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Payment for completely unsatisfactory translation
Thread poster: Anna Kiff

Anna Kiff  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:11
French to English
+ ...
Oct 11, 2006


I recently gave a job to a translator through Proz (someone who claimed to have a great deal of very interesting and relevant experience), and the work returned to me is of extremely poor quality, full of the most basic errors, including omissions, repetitions, mistranslations and (to my horror) lots and lots of spelling mistakes!!!

I have had to completely revise the entire document and it has taken me so much longer than expected that I'm now running behind with all my other jobs.

What can be done in this case? Is it acceptable to deduct some of the excessive extra proofreading/revision time from the translator's invoice?

If so, how much? (It took me far over twice as long as expected to proofread.)

I'd be grateful for any useful advice on this matter.

Thanks a lot



Alicia Casal  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:11
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
What I would do Oct 11, 2006

i would contact the translator and politely explain the situation.

As regards the deduction: your proofreading rate approx.

Hope it helps.


You know, it happens sometimes.
It happened to me last week. An excellent translator sent me a very poor job. I was shocked as her translations are excellent. I sent the translation back for her to do it again.

She was just exhausted.

Then she sent me an extraordinary translation.


Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:11
Member (2002)
English to German
Pay and leave Oct 11, 2006

Here is what I do in such a situation:

I pay the translator in full and never use him/her again.
Everything else is an additional waste of time and energy.



Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
My opinion Oct 11, 2006

Contact the person, send proof of corrections and clearly tell him/her that you need to deduce your extra work from the due amount,

I think he/she will understand and accept, if you send proof of corrections.

Good luckicon_smile.gif


[Edited at 2006-10-11 22:01]


mónica alfonso  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:11
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with Andy Oct 11, 2006

Just pay the translator and forget.


PRen (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:11
French to English
+ ...
Deduct your time Oct 11, 2006

I would definitely deduct my time, at an hourly rate, and inform the translator of the deduction, providing a copy of the changes and a summary of the types of errors made (spelling, mistranslation, and so on).

If he or she then complains on this or another forum, be prepared to respond and disclose the mistakes made.

I completely disagree with paying the translator and then not using him or her again. There are far too many instances of this, and these people should be actively discouraged from pursuing translation when they are clearly incompetent.

My two cents.



Serdar Oncu  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:11
English to Turkish
+ ...
Pay and Forget Oct 11, 2006

I am also agree with Andy.

You can think of it as a kind of investment in HR.

Good luck for the next time:)




Manuel Rossetti (X)
Local time: 11:11
payment for unsatisfactory translation Oct 11, 2006

were all matters cleared prior to commencing the project?

was there adequate time for the project to be done?

It seemed that this project took you alot longer than expected. The same thing probably happened to the translator.

A contract is a contract.

I would pay the translator and so be it. It did take time and effort out of the translator even if it was sloppy. Perhaps to that translator it wasnt sloppy, it was to the best of their level. Freelance in my opinion should not be any different than a non- freelance job. you come to work, you're on the clock, and if one day the worker chats more than works, they're still legally bound to be paid, even if production is less or it's not great in comparison to other days.

It's up to the translator agency or outsourcer to make sure they get a good translator and not the cheapest or number 50 out of 200 or whatever dime a dozen way there is , then to be like, oh well, i'm not paying them.
(I'm not saying you've done this, but many do)

If the client doesnt pay the agency or outsource as a result of the translator, and the translator doesnt get paid, well- in my opinion, serves them right.

there are too many professional translators who have worked hard and dedicated themselves and need an honest wage that should be invested by agencies or outsourcers and instead, other priorities (cheap wage or money factors) is what is considered, if considered.


Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:11
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Learn the lesson, pay the translator and give feedback Oct 12, 2006

Hello Anna

If you pay without saying anything, the translator will think (or might think) that he(she) did a fantastic job and you were happy.

If you don't pay the agreed amount, you might have to give explanations (not only to him, imagine that he posts in the Blue Board a comment saying that you didn't want to pay 100%, you will have to justify and will feel like justifying yourself).

I suggest

1) to learn the lesson: a short sample test can be very helpful. I have already posted jobs with a short sample and received machine translations, for the sample!

2) pay the translator, consider it the price of the lesson you learnt.

