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Should I pay for poor quality work?
Thread poster: xxxxxxxxxgaelle
xxxxxxxxxgaelle
Local time: 04:52
Spanish to French
+ ...
Dec 4, 2009

Hi, All!

I need a small piece of advice.

Recently, I had a translator doing a job for me (the client was aware I was outsourcing).

Unfortunately, this translator returned me a very poor quality work.

I lost my client (who was a very good client for me), and, of, course, receive no payment.

Now, the translator is asking me to pay him (he outsources himself the work, when I was not aware of it, and told me he payed to have the job edited, but those editions didn't convince my client at all).

What should I do? Must I pay?


Thanks in advance for all your answers,


Gaëlle


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Ali Bayraktar  Identity Verified
Turkey
Member (2007)
English to Turkish
+ ...
If the work passed Dec 4, 2009

If you discovered this while the work submitted to you, then you should not.

But If you took the work and forwarded it to the first client, then you should pay.

That's how I see it.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:52
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Maybe it was all a mistake? Dec 4, 2009

Although I completely sympathise with you about the loss of a good customer, I think that maybe in this case it was just a wrong business decision on your part.

What I mean is that it would have been better to say no to the customer instead of outsourcing the job, if you did not have the time to fully review the translation before delivering it to the customer. By letting the job go --by simply explaining that you had other previous commitments, something every customer can understand--, the responsibility on a poor job would be the customer's as they would have been the ones who chose the other translator. Unless the other translator was a lot better than yourself, they would certainly have returned to you for more work in the future even if you did not do this job.

Now about your question about paying the translator or not: I think you should pay. After all, you chose the translator and if it was not an adequate translator it was not the translator's fault (unless he/she clearly lied in the CV about his/her experience in the subject matter and qualifications, hence creating wrong expectations), but your responsibility instead. Maybe it is always good to thoroughly test someone with a paid translation test before putting your customer at risk.

Now, having said that, if the translation was really bad I think you should make a full review of the text with review marks and send it to the translator for his/her consideration, explaining that you feel that the job was not up to the expected standard and that you would like a reduction of the price for the quality issues. If the translator does not offer a discount for the mistakes, I reckon the only way out is to pay the full amount.


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
check Dec 4, 2009

No test? No contract? No revisions? No proofreading? Then 'yes'.
Else execute the contract (rates, fines, obligations etc).

Unfortunately it looks like you bought a cat in the sack from your translator and sell a pig in a poke to your client. Your fault.


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:52
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
Exactly my points Dec 4, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

What I mean is that it would have been better to say no to the customer instead of outsourcing the job, if you did not have the time to fully review the translation before delivering it to the customer.
...
Now, having said that, if the translation was really bad I think you should make a full review of the text with review marks and send it to the translator for his/her consideration, explaining that you feel that the job was not up to the expected standard and that you would like a reduction of the price for the quality issues. If the translator does not offer a discount for the mistakes, I reckon the only way out is to pay the full amount.


-------------
Although you do not give details, obviously, you must not have reviewed the translation, otherwise, you would not have forwarded it to your client. As Tomás said, it was a wrong business decision that cost you a lot more than it would have cost you to reject the project. Sometimes, we are so afraid to say no, thinking that one -no- will cause us to lose the client, that we end up stretching beyond our limits and exposing ourselves to all sorts of calamities, like this one. We should know better and I am sure now you know better.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:52
French to German
+ ...
KudoZ to you Dec 4, 2009

DZiW wrote:

No test? No contract? No revisions? No proofreading? Then 'yes'.
Else execute the contract (rates, fines, obligations etc).

Unfortunately it looks like you bought a cat in the sack from your translator and sell a pig in a poke to your client. Your fault.


Sums up the whole matter nicely, as any further details seem to be lacking.

@gaellebcn: having a subcontractor who will subcontract too is not admissible if you are not in the know... and passing the translation "as is" to the end client is not admissible either.

[Edited at 2009-12-04 14:29 GMT]


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 00:52
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Your fault Dec 4, 2009

I agree with Luisa and Tomás.

When you outsource, it is YOUR responsability to choose the right translator and to review the job done before delivering. Once delivered to the client by you, it becames your product.

You hired a colleague to do a job, he/she did it. Now you should pay. Business 101.

This is what we are requiring all the time in the fora. We complain about agencies that don`t pay "because the client has not paid them yet" or because somebody said the job was poor quality or whatsoever.

I am strongly against those practices. If you read these fora, you will find out that we allways require and claim for the contracts to be honored.


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:52
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Dont pay Dec 4, 2009

Yes, it is your responsibility, that you lost the customer.
But why to pay for a bad quality product. If you go to the supermarket and buy the milk. And at home you see it is sour, so you can bring it back and get your money.
If the translator delivered you a bad quality, so he or she didnt fulfill the obligations. So why should you?


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xxxxxxxxxgaelle
Local time: 04:52
Spanish to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Answer Dec 4, 2009

Erika,

Thanks,

I thing you are right. The translator took the file and did a bad job... so...his responsability

Gaëlle


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:52
Italian to English
Your Quality control Dec 4, 2009

I agree in principle with Erika.

However, you must be sure of your facts before deciding not to pay. At the moment it seems you are relying entirely on other people's opinions. You cannot be sure the translation was edited, nor whether the editor was suitably qualified and you are just accepting your client's view that the quality was unacceptable.

