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Poll: Have you ever felt that your client's negative feedback about your work was unjustified?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 16:20
SITE STAFF
Mar 20, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever felt that your client's negative feedback about your work was unjustified?".

This poll was originally submitted by H Blair. View the poll results »



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Vera Schoen  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 01:20
Member (2008)
German to Swedish
+ ...
Three times (I think) Mar 20, 2015

Yes, I think three times in the 10 years I’ve been translating. On all three occasions I politely made it clear that I do not take such things lightly since they may ruin my reputation. On all three occasions my translations were then reviewed by an independent DE-SWE translator who found nothing to complain about.
So if something like that happens, don’t just accept it. Be polite but firm.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Holier than thou Mar 20, 2015

So far, 17% have never had any negative feedback. Yeah, right.

I've done the odd job that customers have absolutely hated - through no fault of my own, natch. In fact, where was the "always" option?!


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Vera Schoen  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 01:20
Member (2008)
German to Swedish
+ ...
Not quite Mar 20, 2015

The question was about unjustified negative feedback, not quite the same as plain negative feedback...
If the (end) client for some reason is unhappy with my work, we sort it out. Negative feedback can be so many things: style, corporate jargon, etc., etc. That is always fixable.


[Edited at 2015-03-20 09:08 GMT]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:20
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
No translator's notes? Mar 20, 2015

I once translated an article, through an agency, for the 'Guardian', with a few translator's notes when I thought something required explanation. The PO was furious and very rude. I ought to know that no news bureau would want that! I had just finished working for six months in the BBC Monitoring News Bureau, which welcomed such notes. I told her I would not work for that agency again. I was pleased to see that the agency went bankrupt a few months later, and that it had paid me for the last job before doing so!

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Once or twice Mar 20, 2015

I recall one time the Spanish client of a translator colleague who had outsourced some work to me complained that I'd used "contamination" and "pollution" as synonyms in a text about environmental pollution of waterways. They also insisted upon some other similarly pointless vocabulary tweaking.

I don't recall any unjustified criticism from my own clients. In fact, I don't remember the last time anyone was dissatisfied wth my work. Nowadays, I'm more likely to get brickbats or veiled putdowns from the vigilante squad for posting seemingly facile questions on kudoz...


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 01:20
German to English
+ ...
No Mar 20, 2015

I have to my memory only had one case of negative feedback and unfortunately it was justified!

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:20
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
A few times Mar 20, 2015

Once a client commented on my allegedly "bad" translation based on their proofreader's feedback. Turned out that the proofer was just overeagerly and marked perfectly correct words, even entire sentences, as mistakes just to replace them with... my exact translation.

A couple of times I received feedback without any specific details as to the complaint. That isn't fair, but I guess such is the life of a freelancer. Fortunately, these events make out only a tiny percentage of the feedback I receive.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:20
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Four times Mar 20, 2015

In 30 years I have to my memory (do I have a selective memory?!) only had four cases of negative feedback, fortunately for me all unjustified…

Case 1: Client’s proof-reader was… Spanish
Case 2 and 4: I justified profusely all my choices and the client understood that the proof-reader had been “over-zealous”
Case 3: Client’s proof-reader was … Brazilian

I have been translating since 2007 from English into European Portuguese articles published by “The Economist” and “The Guardian” for a Portuguese weekly newspaper (“Expresso”) and a monthly magazine (“Courrier Internacional”). These translations are obviously revised by a journalist. Never had a negative feedback but quite often when I read the finished product I have to admit they are always right…


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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 01:20
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
breakfast Mar 20, 2015

Client can do whatever he wants. They can send ANY text and they think our breakfast is a boiled dictionary with mash glossary potato. I love mostly when a Hungarian writes a very long and complicated sentence and if we split it for a few different ones, they begin to ask why. Sometimes I correct the grammar in the original text (I did it just yesterday because I knew the text I am translating will be printed. When I sent back, the secretary told me her grammar is excellent...pfff). the most common sentence " I could translate it myself but I have no time" "just put your stamp on it" "you just translating and your work require no investment" (!!!)
Usually unjustified feedback received (I had 4 or 5 cases) because the client initially decided he will not pay. Once I put a BB entry for the late payer (it was 4) and he immediately sent his complaints 2 months after.
I had in ten years 1 complaint in total (it was a translation of a degree certificate, which usually a quite simple task for a translation office from Hungarian to Spanish) where the negative feedback was totally rightful and I felt myself obliged to pay back the amount plus compensation. There were two typos left.

To give a guarantee is quite simple: my company seat is my flat so the client can come back any time and punch me in the face.

[Módosítva: 2015-03-20 11:46 GMT]

[Módosítva: 2015-03-20 11:47 GMT]


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Mob rules Mar 20, 2015

Erzsébet Czopyk wrote:

the client can come back any time and punch me in the face.


Just make sure you punch them back harder!


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 08:20
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Checking Japanese Mar 20, 2015

is such a dangerous game and prone to negative feedback from those who don't really understand the language.

Most often

- subjects are left out
- objects are left out
- there are no pointers as to singular/plural
- terms can be translated in different ways depending on context
- the source document contains typos because there are lots of homonyms

I've even found the above in big semiconductor documents where the technology is supposed to be clear cut. Coupled with the fact that we are all human and prone to mistakes, you are literally walking on thin ice when translating Japanese.
However, so saying, it's comforting that Japanese authors make mistakes because it's then hard for them to criticize the translator when the original Japanese is riddled with mistakes. A lot of the time, I feel as if I'm turning a sow's ear into a silk purse.

Such is the frailty of human nature and the ambiguity of the Japanese language that negative criticism is more likely to occur.

Added to last line

[Edited at 2015-03-21 02:06 GMT]


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Anthony Baldwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:20
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Once Mar 20, 2015

Once, I had a text returned to me, marked up (track changes) by an "editor".
I went through and refuted every single marked "error", giving sources for why my initial work was correct.
The "editor" was clearly not even a native English speaker (I am, and a certified teacher of the language, etc.).
I continue to work for that client to this day (in fact, do a lot of their editing now).

[Edited at 2015-03-20 12:48 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:20
Russian to English
+ ...
The problem, these days, is that very few companies Mar 20, 2015

can tell the quality of translation—they either do not know the source or the target language well enough to make any judgements. Then, they depend on some, often questionable, editors, who want to change almost everything so they feel like they worked to get paid.

I personally only had some problems twice—once, as I said before, the client did not believe that her husband was not talking about killing her, on the tape. And one more time, when the manager was obsessed with format, tired, because the deadline was at night, and paranoid that there might be something wrong with the quality, because there were three formatting issues, plus her English was not good enough to evaluate the translation. Yes, it is hard, especially with some editors who do not realize that they cannot change anybody's writing, or the style, because each translation is copy-righted, and they have to ask the translation for the permission to change anything.

[Edited at 2015-03-20 14:20 GMT]


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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:20
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
once or twice Mar 20, 2015

One was a translation i did on forestry and the end client was not happy because I did get some terms wrong. In that case, he was justified and I probably should have declined the job to begin with. It wasn't my major area of expertise.

In another case, I translated a newsletter for a charitable organization (through an agency). The writer seemed to see herself as being creative but, like most people wasn't a terribly good writer...in fact it was awful. The woman at the agency said the client hadn't been satisfied because i didn't "get" what she wrote and my style was wrong etc. However, she told me this woman was known to be 'difficult'. I said it was her writing that was difficult, to be honest. They probably should have gotten a native french translator for that job, anyways.

There were other times when i had to do minor revisions, but that's normal...


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