3) when paying the translator, send the proofread file (tracking changes is the best). It's not necessary to explain anything, but you can say how many proofreading hours it took. It is very important. You might be helping the translator to understand a problem he's not aware of. Without this feedback, 1) and 2) aren't complete. Everybody must learn from this experience.

Good luck



Andy Watkinson
Local time: 12:11
Catalan to English
+ ...
A tad naive, I'm afraid Oct 12, 2006

Hi Claudia,

For once, Claudia, I must disagree. I find this "Angelito" approach quite surreal:

Claudia:"You might be helping the translator to understand a problem he's not aware of."

Poor thing.

He didn't realise that...."the work returned to {her} is of extremely poor quality, full of the most basic errors, including omissions, repetitions, mistranslations and (to my horror) lots and lots of spelling mistakes!!!"

If he's "peddling himself" as a translator and is unaware of the fact that sloppy, poor quality work full of omissions, repetitions etc. is totally unacceptable..... he doesn't need "help" (sic)...He wants shooting.



Ivana UK  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:11
Member (2005)
Italian to English
Same thing happened to me - but with an agency, Oct 12, 2006

not a freelancer!!

In my case the agency contravened all 4 points on my PO:

- the translation wasn't carried out by a native EN translato
- they didn't use trados and therefore couldn't send the unclean file (which I had requested)
- they returned the translation 3 days late, missed the deadline and didn't even notify me (I had to send various emails to see what was happenning).
- the translation was carried out by more than one translator

I asked them to do the translation again as the standard was completely unacceptable and it was returned to me in a similar (though slightly improved) state to the first effort - full of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, literal translations, omissions, missing punctuation, untranslated words (including a 600-word section) ...

And of course the translator simply had no idea of how to translate the technical terms ...

I advised the agency that the translation was inadequate and that I would have to make deductions for the time taken to re-translate the document using trados and promptly received an invoice for the full amount!!

I'm sorry to gatecrash your post - I was planning on starting a new post but as the topic is so similar ...

Does anyone have any idea of the legalities here? What happens if I don't pay the agency on the basis of their non-compliance to the PO? (The agency is US based whereas I am based in the UK).

Many thanks in advance,



Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:11
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
So I'm not the only one... Oct 12, 2006

Claudia Iglesias wrote:

...a short sample test can be very helpful. I have already posted jobs with a short sample and received machine translations, for the sample!

I also received a copule of sample translations done with free MT software. It boggles the mind, and goes a long way towards explaining the poor esteem often accorded to our profession.

[Edited at 2006-10-12 04:45]


Local time: 12:11
French to Dutch
+ ...
This happens Oct 12, 2006

Carefully test your translators before giving them a full translation: a short test, a small translation, a bigger one, etc. Test his translator's capacities and his compliance to your structure and deadlines. This should be a lesson. I agree with Andy, I would just pay him in full and forget him, but with my payment I would sent some comments.

Some people never will understand what a translation is about and think that work on internet = easy money. I have to proofread translations for which my 12-year old son should have done better.


Giulia TAPPI  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:11
French to Italian
+ ...
I had the same experience Oct 12, 2006

and it turned out to be an interpreter, who had translated the text in the night, because she was busy interpreting in the daytime!!
Now, I state very clearly my conditions: I tell the translator I give her/him 50% of the price in case I have to review the text , and more if it is almost perfect.
But of course, in addition, I never work with such people again!


Irene N
United States
Local time: 05:11
English to Russian
+ ...
I'm puzzled Oct 12, 2006

Giulia TAPPI wrote:

I tell the translator I give her/him 50% of the price in case I have to review the text , and more if it is almost perfect.

You hire a colleague for half a price and expect something "almost perfect"?

How would you know that it is almost perfect without reviewing it? Or did you mean "editing"? How much is "more"?... Oh, well, just curious.

What is mind-boggling to me is how people, both individual and agencies, give or accept work based just on resumes or Proz bids/quotes?!?!? In my world I live strictly by the word of mouth and only after the recommendation of someone known to me personally, be it an outsourcer or a colleague, I would proceed in any direction. At least, when a serious volume and a close deadline are involved.

Certain exceptions can be made based on a long and impressive history of Kudoz answers on a subject, or a truly overwhelming resume backed by materials included in published websites, and/or equally concrete proof.

Closer to the subject - to cut your losses could be a wrong but definitely the easiest way out. Just a paid lesson learned.


[Edited at 2006-10-12 07:57]

[Edited at 2006-10-12 08:06]

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