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Agency didn't proofread the text, now refuses to pay
Thread poster: Sébastien Ricciardi

Sébastien Ricciardi  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:02
English to French
+ ...
Jan 8, 2009

Good evening to all,

I have been working on the translation of a helpdesk manual for this agency in the SW->FR pair for the whole month.
The source document contained text to remove and to add which was relatively messy.
The instructions about how to handle some specific terms changed at least 2 or 3 times.

The agency did not want to hire a proofreader and when I delivered the document they asked me to do it myself. So for the price of a translation, I did the translation and took a week for the proofreading (the document is 120 pages).

The agency says that the client refuses to pay because:
1- "they have found too many mistakes" and they are going to correct it themselves.
2- It is "going to lead to delays"

The thing is:
1- I checked their correction: by "too many mistakes" we are talking about 1 mistake every 2 pages.
2- I have always respected the deadlines I have commited to. ( I don't know the delays that had the agency though)

So in resume, my understanding is that :
- The clients gets away with the translation for free (120 pages) with 1 correction to do every second page
- I have been paid only about 2/3 of the job, and the agency refuses to pay the last 1000€

So who is in the wrong here ?
1) Me because I let pass about 1 mistake every 2 pages
2) The agency that didn't want to pay a proofreader
3) The agency that didn't allow me to contact the client. (Leading to delays in the communications, misunderstandings and client being defensive)
4) The client that doesn't want to pay for a 99.9% complete job. (Knowing that they have in the past accepted from another translator what they judged to be "complete failure")

What do you think I should do?


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 14:02
English to Croatian
+ ...
Blue board or alike Jan 8, 2009

It is all their fault. My guess is that they gave you the proofreading assignment when it was too late, and you simply didn't have enough time to do multiple proofreading.

You may tell them you will put them on the BB if they don't pay for the proofreading job you did. Also tell them they can reduce the proofreading payment by 20 % or similar ( to pay off for a couple of mistakes they found). However, it is unacceptable that they are avoiding any payment for the proofreading.


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Sébastien Ricciardi  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:02
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I forgot to say... Jan 8, 2009

The type of mistakes is :
- Comma
- Capital letters
- Final "s" forgotten
....and so on

There is only 1 (maybe 2) real mistakes


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:02
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Paradox of Errors Jan 8, 2009

The paradox of errors is that as professionals we are never supposed to make an error, but as human beings they are inevitable.

And I would bet that if you went to the client's website, you could find a few errors there as well.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 14:02
English to Croatian
+ ...
Multiple proofreading Jan 8, 2009

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

The paradox of errors is that as professionals we are never supposed to make an error, but as human beings they are inevitable.

And I would bet that if you went to the client's website, you could find a few errors there as well.



Yes, but I shall quote my university lecturer, she used to say :

Proofread, proofread, proofread. lol

Multiple proofreading reduces the chances of mistakes appearing, however, this also requires multiple/more time and effort. And they obviously decided he would do the proofreading when it was too late.( no enough time, so it is their own failure in project management).

Anyway, they are obviously trying to get away with it, because it'd be fair they paid him at least a portion of the proofreading rate.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:02
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Seems rather excessive Jan 9, 2009

I would make an appropriate post on the Blue Board for starters.

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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 13:02
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
You didn't do any mistake ! Jan 9, 2009

As an agency they are in charge of the proofreading ! No body is able to proofread perfectly his/her job as we are all humans !

It's not your fault if the agency is too stingy to ask for a proofreader !

They owe you 1000 EUR they have to pay it, the end client isn't your problem ! One mistake every two pages isn't something that big. And if they correct the text they'll earn more !

If they persist ask them to contract an independent proofreader and to deduct it from what they owe you as a solution but by no means accept to be scammed like this !

They'll use your job anyway and won't pay you !!! If they don't pay they have to erase it and start from scratch...If I was you I'd threaten them to sue them and do it in actuality if they don't abide


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Paul Cohen  Identity Verified
Greenland
Local time: 10:02
German to English
+ ...
It sounds like the agency has a problem Jan 9, 2009

Sébastien Ricciardi wrote:

The agency did not want to hire a proofreader and when I delivered the document they asked me to do it myself. So for the price of a translation, I did the translation and took a week for the proofreading (the document is 120 pages).


