How to protect your work against over-editing and non payment
Thread poster: Tatijana Kostovska

Tatijana Kostovska  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:36
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
Jan 3

Dear Colleagues,

I recently was withheld a payment for an 18 page legal document because the PM decided that the work needed to be edited extensively. The track changes document was attached to the email with the non payment comment. IMO it was over-edited and in most of the cases the editor made unnecessary changes by using different expressions for same meaning, simply reversing the order of the same words, or even crossing a word out and using the exact same word again. I was not asked to approve these changes, but was simply informed that payment could not be made at all. I would appreciate it very much if you can share your opinion or experiences concerning such, or similar situations? How do we go about protecting our work?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Tatijana


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:36
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Over-editing Jan 3

For the time being, the best protection is not to do business with the client again.
In future, you might ask a new client what their editing policies are.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
The Misha
Local time: 01:36
Russian to English
+ ...
Dump the client Jan 3

On many occasions, I have been on the other end of this equation - editing the work of new translators joining existing long-term projects. Quite a few of them required extensive, and often quite preferential editing to maintain consistency because the translators were, among other things, not up to speed on how certain things had been done or phrased in that particular project before. For the most part, this is an issue for the project manager, rather than the new translators themselves, to address - using specific instructions, style guides, etc. However, in the absence of particularly grave signs of incompetency or insufficient diligence, that the translator's work requires heavy editing may be reason for not using this translator again, but not for refusing to pay him or her for any work already done. This is actually a fairly common problem with highly specialized or ongoing projects where quality and adherence to certain specific standards is paramount. Simply put, if you, the project manager, are excessively picky, even if acting in good faith, you will have no translators, period.

I say threaten the client with everything you've got in your arsenal (which is a totally separate topic, and any remedies I may have available may be different from yours, and vice versa) to get paid and then drop them like a rock.

That said, you never mentioned what language this problem translation was into. I speak no German, but I looked at your profile, and judging by what you wrote there, your English is nowhere near native, your claims notwithstanding. I mean sure, it's good, but don't kid yourself on this point. You are no native speaker of English, I am afraid. Could this possibly be a factor here? Yet another thing I have learned over my long career in this business is to stay humble. We are only as good as the last job we did.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 00:36
German to English
+ ...
Payment Jan 4

A customer cannot decide not to pay for services rendered. Some clients do think, for some reason, that they can make such decisions. You want to get paid, in addition to not wanting to work for this client again.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:36
German to English
The PM can say whatever he or she wants. Jan 4

The PM can say that he or she would prefer not to pay you, but you have a contract with his or her company.

If you feel that a discount is appropriate, then say you are sorry that they are not happy with your work. Inform them that it is not up to your own standards and that you would like to offer them a discount, that is, a counter-offer to their refusal to pay. (But you should be realistic and objective about the quality of your own work: Sometimes it is very important which synonym is chosen or that specific [and often seemingly unnatural] phrasing is used, and it can be difficult for a layperson to recognize the need for changes and their significance.)

If you don't want to offer them a discount, then don't. Tell them that you're sorry they're not satisfied, but you feel the corrections are arbitrary or unnecessary, and the full amount will be due as invoiced.

They can't just choose whether or not they want to pay you. If they refuse to pay, then follow your normal procedures for non-payers.

Edited to add: And if things do go as far as a German Mahnverfahren or a European Payment Order, then objectivity while assessing the quality of your own work is doubly imporant. If they reject your claims and it goes to court, losing could cost you a significant amount of money unless your legal fees are covered by some kind of legal insurance. Without insurance, even winning might cost more money than it brings in. Compromise is always the best solution (unless the translator or agency is being completely outrageous), but they have no reason to agree to a compromise until you put genuine pressure on them.

[Edited at 2017-01-04 10:12 GMT]

Edited again to add: Sorry to repeat Misha's and Maxi's posts. They were still lost in zpace when I wrote mine.

[Edited at 2017-01-04 13:22 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Dutch to French
+ ...
work with your real native language(s) only Jan 4

My advice would be to work with your real native language(s) only.
I've seen on your profile that you're a native in German, English
and Macedonian. That's a lot (and perhaps it's too much).

[Modifié le 2017-01-04 14:42 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 07:36
German to Swedish
+ ...
Hm Jan 4

David GAY wrote:

I've seen on your profile that you're a native in German, English
and Macedonian. That's a lot (and perhaps it's too much).


Plenty of trilinguals out there. No need for red flagging unless you've seen some text.
(Lots of people can't even handle a single target language...)


Direct link Reply with quote
 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Dutch to French
+ ...
trilingual or 3 native languages Jan 4

Joakim Braun wrote:

David GAY wrote:

I've seen on your profile that you're a native in German, English
and Macedonian. That's a lot (and perhaps it's too much).


Plenty of trilinguals out there. No need for red flagging unless you've seen some text.
(Lots of people can't even handle a single target language...)


Being trilingual and having 3 native languages is not the same at all as far as I know.
In addition I wrote: PERHAPS it's too much.



[Modifié le 2017-01-04 14:02 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:36
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Is there a choice? Jan 4

David GAY wrote:

Being trilingual and having 3 native languages is not the same at all as far as I know.
In addition I wrote: PERHAPS it's too much.



[Modifié le 2017-01-04 14:02 GMT]


I haven't checked recently, but there was no such a possibility to choose a "nearly native" level of knowledge - it used to be either "native" or just knowing "well", something in those lines. Therefore, some of translators choose "native" to convey the message that they know a certain language better than "well" or at "working level".
But that's another topic deviating from the exposed problem.

