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A proofreader wrecked my translation, what can I do?
Thread poster: Valerie Marzac

Valerie Marzac  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:58
English to French
+ ...
Feb 25, 2011

Dear all,

After about 1 week spent without much sleep because of 2 round the clock contracts, I decided to ask a translator/proofreader to proofread my last translations as I absolutely needed to rest.

I contacted someone who had a Proz Page and had sent me her details a while back. She had excellent qualifications in the target language.

I told her to proofread the translation for any spelling mistakes and other errors such as vocabulary or grammar since I had translated the last documents at the speed of light, as well as to make sure that all the abbreviations and acronyms found in the target language matched those in the source language.

We agreed on the phone on a price, I told her I would pay her by check after receiving the amended files and so I sent her my 5500 words or so early evening, telling her she had until 10 pm the following day to deal with the proofreading. She was keen and all seemed fine. There was enough time.

First thing the next morning, I received the work all done, all set! I thought the proofreader must have spent all night on this work. I opened one file and to my horror saw that there were countless spelling mistakes in the text, that the abbreviations hadn't been changed, that some terms didn't even make sense. I ran Trados as I couldn't believe I would have made such mistakes and of course I hadn't...

I contacted the proofreader via email and told her that she must have sent me the wrong version considering the number of mistakes. She replied that it was 'strange indeed' that I found mistakes. After providing her with ample examples of the mistakes found, she eventually told me that I could pay her a little less but that nonetheless she felt her work was pretty good indeed. At that point, I told her that the client would be of a different opinion for sure! I was angry but tried to stay calm. I asked if she could at least provide me with the definitions of the acronyms found in the French (I had made them up) since she assured me that they had been checked by a professional and that they were all correct. This way, she would have somewhat contributed and I would pay her for that. But she only provided me with a link to a list of online dictionaries with no specific reference to anything of course.
I eventually told her that I was going to contact Proz in order to get some feedback on this issue before getting back to her.

I won't go on about the work quality she produced, it was more than terrible since she obviously didn't do anything other than click on whatever to pretend she had worked and run a Word Replacement which created very strange terms. She added a few spelling mistakes here and there too. It's really an unbelievable story! My luck!
I believe this person isn't a translator or a proofreader but someone who needs money and who tries to make some this way by cheating on us, just in case we don't check the proofreading, I assume (as if any of us could show that much trust).
The point is that she destroyed my work. I tried to go back to her Proz page but it had been deleted. I asked her about that but she didn't reply.
Instead of gaining time, I wasted a lot of time and had to spend all day and most of the night proofreading my own work on the spare copy I had kept. I managed to send my work back early this morning, right on time.

My question is the following: I agreed to pay her a certain amount for performing the tasks mentioned. She didn't perform any of those tasks but messed up with my work. I didn't send her a purchase order. I understand that she probably needs money but she made me waste my time and my energy and I'm not a bank. Instead of helping me, she literally destroyed my work.

What do you think I should do and tell this person? Should I provide her name on here so that she doesn't try with anyone else? Do I have to pay her anything?

Thank you for your feedback which will be very much appreciated.

Kind regards to all

Valerie


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JL01  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:58
English to French
+ ...
Don't pay Feb 25, 2011

She did not fulfil her part of the contract. It is as simple as that.

The fact that her ProZ page no longer exists is evidence she know she is guilty as charged.

If it was me, I would not pay.


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Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:58
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
No names Feb 25, 2011

Dear Valerie,

Please do not provide any names.


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:58
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Don't pay Feb 25, 2011

Hi

A sad story indeed...no contract/no purchase order? Her Proz page has been deleted, well it all sounds suspicious to me.

Liz


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:58
German to English
Only work with people you know and trust Feb 25, 2011

Valerie Marzac wrote:

[snip]
I won't go on about the work quality she produced, it was more than terrible since she obviously didn't do anything other than click on whatever to pretend she had worked and run a Word Replacement which created very strange terms. She added a few spelling mistakes here and there too. It's really an unbelievable story! My luck!
I believe this person isn't a translator or a proofreader but someone who needs money and who tries to make some this way by cheating on us, just in case we don't check the proofreading, I assume (as if any of us could show that much trust).

The point is that she destroyed my work. I tried to go back to her Proz page but it had been deleted. I asked her about that but she didn't reply.

