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Pure Good Intention Turn Down By Client In France
Thread poster: Sarawut Niramai
Sarawut Niramai  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 11:01
Member
English to Thai
+ ...
Mar 4, 2008

Hi everyone,

I just received a recent web-based software translation service for a company in France. Upon completion I submitted the job to client and told them that the former translation was not formal IT term. Here are our correspondence:

Me: Please see the attached translation. Also, the former
interface translation is quite awkward, I don't think
you translator has any IT background in this case?

Client: Hi, what are you talking about, this is not a translation but an original which our client has sent us from the USA

Me: That's what I mean, then you can suggest your client
that the original interface translation from them is
not formal IT term and they not very non-localized

Client: Frankly speaking there is No reason to tell the client he is a professional and knows what he is doing, so this is none of your business

Me: I'm very surprised with your attitude. Usually, I do
this with every company when I find such problem and
they would thank me. As a follow up they would contact
the translator to justify the translation and then
discuss with me whether or not my suggestion is good
or bad. Sorry if I have touched your business but I
think this is not a professional way though. The best
way to to help provide what is best for the client and
not overlook even little detail. Do you know how rude
your reply is?

Client: Please send us your invoice

Me: (sending this to other contact of the same company thinking this guy might actually be the boss) With all respect I received a project assignment from
xxx for a web-based software. I submitted the
translation and found that former interface
translation by your client were not proper formal
terms used in Thailand so I raised that suggestion as
I always do for every company: the reasons doing so is
- 1. Client might opt to revise their translation
which will give you an opportunity for more future job
2. Client will be impressed how careful and attentive
you are for their project. Surprisingly the reply I
received from your company was 'this ain't my
business' which stunned me as I never find such
improper and impolite response like this before. I
have to tell you sorry if I have transgressed you
proper business dealing but my intention was pure and
for the good of your business and for the impression
of your customer. I want to keep our business
relationship and hope that this type of situation
could be solved in the future. Please advise.

Client: Please be advised that there is No need to send some sort of complaint to Eric, because he is my employee and I am the boss. The one who has been impolite from the beginning has been you and you have felt insulted because I am replying you very straightforward. How can you mix up clients with your friends or colleagues? You should never talk to clients (in this case our company) like you did. Do you also talk to direct clients like that? Well, soon you will lack clients if you continue like that. It is for sure that it is none of your business nor it is ours how the client organizes their internal software.

So please refrain from further messages to me or my employees, apart from the invoice, which shall EXCLUSIVELY be sent to xxx. You will receive an automatic confirmation. No further confirmations will be sent, messages to our individual mails will be rejected


Please share what you think about this

regards,
Sarawut


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Very unfortunate exchange Mar 4, 2008

I agree with you, pointing out flaws in the original is a value-added sevice, I do it all the time, and most clients appreciate it. The notion that the client is a professional and knows what they are talking about, and therefore there is no problem, is pure nonsense: in my experience, virtually no original is free of errors, especially in IT, where much of the English "original" comes out of Korea, Taiwan, India, or wherever else it is being developed.

Unfortunately, the tone of the correspondence with your customer took a bad turn right away, I think I would have dropped it right after the "What are you talking about..." bit, which was very rough.

You are probably better off not working with these people...


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Sarawut Niramai  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 11:01
Member
English to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for any encouragement Mar 4, 2008

I feel much relieved having at least one encouragement. This client keeps replying with more and more agreesive words at the moment. I won't reply again. Thank you so much anyway

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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:01
English to Dutch
+ ...
Blue Board Mar 4, 2008

Maybe this is something for the Blue Board?

I agree that it is highly unusual for a client to complain about potentially useful suggestions from the translator.


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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:01
French to English
Pointing out flaws in the original.... Mar 4, 2008

...is a good thing to do, I always do point those out and insist that the agency obtain clarification from the end client, otherwise I can't do my job in the right way.

This does have to be done in a diplomatic way however, I usually say "this sentence really isn't so clear, could they have meant this ... or perhaps a word is missing ...

