Do you perform re-work based on client feedback?
Thread poster: PatentTrans

United States
Local time: 13:09
Chinese to English
Nov 1, 2013

I'm still new to this profession and want to find out what the normal practice is. Do you deliver a translation and that is the end of it or do your clients want to give you some feedbacks and have you re-work the translation? How do you charge for the re-work? Technically if your translation is reasonably correct then if the clients have preferences should they do the editing/fine-tuning themselves?


Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:09
English to French
+ ...
see below Nov 1, 2013

PatentTrans wrote:

I'm still new to this profession and want to find out what the normal practice is. Do you deliver a translation and that is the end of it YES

or do your clients want to give you some feedbacks and have you re-work the translation?

How do you charge for the re-work? TIME SPENT

Technically if your translation is reasonably correct then if the clients have preferences should they do the editing/fine-tuning themselves? YYEESSSSS! If they have preferences, they should state them before work is tarted.

But I speak for myself only!


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:09
Member (2007)
+ ...
Do it themselves? Nov 1, 2013

They often don't speak the lingo - that's why they hire us. Of course, it may be different with agency clients but on the whole translators don't like other people messing with their translations.

If there are errors, it's up to the translator to correct them, and for free. Sometimes my clients query my choices and suggest alternatives. If there are just a few and if they are no worse than my original choice, I'll either send a revised text or help them to do it correctly. But on the one or two occasions that a client has come up with loads of preferential changes, I've asked them whether they'd like a quote. Funnily enough, they go quiet then.icon_smile.gif

Of course, it's always a good idea to ask up-front if the client has preferences. But sometimes they seem put out by the question, as if you're asking them to pay AND do the work.


Herkko Vuorinen  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:09
English to Finnish
+ ...
it depends Nov 2, 2013

I always tell clients that if they need corrections or amendments, I'll do them.

Sometimes there's a thing or two, then I just do them, for free obviously.

But really you just have to know what you are doing.

Once a client said that there are problems with my translation, I asked them to point out what is wrong, in order for me to be able to correct the shortcomings, and they failed to do so, so I guess they were just trying to get a reduction on the price.

It boils down to your own abilities, once you know what you're doing you can speak confidently, and everybody needs a fair compensation for a job well done.


Petro Ebersöhn (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:09
No Nov 2, 2013

I do not expect my clients to pay again if the mistakes are mine, but usually they or the reviewer just contact me and tell me they changed it, and why.


Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:09
French to English
+ ...
Client is paying to have the translation to their satisfaction... within reason Nov 2, 2013

PatentTrans wrote:
I'm still new to this profession and want to find out what the normal practice is. Do you deliver a translation and that is the end of it or do your clients want to give you some feedbacks and have you re-work the translation? How do you charge for the re-work? Technically if your translation is reasonably correct then if the clients have preferences should they do the editing/fine-tuning themselves?

I take the view-- and it sounds like others here do to-- that the client is paying for an "end to end" service: in other words, they have the right to expect the price that I quote them to cover whatever process it takes, including resolving any reasonable queries, for them to be happy that they have a translation that is to their needs and satisfaction.

But the key word is "reasonable". It is reasonable for an agency's proofreading staff with a degree in the target language to query you about whether you've used a term consistently. It is unreasonable (in my view) for somebody with no expertise at all in the target language to query you because Microsoft Word has put a green squiggly line under a word or because the client's mate down the pub said that their pen friend would not have used such-and-such a word (yes, I have experienced such scenarios...!).

So for a given client/job, you will need to build into your rate and time schedule some kind of best estimate of how much time if any will be spent on the "post translation" process and you will need to learn how to diplomatically educate clients into trusting somebody with two degrees in linguistics over Microsoft Word's green squiggly lines etc...

[Edited at 2013-11-02 07:58 GMT]


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Depends... Nov 2, 2013

If I've overlooked a mistake and the client spots it, of course I will correct it without any charge. And, in case of type-setting, I even include a (one) final proof-reading of the layout.

However, if the client requires a re-write based on her/his preferences, well, then this is an entirely new job that will be done based on a new quote for editing. And I am strictly executing this because there are a scarce few clients who can come up with several new "ideas", and who expect these multiple re-writes to be done for free. Since I'm not a millionaire, I have to work for my living, so there'll be no free multiple re-writes.icon_wink.gif


Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Of course! Nov 2, 2013

I agree with the above.

For some clients/projects, I sometimes suggest a validation stage. This particularly applies for documents to be sent out to hundreds of people, or that will be posted officially somewhere (brochures, annual reports etc.)

These invariably have been worked on very carefully, with several people providing input to produce the source language version (someone produces a draft, the tech dept checks that it's correct, the legal dept checks nobody will sue, an assistant puts it through the spell checker, someone with something to prove rips it apart, the assistant pieces it together again, techies and legals check again, the big boss rips it apart...;

I tell the client that for this kind of text where wars have been fought over commas, it's unrealistic to expect one translator to just whip up a translation to everybody's satisfaction. So I negotiate to have someone proofread me, and I explain that I will bill for feedback time where the client can rip my translation apart and I either accept or refuse the modifications. I ask who will be doing the ripping apart and specify if it's a French person that they will have to trust my grammar and spelling.