[snip]


Unfortunately it's another lesson learned the hard way. NEVER let a stranger touch your work, unless he/she comes highly recommended from a known colleague who has experience with that individual.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:58
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Don't pay Feb 25, 2011

Valerie Marzac wrote:
I told her to proofread the translation for any spelling mistakes and other errors such as vocabulary or grammar since I had translated the last documents at the speed of light, as well as to make sure that all the abbreviations and acronyms found in the target language matched those in the source language.


This is a very difficult one, but I would say "don't pay" because the editor did not do what you had asked, and she had introduced further errors into the text that weren't there. The text she delivered may have been different from what you gave her, but it was not an improvement, and certainly not at the level required by the reason why you hired her.

If she takes you to court, the onus may be on you to prove that she had failed to do the work and that she was aware that there would be no time for her to redo the work if you were unhappy with it.

She eventually told me that I could pay her a little less but that nonetheless she felt her work was pretty good indeed.


If she had failed to correct a substantial number of obvious errors and had introduced further proveable errors, then she did not do her job properly (or at all).

I asked if she could at least provide me with the definitions of the acronyms found in the French ... since she assured me that they had been checked by a professional and that they were all correct. ... But she only provided me with a link to a list of online dictionaries with no specific reference to anything of course.


Making a list of the abbreviations and writing down the definitions weren't part of the original job, so I can understand why she would be unwilling to do that for you (particularly since she believes that she had done a good job). I would have felt the same, if I were her.

I eventually told her that I was going to contact Proz in order to get some feedback on this issue before getting back to her.


Unfortunately, there is nothing ProZ.com can do (as far as I know), and you're not allowed to say anything: you can say good things about people whom you gave work, and you can say good and bad things about people who gave you work, but you can't say bad things about people whom you gave work.

What do you think I should do and tell this person? Should I provide her name on here so that she doesn't try with anyone else? Do I have to pay her anything?


Write a polite letter to her telling her that you believe that she did not do the job that you gave her, and give some examples, and attach the files from before and after the job to the mail. Don't say that you won't pay her. After that, break off all contact with her (don't respond to any mails, and don't tell her that you won't pay her, or why), and whatever you do, don't lie to her at any stage in subsequent communication if you do decide to reply.


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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 10:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree Feb 25, 2011

I agree with JL01 and Liz. I definitely wouldn't pay for a service which left me in a worse position than when I started. And the proz page deleted???? Enough said.

Good on you for managing to get the job back on time despite everything


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Kate Chaffer
Italy
Local time: 17:58
Italian to English
Hardly professional! Feb 25, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

Don't say that you won't pay her. After that, break off all contact with her (don't respond to any mails, and don't tell her that you won't pay her, or why), and whatever you do, don't lie to her at any stage in subsequent communication if you do decide to reply.


That's not really professional behaviour, is it?!

If she's not going to pay, it's only honest to make the situation clear from the outset. How many times have you seen a thread on these forums saying "I did some work but now the outsourcer says there are quality issues and hasn't paid and isn't replying to any of my e-mails"?!


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Valerie Marzac  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:58
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Still thinking what's best but thank you so much to all of you! Feb 25, 2011

Dear all,

Thank you for all your replies, and a special thank you to you Samuel. I will most likely follow your advice, as in sending her the files after I corrected them as well as the files that she sent to me. I think I will also attach the files prior to her so-called amendments because this will show the mess that she made.
I believe she's prepared to accept a small amount from me. If she tries this way with many translators, she can actually end-up making quite a bit of money by a few simple clicks of her computer mouse. I had never heard of such a thing before, she's very crafty.

Of course I could send her a tiny amount in case she really does feel that she worked on the files, but then I'm concerned this would tend to imply that I acknowledge the fact that she did do some work when I believe she did not. Besides, why should I pay to receive something which turned out worse than it was originally especially when what I asked for wasn't done at all. Really no reason so again I think your thoughts are right, I will not pay as everyone has told me so far.
It would be easy to prove in court that she made many mistakes by running her spell-check and by adding extra letters here and there mostly at random. She did mention using the spell-check and some terms were so weird that only a spell check could do that.

As Kate said, I think that I would prefer to tell her upfront if I don't intend to pay. If only she had done some work, but in this instance, it's not a matter of quality even, it's blatant that she is a crook. I would feel better if she had really tried and failed but this is obviously not the case.

I'm still thinking about whether to send her a small amount of money or not...If I do, of course I will lose out.

Thank you so much to all over you!!!


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Kate Chaffer
Italy
Local time: 17:58
Italian to English
Absolute minimum payment Feb 25, 2011

Valerie Marzac wrote:


It would be easy to prove in court that she made many mistakes by running her spell-check and by adding extra letters here and there mostly at random. She did mention using the spell-check and some terms were so weird that only a spell check could do that.


