Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >
How to tell a freelancer I had to fix or redo 50 - 80 % of their work - and how much to pay?
Thread poster: Ronja Addams-Moring

Ronja Addams-Moring  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 12:09
Finnish to Swedish
+ ...
Apr 10, 2010

Please tell me if this is too cryptic - I do not want to identify the person in question publicly (yet), so I am withholding details. I hope the main points of the story become clear, nevertheless. I am writing as much to analyze what mistakes I made as to ask for opinions and advice - I need to clear my head.

I am a freelancer myself, but for one really big job I had outsourced before, and was very pleased with the result then. I work directly for end customers in only a couple, highly specialized fields.

Because I was already fully booked, I recently needed to outsource again. I relied on a person's own public statements of expertise in the precise subject area of this translation project, and outsourced a 16000 word project, where the content of the text was safety critical. My end client knew I was outsourcing, and I made it clear for them that the responsibility for quality stays with me. The price that the subcontractor asked was neither very high nor very low, and (s)he had received the whole material in its final form before quoting. The quote mentioned Trados and stated as the target translation style "... safety ...". There were 20 days of time between my order and the subcontractor's delivery deadline, and (s)he told me on the phone that the previous project (s)he was working on had its deadline at most two days after I ordered. I told them on the phone that the final responsibility of quality was with me, that I would carefully check the text before it goes on to the client.

I provided the subcontractor with a fairly extensive annotated glossary that I have put together during previous translations for the same client, lent them a field-specific dictionary, sent links to previous comparable material, and a few files which had been hard for me to find when I needed them myself. I sent an order per both email and as a paper letter. The order specified that proofreading the translation was one part of the service I ordered and included a binding reference to the Finnish guidelines for public purchases (which, in turn, have regulations about quality, complaints, responsibilities, rights etc).

I had reserved ten days for proofreading and editing between the subcontractor deadline and the client deadline. The first file arrived one week before the subcontractor's deadline, so that seemed good. As a first impression I thought "Poor thing, (s)he really has not gotten the hang of the concepts" and sent them a list of the twelve mistakes with terms that I found on the first page. (S)he promised to use the correct terms for the rest of the files. In the same email I gave some positive feedback about a couple of things that I had noticed (s)he had done well.

After I already sent that email I became really peeved when I noticed that MS Word found mistakes in the translated text (typos and faulty grammar). It had not occurred to me to check before - I had not been able to imagine that anyone working for money would send away a file that hasn't been proofread at least by machine! There were ten to thirty MS-Word-findable mistakes per each file, and ten to forty such that MS-Word would accept even though they are not grammatically correct target language (each file was 4000-6000 words long). The target language was also very clumsy - it did not flow even near-naturally, and in places it was actually hard to understand.

When I started to collect a list of the mistakes, so that I could tackle them systematically, I pretty soon started to smell real trouble. First I just thought (s)he had done something weird with Trados, because some mistakes (missing articles in the beginning of some repeated sentences) were identical throughout all of the text. Then I realized that several individual expressions that were word-for-word consistent in the source text, were translated in two to four different ways per expression, making it impossible to do efficient global replace for those terms that (s)he had mistranslated. Most of the terms I had listed in my brief feedback email were mistranslated part of the time in the later files, too. There were also several different misspellings of the same term or concept, some of which MS Word missed. Thankfully, that's what search and replace is for - after one has figured out in how many ways a particular term has been misspelled. Finally, when my husband helped me to frantically fix the first text, we found a few critical mistranslations of terms, e.g. a very dangerous substance having been translated into its much more benign "cousin".

I contacted the client, apologized, negotiated an extended deadline and promised them a discount. I am now working as fast as I can, redoing the translation of the rest of the files, based on the first that my husband and I managed to get in order. Thank goodness for OmegaT and cut-n-paste - but it is still touch-and-go. By Tuesday I will know if I can manage to pull this through.

