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The target language the client wanted is not the one I translated into - what to do?
Thread poster: Elisabete Cunha

Elisabete Cunha  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:23
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
May 15, 2009

Hi there fellow Prozians

I would like to ask for your advice regarding an unpleasant situation that I am now facing.

Last week I received a translation from a regular client (individual, not a company) which I accepted. I translated all the required files and send them yesterday, even before the deadline. Today I received an e-mail from the client saying that the target language was another one and asking me to "change" the translation (as if I could press some magic button) and that he was sorry if he caused any trouble... This client has been sending jobs in the same language pair for years now, so as he didn't specified anything in the assignment e-mail, I assumed it was the same language pair, otherwise he would have told me, right?

Now, I have absolutely no idea what I should do… Translating it all over again and charge the same? It certainly does not seem fair to me. Any inputs would be appreciated.



Elisabete Cunha


[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-05-16 05:58 GMT]


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Tiina Häkkinen  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 14:23
Member (2009)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Do not do it for free! May 15, 2009

Hi Elisabete,

as far as I could tell, you only did what the client had always expected you to do. If they didn't specify a different target language when they ordered the job, it's their loss.

I understand that the situation is tricky since this is a recurring customer, but by no means should you do the same job for free, absolutely not.

If you want to be nice to the customer, you could always offer to do it at a discounted rate since this was a misunderstanding (not yours though, you cannot read the customer's mind if they don't specify which language they want the translation in!), but only if you really want to keep the customer relationship.

I hope you'll be able to resolve the situation in a way that satisfies both parties.

Remember, the customer isn't always right!

BR
Tiina


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Viachaslau  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:23
English to Russian
+ ...
Outrageous! May 15, 2009

Without any doubt it was the client's mistake. I wouldn't tolerate it myself!
To avoid such tricky situations later on, i would recommend you to specify all project details every time, that is source language, target language, deadline and so on. This is what i do myself. However, if it is a long-standing client, i would try to be more loyal. But you should settle the matter anyhow.


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 08:23
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
2 x 1 May 15, 2009

How can you be sure the client is not trying to get two translations (into two different languages) for the price of one?

How do you know the client is not going to use both?

Moreover, I see you translate from three source languages, but only into one language, Portuguese. So, how could the client assume you understood the target language was different, that it was into another language? Have you ever done it before for this client?

Besides, do you have a PO or at least an email with the details of the project to be done? Someting were the client specified the target language?


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Elisabete Cunha  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:23
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks May 15, 2009

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I am not intending to do it for free, maybe a discounted rate... I will have to think about it.

Tiina Häkkinen wrote:

Hi Elisabete,

as far as I could tell, you only did what the client had always expected you to do. If they didn't specify a different target language when they ordered the job, it's their loss.

I understand that the situation is tricky since this is a recurring customer, but by no means should you do the same job for free, absolutely not.

If you want to be nice to the customer, you could always offer to do it at a discounted rate since this was a misunderstanding (not yours though, you cannot read the customer's mind if they don't specify which language they want the translation in!), but only if you really want to keep the customer relationship.

I hope you'll be able to resolve the situation in a way that satisfies both parties.

Remember, the customer isn't always right!

BR
Tiina


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Elisabete Cunha  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:23
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Indeed May 15, 2009

I also think that it was his mistake, but now he seems to think that apologizing is enough...

Viachaslau wrote:

Without any doubt it was the client's mistake. I wouldn't tolerate it myself!
To avoid such tricky situations later on, i would recommend you to specify all project details every time, that is source language, target language, deadline and so on. This is what i do myself. However, if it is a long-standing client, i would try to be more loyal. But you should settle the matter anyhow.


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Tiina Häkkinen  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 14:23
Member (2009)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Good point May 15, 2009

I think Walter has a very good point regarding the possible use of both translations.

