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Will you contact the final client?
Thread poster: sjmdcl (X)

sjmdcl (X)
Local time: 14:53
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jan 14, 2016

Okay. The situation is like this.

A renowned technology Company that sells products worth of hundred if not millions of USD needs to translate user's manuals and other critical documents.

This Company sends work to Agency A located in Europe.

Agency A sends work to Agency B located in America.

Agency B sends work to a freelance translator located in a third-world country at extreme bad conditions (high volume of work, tight turnaround and extreme low rates).

In despite of the bad conditions, the unfortunate freelance translator tries to do his best, providing a high-quality product.

Soon, this translator notices that the rest of the team employed by Agency B has been making many errors that the PM is aware of. Some of the errors are due to the lack of experience, others due to the tight deadlines, but others are gross (translate right as left and left as right, up as down and down as up).

The nature of the products of Company is very sensitive and people's life may have at risk. Will you contact Agency A to tell them about? Will you contact the Company? What about Translator's Ethics?

[Edited at 2016-01-14 16:12 GMT]


 

Paulo Eduardo - Pro Knowledge  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:53
Member (2008)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
and between that, some voice-overs are done with those texts which can cause accidents... Jan 14, 2016

Tempted, but no.
Protect yourself with a statement in the body of your Invoice.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:53
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Your relationship Jan 14, 2016

sjmdcl wrote:
The nature of the products of Company is very sensitive and people's life may have at risk. Will you contact Agency A to tell them about? Will you contact the Company? What about Translator's Ethics?

Your only business relationship is with the agency you are working with. You have no duty or even right to contact their client. Of course, you'll want to cover yourself, so I would advise you to send a formal email notifying them of your overall concern, giving some specific examples. Send it to more than one person at the company if that's possible, so that it's more difficult for them to say they never received it. Putting something short on the invoice is also a good idea.


 

Giovanna Alessandra Meloni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:53
Member (2012)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Your relationship is with the agency Jan 14, 2016

I agree with Sheila

Sheila Wilson wrote:

sjmdcl wrote:
The nature of the products of Company is very sensitive and people's life may have at risk. Will you contact Agency A to tell them about? Will you contact the Company? What about Translator's Ethics?

Your only business relationship is with the agency you are working with. You have no duty or even right to contact their client. Of course, you'll want to cover yourself, so I would advise you to send a formal email notifying them of your overall concern, giving some specific examples. Send it to more than one person at the company if that's possible, so that it's more difficult for them to say they never received it. Putting something short on the invoice is also a good idea.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:53
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never! Jan 14, 2016

sjmdcl wrote:
Agency B sends work to a freelance translator located in a third-world country at extreme bad conditions (high volume of work, tight turnaround and extreme low rates).

Your relationship is with Agency B only.

As others have suggested, you should perhaps let Agency B know that you are concerned about the final quality of the whole of the project and the risks associated with it.

Nevertheless, if you want to act professionally you should:
- Do your very best to deliver the maximum quality in your part of the work; the fact that you are paid very little or are required to work with very tight deadines is irrelevant, since you already knew that when you committed yourself to the project.

- Never contact Agency A or the end customer. If you did so, you would be violating a key obligation of our profession: privacy. In doing so, you would be considered as extremely unprofessional by Agency B, but also by Agency A, the end customer, and your colleagues. You would also harm the good name of the profession as a whole.

Instead of having to suffer working with poor conditions and being exposed to moral considerations of this kind, next time you might want to pass on this kind of work and focus your efforts on more interesting agencies.


 

Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:53
Chinese to English
Are people's lives really at risk? Jan 14, 2016

sjmdcl wrote:


The nature of the products of Company is very sensitive and people's life may have at risk. Will you contact Agency A to tell them about? Will you contact the Company? What about Translator's Ethics?

[Edited at 2016-01-14 16:12 GMT]


I was going to say "No" until you made the statement that people's lives may be at risk. Is this really true? If so, then IMHO you do have a moral (and possibly legal) obligation to contact someone. This could be a district attorney, or perhaps just an anonymous letter to the end client, although do be aware that despite your best intentions, the agency may still come after you for breach of contract.