When I have taken care of the client side of this, I will need to communicate about this to the subcontractor. And frankly I am at loss as what to say. "None of the files you sent me had been proofread even by machine, even though that is what I ordered" - "Concept X was misspelled in three different ways, two of which MS Word will accept, but they are wrong nevertheless, as the source material I provided clearly shows" - "All but one of the twelve concepts on the list I sent you as feedback were mistranslated more than once in each of the later files, too" - "Some passages of already translated, Web-available official documents (which were clearly cited in the text) had been retranslated, while other comparable passages had been cut-n-pasted, like in the source text."

For some reason I feel extremely silly when I look at the statements above. They are all true. So why do *I* feel silly? And how does one proceed from addressing bad quality to suggesting a substantially lowered subcontractor fee? I do *not* want to pay full price for this!

Now I need to get some sleep - I have some truly tough 48 or 72 hours in front of me. Wish me luck!

Thanks for listening


 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:09
Italian to English
A sorry tale Apr 11, 2010

Ronja Addams-Moring wrote:

I do not want to identify the person in question publicly (yet), .



Thank you for sharing this with us Ronja; you have my sympathies and I am sure there are lessons for many of us here.

However, please don't feel tempted to name your subcontractor in the forums as that would lead to intervention by staff or moderators.


 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
The value of an agency Apr 11, 2010

This why agencies are valuable. They usually have a working team of translators who are tried and tested. They start off by sending you a short text as a kind of test.

Just by hanging around Proz a bit, you ought to know that there are a lot of mediocre translators around.

Tough luck. This is why I don't involved in outsourcing or proofreading. But surely in the 10 days contingency time you could have translated 16,000 words yourself.


 

Alexandre Maricato
Brazil
Local time: 06:09
English to Portuguese
Poor translation = poor payment Apr 11, 2010

Sad story. However, it could have been avoided with some simple precautions.

Select a portion of the text/words and phrases that you consider especially important/difficult/crucial and send them to the translator as an upaid test. There, you may check field knowledge, writing style, proofreading, timely delivery, etc.

I rather believe on the quality of the translation in my hands than on any promise or expertise allegation.

Now, regarding the payment issue, be honest with the translator. Send one of the files that had to be reworked or a list of things that had to be changed.

The botton line is: if you can't do the job, don't offer your services.


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 12:09
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Just tell them you're not paying Apr 11, 2010

If this account is true the translator in question should not be paid at all for the job. Outsourcing such a big project to an unknown colleague is the main mistake of yourself.

Spellchecking in Trados is not easy. I always save to Word and use Word spellcheck function myself, but this seems to be not the rule.

Regards
Heinrich


 

Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:09
Romanian to English
+ ...
Very unfortunate situation Apr 11, 2010

If I were you - and you seem to be much "nicer" than I amicon_smile.gif - I would send the subcontractor the final version of the files I delivered to the end client (perhaps a compare & merge version of the bad translation and your work, so that differences are highlighted), and also point out the gross errors which are in clear contradiction with your instructions. Often the less experienced subcontractors make typical mistakes which are attributable to lack of experience, but a gross negligence of your clear instructions should not be ignored/"forgiven" as such.
I would pay about 30-40% of the original price, considering that 50-80% had to be redone.
Perhaps your subcontractor also subcontracted the work to someone else...

It might be helpful to ask her/him whether s/he had any difficulties and what her/his explanation is for this unacceptable delivery. Or even ask her/him what remedy s/he proposes (a 50% discount for a next job, if you ever dare work with them again?).

Good luck and wisdom!

Annamaria


 

Alexandre Maricato
Brazil
Local time: 06:09
English to Portuguese
No 50% discount Apr 11, 2010



Or even ask her/him what remedy s/he proposes (a 50% discount for a next job, if you ever dare work with them again?).




Out of question. I'd take the 50% discount in the next job if I was the subcontractor, as I could be 100% sure that nothing else was coming from this sourceicon_smile.gif


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:09
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Trados... Apr 11, 2010

Heinrich Pesch wrote:



Spellchecking in Trados is not easy. I always save to Word and use Word spellcheck function myself, but this seems to be not the rule.