So far all of my clients were pleased that I helped them improve their originals, and I would expect most clients would appreciate that.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:01
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Very unfortunate indeed Mar 4, 2008

Your intentions may have been good but right from the beginning your language was very undiplomatic to say the least. When you said "Also, the former
interface translation is quite awkward, I don't think your translator has any IT background in this case?", that is insulting. How could you even be sure that the person you were speaking to was not himself the translator? When he responded "What are you talking about?", you should have realized your mistake and you should have dropped the subject immediately instead of getting in deeper and deeper.

P.S. I would not expect any more work from them in the future.


[Edited at 2008-03-04 17:21]


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Sarawut Niramai  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 11:01
Member
English to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks again for this comment Mar 4, 2008

This remark is a point to think of and can actually be true. Anyhow that's how I been working with all my customers (in all continents ) and they all thanked me. Maybe I need to be more careful in the future. I checked on the Blue Board for this company (they have office in 3 country: France, Hong Kong and one other I don't recall) and it seems they have been very good though. Maybe something occurred just recently with this person so her temper has changed badly?

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Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:01
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Unfortunate misunderstanding Mar 4, 2008

Pointing out potential issues or problems with the source text is something I sometimes do as well and the client is usually grateful to receive this kind of information (after all the translation then is some kind of final review of the source text) or at least takes note of it.

However, as others said before, you do have to be diplomatic about it. It shouldn't really sound like an outright criticism (which it is not intended to be anway). And whether or not the agency wants to pass on the feedback has to be left up to them - you certainly can't force your advice on someone who doesn't want to take it.

Your email exchange looks like it's full of unfortunate misunderstandings. You wanted to give some advice, the client first didn't understand what you meant and then took offence, then you in turn took offence from what the client said and as a result the tone (on both sides!) became rather rude.

Discussion by email can be quite tricky as you can't really see in what kind of tone something is said or meant. Misunderstandings are common.

Maybe it's worth sending the client one last email a little later (once you both slept over it) apologizing for the misunderstanding and clarifying that you just wanted to help rather then criticize anyone. Just to avoid hard feelings. But don't try and force your feedback on them.

Or else, just leave it and forget about it.


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Sarawut Niramai  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 11:01
Member
English to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
another reply Mar 4, 2008

I don't want to make any offense again as the person keep sending aggresive note. I better be off for now thanks for the advice

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Irene Schlotter, Dipl.-Übers.
Spain
Local time: 05:01
English to German
+ ...
Pointing out flaws or problems is a value-added service Mar 4, 2008

Hello Sarawut, don't bite your nails over this. The tendency now is to expect lots of things for free but only when the client asks for it.

Actually, I do a lot of IT-related translations and if every error in the source text cost one hair, not only I would go bold, but the entire north of Spain. When developing software that might later be localized most of the times not even the most basic rules are respected, e. g. concatenation is generously used even though it is common knowledge that this will cause problems (apart from the fact that it grossly violates international localization standards), spellchecking is almost never ever applied (so we can ponder upon truly amazing terms), grammar is a drama, consistency is absent ...
However, what I learned from doing lots of testing (where you have to raise defects that go DIRECTLY to the developers and their bosses) and from localization is that you have to be extremely diplomatic. Companies (and their developers who typically work under extreme pressure with virtually impossible timeframes or their web designers) tend to be very touchy on that subject and may easily escalate an issue, blowing it straight out of proportion.
What surprises me is that the agency replied so very harshly. Anyway, do not worry. They seem to be a lost cause.

As to the 'diplomacy' issue I have a technique which I apply using a couple of smooth wordings/expressions.
For a starter I always make quite clear that I am expressing my impression - based upon my experience - and that I do so because I want to contribute to making the product the best it can be. Many clients expect first-rate translations against flawed originals, and I see is as an obligation (just for legal reasons) and a right to point out the flaws because - unfortunately - it is the translator who tends to be blamed in the end even if the original is beyond any measurable standard. So pointing out problems in the source text is also some kind of safety net.
Secondly I insinuate that some wordings (or even coding, e. g. concatenation) might deviate from standards which - at a later point - might entail problems, again based upon my experience, rather than stating absolutes.