It's imperative that you ask yourself whether or not you're exaggerating the risk to people's lives here. If the quality of the translations does not pose a real risk to others, then you should not contact anyone other than the agency about this. I've never even come close to considering this sort of action with any of the agencies I've worked with, so this would truly have to be a case of extraordinarily unusual and gross negligence on the part of the agency to warrant bypassing or reporting them.



[Edited at 2016-01-14 18:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-01-14 18:31 GMT]


 

Marc Van Gastel  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 19:53
Member (2006)
English to Dutch
+ ...
NO, stick to your direct agency / principal Jan 14, 2016

- If the mistake is in your own work, you can only tell the agency that gave you the order and provide a correction. They must push it up the chain back to the hightech company. Make them aware how the error could be critical. In many countries, you will be off the hook for further liabilities shortly after that.

- If you notice a critical mistake in someone else's work, let alone one that could be fatal to others, same as above, only you will not be liable if you didn't do the work. You will simply be considered a conscientious and valuable translator to any good agency. So always point out critical errors from other translators immediately if you see any. You will soon know if they care or not and provide you with valuable information about their ethics anyhow.

Of course much will depend on the jurisdiction... but the fact that more countries are involved only make it that much murkier ... and we know that judges in many 3rd world countries may be paid off (see long string of incidents in India recently). If the US is involved, the fines or damages may be complete disproportionate, as we all know and even there, like anywhere, the one who can afford the best lawyer has the best chance of winning.


 

Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 14:53
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No. Jan 14, 2016

Just contact you PM. And inform him/her about the specific issues. You are able to provide a good translation, your colleagues should do the same. A good translation should always be provided, notwithstanding the conditions. It is responsability of Agency B to find a team of good translators.

 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 13:53
Romanian to English
+ ...
as usual, a different opinion Jan 14, 2016

I translate sensitive official correspondence between agencies of the US Government and their counterpart in other countries.

Numerous times I found blatant mistakes (wrong dates, wrong addressee, wrong title etc.) in the source doc.- usually, an urgent one. Needless to say that I contacted first the agency that sent me the doc to translate, but people there (mostly young and inexperienced) are too shy and reluctant "to bother" the client, therefore I grabbed the phone and talked to the agent in charge. In every single instance they were thankful for pointing out their mistakes and asked me to translate the correct way.

In my view, the purpose of a translator is to provide a product of quality and not hide behind the motto "garbage in - garbage out".

best,
lee


 

sjmdcl (X)
Local time: 14:53
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I FULLY AGREE Jan 14, 2016

liviu roth wrote:

I translate sensitive official correspondence between agencies of the US Government and their counterpart in other countries.

Numerous times I found blatant mistakes (wrong dates, wrong addressee, wrong title etc.) in the source doc.- usually, an urgent one. Needless to say that I contacted first the agency that sent me the doc to translate, but people there (mostly young and inexperienced) are too shy and reluctant "to bother" the client, therefore I grabbed the phone and talked to the agent in charge. In every single instance they were thankful for pointing out their mistakes and asked me to translate the correct way.

In my view, the purpose of a translator is to provide a product of quality and not hide behind the motto "garbage in - garbage out".

best,
lee


I agree. I think Client would be happy to know that their documents are being sent to a third-world "translation sweatshop" and wrongly translated. I can't get why the relationship with agency B would be so sacrosanct.


 

Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:53
Chinese to English
Not for these reasons Jan 15, 2016

sjmdcl wrote:

liviu roth wrote:

I translate sensitive official correspondence between agencies of the US Government and their counterpart in other countries.

Numerous times I found blatant mistakes (wrong dates, wrong addressee, wrong title etc.) in the source doc.- usually, an urgent one. Needless to say that I contacted first the agency that sent me the doc to translate, but people there (mostly young and inexperienced) are too shy and reluctant "to bother" the client, therefore I grabbed the phone and talked to the agent in charge. In every single instance they were thankful for pointing out their mistakes and asked me to translate the correct way.

In my view, the purpose of a translator is to provide a product of quality and not hide behind the motto "garbage in - garbage out".

best,
lee


I agree. I think Client would be happy to know that their documents are being sent to a third-world "translation sweatshop" and wrongly translated. I can't get why the relationship with agency B would be so sacrosanct.