This isn't exactly like going to a shop and asking them to exchange your product to another one because you "accidentally" bought a wrong one. And moreover, who's ever heard of a shop where you can claim a new product because you bought a wrong (perfectly good) one AND get to keep the "wrong" product too?!

Doesn't work that way.


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Ali Bayraktar  Identity Verified
Turkey
Member (2007)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Their Records! May 15, 2009

Elisabete Cunha wrote:

Hi there fellow Prozians

I would like to ask for your advice regarding an unpleasant situation that I am now facing.

Last week I received a translation from a regular client (individual, not a company) which I accepted. I translated all the required files and send them yesterday, even before the deadline. Today I received an e-mail from the client saying that the target language was another one and asking me to "change" the translation (as if I could press some magic button) and that he was sorry if he caused any trouble... This client has been sending jobs in the same language pair for years now, so as he didn't specified anything in the assignment e-mail, I assumed it was the same language pair, otherwise he would have told me, right?

Now, I have absolutely no idea what I should do… Translating it all over again and charge the same? It certainly does not seem fair to me. Any inputs would be appreciated.



Elisabete Cunha


First of all I am sorry that you faced with such trouble.

In such cases to my opinion the following conditions should be re-evaluated.
- In which language pairs you have recorded into their records (first time). If there was a record on the second language (wrong pair) in their database then you should have confirmed your pair with the agency when you received the job. If there is only one record about you then automatically you wont be responsible for the second language pair.

- Your service and confidentiality agreement: If it includes only one pair and this pair is the translated one, then again you wont be responsible for the claims regarding the wrong language pair. But if the agreements include both wrong and other pair then again you should have confirmed before accepting it.

- Project name: Acronyms in the file names, project names or e-mail subject fields are important too.

Beside all, of course at the first look it seems as if you are right.
But as you have accepted the job without defining the exact terms (Includes date, language pair, submission form etc) so automatically it turns that you accepted all it's consequences.

And this situation is one of the consequences due to the negligence of defining the exact language pair. And as a result you should accept it.

So to my opinion agency has right to revise or decline the target language if there are more than one language pairs records about the translator.

I can say it is a kind of negligence of confirmation.


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Elisabete Cunha  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:23
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Some clarification May 15, 2009

About the first question, you are totally right and it never occurred to me... He might well be trying to get two translations, because we're talking about abstracts for a conference...

About the second question, in the past I have already translated from my native language into English and French. I currently do not include these pairs as working pairs, because I really believe a translator should only translate into his/her native language. However, some old clients still ask me, every once in a while, to translate into these two languages. This was the case and to assure top quality I even worked together with a French colleague that also proofread the text.

About the PO, I don't have one, because he is not a company, besides we know each other for a long time. What I have is an email saying something like "Here is one more document to translate". So I assumed that the previous conditions and language pair were applicable.


[quote]Walter Landesman wrote:

How can you be sure the client is not trying to get two translations (into two different languages) for the price of one?

How do you know the client is not going to use both?

Moreover, I see you translate from three source languages, but only into one language, Portuguese. So, how could the client assume you understood the target language was different, that it was into another language? Have you ever done it before for this client?

Besides, do you have a PO or at least an email with the details of the project to be done? Someting were the client specified the target language?


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 06:23
Spanish to English
Habla con el cliente May 15, 2009

Por lo que dices el cliente no dijo que no iba a pagar la primera traducción.

Generalmente los clientes sí aceptan sus errores y entienden que hay que pagarlos.

Saludos
Lesley


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Elisabete Cunha  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:23
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You didn't understand May 15, 2009

None of this applies. It is not an agency, I am not registered in a database.
This is just a person I know because we have worked for the same company in the past. There is no database, no NDA or such things, because he is just an individual which sometimes requires translations (always into French) for presentations at conferences and/or studies.


M. Ali Bayraktar wrote:

Elisabete Cunha wrote:

Hi there fellow Prozians

I would like to ask for your advice regarding an unpleasant situation that I am now facing.