I'm still thinking about whether to send her a small amount of money or not...If I do, of course I will lose out.


If it went to court, you would probably win, but do you really want to do that?! Think of all the time and expense! If I were you, I'd pay an absolute minimum, justifying the low amount by explaining exactly why the work was not up to scratch and giving plenty of examples. Then at least this person can't claim non-payment.


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Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:58
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
* Feb 25, 2011

The whole story looks quite strange. Maybe the topic starter could provide a couple of example sentences?

Like it was originally and like it was after proofreadings.



[Edited at 2011-02-25 16:39 GMT]


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Valerie Marzac  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:58
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A few examples of the proofreader's very many mistakes Feb 25, 2011

Alexander Onishko wrote:

The whole story looks quite strange. Mybe the topic starter could provide a couple of example sentences?

Like it was originally and like it was after proofreadings.



I can't provide examples relating to how little work she did if any since you'd have to see the original and the files after the proofreading.

But I can show a few other examples here:

1 - Spell-check error (there are several)

Before proofreading

L’égilibité est basée sur le niveau individuel au 31 décembre

After proofreading

L’pébilitié est basée sur le niveau individuel au 31 décembre

L’pébilitié does not exist, the original is correct




2 - Abbreviations. Remember I asked the proofreader to make sure the abbreviations would be the same as the English throughout the French. None of this was done

Before proofreading
MPA BUDGET
BUDGET AMP

After Proofreading same.


Before proofreading
Department AIP Budget
Budget PAI du service

After

Department AIP Budget
Budget PAI du service

These examples appear about 200 to 300 times in the files. I



3 - No spelling mistakes were corrected and some were added

I can’t show the whole text before and after proof obviously and I can't go through all the text again either right now

An example would be
Before proof
Toute récompense AMP octroyée
After proof Toute récompense AMP octroyés
Octroyés is wrong, the verb case before the proof is correct


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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:58
English to Spanish
I would not send the proofreader the corrected final files Feb 25, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

Write a polite letter to her telling her that you believe that she did not do the job that you gave her, and give some examples, and attach the files from before and after the job to the mail.


I would not send the proofreader the corrected final files. Once she has them, what if she claims that the good final files were the ones she delivered in the first place?

Who knows? She might be capable of doing something as low as that.


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Valerie Marzac  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:58
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good point! Thank you! Feb 25, 2011

Miguel Carmona wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:

Write a polite letter to her telling her that you believe that she did not do the job that you gave her, and give some examples, and attach the files from before and after the job to the mail.


I would not send the proofreader the corrected final files. Once she has them, what if she claims that the good final files were the ones she delivered in the first place?

Who knows? She might be capable of doing something as low as that.




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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:58
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Car wash Feb 25, 2011

Kate Chaffer wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
Don't say that you won't pay her. After that, break off all contact with her (don't respond to any mails, and don't tell her that you won't pay her, or why), and whatever you do, don't lie to her at any stage in subsequent communication if you do decide to reply.

That's not really professional behaviour, is it?! ... If she's not going to pay, it's only honest to make the situation clear from the outset.


The key here is in letting sleeping dogs lie. When you quoted me, you left out a crucial part of what I had said, namely that the OP should make it very clear that she regards the job to be not done.

I do feel sorry for the editor -- my advice is not an attempt to "get back" at her. Clearly she believes that she has done a proper job, but... (if the OP is to be believed) she hasn't. She can't get money for it.

How many times have you seen a thread on these forums saying "I did some work but now the outsourcer says there are quality issues and hasn't paid and isn't replying to any of my e-mails"?!


What can possibly be gained from talking with the editor? If the OP is unwilling to pay (refuses to pay anything), then no amount of talking about it will change the situation, and everyone will just get angrier and angrier. It is a no-win situation whichever way you look at it.

Suppose you send your car to the car wash to be washed, and they "wash" it with sand, resulting in a car that is no cleaner than it was, and scratched too. Would you regard the job to have been done? They did wash it... sort of. A token payment for their troubles, perhaps? (I'm being sarcastic here.)

Kate Chaffer also wrote:
If it went to court, you would probably win, but do you really want to do that?! Think of all the time and expense!


I agree with Kate that you want to avoid a court. I just think it is easier to avoid it by not responding and not paying than by responding and paying.



[Edited at 2011-02-25 17:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-02-25 17:35 GMT]


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