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When forced to agree upon deduction, what should we do?
Thread poster: Thomas Kim

Thomas Kim  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 15:09
Member (2004)
Korean to English
+ ...
Jul 25, 2015

Description about the CASE:
  1. I translated 14,500 words for Patent Application from English to Korean, for a translation vendor in USA.

  2. After a while, the translation vendor accused me that my translation quality was of poor quality that he needed to hire 5 (not including me) more other Korean professional translators to file the translated Patent Application to KIPO (Korean Intellectual Property Office), such that he want to deduct 50% from my translation wage.

  3. I asked him to send me the proof that my translation quality is so bad. Then he quoted a message from another translator as below

    I think the translator does not understand the structure of the sentence below or, it sounds like machine translated.
    It is hard to understand and the structure of Korean-translated sentence is not logical at all, that is, messed up. It is one of the worst sentences in the doc.


  4. So I asked him to be more specific about this, and asked him to pin-point any inaccurate, ambiguous, missing, or unclear sentence from my translation. Then he wrote me like this;

  1. Do you insist that you have made no errors whatsoever in your translation?

  2. Do you assert that the suggested fixes from our patent translator are not appropriate?

  3. Are you willing to take any blame in the problems of translation?

So, I wrote him, "if you do not make full-payment to me, I will report this case to major translators' community and I will regard your action as the breach of contract, and I will take advantage of my translation for my own use, etc. Then he wrote me as below;

I have requested of our accounting team to send payment in full-payment as shown on your invoice. Payment shall be sent on July 24, 2015, MST time zone.

We are extremely disappointed in your level of customer service. In our business relationship, you have not shown any willingness to accept any fault in this matter nor have you shown any willingness to compromise. Our company is at risk of losing business from our customer because of this problem.

We are facing the consequences of this translation problem with our customer, and you have not taken any level of responsibility in the issue to support us. Our possible loss of business far exceeds the potential payment discount that you could have accepted. We have done many patents over the years, and we have never had to engage six different Korean translators on a patent translation before.

Had he been more professional in communication, and instead of insulting and humiliating me by accusing of "poor or bad quality", and detailed his situation and that extra expense engendered, I would be more than willing to take part of his loss.
Instead of detailing his situation, he has constantly and consistently been accusing me.
He didn't know that Korean Patent Application should be edited and filed to KIPO(Korean Intellectual Property Office) by a Licensed Patent Attorney.
Since he has been trying to do it by hiring translators only, it must have really been a nightmare for him.

My Questions:
  1. What should we, private individual freelance translators, do if a translation vendor forces to accept deduction from translation fee, accusing us of "poor or bad quality?"

  2. I PERSONALLY think most freelance translators may be willing to share the loss of the translation vendor, of a particular project in which he/she has been involving or involved, if he or she is going to work for the vendor on the long-term basis. But how can we, private freelance translators, tell if the vendor is making a fake motion with ill-intent? (I don't think this vendor was making a fake motion, though)

  3. I want to keep a good relationship with others, including both other freelance translators and translation vendors, and also maintain positive feedback on my proz profile. So I cannot leave negative feedback on that ill-behaving translation vendor's proz profile. (What if this vendor leaves counter negative feedback on my proz profile?) In such case, what should I do to warn other freelance translators, not to be victimized by that vendor again?

  4. I guess, that other 5 professional Korean translators, but me, are very likely to have been deducted by this vendor. And each has been encouraged to blame the other translators, including his/her efforts.



 

Siontrans
Greece
Local time: 08:09
Member (2014)
English to Greek
Strange Jul 25, 2015

Why did they need to engage six translators when one competent reviewer would have been adequate to improve your "low" quality work?
Thomas Kim wrote:

Description about the CASE:
  1. I translated 14,500 words for Patent Application from English to Korean, for a translation vendor in USA.

  2. After a while, the translation vendor accused me that my translation quality was of poor quality that he needed to hire 5 (not including me) more other Korean professional translators to file the translated Patent Application to KIPO (Korean Intellectual Property Office), such that he want to deduct 50% from my translation wage.