I'm a bit confused here, Sébastien. Don't you normally proofread every translation that you do? I've never had an agency ask me to "proofread" my own work. Proofreading is the final stage in most people's translation process.

Of course I know that many agencies also proofread translations before they send them on to their clients. Virtually nobody can produce a perfect translation of a 120-page document. If an agency wants to guarantee the highest possible level of quality, then it generally hires "another pair of eyes" to proofread the translation (in other words, it's very hard to see your own mistakes, no matter how many times you re-read your own text). If parts of a translation need re-doing, then the agency should give you an opportunity to make amends. If the translation only needs very minor tweaking, then you're definitely in the ball park.

From what you've said, it does not sound like a significant number of serious errors have been overlooked. This does NOT appear to be a total "re-write" -- au contraire, mon cher!

So, without knowing anything else about the situation, my spontaneous reaction is that you've fulfilled your end of the bargain and the agency should pay you in full.

Fair is fair. If the agency has trouble getting the client to pay, that's the agency's problem, not yours. You cannot be held responsible for every pain-in-the-neck client in the agency's portfolio. The client is not your client, the client belongs to the agency. You are neither allowed to contact the client nor negotiate directly with the client. By the same token, the agency is solely responsible for satisfying said client when it acts unreasonably... and refusing to pay for a translation because of an occasional typo (0.01% of the text?) is an unreasonable response, in my opinion.

The situation you have described requires a good deal of negotiation, but you are not the one doing the negotiating. The agency has to deal with the client and make things right. That's what agencies do for a living!


[Edited at 2009-01-09 22:17 GMT]


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Sébastien Ricciardi  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:02
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
some more explanations Jan 9, 2009

Paul Cohen wrote:

Sébastien Ricciardi wrote:

The agency did not want to hire a proofreader and when I delivered the document they asked me to do it myself. So for the price of a translation, I did the translation and took a week for the proofreading (the document is 120 pages).


I'm a bit confused here, Sébastien. Don't you normally proofread every translation that you do? I've never had an agency ask me to "proofread" my own work. Proofreading is the final stage in most people's translation process.



I see your point, by "proofreading" here, I mean doing an extra pass over the text. I do proofread myself my own writing, but I was asked to do it so as to render a perfect text. I admit this was useful as I found many improvable things and that is why I don't make such a big deal out of this part and don't plan to charge extra for my own "proofreading".

The real issue is that even after that, the agency is trying to make me bear the consequences of the fact that they did not want to hire an external proofreader to get higher profits.

Mohamed Mehenoun wrote:
If they persist ask them to contract an independent proofreader and to deduct it from what they owe you as a solution but by no means accept to be scammed like this !


They actually offered to hire one and deducing the costs from my invoice and for a good reason, it would have been a 100% net win for them:
Rough calculation:
Total amount : 3500€ , paid : 2400€ , remaining : 1100€
Price of proofreader : 1/3 of 3500€ = more or less what they owe me


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 13:02
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
Fight for it ! Jan 9, 2009

Sébastien Ricciardi wrote:

Paul Cohen wrote:

Sébastien Ricciardi wrote:

The agency did not want to hire a proofreader and when I delivered the document they asked me to do it myself. So for the price of a translation, I did the translation and took a week for the proofreading (the document is 120 pages).


I'm a bit confused here, Sébastien. Don't you normally proofread every translation that you do? I've never had an agency ask me to "proofread" my own work. Proofreading is the final stage in most people's translation process.



I see your point, by "proofreading" here, I mean doing an extra pass over the text. I do proofread myself my own writing, but I was asked to do it so as to render a perfect text. I admit this was useful as I found many improvable things and that is why I don't make such a big deal out of this part and don't plan to charge extra for my own "proofreading".

The real issue is that even after that, the agency is trying to make me bear the consequences of the fact that they did not want to hire an external proofreader to get higher profits.

Mohamed Mehenoun wrote:
If they persist ask them to contract an independent proofreader and to deduct it from what they owe you as a solution but by no means accept to be scammed like this !


They actually offered to hire one and deducing the costs from my invoice and for a good reason, it would have been a 100% net win for them:
Rough calculation:
Total amount : 3500€ , paid : 2400€ , remaining : 1100€
Price of proofreader : 1/3 of 3500€ = more or less what they owe me



I thought they didn't pay you at all, my bad ! I just wanted you to secure at least 2/3, in this kind of situation I'd harass them till they pay ! They are clearly willing to scam you as usually all the agencies contract a translator and have they own proofreader...

