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A project without proof-reader
Thread poster: Yuko Lee

Yuko Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:33
English to Japanese
Mar 7, 2008

Dear All,

This is the first posting here for me.

While still waiting for a payment after 2 month and half from a translation agency in Germany, he replied to me by email that my translation caused a serious claim from a client. He said he would find a proof-reader by himself but have to deduct the cost from my invoice. As I did not know there was no proof-reader on the project and what I could do was do my best as a translator. I am willing to pay for the cost now but there still remain unsettled feeling. The pricing was from 0.1 to 0.11USD per English word (my target language is Japanese). The English text seemed translated from Germany bacause of containing some mistakes due to the translation process.

I feel the project manager could have arranged a proof-reader before causing such a claim.
What do you think of this case?

Sincerely,

Yuko


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:33
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Was there one before? Mar 7, 2008

One normally expects an agency to arrange for a proofreader. That is among the reasons that agencies cost more than freelance translators. So if it was proofread before, what did that person say? And did the project manager override the proofreader's judgment?

It is hard to respond to "the client has serious claims." Were you given specifics? Can you respond to them? Does the project manager know Japanese? If not, how can he/she be expected to know whether the claim has any merit?

Depending on how your future interactions with this client go, I would seriously consider not accepting any more work from this agency.


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:33
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
One more thing Mar 7, 2008

If you're still willing to pay for the cost after reading my previous post, you should insist on approving the proofreader. Would you expect me to pay your fees for translating a document without giving me the opportunity to read your CV and convince myself that you're competent?

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Yuko Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:33
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
To Paul Mar 7, 2008

Thank you for your comment.

This time the total number of words is quite large and it affects my living cost.
I believe what is more important is serving the need of a good translation.

I feel as a translator working via a translation agancy, what I can is doing my best as a translator, and a proofreader as well as.


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:33
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
You're not the first one Mar 7, 2008

Yuko Lee wrote:

Thank you for your comment.

This time the total number of words is quite large and it affects my living cost.
I believe what is more important is serving the need of a good translation.

I feel as a translator working via a translation agancy, what I can is doing my best as a translator, and a proofreader as well as.




If you look in the "business issues" forums, you'll find lots of posts concerning allegations that translations were defective. You're not the first person to run into an agency claiming that you didn't do a good job. The agency may have reasons unrelated to your competence.

As I understand your original post, they didn't say "this is a bad translation" until over two months had passed. Maybe they don't want to pay you. You indicate that the bill is large. We have merchants here who have to deal with customers buying goods on credit and saying after they've had the goods for a while and haven't paid that the goods are shoddy. That doesn't mean they are.

The agency at which I worked frequently had to deal with clients who told us "X told us that this document said ..." but your translation says something else. The agency would then check with the translator and/or someone else, and usually it would be that X is wrong. We'd explain that diplomatically to the clients.

Bottom line: the fact that the agency says its client calls it a bad translation doesn't mean it is. In your shoes, I'd ask about specifics and also the qualifications of the client's reviewer. You should also approve the proofreader if you're paying him/her.


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 05:33
French to Dutch
+ ...
Sorry, don't understand Mar 8, 2008

I really don't understand where this reduction is coming from. You are delivering a translation to your client. How you obtain your translation is your problem, but you have to deliver quality. If your client, exceptionally, wants your quality translation to be proofread by a third party, you should charge more, because this is a supplementary service asked by the client. Just as DTP, photocopies, use of strange software, etc.

What the client does with your translation (proofreading, small check or translation directly sent to the end client), is his problem, for which you are not responsible. He is free to sell it or to use it as toilet paper, provided you are paid for your services.


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Jason Kim
South Korea
Local time: 12:03
Member (2007)
English to Korean
The agency should have had a proofreader. Mar 8, 2008

If the original text is a translation from another language, the initial translation (English in this case) should be good and there should be a proofreader for the second translation (Japanese in your case).
It is not very professional of the agency if they made you wait for payment for over 2 months and told you that they have complaints from the customer instead of the payment for you now.
And it is not reasonable that they are looking for a proofreader now and want to deduct the related cost from your invoice after more than two months.
You may have to allow them to have a proofreader now and pay for the proofreading out of your translation fees as it seems that, unfortunately, there is no other choice.
But ask them for the customer's and the proofreader's feedback so that at least you have the chance to look at what exactly they are talking about when they say "customer complaints."
The complaints may be because of the initial translation into English and/or their project management problems.
Whatever the reason might be, there seems to be no future business relationship between you and the agency.
It will be wise to be prepared to say goodbye to them.
In case they are not reasonable, you may use Blue Board and let them know about it. Don't be too nice to not so nice people.
And I hope things get better for you.


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:33
French to English
what are agencies for again? Mar 8, 2008

I was astonished to see on the Blue Board how many times agencies used client dissatisfaction reported months after the fact as an excuse for not paying. Don't they read what is given them? Agencies should be taking responsibility for the quality of the work they pass on to their clients. If they are not satisfied with a translator and felt they had to do too much work proofing and rewriting they needn't use the translator again. Basic proofreading, however, should be a part of the service they provide to their clients to justify their existence. Nobody can do a perfect job proofreading their own work, and since we do not advertise ourselves as full service agencies (for the most part) we should not be expected to include the price of an independent proofreader in our fees.

