Client doesn't enable you to verify their analysis; what to do?
Thread poster: Peter Adolph

Peter Adolph
Local time: 00:01
Member (2006)
English to Danish
+ ...
Oct 23, 2014

Recently, one of my clients that I help occasionally asked me to assist with a project that needed to be done in their online translation tool (MemoQ). I had not been using it before, but thought I'd give it a try. The project was an update of the product information (SmPC) for a pharmaceutical client, so it was not from scratch and it was carried out using their TM. A day after starting the project, they asked me to log off for an hour or so, so they could update the source text with some CHMP changes.

The client sent their PO (indicating a word count of 4,304 in total), and I started working. So far, so good. As I worked my way through the project, I found that I spent much more time than I had expected based on the analysis they had provided. I then asked them to send me the source document and the TM in order to enable me to perform my own analysis to check if they might have made an error unintendedly; I saw that checking as a rather normal business practice. However, the client said I had to trust them and would only provide a screen dump of their analysis, and asked me to trust them. When I then asked them to update the PO with the CHMP changes (that arrived after starting the project), they sent me a PO stating approx. 300 words less than the original PO). After asking them to correct a small issue word rate issue (the rate for no match was suddenly 33% lower than the agreed rate), they sent a new PO where the amount had gone up very little, but they had removed 2 lines from the analysis matrix (99-95% and 100% matches) which had been in the original PO.

Usually, I trust in people and agencies (I run my own small agency), and this is the first time in my 19 years in the industry that a client doesn't allow me to verify their analysis. I ended up spending much more time than expected, partly due to issues with their online tool (I have a 25/25MB fiber connection, so the earlier problem with a slow internet connection can be taken out of the equation here), and I want to find out why.
I'm not a super-user of MemoQ; my usual tool is Studio 2014. When I send out projects to my freelancers, I always enable them to check the analysis that I provide and put in my PO to them; I think it's only fair and reasonable.

My client, of course, says that no one else has complained about their business practice/tool. 47 other translators were involved, and I'm the only to complain, ask questions.
Do you have clients like this that do not enable you to verify their analysis?

I don't have any documentation now as it was an online project; I don't have a source document, I don't have the updated text that I delivered to them – as everything was done in their online tool. I really do not like this way of working.

I do not know whether I can trust this client anymore. I did not have problems with the client until this.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Strange business with the PO Oct 23, 2014

Peter Adolph wrote:
I don't have any documentation now as it was an online project; I don't have a source document, I don't have the updated text that I delivered to them – as everything was done in their online tool. I really do not like this way of working.

That's why I've never agreed to work that way. I don't mind using client interfaces to the extent of picking up and dropping files, but I need to be able to examine the entire source in detail, which includes checking the wordcount etc.

I do not know whether I can trust this client anymore. I did not have problems with the client until this.

Those PO changes do sound very dodgy, as though they were trying to shave off some of the cost of the project. They clearly think you should trust them, yet they're doing nothing to deserve that trust and everything to make you query it. Whatever this agency has been like in the past it does sound as though they're developing a policy of tipping the playing field in their favour. Nobody can blame them for maximising profit etc but cheating their suppliers is not on.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I think it is normal for them to refuse it Oct 23, 2014

Peter Adolph wrote:
I then asked them to send me the source document and the TM in order to enable me to perform my own analysis to check if they might have made an error unintendedly; [in my view,] checking is a rather normal business practice.


My experience with clients that use online tools is that they either don't have easy access to the TM as a separate file or that they regard their TM as secret information that can't be shared with the translator as a separate file. This means that the translator has no choice but to accept the client's word count.

I ended up spending much more time than expected, partly due to issues with their online tool...


My experience with online tools is that the work always takes much, much longer in them than in my own offline tool. When working in an online tool, it is safe to assume that the task will take 2-5 times longer than if would have taken in your usual tool. Of course, such clients always pay per word, not per hour, right...?

I don't have any documentation now as it was an online project; I don't have a source document, I don't have the updated text that I delivered to them – as everything was done in their online tool. I really do not like this way of working.


I can understand that. I always try to grab a copy of the source text, even if it is an online system. Sometimes it's possible.


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:01
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Why not run Statistics on your end in MemoQ? Oct 23, 2014

I'm not aware of any ways that your client could disable this option. It should always be available for you.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Mikhail Oct 23, 2014

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:
Why not run Statistics on your end in MemoQ?


MemoQ would be a fantastic tool if it can run an analysis against a TM that isn't available.


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:01
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
TM had to be available during translation Oct 23, 2014

Samuel Murray wrote:

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:
Why not run Statistics on your end in MemoQ?


MemoQ would be a fantastic tool if it can run an analysis against a TM that isn't available.



If the OP could translate in MemoQ using the client's TM, then at that time it must have been equally available for statistics.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
MemoQ also has a browser-based CAT tool Oct 23, 2014

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
MemoQ would be a fantastic tool if it can run an analysis against a TM that isn't available.

If the OP could translate in MemoQ using the client's TM, then at that time it must have been equally available for statistics.


My understanding was that the OP had used the browser-based version of MemoQ, which uses an online TM.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:01
Member
English to French
The future of translation, together with MT Oct 23, 2014

Peter Adolph wrote:
...I really do not like this way of working.

I wonder who does, apart from the people who operate those Cloud-only setups and in fact transfer part of their admin chores to you.
Peter Adolph wrote:
My client, of course, says that no one else has complained about their business practice/tool. 47 other translators were involved, and I'm the only to complain, ask questions.
Do you have clients like this that do not enable you to verify their analysis?

Translators never complain, they only translate. They don't check whether they are paid fairly and they let their customers decide for them. You're the only one in 47 to question their practices, and this is unacceptable.
AFAIC, I work the outdated, no-next-gen way: I interact only with humans, offline TMs, offline docs, e-mail, venture into small e-talk as and when appropriate, all that.

Philippe


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:01
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Happened to me... Oct 23, 2014

Philippe Etienne wrote:

Translators never complain, they only translate. They don't check whether they are paid fairly and they let their customers decide for them. You're the only one in 47 to question their practices, and this is unacceptable.

Philippe


Apparently I was the only one to complain about a specific online platform... everybody else loved it! How stupid can you be?


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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:01
French to English
Just turn them down next time Oct 24, 2014

I only accept projects that I can do with my preferred tools. One client wanted me work in their online environment, and after I promptly turned down the project, they decided they could send me excel files! Now I just translate with my own tool, my own TM, and paste it into their online tool when I'm done. It's an extra step that takes time, but as the work is fairly repetitive, I don't mind, because they are paying my full rate for repetitions.

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Eugenia Sánchez  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 19:01
Member (2005)
French to Spanish
+ ...
I think memoQ is not the big problem here Oct 24, 2014

Maybe the problem was your client approach... memoQ online projects don't have to be like this.

I have worked on one really big online memoQ project and I can tell you I had no problem at all running Statistics online. Maybe the PM needs to allow translators to use this function...

Delay initial issues were solved as following:
- by unchecking confirming rows without updating (by using ctrl+shift+enter after every segment) and then confirming several rows at once from time to time.
- by selecting Manual Synchronization and using it once or twice a day (instead of "Auto save on server" option).

We were even allowed to save files in our computers just to be sure we won't miss any translation if there was any synchronization issue.

Online projects have their tricks and tips...


Better luck next time!

Eugenia


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