Anyway good luck and fight for it !


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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:02
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
i recently had a similar problem Jan 9, 2009

One of the translators i work for actually. We worked on translating and editing a magazine from july to october. THe issue came out, I got paid, so did the other translator. Then i get an email that they are claiming there were too many mistakes, and the contract guaranteed 90 per cent accuracy.

WHich was funny, because some of the texts I edited had fifth grade grammar and spelling and I had to do huge amounts of editing. The 'errors' I had made were just a few missed punctuations, a couple of tiny errors. As it turned out they were bad payers and had already shafted two translators. She has been trying to get payment and is going to take them to court.

I think it's kind of a Modus operandi for scammers. They insist you made 'too many mistakes' and then can back out of paying you.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 14:02
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
1 error per 2 pages ... Jan 9, 2009

...comes to less than 1 error/1000 words and this is pretty much the limit for a normal human being, reading his or her own text. I guess one more week would possibly lower it to 1 error per 20 pages - so there would be 6 more errors to complain about?! Shows a certain level of ignorance on the side of the agency.

Looks like the agency got flamed by the client ("See x y and z? Has anybody proofread this!?") and they just passed it on ("Look, you promised...! And then I had to go and proofread it myself. ")

You have done it all with a more than normal dose of due diligence, plus high enough level of patience. You have every right to expect full payment.


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xxxXX789  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:02
English to Dutch
+ ...
Way too many mistakes Jan 9, 2009

One mistake every 2 pages is indeed below par. That is 60 mistakes in a 120 page translation. However, it does pass the bare minimum as set by the Dutch Association of Translation Agencies (1 mistake per 500 words).

Proofreading is standard and should be included in every job. In fact, I believe that every translation should be proofread at least twice before delivery. If you change a lot during the second phase, a third phase may be needed. This does not necessarily make you a slow translator: I translate 800 words per hour and proofread 2400 words per hour (proofreading meaning: proofreading the translation twice).

Though the agency should definitely pay you in full (your job passes the minimum standards), I find that any translation containing more than 1 mistake per 2000 words is below par. For myself I'm even more strict: not more than 1 mistake per 5000 words allowed.

Even if your translation contained more mistakes than that, the agency should at least offer you one chance to come up with a better version. So though I don't entirely agree with your views on quality, the agency is wrong.

In fact, I offer my clients a 10 euro discount for every mistake they can find. Until now, no one ever claimed money from me (which does not mean I never make mistakes - however, it seems that either people don't find them, or if they find them, they find the rest of the translation good enough to forgive me) We translators should take more pride in our work and strive for zero mistakes if possible.

Now of course that's not always possible, but at least let's strive for it. I find that too many translators couldn't care less about the amount of mistakes they make in a translation. "We're all human" is too often an excuse for pure laziness.

[Edited at 2009-01-09 06:11 GMT]


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Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:02
English to German
Try to reach a compromise Jan 9, 2009

If I were in your shoes, I'd try to reach a compromise with them: suggest a 20% deduction for the errors you made - although they didn't give you enough time for doing it or assigned you with the proofreading too late anyway.

In case they don't accept that it's clear that they are trying to avoid paying you at all (right from the beginning). In that case I wouldn't hesitate to place my opinion about them on the BB.

Please keep us posted about the outcome.

Good luck!

Annett


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 15:02
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
my suggestions Jan 9, 2009

First of all, translation is translation, and proofreading/revision is a SEPARATE job. How can you proofread your own translation?

If the agency spots some errors BEFORE the delivery of the text to the client, informs you in due time demanding the improvement (OK, anyone can make mistakes, esp. when the project itself is messed up) and you DO NOT do that without any explanation, then they have the right to pay only part or even to refuse to pay. Did they provide you the chance of improving of what you did? Nope. So...

All the rest - it is the problem of the agency. If they think that their "function" is to get emails from translators and to reattach them to their emails to the clients, I would not bother. In brief, if they manage to give a substantiation at the court of law for the reduction or refusal to pay, let them do it. And, I think, in your country, there should be a competent organization (like association of translators or smth) which can be an independent expert to say the final word about the quality of your translation...I would not give up.


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