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The Misha
Local time: 23:33
Russian to English
+ ...
It looks like they are trying to rip you off Mar 8, 2008

If the amount is large enough, sue them. But before you do that, write them a letter detailing exactly what kind of adverse action you are going to take against them if they don't pay you the full amount they owe you within, say, a week. Include as many possible complaint venues as you can possibly think of, consumer protection societies, professional associations, government agencies, you name it. Don't forget Blue board and other similar forums. Don't bluff, do it all if you have too, if nothing else you'll have some eye for an eye satisfaction for your money.

I don't know how easy or practical small time litigation is where you are, but in the US small claim courts now take up claims up to $5K, I think. Of course, both of you have to be within the same jurisdiction for that, unless you are prepared to travel to theirs just to bring up the suit.

The idea is to do as much damage to them as possible. And of course, don't even think about working for them ever again.


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ivo abdman
Indonesia
Local time: 10:33
English to Indonesian
+ ...
another point of view Mar 8, 2008

Yuko Lee wrote:

....... The English text seemed translated from Germany bacause of containing some mistakes due to the translation process.




What your action know about this ?
Are you only one know about this or it's others responsibility ?
Do you give any suggestion about this to your agency ?


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Noriko Miwa  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:33
Member (2007)
English to Japanese
I have not read all comments, but the agency seems unfair. Mar 8, 2008

Hi Yuko san,

I am sorry to hear about your experience with this agency.

I think they should have told you about the client's complaint within a reasonable time after the delivery of the translation. And if there really were a problem, you would have been asked to redo your work or to reduce your invoice amount soon after the delivery. If they brought up the issue when you reminded them of the payment, it sounds like an excuse for not paying you. I would at least ask them to explain what exactly is the problem in details such that you translated a specific sentense incorrectly and why they had not told you for such a long time.

Also, if the translation was from German to English, then to Japanese, it makes more diffucult to deliver a final output in Japanese with decent quality. I wonder if the quality of German-English translation was good enough. It is unfair to you if the source English was not good.

Finally, in my opinion, with or without proofreading, the translation should be always good. Proofreaders are there just for double-checking, since no matter how hard we work, it often happens there are small mistakes, and the main responsibility for the quality remains on the translator's side. (I know it is easy to say, though).

I hope your problem will be resolved soon. GANBATTE KUDASAI!

Noriko


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 00:33
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Moving this thread... Mar 9, 2008

... to Business Issues forum

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:33
English to French
+ ...
Claims period Mar 9, 2008

It is always useful for translators, no matter what country they are in and what their language pairs are, to be aware of the claims period set by the law. If you sign a contract where it is specified that any litigations will be settled in your client's country and based on their laws, it is a good thing to find out how long the client has after the delivery to make claims. For example, in Canada, this claims period is of ten days only. So, if the agency makes a claim after two months - tough luck to them! They should have made their claim a month and a half ago, and now, the translation is deemed fit not only by you, but by the laws of the country as well. Not making any claims before the claims period is up automatically means that the client is satisfied.

If you work with a client who is in a country where there are no such claims periods established by law, you should add your own to the contract. I find that anything over two weeks is unreasonable, whether we talk about translation, vegetable retail sales or machinery wholesale.

Also, no agency in their right mind can expect a perfect translation - such a thing does not exist. If they want the work to be as near perfect as possible, it is their job to ascertain of that - they can only expect the translator to translate well, but they can't expect them to never overlook a typo, unless they accept to pay twice the standard rate and accept for the translator to take twice as much time to do the job. Otherwise, why do they take a cut? What are they paid for? I can take it if an agency tells me THEY find my work is not up to THEIR expectations, but I would seriously have a problem with an agency telling me their CLIENT has a problem with my translation. If the work was edited and proofread, then the end client should have received a clean, usable and satisfactory copy. If the work was not edited/proofread, then the agency is only acting as a mere postal box and not doing the job they are paid for. When an agency complains that their client didn't like the translation, my reply is "Well, you probably didn't do a good job at what you do - and it's not my problem".

A translator is hired to translate, not to edit/review/proofread/do DTP work/make graphics/make layouts/manage the project and just about everything else that has to do with a translation/localization project. That is the agency's job - and if they let the translator do any of the aforementioned tasks, then they really should let the translator bill the end client directly and should not make any money on the job.


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Yuko Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:33
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
Updates Mar 14, 2008

The PM of the agency had asked me to do the proof-reading, however, as I could not make enough good time for it because of my current translation and proofing jobs with me, and the proofing should be done by another person, I accepted his offer that he would find another proof-reader by himself. He replied to me he arranged a proof-reader and his proofing rate was 0.08EUR (my translation rate was 0.11USD) and asked me to own half of the cost.
What was my mind is to produce a good translation in the end and I accepted this suggestion that time.
Another concern is a significant loss on my paypal account (99 USD) caused by a last payment transaction by the agency, ended in a cancel.

I have been still waiting for any reply from him for 4 days.

The BB rating of the agency is not bad.

I feel still confused and feel weak regarding this case.


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Yuko Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:33
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
Additional info Mar 16, 2008

In November I did around 6,000 words job with this agency (rate is 0.10USD per English word); the payment was made by the agency on Jan 11th by paypal in safe.
Then, I did around 23,000 words job with them again in Dec (rate is 0.11USD per English word); the payment transaction (2,552 USD) was made on Feb 11th, however it was cancelled after 10 days pending via paypal. Then another payment transaction (2,552 USD) was made by paypal again. That was placed by paypal and reversed by the sender. Weanwhile, The PM sent an email regarding the claim. That reverced transaction caused around 100USD loss on my account.

How to ask for help of the third person?

[Edited at 2008-03-16 07:48]


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