They pay for my time, just like they paid for the time everyone was working on it in-house. The only difference is that the salaries would have been paid even if nobody had touched the project, but then presumably the staff could have been contributing to the company's turnover in other ways during that time. I point out that all terminology changes go into a glossary to save time next time.

The upshot of all this is that clients will then do their best to reduce the feedback time. They'll take the trouble to look out a previous report for reference, they'll answer any questions I might have promptly instead of leaving it for later (ie after delivery). And they check things themselves before simply scrawling "are you sure this is OK", when they suggest a change, there is more likely to be a valid reason.

The clients who accept this are of course my favourite clients with whom there is a relationship of mutual trust.

I also warn them that it will invariably take longer than they think, just like the source did. Nobody ever counters with "ah but we produced this document in just two days", and if they did then I will tell them that my translation will take that long and so if the deadline is more important than top-quality then of course we will simply cut out the second pairs of eyes stages. And I won't proceed unless they acknowledge that I have not guaranteed a "fit to publish' text.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
It depends. Nov 2, 2013

My terms and conditions include a disclaimer that I except no responsibility for modifications made by anyone else, either the client or third parties, to the translations or other material after I've delivered it. On the very few occasions that the client has asked me to modify something, I do it free of charge, considering it part of the basic service I provide. If they wanted a total rewrite, I'd probably consider charging them for it, but it's never happened... (touch wood).


Eileen Cartoon  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
Italian to English
For me, too, it depends Nov 2, 2013

But in general, I will review the changes made by the proofreader and, to be perfectly honest, sometimes a second pair of eyes that is detached from teh original helps. I find that this is a collaborative effort and we (translators and agencies) should work together to give the end client the best possible translation. I really like feedback from the agency after proofreading. It is not always a qusetion of right or wrong, or even better or worse (or for me sometimes British or American). Soemtimes the proofreader simply suggests another term or turn where both mine and their's is correct and we work together to select the best. I will never think mine is the only possible way to translate it. In fact, that's why the classics have a new translation every generation even though all the past translations were perfectly good.

icon_smile.gif Eileen


nrichy (X)
Local time: 20:09
French to Dutch
+ ...
Yes, if it is reasonable Nov 2, 2013

If the client asks for some modifications or has some terminology preferences, I think it is reasonable to ask the translator to take this into account (for the current translation or in the future). And yes, indeed, in most cases this means collaboration and the will to obtain good results.

What happens sometimes, is that the client is angry or upset and really doesn't understand why the translator didn't use immediately and automatically his own inhouse terminology and/or his own personal style. Expecting this is unreasonable of course, and sometimes even bad faith. In those cases I make a new quote, from the point of view: "if you want me to do that, then it won't be free".


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
If you can turn it to your advantage Nov 4, 2013

I'm only human, and I have made mistakes over the years. Then profound apology and correction on the spot is the only way to go.

However, I learned from a colleague when I was working in-house that sometimes it is better to convince the client that you really know what you are doing, and politely explain why you are not going to change anything.

The client is not always right.
Check what you do, and know where to refer to style guides and grammar books or examples of how the expression is used. The aim is to convince them that your translation is better than their suggestion - in a polite and diplomatic way. You can show your expertise, so the client thinks 'Wow, I learnt something new about the language' - and comes back again.

If you are just stubborn, they may go and look for a translator who quietly gives them what they want.

On other occasions, if it was a matter of preference, my colleague was brilliant at finding a compromise and suggesting a third option. That way the client did not lose face, but the agency did not admit to making a mistake either. Again, clients usually bowed off resepectfully and came back later with their next job.

It is a fine balance. I had a client who called me and said my translation was fine - except that it sounded too much like their biggest competitor... and we talked it through and made changes. I noted them carefully, and he came back many times.

Satisfied clients are a real asset, and they respect you if you ask when in doubt too - then they can't complain after you have followed their advice. icon_smile.gif


Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
This is ... Nov 6, 2013

... constructive criticism vs. groundless griping mainly geared towards a price reduction, as Herkko rightly identifies it. "Si cuela, cuela" (trying it on), as they say around these parts.

I have also indirectly met Neil's knowledgeable "man down the pub" on occasion. It was actually someone's UK niece just out of uni passing through the customer's office by chance, who told them my phrase "executed in stucco" in an architectural piece was impossible, because, as every skoolboy kno, "execute" is only used in reference to firing squads, guillotines, electric chairs, lethal injections and the like - insisted on it, too - but had no negative comments about all the technical stuff surrounding it.

Like Christine, I've made mistakes and had to own up to them, because what else can you do? I've made occasional reductions, and even cancelled payment of an entire job a few years ago because frankly I had made a terrible dog's dinner of it due to various personal constraints at the time.

But if there are "problems with the translation", it is always best to ask for specifics. It never ceases to amaze me how many of the "gripes" can be easily fielded and quashed.




Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
executions and features Nov 6, 2013

Ah Mervyn, been there done that!

For me it was not execute but feature. This is a word I use fairly liberally in all sorts of circumstances, but my client told me it meant a nifty new thing on a car.

For once I came back with the right answer at the right time, like in a film script:

"Feature only refers to new things in cars? Tell that to a Hollywood director!"


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