At least ask a colleague you trust for a second opinion. If it was bad enough to lose you a client, it should be obvious without spending too much time on it but you need to have enough specific examples to justify your decision.


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Jānis Greivuls
Latvia
Local time: 05:52
Member
English to Latvian
+ ...
:) Dec 4, 2009

gaellebcn wrote:

Erika,

Thanks,

I thing you are right. The translator took the file and did a bad job... so...his responsability

Gaëlle


Gaëlle,
It seems you have already made your decision before asking others...
I agree with Russell - you need more serious justificaton than opinion of your client and your own consciousness....

Jānis


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:52
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Kitchen table agency? Dec 4, 2009

Gaelle,
If you want to take the role of an agency, you have to take all the risks that come with it, not only the benefits.
Whether you are a freelancer working directly with the end client, or acting as an agency, you are the final point before the product reaches the customer, you are the one responsible for the quality.
If it is your own translation, you provide your best work, right?
If you outsource the translation, you are responsible for ensuring that the quality is at least as good as if you have done it yourself. You can achieve this by selecting a competent translator (this may involve conducting a test), and/or a competent editor, and/or edit yourself, or use a combination of all these. Obviously, if the language pair is not yours, you will have to use the services of another trusted editor, you cannot do it yourself. These steps cost money, and you should pay for them, according to the agreement you have with your supplier. You should make every reasonable effort to discover any quality problems in the translation at this point (before sending the job to the end client), and remedy them according to the agreement with your supplier (you can either request a free fix, or reduce the payment, whatever your agreement says). This has nothing to do with the end client.

When you have the finalized translation that you are happy with, that's the time to send it to the client, and request payment from them.
If they are complaining about the quality, that should be handled according to the agreement you have with them (they can either request a free fix, or reduce the payment, whatever your agreement says). You may end up having to pay for a 3rd party to fix the translation, or getting reduced payment or getting paid nothing. This is your business risk, when you act as an agency. This is what agencies have to think about, when setting their margins. The difference between what they pay to their vendors and what they get from the end client should cover all their expenses, including the cost of selecting their vendors and occasional losses such as this. If you are not prepared to do that, than you should not act as an agency.

There are plenty of incompetent "kitchen table agencies" out there. I am sure you can do better than that.

Katalin

[Módosítva: 2009-12-04 15:49 GMT]


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ask some questions and learn the lesson Dec 4, 2009

I think you have made rather a mess of this.

What is your responsibility to a client? What is your responsibility to a supplier?

These are questions that you did not ask or answer before beginning.

You've paid the price - now learn the lesson.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:52
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Not enough information Dec 4, 2009

gaellebcn wrote:
Recently, I had a translator doing a job for me (the client was aware I was outsourcing). Unfortunately, this translator returned me a very poor quality work. I ... receive no payment [from the client]. Now, the translator is asking me to pay him.


First, let's distinguish between formal outsourcers (essentially agencies) and informal (ad hoc) outsourcers. You seem to be of the latter kind. When you read some of the comments in this thread, keep in mind that some translators do not make the distinction.

I always assume (and think it is fair) that with an informal outsourcer the arrangement is that you get paid when he gets paid, and if he doesn't get paid then you don't get paid. Unless, of course, something else has been agreed upon. Simply put, the informal outsourcer doesn't have the means to pay if his client doesn't pay. This is the risk a translator takes when he accepts a job from an informal outsourcer (like a colleague) instead of a formal outsourcer (like a translation agency).

That said, I think it is very important that we don't rely on assumptions, even if we think they are fair or obvious -- rather make sure the translator knows that his payment depends entirely on the actions of your client.

I can't comment further on your situation because I don't know enough about your situation. Did you assume that the other translator would produce such good work that you would not need to spend a lot of time editing it? Was that translator aware that he should deliver work that is client-ready (without needing a second edit by you, the outsourcer)? You say the client was aware that you were outsourcing, but was the client under the impression that you would be responsible for the quality of the end-product? Did you outsource because you ran out of time, or it an outsourcing job from the beginning?

I have also dealt with a translator who did excellent work for me on several jobs, but once he delivered work of such low standard that I'm sure he must have outsourced the translation himself. Needless to say, I did not prepare to receive a poor translation from him, and the time I allocated for editing his translation was insufficient for the number of errors and the of sloppiness of his translation. In my case the client was also aware that I outsource some of the work, but in my case I was responsible for the final product, and I felt that the translator had let me down. I did pay him what I owed him, but I wasn't happy.

He outsources himself the work, when I was not aware of it, and told me he payed to have the job edited, but those editions didn't convince my client at all.


It almost sounds as if he himself discovered too late that the translation was very poor, and he did not have enough time to edit it properly, so he paid someone to do the edits for him. If this is the case, then he himself should be liable for the cost of editing the translation. He spent money on getting it edited, but obviously the editor didn't do a proper job (perhaps the editor didn't have enough time).


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xxxcmwilliams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:52
French to English
+ ...
Agree with Katalin Dec 4, 2009

I wholeheartedly agree with everything Katalin has said, particularly:

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

This is your business risk, when you act as an agency. This is what agencies have to think about, when setting their margins. The difference between what they pay to their vendors and what they get from the end client should cover all their expenses, including the cost of selecting their vendors and occasional losses such as this. If you are not prepared to do that, than you should not act as an agency.

Katalin

[Módosítva: 2009-12-04 15:49 GMT]


As far as I am concerned, the outsourcer is solely responsible for all work sent to his/her client. If the quality was poor, why was it sent to the client?


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