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code of conduct of translation agency (extract)... what do you think about that ?
Thread poster: Marie Hélène AFONSO

Marie Hélène AFONSO  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:34
English to French
+ ...
Dec 19, 2012

Hello everyone,
here's an extract of the code of conduct of a translation agency I have worked with :


Quality based penalties

Type of error
Penalty deduction
No errors and/or less than 3 minor errors 0%
3--‐5 minor errors and/or less than 2 serious errors 15--‐25%
3--‐7 minor errors and/or less than 3 serious errors 25--‐50%
4 or more minor errors and/or 3 or more serious errors and/or any critical error 50--‐100%

Payment deductions will be made at our discretion and adjusted

Critical errors make the copy not fit for purpose.
Serious errors of a lesser severity than a critical one, altering the meaning of the sentence.
They correspond to errors in accuracy, compliance, content or terminology.
Minor Errors that do not compromise the meaning and accuracy of the target text, when in comparison with the original source.



Here is the context:
I was in a rush due to problems with PC and software and was late in delivering the file. They told me it was urgent, that the file had to be revised imediately so I sent a translation that was unsatisfactory to my own eyes. I expected a prompt feedback asking me to rework on the file for the same rate (this option is mentioned in the code of conduct) and I would have agreed. Yet, no news and one month and a half after the delivery (also day of payment), I receive a mail telling me that due to a quality issue, I would be paid later, that the file was currently being revised (one month and a half later ? while they had told me it was urgent ?)
I ask them to send me the detailed feedback and I receive it six days later (I had less time to do the translation) with a discount request... Well, according to their code of conduct, I might as well have worked for free (50-100% penalty for 3 or more serious errors) which clearly means they have the right to refuse to pay.
Tell me what you think of this code of conduct. Have a nice evening !

[Edited at 2012-12-19 18:29 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:34
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Never Dec 19, 2012

I would never accept work from anyone with an attitude like that.

[Edited at 2012-12-19 18:29 GMT]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:34
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Errors Dec 19, 2012

Unfortunately what many of the companies with these penalty schemes fail to realize is that most of the time these errors, especially the minor ones, are not the result of the translator's incompetence, but rather a result of the lack of proper time given to the translator to complete the job. How many times would you have to read, re-read and edit a 20,000 word project in order to make sure that there are less than 3 mistakes and would the client be willing to wait that long?

I think this is a scheme to get lower rates since only the uninitiated and the easily intimidated would agree to work under these conditions.


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Marie Hélène AFONSO  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:34
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks for your reply Dec 19, 2012

[quote]Jeff Whittaker wrote:


I think this is a scheme to get lower rates since only the uninitiated and the easily intimidated would agree to work under these conditions.


Well, it's the only company I have worked with and unfortunately, I did more than 3 serious errors in 7200 words (well, what they call serious mistakes because from my point of view, I wouldn't have qualified those as "serious" but I guess that's not debatable.


I am actually wondering if translation agencies are all the same.


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Marie Hélène AFONSO  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:34
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks for your reply Dec 19, 2012

but do we always have the choice ?

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Apurva Barve
German to English
I would never feel comfortable to work under such conditions Dec 19, 2012

Such negative reinforcements would put unnecessary pressure on anybody, especially beginners like me. In my opinion, need for perfection comes from within.

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Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 10:34
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Answer is in your question Dec 19, 2012

"because from my point of view, I wouldn't have qualified those as "serious"

You ask 10 people about any sentence - you get 10 different opinions about the translation and its quality.

Unfortunately, we all know the answer when the question has already been answered.
I think that it will be you bitter and at the same time valuable experience.

Still, I would try the last chance to get paid - tell them that you are not going to stop here, that you are going to hire debt collectors, go to court, etc.

This sometimes helps.

And never ever sign such agreements!







[Edited at 2012-12-20 05:37 GMT]


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:34
German to English
+ ...
Terms specified AFTER the fact? Dec 19, 2012

The agency gives you a rush job, then tells you weeks later that there were quality problems and only then informs you of their error policy?