  3. I asked him to send me the proof that my translation quality is so bad. Then he quoted a message from another translator as below

    I think the translator does not understand the structure of the sentence below or, it sounds like machine translated.
    It is hard to understand and the structure of Korean-translated sentence is not logical at all, that is, messed up. It is one of the worst sentences in the doc.


  4. So I asked him to be more specific about this, and asked him to pin-point any inaccurate, ambiguous, missing, or unclear sentence from my translation. Then he wrote me like this;

  1. Do you insist that you have made no errors whatsoever in your translation?

  2. Do you assert that the suggested fixes from our patent translator are not appropriate?

  3. Are you willing to take any blame in the problems of translation?

So, I wrote him, "if you do not make full-payment to me, I will report this case to major translators' community and I will regard your action as the breach of contract, and I will take advantage of my translation for my own use, etc. Then he wrote me as below;

I have requested of our accounting team to send payment in full-payment as shown on your invoice. Payment shall be sent on July 24, 2015, MST time zone.

We are extremely disappointed in your level of customer service. In our business relationship, you have not shown any willingness to accept any fault in this matter nor have you shown any willingness to compromise. Our company is at risk of losing business from our customer because of this problem.

We are facing the consequences of this translation problem with our customer, and you have not taken any level of responsibility in the issue to support us. Our possible loss of business far exceeds the potential payment discount that you could have accepted. We have done many patents over the years, and we have never had to engage six different Korean translators on a patent translation before.

Had he been more professional in communication, and instead of insulting and humiliating me by accusing of "poor or bad quality", and detailed his situation and that extra expense engendered, I would be more than willing to take part of his loss.
Instead of detailing his situation, he has constantly and consistently been accusing me.
He didn't know that Korean Patent Application should be edited and filed to KIPO(Korean Intellectual Property Office) by a Licensed Patent Attorney.
Since he has been trying to do it by hiring translators only, it must have really been a nightmare for him.

My Questions:
  1. What should we, private individual freelance translators, do if a translation vendor forces to accept deduction from translation fee, accusing us of "poor or bad quality?"

  2. I PERSONALLY think most freelance translators may be willing to share the loss of the translation vendor, of a particular project in which he/she has been involving or involved, if he or she is going to work for the vendor on the long-term basis. But how can we, private freelance translators, tell if the vendor is making a fake motion with ill-intent? (I don't think this vendor was making a fake motion, though)

  3. I want to keep a good relationship with others, including both other freelance translators and translation vendors, and also maintain positive feedback on my proz profile. So I cannot leave negative feedback on that ill-behaving translation vendor's proz profile. (What if this vendor leaves counter negative feedback on my proz profile?) In such case, what should I do to warn other freelance translators, not to be victimized by that vendor again?

  4. I guess, that other 5 professional Korean translators, but me, are very likely to have been deducted by this vendor. And each has been encouraged to blame the other translators, including his/her efforts.




 

Thomas Kim  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 15:09
Member (2004)
Korean to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I want to report this vendor, without breaching NDA, how can I do that? Jul 25, 2015

This is what I wrote to him:

Just suppose that my translation was so bad, then your proofreader should have fixed it, or he had to turn down my translation for proofreading.
If your proofreader failed to fix, then your 1st editor should have fixed it.
If then, your 2nd and 3rd editor weren’t needed at all, and if your proofreader and editor fixed my bad translation, your 2nd and 3rd editors are not required at all.


They had no experience in filing Patent Application to KIPO(Korean Intellectual Property Office). To file Patent Application to KIPO, we need to have a Licensed Patent Attorney edit and file the Patent Application. Without the help of Licensed Patent Attorney, it's really hard to file the Patent Application to KIPO, because the requirement is very strict for lay person.