I'll repeat what I said above: the only reason to go around your client would be if this was a matter of life and death. "Wrong dates, wrong addresses, wrong title" (I'm quoting Mr. Roth) are not a reason to do this. Based upon your responses, I now doubt this is a matter of life and death, and if this is the case I strongly urge you not to contact the end client.


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 13:53
Romanian to English
+ ...
When it comes to arrest or extradite the right people, it is important Jan 15, 2016

Preston Decker wrote:

sjmdcl wrote:

liviu roth wrote:

I translate sensitive official correspondence between agencies of the US Government and their counterpart in other countries.

Numerous times I found blatant mistakes (wrong dates, wrong addressee, wrong title etc.) in the source doc.- usually, an urgent one. Needless to say that I contacted first the agency that sent me the doc to translate, but people there (mostly young and inexperienced) are too shy and reluctant "to bother" the client, therefore I grabbed the phone and talked to the agent in charge. In every single instance they were thankful for pointing out their mistakes and asked me to translate the correct way.

In my view, the purpose of a translator is to provide a product of quality and not hide behind the motto "garbage in - garbage out".

best,
lee


I agree. I think Client would be happy to know that their documents are being sent to a third-world "translation sweatshop" and wrongly translated. I can't get why the relationship with agency B would be so sacrosanct.


I'll repeat what I said above: the only reason to go around your client would be if this was a matter of life and death. "Wrong dates, wrong addresses, wrong title" (I'm quoting Mr. Roth) are not a reason to do this. Based upon your responses, I now doubt this is a matter of life and death, and if this is the case I strongly urge you not to contact the end client.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:53
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Privacy has a value in itself Jan 15, 2016

sjmdcl wrote:
I can't get why the relationship with agency B would be so sacrosanct.

In my opinion and my experience, relationship with agency B is not sacrosanct: it is the relationship with EVERY CUSTOMER that is sacrosanct. Privacy and commitment have a solid long-term value in themselves.

If you dislike the relationship with Agency B and feel that it will mean trouble for you in the long run because of other people's mistakes, why don't you simply stop working in the project, explaining the reasons to Agency B?

(Edited to remove a question that was taken as inappropriate and to reword one sentence so that it could not be construed as intentionally offensive. Thanks for letting me know by private email.)

[Edited at 2016-01-15 16:18 GMT]


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:53
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
That's not what Roth said Jan 16, 2016

sjmdcl wrote:


I agree. I think Client would be happy to know that their documents are being sent to a third-world "translation sweatshop" and wrongly translated. I can't get why the relationship with agency B would be so sacrosanct.


The end client is a business and their job is to make as much profit as possible. This includes cutting costs wherever possible. Why should they care about the translators working in a sweatshop?

Let's put it another way. Do you buy chocolate/sugar/coffee? Unless you only buy fair-trade you are knowingly condemning farmworkers to much worse than sweatshop conditions. If I were to accuse you of exploiting people worse off than you, you might well say that it's the fault of the companies purchasing the cocoa/sugar/coffee beans for buying and selling it too cheap. They'll say consumers won't pay any more than that. And while we're all arguing (as we dunk our choccie biccies in our lattes), those farmworkers' children are going without decent housing education and healthcare not to mention clean water on tap.

So unless you want to start a revolution to end capitalism, you'd better just put up and shut up, or pull out of the project as soon as you can without compromising your career, then only accept non-sweatshop conditions for your own self in the future.

The relationship/contract with Agency B is to be honoured because you have it. And it's the only one you have. As plenty of others have said, you do not have a relationship with Agency A or the end client. If you signed terms of sale with Agency B I expect it says in there that no way are you to contact the end clients. Even if you didn't, it would be unethical. Using unethical means to blow the whistle on unethical practices just won't wash. Lenin was wrong: the end does not justify the means. The means determine the ends.


[Edited at 2016-01-16 10:57 GMT]


 

Paulo Eduardo - Pro Knowledge  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:53
Member (2008)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
All here are right. Both NO and YES Jan 16, 2016

Protect yourself stating the accuracy and reliability ONLY for the part you translated, have a way to identify it in the body of your Invoice.
The statement must also Make clear you accept no liability for parts made by others, for damages, injuries etc.


 
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