviews done by the other translator (and in the absence of commentary, it could look valid).



I see. But if agency B could speak your language and do a fair assessment, and if they see your original version of the translation and the messed up version with corrections which you claim are 99% of the so-called errors, they should know who is saying the truth, or am I missing something?


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Charlie Mar 13, 2011

Charlie Bavington wrote:
No point going overboard with complex strategies if nothing has in fact changed.


Yep, that's good thinking.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A is A, B is B Mar 13, 2011

I really think you should simply keep A with A, and B with B.

Only you know --and just by chance-- that somehow your paid translation test and the paid translation review are related. I would not mix the two sides of things. Both clients deserve their privacy and it would be quite odd that you went to customer B to defend a translation they neither asked from you nor you accepted to review.


 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:06
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No need to worry too much Mar 13, 2011

These things come with the territory.

You are an established translator. If your client knows your work and makes money off of it, they will continue to use your services.

Your client also knows that they don't understand your language and take any criticism with a grain of salt.


 

David Singer
Local time: 13:06
Swedish to English
It's about trustworthy assessments at the end of the day Mar 13, 2011

Hi Samuel,

I know from your discussions in the past that you are none other than professional, committed and aspire to the very best proven over a considerable period of time.

I hope I have captured your comments in full.

I am focussing on your client A here as I agree with our Spanish colleague above as regards not getting distracted by the fact that you have had contact with both client A and B. In this case, it appears that you have acted with integrity yet rightfully so you are concerned, perhaps frustrated, by the client A's response and I strongly emphathise. The issue as I undertand it is the same as for any of us, namely, others review our work and wish to make criticisms and/or at least have comments to make. To have two parties undertaking a review is interesting and more challenging. When we have been in the business for a while you and I remain professional and objective in our response to such feedback whether positive or negative to the point where we at least first acknowledge and welcome this feedback and then objectively and sensibly respond PROVIDED of course that it is clear that the assessment is professional.

For example, I did a test recently (which I don't often do but sometimes they are fun to do) and the assessment was such that the agency concerned were very happy and initiated the procedure to embark on a strong collaboration but importantly the feedback from the reviewer was spot on and helpful (we are always hungry for such feedback).

On the other hand, I have had feedback in the more distant past that was not so kind on a project of over 20,000 words and when I examined it I found the reviewer (who was commisioned by the end client not the agency) was clearly simply looking to hijack the client by suggesting corrections that were clearly 'personal' rather than objective. Sometimes, the suggestions were incorrect and made the outcome worse. The agency understood that via my comments, valued my input and we worked together to compromise to keep the end client happy resulting a small discount shared on a 50/50 basis for the sake of preserving the long-term relationship between me and the agency and the agency with the end client.

As a contrast, I once did a review of an entire annual report for an end client (Communications Officer for large corporation) who was unhappy about a translation undetaken by a respected translation agency and I was commissioned to do an extremely thorough review. Of course it crossed my mind that if the client was not happy and I could satisfy them then they might give the future rather lucrative work to me. However, I found the errors so minor or related to a few stylistic issues and I recommended that the end client continued their relationship with their current provider and simply feedback the minor 'errors' in the context of an ongoing relationship.

In the context of your situation, my feeling is there is a need to appeal to your own inherent professionalism and calmly feedback your honest opinion, namely that, well I thought I did a good job actually and, since I run a professional operation, I need to see the actual feedback to which I am likewise happy to provide an objective assessment and feedback on which it appears you have done. In this way, you demonstrate your professionalism and willingness to improve (as professionals always want to do) and if they are a worthwhile client they will see that you are adding value to their quality control process. In this case, stick to your guns unless demonstrably being shown otherwise.

Lots of words and I appreciate the situation is unusual but it's good to share. If I have missed a pertinent point please say so but I hope this is a useful contribution and I wish you the very best.


 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
Language dependent Mar 14, 2011

I agree with Yasutomo. If the agencies know the languages that you translated from and into and have read the reviewer's comments they will already have formed an opinion. If they don't know the languages that you translated from and into you could try to defend yourself; in this case I would approach the agency that told you that you had failed the test. If they do know the languages you translated from and into if I were you I would just put it behind me and move on.

 
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