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Poll: Have you ever received a complaint about the quality of your work from a client?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 19:11
SITE STAFF
Oct 12

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever received a complaint about the quality of your work from a client?".

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 03:11
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, once Oct 12

That's why I took the decision some 20 years ago of using the services of a professional proofreader... It really was the best decision I ever made!

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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 04:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Had work read by an independent proofreader Oct 12

I was so taken aback by the challenges over the quality of work I had delivered to an agency that I decided to double check, in case I really was producing unacceptable quality and just wasn't "getting" it. So I found an independent - ie anonymous - proofreader via another agency whose quality control system had always impressed me.

The response was extremely reassuring, and worth the money I spent on it.

I didn't bother to challenge the agency's less than professional attitude, which had been to accept the client's criticism - clearly outrageous and not from a native English speaker - and not use a quality proof reader themselves. I had worked through the Christmas holidays and not only lost a customer but also didn't get paid, but there is actually quite a degree of satisfaction to be derived from looking at the shoddy translations in sometimes no more than broken English that continue to appear on the otherwise impressive webpage of the client.

I also no longer buy their wine...


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:11
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No quality complaints, only occasional minor fix/improve requests Oct 12

I don't recall ever having a client complaining that my work lacked quality.

If there is a chance of such event, I intercept the entire process at the outset by declining the job offered.

Now and then I client asks me to fix a typo that eluded all checks, or to change some wording they don't like, which I always do in a couple of hours, never more than that.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes, of course Oct 12

You can't go 25 years without someone complaining.

Oddly, the ones who complain are always the ones who don't have any grounds to do so (generally Swedes who think they can English better than I can), whereas the ones who spot the occasional glaring error (you know, full-on howlers like a missing "not" in "We are declaring war on North Korea") just point it out reasonably. After all, it's not like you've pressed the nuclear button by mistake. Oh...


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 04:11
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The art is to convert complainers into satisfied clients Oct 12

Luckily I learnt that when I started in-house and was in the same office as the senior translator who dealt with all complaints about English from the agency.
He kept statistics, talked to clients on the phone, and in the vast majority of cases found solutions that everyone was happy with.

Very often, as Chris S. mentions, clients thought they 'could English' better than qualified natives. They were given an explanation of why in fact the translator had written correct English, using the right terminology, and generally done what they were paid for. Clients were reassured, and often pleased to know their texts were in good hands.

Other times, the translation was correct, but the client was not entirely happy... and my colleague found a synonym, a way of rephrasing a sentence, and the client was pleased in the end.

Of course we made mistakes occasionally. But he sorted them diplomatically, and I have tried to do the same whenever I have faced complaints over my work or other people's.
It is not always important to place the blame, but it IS important to find a solution that the client will accept, and then to try to prevent the problem arising again.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 12:11
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Quite, true Oct 12

Chris S wrote:

You can't go 25 years without someone complaining.

Oddly, the ones who complain are always ...


In my case, 32 years.
And, the ones who complain are always the ones who have been on a 6-month intensive English course in Oregon. And, it's always Oregon for some bloody reason!

Japanese is such a vague language that often you have to infer subjects, objects, causal relationships, etc., etc., etc. in the source translation you are working on - even in technical documents. I've reached the point where I can spot major problems in the Japanese that even Japanese would find incomprehensible. The nature of the language is such that it is open to misinterpretation which does happen from time to time. However, this does work to my advantage since the same applies to the Japanese, thankfully.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:11
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
That’s life Oct 12

Julian Holmes wrote:

Chris S wrote:

You can't go 25 years without someone complaining.

Oddly, the ones who complain are always ...


In my case, 32 years.
And, the ones who complain are always the ones who have been on a 6-month intensive English course in Oregon. And, it's always Oregon for some bloody reason!


My experience also is that for every legitimate complaint, there are at least two or three illegitimate ones from people who don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

I trust that these confessional entries will discourage claims of perfection on the part of translators who have worked for more than a few months.


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Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 03:11
Dutch to English
+ ...
Porkies Oct 12

30% never had a complaint? Or is it rather a misunderstanding of the word 'complain'?


I had one this week, from a client obviously more critical of the translation than what they gave me to work on. The agency's feedback:
'The client finds this too passive (in the source text it's the same by the way). Can you make it more active?'

Like wtaf?

[Edited at 2017-10-12 14:39 GMT]


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:11
Member (2008)
English to Italian
twice Oct 12

At the beginning of my experience as a translator, I received a complaint twice, and in both cases it was my fault.
I had taken out of my fields o expertise, thinking that I could do it.
Lesson learned.


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Vi Pukite  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:11
Member (2009)
Latvian to English
+ ...
Chris S wrote: You can't go 25 years without someone complaining.... Oct 12

like the client who complained I hadn't followed the glossary, when no glossary was provided with the initial file and the agency assured me none was needed or forthcoming. Ho hum.

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R-i-c-h-a-r-d  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:11
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Naturally, people complain. Oct 12

If you've never had a complaint then you must be wearing a golden shroud or something. It's uncommon, but it happens to all of us.

My pet peeve is late or delayed payments. Customers always require work ASAP under strict deadline, but some of them pay when they seem to feel like it. You learn to weed these customers out over the years, and others simply like to be chased - it's part of the game, but it's my pet struggle/peeve in my life as a freelance translator. Treat us with the same respect we treat you, please.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:11
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not very often Oct 13

I've had problems with my vision and occasionally I've been called on mis-copying material from a PDF. For that reason, I try to avoid PDFs if at all possible. Once an agency wanted to know why I didn't translate the name of a street and a serial number with some letters in it.

I don't work with agencies very much and my international organization clients consider me "self-revising," so my work is not always reviewed. That's not to say that things haven't slipped through. In fact I received a question about a sentence last week. The reviewer and I had two different readings of a sentence; we ended up with yet a third interpretation.


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:11
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A few times Oct 13

In my early days as a professional, of course. I made a few mistakes and had an insufficient notion of style and quality. As our friend mentioned below, lots of lessons learned.

Then I have received other complaints about quality in these 30 years, yes. Coincidently enough they were ALL attempts to obtain discounts, but I always provided counterarguments and made it clear that this kind of trick is dirty and does not work with me (in a nice way, of course). So I never received a cent less than the agreed price because of such complaints. The trick only works when the translator is too modest or prefers not to conterargue.


[Edited at 2017-10-13 04:04 GMT]


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Egmont Schröder  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:11
Member (2013)
Chinese to German
+ ...
It is unavoidable Oct 13

You will always have some picky customers, so I am surprised that 30% voted for no.

I didn't get any major complaints for a long time, but at the beginning of my career I translated in fields that I am not specialised in, the complaints werde justified and I lost some good customers. Lesson learned.

The last complaint I received was about a translation where I copied parts of the reference material the cutsomer gave me, the source text was the same. Later on the customer complained that I didn't translate product names in an accurate way, but the complaint could be settled through a third party editor.


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