I have other US clients, they are not translation vendor, but Patent Creating company. I have been working for them quite long. I asked them how they proceeded the Patent Application to KIPO. One of my clients said that they hired Licensed Korean Patent Attorney. He has edited and filed the Patent Application using my translations. I've worked for them since early this year, and I've translated 3 cases so far in this year alone, each 50K words. He told me he will send me another one early next week. I asked my client to provide me feedback from their Korean Patent Attorney. His answer was simple and short. “You do not need to concern about the style, our Korean Patent Attorney edits your translation to meet his needs. All you need to concern is accuracy, and our Korean attorney is satisfied with your translation, otherwise we must have changed our translator already.”


Since my major was math and physics, and I have been doing patent translation quite long, I've completed my translation in 4 days (14,500 words) from English to Korean as usual.

Then they hired another English to Korean proofreader to fix my translation, but there was nothing much to fix such that this proofread did trivial changes to my translation... then another translator edited ... then another ...

He sent me 3 different versions of my translations as reference, one that was fixed by 1st proofreader, one that was edited by another translator, and ... part of the final one...

All changes were very stupid and not relevant at all. The Patent Application was rejected to file by KIPO, not because the quality of the translation, but because it was not managed properly.

He accused me of "bad quality" As in the forum posting, when I asked him to provide me the proof of inaccurate, ambiguous, and wrong translation, then he sent me as

  1. Do you insist that you have made no errors whatsoever in your translation?

  2. Do you assert that the suggested fixes from our patent translator are not appropriate?

  3. Are you willing to take any blame in the problems of translation?



And I warned him if he does not make full-payment, I will report to this case to translators' community and I will take the advantage of my translation for my own use, for he breached his side of translation contract, I will disclose the my translation to the public to get public opinion.

He finally wrote me to send me full-payment.

=========
My point is ... he encouraged each translators to blame and accuse each other.
It's highly likely that other 5 translators must have been forced to agree upon his deduction.

I want to report this vendor, without breaching NDA, how can I do that? I can provide all my translation, email exchanges with him, etc. But that would be a breach of NDA?


 

Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:09
Chinese to English
Sounds like you're in the right, no need to take things too far Jul 26, 2015

Thomas, it sounds like you gave the PM a good translation, and that his QA process is the problem. Since he's already agreed to pay you, I don't think you need to escalate things by giving him/his firm a bad review, at least at the moment. While it would be a noble thing to warn all of us, you also have to approach this calmly from a business perspective. The PM has promised to pay you, so at the minimum you should wait until after you're paid to post anything further.

Furthermore, as you've pointed out, you may be prohibited by your NDA from posting negative feedback regarding them. If so, you might really get yourself in trouble by posting.

I'm guessing that most of us would agree that the true nightmare agencies are largely of the non-paying variety, so if the agency really pays you, I don't think you need to feel bad about not warning other translators. If you have any doubts as to your liability under the NDA, don't put yourself at risk by doing so.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:09
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Sounds pretty bad to me Jul 26, 2015

Preston Decker wrote:
I'm guessing that most of us would agree that the true nightmare agencies are largely of the non-paying variety, so if the agency really pays you, I don't think you need to feel bad about not warning other translators

This sounds like a nightmare to me if the original poster's description is accurate.

This is an agency unprofessional enough and incompetent enough to tackle the notoriously complex process of trying to file a patent in a foreign country without using a local lawyer. That's a bad sign.

The original poster would be doing service to the community by reporting this one. Next time it could be one of us.

I do, however, wonder if the OP asked about the absence of a patent lawyer before he started the translation. I would not get involved in a for-filing patent translation without an assurance in writing that my translation would be reviewed by a patent attorney before being used in the application process.

If the agency were unable to supply contact details of the lawyer they had retained to shepherd the patent application that would be a huge red flag.

Regards
Dan


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:09
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
A true nightmare Jul 26, 2015

Thomas, I’m sorry to read about your problems with the not exactly professional way of handling the situation displayed by that agency. However, your concern in regards to a possible, rather probable, violation of the signed NDA in case you post a negative entry is justified.

I agree with our colleagues that this is looking like an attempt to avoid full payment for your work, and that the number of editors/proofreaders is. Personally, I think that if the quality of your work is as poor as your client claims it to be, then I’d be wondering how you managed to keep your other clients happy for such a long time. Also, it seems as if you knew more about the proper procedures involved in filing a patent than your client – despite his claim of having files however many patents before.