Just before Christmas, I also had a client from hell: I translated minutes of an Arbitration Committee, neraly 4 pages, and the agency comes back: the client is very unhappy! And that they couldn't pay me, not the agreed amount, 2of course".
Gee, I thought, what have I done?!? And then they sent the translation with the highlighted "mistakes", entire 4 ones:
2 instances with "during 30 days" - that's their edited wording, my wording was "within the period of 30 days" (exactly as used in court decisions in the target language);
1 instance with "such documents" (after having listed the flaws, the Committee indicated that such documents could not be accepted);
1 instance - I don't even remember what, it all was ludicrous by then.
And then the PM was ranting and ranting how bad my translation was, how full of mistakes it was and so on. When I insisted on being shown those mistakes, only more ranting would follow, including "a translator must be able to find their own mistakes"... well, a nightmare talking about professionalism.
I sent hat lady to hell - in my thoughts, obviously, and put a cross on them.

But that was a work of nearly 4 pages, not 18. For 18, I would probably fight. Any preferential editing is not a ground for non-payment. Are you a member of any translator association locally? They could help out with the standards for such cases.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:36
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Quality is crucial Jan 4

Joakim Braun wrote:
David GAY wrote:
I've seen on your profile that you're a native in German, English
and Macedonian. That's a lot (and perhaps it's too much).

Plenty of trilinguals out there. No need for red flagging unless you've seen some text.
(Lots of people can't even handle a single target language...)

I think David raised a very valid point, and in this particular case the text is indeed available. We'll never agree on how to define native language, or whether it's a term we should be using, but I think we can all agree that a professional translator should have impeccable natural style, spelling and grammar in the target language or languages. Anyone who cannot guarantee all of the above shouldn't be translating into that language, unless they always get the text checked before delivery.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Eric S.
Taiwan
Local time: 13:36
Chinese to English
Similar situation Jan 5

over-edited and in most of the cases the editor made unnecessary changes by using different expressions for same meaning


I was not asked to approve these changes, but was simply informed that payment could not be made


Tatijana,

I was in a VERY similar situation recently!

http://www.proz.com/forum/scams/308785-might_be_getting_stiffed_on_125000_project.html

In summary, I completed a $2,500 project at ($0.06 per word), and was paid in full and on time for the first half, and then when the time came for the second half to be paid, the agency informed me that I would only be getting 5% of the $1250, or 55% of the total project.

Do you feel that your translation was high quality? If so, I recommend you take the same steps I did. There's a good chance that you've already done this, but I still think it's worth saying, because in the end I got paid in full with apologies from the agency, and had I not taken these steps I feel I likely wouldn't have gotten paid at all.

Here's what I did:

1. Immediately let them know I wouldn't accept it.
I e-mailed the agency immediately explaining that their grounds for nonpayment were unacceptable, and requesting that the project manager allow me to speak to a native English speaker.

2. Went into detail and made it very clear why I wouldn't accept it.
I went over the track changes report and outlined EVERY SINGLE change that the editor made, explaining why the change was unnecessary or harmful (harmful in most cases, as my native English language was changed to broken English that in most cases made no sense).

3. I was persistent.
The project manager's English wasn't great, so I made sure that when the pm e-mailed me back with non-sequiturs I kept on e-mailing her, and made sure that I was absolutely clear about what my point was and what steps we needed to take.

Within 24 hours I was assured I would receive the payment, and the agency apologized, claiming that they confused my translation with the editors translation, and what they actually meant was that the editor shouldn't get paid as they did a terrible job, and even assured me that my translations were among their highest quality.

Will I work with this agency again? Well, probably... Of course, when this happened, I vowed never to work with them again, but to be honest I was still paid on time and in full, and they give me decent rates and large projects without much hassle. Then again, if I had this problem again with this agency, I would walk, but if you can keep your cool and get things sorted with this project, it might be worth giving this agency a second chance.

I hope this helps, and more than anything I hope you get paid!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Texte Style
Local time: 07:36
French to English
This Jan 5

Eric S. wrote:

1. Immediately let them know I wouldn't accept it.
I e-mailed the agency immediately explaining that their grounds for nonpayment were unacceptable, and requesting that the project manager allow me to speak to a native English speaker.

2. Went into detail and made it very clear why I wouldn't accept it.
I went over the track changes report and outlined EVERY SINGLE change that the editor made, explaining why the change was unnecessary or harmful (harmful in most cases, as my native English language was changed to broken English that in most cases made no sense).

3. I was persistent.
The project manager's English wasn't great, so I made sure that when the pm e-mailed me back with non-sequiturs I kept on e-mailing her, and made sure that I was absolutely clear about what my point was and what steps we needed to take.



PMs and direct clients very rarely have the patience and energy and time to carefully consider each and every edit. After reading the first three comments they will just glance at the rest and realise they cannot argue back. So if the first three comments are along the lines of "this is simply a synonym" or "the term I used is standard across the industry, please see {EIG website} for reference" or "I have used this term in {previous translation XYZ} without it being challenged" they will cough up.
When the majority of changes introduce an error I like to highlight them in red, and harmless changes in green, and improvements in blue. If there are one or two improvements for 20 errors, this is immediately obvious.
I do like to concede a tiny number of improvements, I come across as gracious and honest and open-minded and it's clear that I'm not just rejecting their comments out of hand.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tatijana Kostovska  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:36
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your comments! Jan 9

I would like to thank all of you for sharing you experiences and opinions. They were a great support during my decision making process. As always, it is very helpful to find that some of you have had similar experiences. Finally, one never stops learning from new experiences in this profession.

Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

How to protect your work against over-editing and non payment

Advanced search







Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2017 helps translators increase translation productivity whilst ensuring quality. Combining translation memory, terminology management and machine translation in one simple and easy-to-use environment.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search