Regards
Heinrich


if you mean TagEditor, the spellchecker can be troublesome (it uses Word's and if you open and then close Word when using TagEditor, it will stop working), but I find it very good, because you can select to spellcheck everytime you close a segment, hence picking up mistakes immediately... there is no excuse for typos in TagEditor documents...


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:09
English to Portuguese
+ ...
First, find out what happened Apr 11, 2010

If you are writing over her text using MS Word, send her a tracked changes file. If you are redoing the whole thing, Word can create a comparison file of your text and hers. As the source text is the same, it should make some sense. Either way, send this file to her, and ask: What happened???

If that translator is any good, she'll immediately recognize most of her flops, and try to consider as many of them as possible as "cosmetic" changes. All right! Cosmetic changes are a must! No matter how good-looking a top model is, she'll still use professional make-up before a photo session.

Maybe she was sick, too busy, whatever, and reoutsourced it to someone else. Maybe she had a fever, and nevertheless did the job with impaired reasoning. This won't help the present situation at all, but will serve as a basis for whatever line of closure you choose to take. She might volunteer some line of action, e.g. I was sick, so I got an acquaintance of mine of mine who says s/he is a translator, had no chance to review it, so this is what I got. I'm not paying them anything, so you shouldn't pay me either. It's a farfetched possibility, but not completely absurd.

A long-standing client of mine loves my video translation for dubbing work. As a video producer, they get quite varied materials. I did several videos on cars and other automotive stuff for them. End-clients were very happy with the results. Then this client gave me a "slightly medical" video to translate. I guess physicians had to work thoroughly on that, but my client was happy nevertheless. Of course he had more work, as MDs are not skilled in dubbing metrics. And then they gave me a very technical (and gruesome!) medical video on some new surgical techniques. I tried and tried, and gave up after painstakingly having done maybe 1/5 of it. That was the day I completely gave up on medical translation - regardless of complexity... unless it's addressed to clinically lay people like me.

I have two friends who specialize in medical translation in my pair. I refer any client requiring medical work to them pronto, wish them all good luck, and step completely out. However these highly skilled colleagues don't work with video translation.

So this client later insisted in having me translate more surgical videos, and I said NO!. They said a whole medical board would go over it afterwards, but I chose not to take the risk on their behalf if - due to any constraint such as time - this failed to happen.

So, I'd suggest you get and give all the facts before deciding unilaterally what to do, and pushing your decision down her throat. If her translation is really so bad and she insists it's a good piece of work even after the evidence has been introduced, IMHO the outcome will be your fault, for having made an improper vendor selection. Bite the bullet, pay her as agreed, and make it a point to never use her services again. Otherwise you two should reach a mutually acceptable compromise.


 

Cetacea  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 11:09
English to German
+ ...
Why pay for a job not done? Apr 11, 2010

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

If this account is true the translator in question should not be paid at all for the job. Outsourcing such a big project to an unknown colleague is the main mistake of yourself.



My feelings exactly!

[Edited at 2010-04-11 14:11 GMT]


 

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:09
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Charge him/her for your time Apr 11, 2010

Sounds like reasonable way of dealing with this situation - pay agreed amount minus money for your extra work - for instance on a basis of your standard hourly fee and minus the discount you gave your client.

Cheers
Stanislaw


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:09
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
The risks of outsourcing Apr 11, 2010

Ronja,
It is an unfortunate story, indeed, but it is not the first time I read about such turn of events.
My immediate reaction was: "well, here we go, a good example of the risks outsourcing comes with, and what happens when those risks are not mitigated properly".
The first and very fundamental problem was the vendor selection. This is probably the biggest risk when outsourcing. You did not mitigate this risk properly, because you gave him/her a 16000 words job based on his/her own statements about her expertise, without asking for a test. You could have given a 200-250 words representative section of the text, even paid for it, to see if she/he is up to the task. It would have been cheaper, than what you ended up with.

