Poll: When clients suggest wrong changes to my translation I...
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 11:55
SITE STAFF
Jun 26, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "When clients suggest wrong changes to my translation I...".

This poll was originally submitted by Vladimir Kukharenko

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:55
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
Other Jun 26, 2009

I may opt for any of the options in the poll, depending on the customer, project and changes requested.

[Modifié le 2009-06-26 21:18 GMT]


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:55
Combination of warning them and implementing those changes Jun 27, 2009

I voted for other, since I first warn them, but from my experience, they never listen, so I just implement those changes even though I know that the client is wrong. This tactic avoids further trouble.

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Christina Paiva  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:55
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Other Jun 27, 2009

It's the other way around. I've been working with 3 or 4 companies for more than 8 years and from the very beginning I decided this would be my MO:
if I have questions regarding technical issues or if the meaning was rendered appropriately, I'll email them or send them the finished translation and ask them to verify my queries and then send the document back to me. This doesn't happen too often, given the jobs are in my field of knowledge But I also learned a lot!

Once a very important document in English, written by a non-native, had a paragraph that stated the oposite meaning... It took a couple of days to get him/her to correct it

The truth is I'm very lucky to have such great clients


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 19:55
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Jun 27, 2009

Let me share with you a small experience of mine: some 20 years ago, a client asked me to change my translation for something completely wrong (for the Portuguese-speaking: “não hesite em” by “não exite em” (???!!!). To avoid long discussions with a good client, I decided to submit my translation and the change proposed to an independent reviewer and act accordingly to his/hers decision. The client was “forced” to accept our arguments… Problem solved!

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xxxAWa
Local time: 20:55
English to German
+ ...
Other Jun 27, 2009

There's one crucial answer missing:

I talk the changes over with the client and we work out a solution.

Working for direct clients I make a point of collecting questions arising during the translation and send them to the client. When I receive the answers I complete the translation with the information given. If the client has questions about the translation after delivery we disuss the term or phrase and possible translations and agree on the suitable one in this particular context.

This way the clients see that I take their concerns seriously, am aware that when it comes to techical terms in their field they know better than I do which term they se with their customers/parnters while during the discussion of general terms I can use my expertise to explain the difference between the suggested translations. This way we both learn in the process.

Of course this approach only works if both parties involved see each other as partners working towards a common goal.


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Abdelmonem Samir  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:55
Member (2006)
English to Arabic
+ ...
I talk them out of it Jun 27, 2009

I try to persuade the client to the best of my abilities that the changes are wrong, but in the end "it is their business .. their decision".


To Arabic speakers: اربط الحمار مطرح ما يقول صاحبه
(something similar to "the client is always right" )


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jun 27, 2009

I agree with Sophie and AWa on this poll.
Anyway, I think this type of thing has only happened to me maybe once or twice in the past 15 years and I usually try to get them to see sense...
At the end of the day though, they do say that "the customer is always right" ... ha ha


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:55
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Other Jun 27, 2009

Depending on what type of text it is, I decide what to say and take a discussion with the client. (unless it's a typo or something like that...)

I picked up some good methods from a colleague when I worked in house. He was responsible for dealing with practically all complaints to the agency involving English. He said well over 95% of them were not actually justified - and he had the nicest way of telling the client why!
At the end of the day you want to leave the client thinking "This translator /agency really takes me seriously" - so that they come back next time.

The art is to make them feel that 'the client is always right' but to get your own way when it really matters

If I am certain I am right, usually about a technical or legal term, I prepare a diplomatic explanation, understanding why the client thinks... etc. and what the subtle difference is. I hold my ground and insist on my translation. It usually works, but the client does not lose face, and comes back next time.
It's worth the effort!

Most discussions are about websites and marketing or 'localisation' etc. where things can be said in several ways.
I offer an alternative and an explanation, and usually end up with a highly satisfied client, whether we keep the original translation or not. It's their text, after all...

The first 'complaint' I ever had was like that. I was terrified of having to talk to the client, but he said:
"Actually, it's a very good translation, but it sounds like our competitors, not us. May I make a few suggestions?"
He taught me a lot!

Sometimes I have to admit the client is actually right!
Here too, I apologise for my mistake, prepare my case for the defence, humbly admit that they are the experts and I am not, and ask them to explain, so that I know for another time.
This has got me some good terminology lists and I have learnt a lot along the way.

It has also taught me that there are many subject areas I simply do not mess with. If I am not confident about a text, or about finding good backup from the client or elsewhere, I say sorry, it's beyond my scope.

Happy translating!


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Volodymyr Kukharenko
Ukraine
Local time: 21:55
Member (2009)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
indeed, but... Jun 27, 2009

AWa wrote:

There's one crucial answer missing:

I talk the changes over with the client and we work out a solution.




You are right, but my original question suggested in this poll was a bit different and sounded like "If the customer insists on obviously wrong translation", and the suggested situation did not allow such an option. But probably the question was too long and was shortened.


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Leanne Young  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:55
Italian to English
Interesting question - and relevant. Jun 27, 2009

This is a relevant question - given events over the last few days. I had no end of trouble with a seemingly straightforward marketing translation and lots of queries from the client (an agency) who generally wanted a more literal approach that made the translation read more like a product specification. I generally am not a very patient person and found that I lost my cool on this one. So, the lesson learned is that it is only partially about the quality of the work you provide and much more about the way you deal with agency queries. I just wish more of them employed native speakers to proofread and then these problems would not arise. But what do you do when you spend more time explainng why you have translated in a certain way (without being paid for this) than the actual translation time.
Vladimir Kukharenko wrote:

AWa wrote:

There's one crucial answer missing:

I talk the changes over with the client and we work out a solution.




You are right, but my original question suggested in this poll was a bit different and sounded like "If the customer insists on obviously wrong translation", and the suggested situation did not allow such an option. But probably the question was too long and was shortened.


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Oliver Lawrence  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:55
Partial member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
Other Jun 27, 2009

I point out the reasons why their suggestion is not suitable; if they accept that then we go with my version, but if they insist regardless then I implement what they want, making clear my reservations. This is after all a business, and risking driving paying customers away by getting indignant about linguistic purity is not really in my interest. If the customer refuses to understand the nature of the situation, then as a freelancer I can always decline to work with them in the future.

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Volodymyr Kukharenko
Ukraine
Local time: 21:55
Member (2009)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Sounds really familiar... Jun 27, 2009

Leanne Young wrote:

I just wish more of them employed native speakers to proofread and then these problems would not arise.




Problems like the one mentioned in this poll often appear when the translation is checked by the people who do not speak a word in the translated language, but use a bunch of automated tools and then ask dozens of rudiculous questions. E.g. in Ukrainian they may highlight hundreds of words and ask "why the term is translated inconsistently?", and I have to answer politely to each of them that "this is the same word, but in Ukrainian the endings of words vary all the time"...

Both customer's reviewer and me are just wasting time this way...

[Edited at 2009-06-27 19:03 GMT]


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María Eugenia Wachtendorff  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 16:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Experience dictates... Jun 27, 2009

Christine Andersen wrote:

Depending on what type of text it is, I decide what to say and take a discussion with the client. (unless it's a typo or something like that...)

The art is to make them feel that 'the client is always right' but to get your own way when it really matters

This has got me some good terminology lists and I have learnt a lot along the way.

It has also taught me that there are many subject areas I simply do not mess with. If I am not confident about a text, or about finding good backup from the client or elsewhere, I say sorry, it's beyond my scope.

Happy translating!



Christine, you've said it all. I guess every experienced translator will agree with you

Good luck and a nice weekend to everybody!


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