At this moment it might be best for you to wait for the full payment your client has promised. If it doesn’t arrive in a timely manner, then you can make a Blue Board entry without having to worry about violating the NDA. When a client doesn’t pay on time, only partially or not at all, then she or he violates your agreement. This gives you sufficient reason to post a negative entry. Yet, I’d suggest that you only rate the client, but refrain from making any comments. Just leave that field blank. And if that client “strikes back” by leaving a negative entry, then I’m sure that the ProZ staff can assist you, if you provide proof that the client is only retaliating and that his “assessment of your qualification” has no factual reasons.

You know the quality of your work and have proven this time and again. So just don't let this incident drag you down.icon_wink.gif


 

Thomas Kim  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 15:09
Member (2004)
Korean to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I am actually very much scared... Jul 26, 2015

  1. I wrote to him that if the quality of my translation so bad as you said, how about if we bring this matter to the public opinion?

  2. To this, he wrote to me that his 3 other Korean Patent translators all confirmed that the quality of my translation is "bad." Since his 3 other Korean Patent translators already confirmed it, it does not need to bring it to get public opinion.

  3. To this, I wrote to him. If you do not make full-payment, I will regard it as breach of contract on your side, which enables me to take advantage of my own translation. Then he wrote to me NDA reminding message as below


Hi Thomas,

You have signed two separate agreements with our company, both attached here:

1. Non-Disclosure Agreement
2. Master Services Agreement

We have merely suggested, and not executed thereon, a discounted payment in good faith on your part due to the quality issues arising from your translation. In your response, you have been very defensive and unprofessional.

ZZZZZ has not breached any agreement, yet you are threatening breach of the “Non-Disclosure Agreement”. The anticipated, and yet misunderstood, breach of an agreement does not permit you to breach that particular agreement, nor any other separate agreement, that is in force.

You have made threatening statements and have also shown intent to violate your “Non-Disclosure Agreement”, when our position has simply been to assert a payment discount due to the quality problems that have arisen from your patent translation. I suggest that you seek to be more reasonable and professional in your communication with any and all employees of our company.

Kind Regards,

What I actually worry about is ... if I bring this matter to the public, I could possibly lose my other existing clients too.
Who would give me job, if I make conflict with another vendor?
As you read in the above message, he changed his words.... He has been constantly and consistently accusing me of "poor quality," Now he is saying he simply "suggested me the reduction."


 

Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:09
Dutch to English
+ ...
Ask for the changes Jul 26, 2015

made by editor 1, 2 and 3 (why you need three editors and not only one, is beyond me... The translation will only get worse, IMO). Then when you have those, point out mistakes and errors from the reviewer (especially those), useless changes etc. If your genuine errors (typos, wrong translations, missing words etc.) were below 1/1000 words, that is acceptable. Also point out why the patent was rejected. If they didn't tell you the translation was to be a 'ready' translation (as if written by a patent lawyer), tell them you can't be blamed for this. I suppose you don't claim to be a patent attorney on your CV right? And otherwise you might not have taken on the job.
Maybe if you want to learn something more, ask your other client for one of your edited translations from that patent attorney, see what they changed and then compare that to your allegedly 'bad quality' translation. Chances are your first client (or the end client) is just trying to get a discount out of you. It's easy to wield the 'bad quality' stick, but it isn't easy to wield it in a credible way.

That's what I always do. Has only earnt me praise, although it might take a few hours sometimes.


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:09
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Also Jul 26, 2015

Kirsten Bodart wrote:

made by editor 1, 2 and 3 (why you need three editors and not only one, is beyond me... The translation will only get worse, IMO). Then when you have those, point out mistakes and errors from the reviewer (especially those), useless changes etc. If your genuine errors (typos, wrong translations, missing words etc.) were below 1/1000 words, that is acceptable. Also point out why the patent was rejected. If they didn't tell you the translation was to be a 'ready' translation (as if written by a patent lawyer), tell them you can't be blamed for this. I suppose you don't claim to be a patent attorney on your CV right? And otherwise you might not have taken on the job.
Maybe if you want to learn something more, ask your other client for one of your edited translations from that patent attorney, see what they changed and then compare that to your allegedly 'bad quality' translation. Chances are your first client (or the end client) is just trying to get a discount out of you. It's easy to wield the 'bad quality' stick, but it isn't easy to wield it in a credible way.

