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Client wants a full refund
Thread poster: Cécile Gaultier

Cécile Gaultier  Identity Verified
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
Oct 8, 2016

I will try to make it short.
An author had her book on musicology translated (FR>EN) by a student she paid 250 EUR (yes, 250 EUR). When she realized it was awfully bad, she called me and asked if I could do something in 3 weeks and would pay me about 0.03 EUR per source word (but it had to be translated all over again, ... of course, which, in that short amount of time, was not feasible... so I asked a colleague of mine to help (a native), and I would be there for the final proofcheck (typos, spaces, etc). We did it!
It looked very good to me and the author paid the whole amount.
A few weeks later, she came back to me to say that critics were made about the translation, and she was in a very bad situation (conferences cancelled, editor refused to publish the translation of the book, etc.)
She sent an email today to say that she wants me (and my colleague) to refund a minimum of 1000 EUR.
I am not sure what to do...
I have to say I am upset and lost at the same time. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated!

Cécile


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xxxIlan Rubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:05
Russian to English
More info needed Oct 8, 2016

Cécile Gaultier wrote:

A few weeks later, she came back to me to say that critics were made about the translation



Ask for these criticisms in detail (in writing) and then go through them to identify whether the criticism is justified. Unless you know this you cannot decide what to do next. If it's justified try to understand whether you can fix it or not. If you think it's not justified then write a detailed response to the client explaining why. What you do should be based on what you think is right, not somebody else. If you are right then you should be able to explain why to the client.

Are you an expert in the field? I wouldn't dream of translating that area without expertise. I have translated 3 chess books as I have a serious chess background and I know that people without that background wouldn't be able to translate them even if they were perfectly bilingual in both Russian and English.


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Álvaro Espantaleón  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:05
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
+ ...
0.03! Oct 8, 2016

For a rush project!! And two translators!!!

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Anna Panas-Galloway
Poland
Local time: 02:05
Polish to English
+ ...
Ask Oct 8, 2016

I agree with Ilan. Ask what is wrong, why the book was rejected, and verify if the complaint is justified. If it's not, explain why. If there are actual mistakes, errors, or mistranslations, you should be given a chance to correct those (unless you agreed otherwise beforehand). Did you sign any contract with the client? Or did you agree any terms and conditions beforehand?

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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:05
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
What does your contract say... Oct 9, 2016

... about quality disputes, non liability if book is not published etc.?

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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 07:05
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Copyrights law Oct 9, 2016

Cécile Gaultier wrote:

A few weeks later, she came back to me to say that critics were made about the translation, and she was in a very bad situation (conferences cancelled, editor refused to publish the translation of the book, etc.)
She sent an email today to say that she wants me (and my colleague) to refund a minimum of 1000 EUR.
I am not sure what to do...
I have to say I am upset and lost at the same time. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated!
Cécile


Now I am keen with the translator rights protection under copyright laws of various country. Since you did an intellectual property job, you deserve fair and rush payments. Many clients now tend to pay less for intellectual property. This destroy the translation profession badly. If I were you, I quote protections under law to negotiate with the client strictly.

Soonthon L.


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:05
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...


Posted via
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I agree Oct 9, 2016

If I were you, I quote protections under law to negotiate with the client strictly.

Soonthon L.

Moreover complains have to be sent in 10-15 days.... not some weeks and you also need to know what was wrong with that translation.

[Edited at 2016-10-09 06:42 GMT]


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Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:05
Romanian to English
+ ...
Book or translation criticized? Oct 9, 2016

Cécile Gaultier wrote:
A few weeks later, she came back to me to say that critics were made about the translation, and she was in a very bad situation (conferences cancelled, editor refused to publish the translation of the book, etc.)


ILAN RUBIN wrote:
Ask for these criticisms in detail (in writing) and then go through them to identify whether the criticism is justified.


I agree with Ilan, you do need to see exactly what's going on. If the translation is as bad as the author claims, it shouldn't be difficult for them (e.g. editor) to give a few relevant examples of bad translation.