Terrible business practices and not the terms of a serious business. It almost looks as if they pressured you into making mistakes and used the "error policy" to force the price down.

Had you worked for them before? How did you find the agency and what terms did you agree to? I would fight this and threaten legal action, if they insist on penalizing you so late in the game. I doubt they would have a leg to stand on in court according to your description, if it came to that.

On edit: I just read your replies (which weren't posted yet when I started writing this), my advice is to find other agencies to work with. You can start here:

http://www.proz.com/blueboard/?sp_mode=applications

[Edited at 2012-12-19 19:14 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:34
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A misconception Dec 19, 2012

I think the agency believes that such penalties will excuse them from performing one of the critical tasks of every agency: choosing their translators correctly, finding translators for each kind of specialty, language, and type of work, and supervise them closely at first to make sure that they get what the CV promises.

Warning about penalties in a Code of Conduct or a framework agreement is the worst way of preventing potential quality issues. Work to prevent such issues must be done well before a job is sent out to a translator.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 15:34
Chinese to English
Bingo Dec 19, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I think the agency believes that such penalties will excuse them from performing one of the critical tasks of every agency: choosing their translators correctly, finding translators for each kind of specialty, language, and type of work, and supervise them closely at first to make sure that they get what the CV promises.

I see this all the time. People and organisations who believe that creating rules which say "you may not make mistakes" is a substitute for proper management.

When I've worked with really good professional people, what strikes me every time is their professional tolerance. They always expect that those around them will perform imperfectly, and are ready to help and correct - and accept help and correction in turn.


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Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:34
English to German
+ ...
Dear Marie, Dec 19, 2012

I received the same email and didn't even bother to answer.

Just think about "style", which leaves much room for (the agency's) interpretation.

There is a better client just around the corner!

Good luck,
Gudrun


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Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:34
German to English
Get a better client! Dec 19, 2012

Hi Marie,

I have recently returned to the client-seeking scene myself as long-term clients have either died off, suffered financial problems or reduced their workloads. I must admit that I have been astonished by the aggressive, hard-nosed attitudes of some agencies who wish to treat "their" translators as machines to be manipulated and exploited rather than people with whom they can build a friendly and productive working relationship.

On the other hand, I have been delighted to make the acquaintance of others, who realise that the most fruitful relationship is one of mutual co-operation, friendship and respect, rather than that of master and slave.

My advice is quite simple - spend a little more time looking for the latter type of client and run a mile from the former - you are a human being, not a battery hen!

Good luck and best regards,

Steve K.


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Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:34
English to Polish
+ ...
bingo and Dec 19, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
I think the agency believes that such penalties will excuse them from performing one of the critical tasks of every agency: choosing their translators correctly, finding translators for each kind of specialty, language, and type of work, and supervise them closely at first to make sure that they get what the CV promises.


And IMHO proofread every translation.
Ewa


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Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 10:34
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
You always have the choice Dec 20, 2012

I am actually wondering if translation agencies are all the same.

The short answer is no; the longer answer is, unfortunately, there is no shortage of bad agencies with ridiculous terms and conditions, unprofessional sometimes borderline fraudulent conduct, and rude attitude. Nothing you can do about it except for exercising more caution when choosing your business partners.

but do we always have the choice ?

You always have the choice and should never accept or yield to terms, conditions, requirements and or behavior that you are not comfortable with just because someone told you that this is what they require/offer.
You are not a temp workforce for hire, and no one is doing you a favor by hiring you to work on a project. You provide a certain service(s), and above all, running a business. Agencies and direct client are your business partners and not your employers or superiors. If their terms are not acceptable and/or not negotiable, just move on to find someone who share more professional values with you.
The market is segmented and you cannot get 100% of the work in your language pair and field(s) even if you wanted to. There will be always low tier agencies/clients, and one just need to avoid them.

[Edited at 2012-12-20 01:42 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Pour encourager les autres Dec 20, 2012

Tom in London wrote:

I would never accept work from anyone with an attitude like that.

[Edited at 2012-12-19 18:29 GMT]


Me neither, and I'd tell them in no uncertain terms where to get off with their pushy, unreasonable terms.


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