Last week I received a translation from a regular client (individual, not a company) which I accepted. I translated all the required files and send them yesterday, even before the deadline. Today I received an e-mail from the client saying that the target language was another one and asking me to "change" the translation (as if I could press some magic button) and that he was sorry if he caused any trouble... This client has been sending jobs in the same language pair for years now, so as he didn't specified anything in the assignment e-mail, I assumed it was the same language pair, otherwise he would have told me, right?

Now, I have absolutely no idea what I should do… Translating it all over again and charge the same? It certainly does not seem fair to me. Any inputs would be appreciated.



Elisabete Cunha


First of all I am sorry that you faced with such trouble.

In such cases to my opinion the following conditions should be re-evaluated.
- In which language pairs you have recorded into their records (first time). If there was a record on the second language (wrong pair) in their database then you should have confirmed your pair with the agency when you received the job. If there is only one record about you then automatically you wont be responsible for the second language pair.

- Your service and confidentiality agreement: If it includes only one pair and this pair is the translated one, then again you wont be responsible for the claims regarding the wrong language pair. But if the agreements include both wrong and other pair then again you should have confirmed before accepting it.

- Project name: Acronyms in the file names, project names or e-mail subject fields are important too.

Beside all, of course at the first look it seems as if you are right.
But as you have accepted the job without defining the exact terms (Includes date, language pair, submission form etc) so automatically it turns that you accepted all it's consequences.

And this situation is one of the consequences due to the negligence of defining the exact language pair. And as a result you should accept it.

So to my opinion agency has right to revise or decline the target language if there are more than one language pairs records about the translator.

I can say it is a kind of negligence of confirmation.



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Elisabete Cunha  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:23
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
He does not reply to my emails May 15, 2009

I don't think he intends to pay, because he just said "please change the translation into english" and "I'm sorry if I wasn't clear enough the first time...". And now he doesn't reply to my emails.


Lesley Clarke wrote:

Por lo que dices el cliente no dijo que no iba a pagar la primera traducción.

Generalmente los clientes sí aceptan sus errores y entienden que hay que pagarlos.

Saludos
Lesley


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Mark Cole  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:23
Polish to English
+ ...
An analogy to make things clear May 15, 2009

One analogy which may make things clearer for your client (who obviously doesn't know what the translation profesison involves) is: you ask a decorator to paint your house red. He does the job, and then you go back and say, "Sorry, I really meant blue. Could you change the colour for me?". You could hardly expect that to be done for nothing, so why should a translator do so?

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Elisabete Cunha  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:23
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Definitely!! May 15, 2009

I might even use that same example. Thanks for the suggestion!


Mark Cole wrote:

One analogy which may make things clearer for your client (who obviously doesn't know what the translation profesison involves) is: you ask a decorator to paint your house red. He does the job, and then you go back and say, "Sorry, I really meant blue. Could you change the colour for me?". You could hardly expect that to be done for nothing, so why should a translator do so?


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:23
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
I would suggest sending him an order form to sign May 15, 2009

Hello Elisabete,

I personally do not like working for individuals (other than colleagues), because I find that they do have a tendency not to take financial responsibility for what they instruct.

I always send them an order form to sign (as I also do with some other clients). On this order form I write the language pair, the name of the document to be translated, the price details (including any VAT), and the date by which I will deliver the translation. I also usually add a line that the "offer is open for acceptance until (date/time)".

I send this by e-mail as a .pdf, with a line for "signature of authorised person", and they have to sign the order form and send it back to me (by post, fax or scanned) if they wish to be bound by the order.

You could start doing that now, and send him an order form to sign for a new translation.

Whatever you do, charge the normal price for it! I also had an individual once who discovered, at least a week or 10 days after I sent him the translation, that he had "unfortunately" sent me the "wrong version" of the document to translate. He sent me the "right version", with the clear expectation that I would be the one who was "unfortunate". I told him I could certainly translate that one as well, giving him a discount for any identical parts.

Astrid


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