Perhaps she was more explicit, but from what you wrote above, I don't think it's unlikely that the book itself was criticized. It sounds strange that a conference would be cancelled because of a bad translation. If that were the case, Murakami should never be invited to Hungary, hehe.

Once I translated a study compiled by several authors. The client (the publishing house) hired an expert to edit it. The editing process was a real joy, the expert really responsive and thrilled with the translation itself, as he said so specifically several times. But after a while, he said the material was so poor from a professional point of view that he refused to have his name associated with it in any way. Even then, he added that he was not criticizing the translation itself, but the content of the material.

I'm not saying this is your case, too, but it very well may be.

You could check online about the reception of the book as published in the original language (is it published?). If it is heavily criticized, perhaps the foreign critics, too, were upset about the book and not the translation...


[Edited at 2016-10-09 06:58 GMT]


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:05
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Exactly Oct 9, 2016

Alvaro Espantaleon wrote:

0.03!

For a rush project!! And two translators!!!


It seems to me the author got what she paid for.

As a professional translator, you should have pointed out that:

a) her timescale was not feasible;
b) her budget would not allow her to receive high quality work;
c) editing services would be charged on top of the translation fees;
d) she should either extend her deadline or pay a rush fee on top of it all.


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xxxIlan Rubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:05
Russian to English
Why? Oct 9, 2016

Diana Coada wrote:

Alvaro Espantaleon wrote:

0.03!

For a rush project!! And two translators!!!


It seems to me the author got what she paid for.

As a professional translator, you should have pointed out that:

a) her timescale was not feasible;
b) her budget would not allow her to receive high quality work;
c) editing services would be charged on top of the translation fees;
d) she should either extend her deadline or pay a rush fee on top of it all.


I don't see what the price has to do with it. The price may be low but she agreed to do it and unless otherwise agreed in advance with the client the translation should be correct.



[Edited at 2016-10-09 11:12 GMT]


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Sandra& Kenneth  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 03:05
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Oh, boy... Oct 9, 2016

Two professionals (from France) translated a substantial scholarly book on musicology in three weeks for a total of 0.03/word ....

On top of which, she complains...



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Cécile Gaultier  Identity Verified
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Oct 9, 2016

Thank you all for your responses.
What is really frustrating is that she was perfectly fine with it in the first place and a musicology expert said it was really bad, which, she later confessed, was a little exaggerated. She asked a few people to review the work and they said it was very inconsistent, in terms of quality.
My point is the following. I did not do that translation. I had a native do it for me (which I informed the client in the first place, of course). I just reviewed it (extra spaces, layout, etc.).
Of course I agreed on 0.03 (she is a friend of an acquaintance of mine), but it was already a review of a google-translated work, basically (well... translated by a first year student for 250 euros...). The translator did her best I believe to make it sound English within the time and with the money offered.
I believe someone who really wants the translation of her book to be of top quality should have the budget and allocate the right amount of time for it... She knew that one third of the price and one third of the time could not amount to a perfect translation!!!
But now she wants some of her money back, to pay for the boxes of translated books which were printed and have to be thrown away.
What should my stand be?

Thank you everyone for your valuable help,

Cécile


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:05
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Ask for proof Oct 9, 2016

Cécile Gaultier wrote:

It looked very good to me and the author paid the whole amount.

Cécile


If the translation was good, then your client should provide solid proof for it being a "bad" translation. If she can't, then politely inform her that the deal is closed. You delivered your best work, she's paid, and end of story.

There is, of course, a chance that she had hired (if at all) one of those I must prove I'm the best proof-readers who is allergic to good/flawless translations. In this case, the proof should clarify the situation.

It's not rare that publishers change their minds about publishing a certain project. A good excuse is always that the translation doesn't meet their quality standards.


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Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:05
French to English
+ ...
FR>EN Oct 9, 2016

And are you saying that she asked you, a native speaker of French, to correct a translation into English?

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Cécile Gaultier  Identity Verified
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No.. Oct 9, 2016

Rachel Fell wrote:

And are you saying that she asked you, a native speaker of French, to correct a translation into English?


No, as mentioned earlier, the translation was handled by a native speaker of English. My task was to make sure there were no typos, no extra spaces, layout issues, missing parts, etc.


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