Example: You have a sentence that makes absolutely no sense or that is grammatically so wrong that it becomes ambiguous. Instead of quoting it and commenting that this is crap (which it is, we all know that) or wrong grammar you might simply want to
a) quote it and ask for clarification because it is ambiguous or
b) use your common sense, write how you would understand/interpret it within the given context and ask them advise/comment on your suggestion.
As you see, even translation (at least the communication part) is about politics.

I know that in the end they may or may not listen, but there is only so much that you can do. Basically I tend to use expressions such as 'it might be useful to' or 'it could be adviseable'. I don't like it and it sounds terrible but that way you manage to say what you need to say while at the same time avoiding that anyone raises hell because he/she feels criticized. Also, you should bear in mind that communication does not work the same way in every country. With American customers I have to communicate in another way than with French ones or Thai ones.

Your client (the agency) should definitely appreciate your efforts - especially since they were for free.


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:01
English to Arabic
+ ...
Clarity Mar 4, 2008

Hi Sarawut,

No doubt about it, the client's replies are quite rude. However, I think the exchange may have taken a different turn if your very first email was clearer than that - and more diplomatic, as someone else pointed out, esp. since this was your first dealing with them.

You want the agency to pass on your comment to your end-client. However, the agency may not be able to judge the text, so it would be your word against the end-client's - so what you need to do is support your claim with some evidence, or at least with some clear examples. THis will encourage the agency to forward your comments.
So instead of saying that the text is "quite awkward" - an expression which the agency may not want to adopt, say:
1. The expression xyz is not used in this or that context. Instead the author should have used the expression abc, which is widely adopted, e.g. by the following institutions ... - see www . blablabla . com
2. etc.

I think the agency's reply may have been very different if this had been your approach.

[Edited at 2008-03-04 19:12]


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Sarawut Niramai  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 11:01
Member
English to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
another reply Mar 4, 2008

This should be hard because she's on top of the volcano at the moment and is almost cursing me using the possible way of emphasizing aggressive text with capitalization and tell me not to come to them again

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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nesrin is right Mar 4, 2008

about your original email, I'm afraid. It's one of the pitfalls for non-native writers of emails (where our messages are inevitably compacted to such a degree that without the benefit of a smiley face the recipient has no idea of the tone, anyway) that leaving out a pronoun here, or an article there, results in something which sounds blunt, to say the least. So it is with your first e-mail.

For future reference, if you want to be diplomatic, erase the words "must" and "should" from your mind and use "suggest" instead. (This is for Nesrin, actually.)

What I don't understand is why this person is still sending aggressive emails to you, when he or she told you not to write anymore as any emails from you would be ignored. I wonder if they are reading this forum? If that is the case, perhaps they will rethink their reaction and put it down to misunderstanding, as it obviously was. Perhaps, as you say, Sarawut, they were just having a bad day.

Pretty unprofessional behaviour, though, when all's said and done.

Good luck with getting over this one!

[Edited at 2008-03-04 19:11]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:01
French to English
Even more impersonal Mar 4, 2008

Nesrin wrote:
1. The expression xyz is not used in this or that context. Instead the author should have used the expression abc, which is widely adopted, e.g. by the following institutions ... - see www . blablabla . com

Broadly speaking, I see what you mean.
Personally, I would avoid "the author" or anyone else, and words lsuch as "should".
I would just say "the expression abc is more appropriate..." or something like that.
You can use google hits to demonstrate widespread usage, or particular websites for authority, depending which suits your needs

I ought to point out that, although the initial exchanges are unclear, if you say that a text is a translation, and then you are told it is not, it does indeed seem slightly foolish to repeat the statement in the reply.
That said, I did wonder if 2 different texts were being talked about. This is one situation where giving an example of what you mean may help.
But keep it impersonal. You may think that the author knows less about IT than your hamster does. But don't say so !


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ozan karakış
Turkey
Local time: 07:01
English to Turkish
+ ...
Agree with Tina Mar 4, 2008

I cannot think of a word to add to Tina's.
Your tone was not something most people would swallow without water. I would choose more curved way than yours and say it once and let it go.

On the other hand, the agency should have reacted more wisely.


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