Dishonest translation agency
Thread poster: Jean-Jacques Granas

Jean-Jacques Granas
Local time: 20:25
Polish to English
+ ...
Sep 14, 2005

Hello all,

A couple of weeks ago I asked an agency to translate 4 pages of specialised text from English to French, as I had no time to do it myself, having another deadline to meet.

The text I received after a couple of days was obviously written by someone who, not only, failed to understand the original English, but was unable to axpress himself in French even at the most rudimentary level.

The translation was full of elementary gramatical mistakes and terms that were simply invented (obviously) to get the job over with. The text was simply unusable: I, a French native speaker, had to refer to the English text in order to understand the subject matter.

I wrote to the agency pointing all this out, noting in the process that I had to translate the text myself anyway, and asking for a refund. I have yet to hear from them.

Anyone here ever had an experience of this sort?

Jean-Jacques Granas


Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:25
pick up the phone Sep 14, 2005

Have you tried calling them? Or are they avoiding the phone too?

Sometimes the threat of visiting their office to discuss the issue works.



Jana Teteris  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:25
Latvian to English
+ ...
Asking for a refund? Sep 14, 2005

I may have misunderstood something, but why would you ask for a refund? Does this mean that you paid the agency before the work was carried out (or checked)?

I suppose you can always ask for a refund, but unless you have a written agreement (in the form of a PO, stating payment terms and conditions) you probably don't have a leg to stand on and may well have to put this down to experience.


Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:25
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Some questions Sep 14, 2005

1) Why have you selected this agency? Have you checked it before asking them for help (using the BlueBoard or other means)? Which were the main factors why you have selected this agency - their proposed best price, their BB rating or anything else? If not, I believe you were acting on your own risk and have to face the consequences. Translation business is a risky one - why do you think that you are not the one who have to pay for the risk especially if your risk assessment is weak?

2) Your profile shows your native languages are English and Polish. So French is your 3rd native language? Sorry, but I'm just curious...

3) Have you checked the legislation in the country where you live? Do you have a lawyer? I think you'd better consult your attorney as for possible refunding in the cases like this. But preventing cases like this by more careful selecting of the agencies or professionals you're going to outsource a job to, is much more reasonable approach, I believe.

[Edited at 2005-09-14 16:57]


Jean-Jacques Granas
Local time: 20:25
Polish to English
+ ...
No one should remunerate bad service – a matter of self-respect Sep 14, 2005

Kirill, I can appreciate the philosophical ramifiactions of this unfortunate experience (live with the consequences of your own errors). Believe me, it is a learning experience, and the point is well taken. I shall certainly be more careful in the future.

Be it as it may, there is no reason why I or anyone else should put up with scandalous service. I am a client who has been charged through the nose for the translation equivalent of a piece of junk (other four letter words would be more apt here), and I DO intend to get my money back.

As I said in the first post, I was pressed on account of another deadline I had to meet, and I did not investigate the agency. It was recommended to me by someone else in the industry who has had dealings with them in the past.

Jana, the entire exchange with the agency took place by email. I was asked to confirm financial conditions and was assured I would get professional service. I was asked to make an appropriate bank transfer before they would send me the translation. This is highly inconvenient, as you pay up front for a product you can't inspect beforehand, yet I can appreciate the agency's concern on this point, as many clients in Poland simply don't pay up. I am well placed to know it, unfortunately.

Here in Poland, asking for a refund is practiced ocasionally in cases of blatant lack of professionalism. I have seen many a bad translation in my 15 years in this business, but that one took the cherry. It was either translated by automatic translation software or by a high school student, no kidding.

I think I will follow Orla's advice and go give them a piece of my mind... I suspect thay won't like iticon_smile.gif


Jean-Jacques Granas
Local time: 20:25
Polish to English
+ ...
Native languages Sep 14, 2005

To Kirill:

The native languages issue with me is a unusual one. I am born of a French mother and a Polish father. When I was 18 months, we all moved to the USA and English was the first language I learned to speak (from my nanny). My parents always spoke their respective languages to me. I have spoken all three since early childhood. I hope this clarifies the issue.



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