That's what I always do. Has only earnt me praise, although it might take a few hours sometimes.


I fully agree with Kirsten. Additionally, you might want to ask him about your right to make the appropriate corrections. If he is unsatisfied with your work, then he should have returned the translation to you, asking you to make the necessary corrections. If I'm not mistaken, you have not mentioned that he has returned the translation to you but instead wasted money (if he then pays) on, what we call "too many chiefs and not enough Indians", such a large number of reviewers. In case there is a problem with one of my translations, my clients send it back to me asking me to correct it. This is the proper procedure.

I'm not aware of the laws in your country, Thomas, but here in Europe a service provider is entitled to correct whatever is incorrect and/or not to the customer's liking. Your client has skipped this free service altogether and has hired way too many editors at his own expense...which he seems to be trying to deduct from your payment now.

Since he placed such emphasis on the NDA and the Agreement, I'm wondering if it has ever crossed his mind to turn to you first with his complaints. Non- or only partial payment without proving the proper proof in order to make the deduction legit is IMO also a breach of contract.


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:09
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I agree with Kirsten Jul 26, 2015

Yes, it seems extraordinary in the circumstances that the client apparently did not send you the "edited" version of your allegedly poor translation so that you could see what was considered wrong and make changes if you agreed.
Without that evidence, the dispute is simply the agency's word against yours.
If I were you, I'd ask to see the edited or final document.
Best of luck.


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Fair hearing Jul 26, 2015

It's not any different from a court hearing, except that there is no formal setup.

If you are denied full payment, you are entitled to a fair hearing, which basically comes down to track changes and corresponding comments about why this or that part of the translation is unacceptable.

When I edit other translators' work, I never make a change without briefly pointing out in a comment the reason. If someone spent time producing the translation, I feel I have no right here to slash it without explaining why. That simple.

I am puzzled how our fellow translator can judge upon the OP's or the agency's general opinions, without having any tangible material at hand (and withour speaking Korean) who is right.

One thing is clear; if the agency does not produce track changes with comments, they have no right to withhold the payment, as the burden of proof is on their side.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:09
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
He tried to bully you into submission Jul 26, 2015

Thomas Kim wrote:
As you read in the above message, he changed his words.... He has been constantly and consistently accusing me of "poor quality," Now he is saying he simply "suggested me the reduction."

It was he who raised these issues. If he cannot supply specific, incontrovertible evidence regarding the alleged problems in your translation he should never have started this conversation.

If your version of events is correct, it sounds as if he is backing off because he has realised that you're not going to cave in to unreasonable demands based on unsubstantiated allegations.

I advocate a calm and professional approach to complaints from a client. However, if your description of these events is accurate - and while we're on the subject of full disclosure I still don't understand why you didn't reject the job when you realised that no patent attorney was involved - this client has stepped well over the line.

Bullying, manipulative and disrespectful behaviour of this kind should not be overlooked. I would demand a full apology.

Regards
Dan


 

Álvaro Espantaleón Moreno  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:09
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
He could be right, but should provide evidence Jul 26, 2015

I think that translating 14,500 words in 4 days may lead to quality issues. However, he is probably lying about having used 6 proofreaders.

 

Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 08:09
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
If there were Jul 26, 2015

Alvaro Espantaleon wrote:

I think that translating 14,500 words in 4 days may lead to quality issues. However, he is probably lying about having used 6 proofreaders.


any quality issues, the client would not be ready to make a full payment.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
So? Jul 26, 2015

Thomas Kim wrote:

.....he wrote me as below;

I have requested of our accounting team to send payment in full-payment as shown on your invoice. Payment shall be sent on July 24, 2015, MST time zone.

.......



So you got paid. What's the problem?


 
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