I agree with what Jose wrote here:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

So, I'd suggest you get and give all the facts before deciding unilaterally what to do, and pushing your decision down her throat. If her translation is really so bad and she insists it's a good piece of work even after the evidence has been introduced, IMHO the outcome will be your fault, for having made an improper vendor selection. Bite the bullet, pay her as agreed, and make it a point to never use her services again. Otherwise you two should reach a mutually acceptable compromise.


Your discussion with the translator should be based on the regulations you said you referred to in your order. You said they have clauses about quality, complaints, etc. What are those, by the way? If those regulations were the base of your relationship, than those should be the governing principles you two use when trying to resolve the problem. I hope it turns out to be something acceptable for both of you.

Katalin

[Edited at 2010-04-12 04:01 GMT]


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:09
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
The other side of the story Apr 11, 2010

Let me play the Devil's advocate for a moment.

Here it is what the translator in question may be writing on another forum as we speak:
THE FOLLOWING IS A FICTIONAL POSTING
"I need your advice, guys. I took a 16,000 words job from another translator who asked me to help out because her schedule was packed. I looked at the material, and gave her a quote. Even though I did not have too much experience with the exact topic the text was about, I have done similar type of translations. Besides, she gave me a terminology list and other reference materials, and she reassured me that she takes responsibility for the quality and she will carefully check the translation before it goes to the end client.

I delivered the first part of the job a week before the deadline. She checked it, and sent me a list of issues she found with the translation, but she did not send the files back for corrections. She also gave me positive feedback about a few things I did well in the translation, so I thought we were doing OK. I was already in the middle of translating the rest of the materials, but I tried to take her suggestions into consideration for the part that I have not translated yet. When I was done, I delivered the rest of the translation, on time.

Now, more than 10 days later, after she already delivered the translation to the end client, she sent me an email, telling me she does not want to pay the full amount that we agreed on, because of the quality of my translation. She gave me a list of errors she found. Well, some of them are errors, some of them I would say, just preferential changes. Some of the terminology errors she pointed out were those that I made in the second part of the job, before I received her feedback. Since she said previously that she takes the responsibility for the final quality, I thought she would fix those, especially that she already found them. She also complained about some spelling errors, that I did not run a spellchecker on the translation. Well, I could never get the spellchecker work within TagEditor. Yes, I could have cleaned up the file and put it into Word and check it that way, but since she was going to edit the file anyway, which includes final spellchecking, it did not occur to me that she would want me to do this extra step in the middle of the entire process. Besides, she did not mention anything about the spellcheck issue when she gave me the feedback about the first partial delivery, only now, at the end.

I am not sure what to do. She gave me the job, that means she decided I was qualified enough for the job, and she reassured me she would take care of the quality issues. Now, she is trying to get a discount based on quality issues - which she stated were her own responsibility.

I am not saying the translation was error-free. I admit I did make mistakes. But again, when she noticed them, she should have returned the translation to me, and give me a chance to fix it myself. She did not do that, she decided to fix it herself, and now she is trying to push the cost of that back onto me. Is this fair?"


[Edited at 2010-04-11 19:44 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:09
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some thoughts Apr 11, 2010

Ronja Addams-Moring wrote:
1. I contacted the client, apologized, negotiated an extended deadline and promised them a discount.
2. And how does one proceed from addressing bad quality to suggesting a substantially lowered subcontractor fee? I do *not* want to pay full price for this!


Some thoughts...

* Does Finnish law allow you to use the translation without paying for it the price that you had agreed to with the translator? If not, then you'd have to pay the full price unless you can think of some legitimate (really, really legitimate) reasons not to.
* The contract you had with the translator required proofreading. So ask the translator what steps or what processes he used to do the proofreading. Ask him for the name of the spell-checker that he had used (if it is the same as yours, then you can be certain that he didn't use the spell-checker).
* If you are confident that you can show (to an impartial judge) that the discount you gave the client was unavoidable, then you should be able to pass the discount on to the translator.


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:09
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
De ja vu - another thread with the same topic Apr 12, 2010

http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/162452-outsourced_translation_bad_quality.html

 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

How to tell a freelancer I had to fix or redo 50 - 80 % of their work - and how much to pay?

Advanced search







BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »
memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search