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Agency refuses to pay citing machine translation as reason
Thread poster: Kieran Sheehan

Kieran Sheehan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:05
Member (2008)
German to English
Sep 18, 2010

I recently did a 2000 word terminology job for an Indian person/agency. According to the blue board this person/agency has more than twenty 5 ratings, but also three 1 ratings. My instincts told me the job was dodgy but I received an e-mail assurance that I would be paid for the job. The person said she was in a fix and need these 2000 words translated over the weekend as part of a larger job (about 23,000 words). I calculated that I would not be able to do 2000 words of terminology on my own over two days and got a colleague to help me. We then spent the entire weekend conscientiously translating the words and doing the necessary research. Project was delivered on time and inovice was sent. After waiting about three weeks I sent an e-mail asking when I could expect payment. Person/agency said she would pay that week. But another week passed and still no payment. I then sent a reminder. Still no answer. Then a second reminder. The person/agency now responding saying that she would not be paying because her client claimed the project had been machine translated. I assured her that none of my translation was machine translated and asked her to be specific about her claim. She responded with a supposed e-mail from her client claiming the translation had been machine translated but again failed to find fault with a single word of our translation. To warn other users of PROZ I now tried to post a blueboard entry for this person/agency, but was told that I could not do so because of the blueboard rule no. 2. Apart from being 900 euros out of pocket on this job, I now have the added frustration of not being able to warn fellow users of PROZ. My final take on this job is that this particular person/agency contracted out most of the project to the cheapest bidders, who in turn delivered sub-standard translation work. As a result the client refused to pay and this person/agency now refuses to pay anyone involved in the project - the easy and dishonest way out.

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Diarmuid Kennan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 10:05
Member (2006)
Danish to English
+ ...
2 points Sep 18, 2010

It certainly sounds as though you have been unfairly treated. However,

1) An Indian agency offering to pay €0.45/word would have made me suspicious immediately,

2) Rule 2(2) for Blue Board entries refers to "complaints made SHORTLY after delivery". In your case the complaint was made more than 4 weeks after delivery and in my opinion would not be covered by the rule.

Perhaps you can appeal to a moderator.


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Natalia Sarmento  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:05
English to French
+ ...
Use other sites for posting Sep 18, 2010

Hello,
You may also use other existing sites to post on this agency.
People need to be advised on bad practices.


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Kieran Sheehan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:05
Member (2008)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
"Shortly" in blueboard rule 2(2) Sep 18, 2010

I have contacted the moderator about this and am waiting for
a reply.


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
Too much risk Sep 18, 2010

Your decision to sub-contract somebody when the client was new and foreign was extremely risky. I doubt that this decision would be justifiable at a rate of 25 cents a word.

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Kieran Sheehan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:05
Member (2008)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
I didn' t subcontract Sep 18, 2010

John,

The 2,000 words I did with a colleague working together with me in the same office.
Somebody I have worked together with on several projects. In other words, I am
100% sure that none of our terminology was machine translated. However, I have
no control over who the person/agency gave the other 20,000 words to, or what
prices they agreed. My price of € 0,45 per word, may appear steep to some, but
works out at € 225 per day for each translator. Which is I think very
reasonable, considering these were 12-hour weekend days.
If on the other hand the translators who took on the other 20,000 words agreed substantially lower rates and machine translated them, I don't see that this is
any business of mine.
As I said, we delivered a quality product on time and expect to be paid for this.
If the person/agency was incompetent in managing such a large project, she
should simply not be in the business of translation, and most certainly does
not deserve the 5 ratings on the blueboard.


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imatahan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:05
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Helpless Sep 18, 2010

We remain helpless when ProZ imposes rules of NOT dennouncing those agencies.

As we cannot put their names in the forum and cannot put a negative point in the blueboard, what is left to us?

I've been victim of 2 or 3 dishonest agencies. But what can we do?

What is the soluton for us, translators?

Lately, when I find one only note in the Blueboard of delayed payment or lack of payment, I simply don't bid.

But when I have notice of a case as yours, where you weren't able to put a Blueboard advise, what can we do?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Not an unreasonable rate Sep 18, 2010

Diarmuid Kennan wrote:
1) An Indian agency offering to pay €0.45/word would have made me suspicious immediately...


Why? I realise that EUR 0.45 per word for terminology translation is very low, but at what rate would you start getting suspicious?


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NR_Stedman  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:05
French to English
Terminology used as MT user dictionary Sep 18, 2010

Hi Kieran
It seems to me that the agency used your terminology as a user dictionary for an MT program. They then just ran the MT program on the whole text using your terminology and obviously did not produce a good translation.
Perhaps you should ask to see some of the final translation that the client refused.
I only occasionally answer questions on terminology from my best clients because of this type of misuse and 0.45 € a word is certainly not too much.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:05
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Indian agencies tend to pay less than US$0.045 Sep 18, 2010

Not Euros0.45. I guess they never intended to pay you in the very beginning. All they are willing to pay might be less than Euros 800 for the entire project.

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Enrique
Local time: 06:05
SITE STAFF
Support request Sep 18, 2010

Hi Kieran,

The best way of having this kind of issues clarified is to submit a support request. I have submitted one on your behalf to have this issue reviewer and explained.

Regards,
Enrique
ProZ.com staff


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Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:05
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Exactly Sep 18, 2010

I know translators sometimes will give bad ratings because of a personal problem, but when that problem is related to payment I'll make sure to mention that before I accept any job from an agency.

I normally ignore people complaining about rates on the blueboard - since they have accepted the rates to begin with it makes no sense.

Something similar happened to me a while ago - an agency shared a job between me and another translator (I wasn't even aware of that) and the other translator used machine translation. When they received a complaint they tried to penalise me for it by not paying me. I had to ask for the final version and point out in detail they were wrong.

Unfortunately, in your case, it sounds like they never intended to pay you.

[Edited at 2010-09-18 17:26 GMT]


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 16:05
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
I support this idea Sep 19, 2010

Paula Borges wrote:
Something similar happened to me a while ago - an agency shared a job between me and another translator (I wasn't even aware of that) and the other translator used machine translation. When they received a complaint they tried to penalise me for it by not paying me. I had to ask for the final version and point out in detail they were wrong.

Unfortunately, in your case, it sounds like they never intended to pay you.

[Edited at 2010-09-18 17:26 GMT]

I support this idea: some foreign agencies with very competitive pricing level do this.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


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Werner Maurer  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
parsing Sep 19, 2010

Just curious, if I may go off on a bit of a tangent here. In parsing out a very large job to numerous translators in different locations, how does an agency ensure continuity and uniformity of style and so on? I don't think I would want to do that if I ran an agency. Isn't it kind of risky?

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Your fault... Sep 19, 2010

Kieran Sheehan wrote:
I recently did a 2000 word terminology job for an Indian person/agency. According to the blue board this person/agency has more than twenty 5 ratings, but also three 1 ratings.

My friend, I am sorry but you were very naïve indeed. Three 1 ratings are more than enough to be VERY suspicious about the company. I reckon agencies know that Proz.com is full of people who

A) will immediately post a 5 rating when they are paid a first job correctly and have a couple of kind emails from the company, or

B) don't take low BlueBoard ratings seriously.

People, if someone posts a BlueBoard of 1 on someone, they mean it!! It's not just because a couple of less-than-appropriate emails or a delay of a couple of weeks in the payment. It's because working with the company is plain risky! 3 people tried to warn you, but you did not listen.


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