Agencies applying discounts for "incorrect" translations, legal?
Thread poster: Natascha Schmiedeberg

Natascha Schmiedeberg
Argentina
Local time: 17:17
Spanish to German
+ ...
Feb 1

Hello,

I am in this business for over 15 years, working mainly as a freelance translator, and I came upon this issue: working for an agency that indiscriminately applies discounts (almost 40%) to my finished work. The workflow looks like this: I send them the finished translation. After that, I receive feedback from an alleged internal "revisor" and they send me a DQF report with "errors". I discovered that some of the errors were not made by me at first. Since they use online memoQ
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Hello,

I am in this business for over 15 years, working mainly as a freelance translator, and I came upon this issue: working for an agency that indiscriminately applies discounts (almost 40%) to my finished work. The workflow looks like this: I send them the finished translation. After that, I receive feedback from an alleged internal "revisor" and they send me a DQF report with "errors". I discovered that some of the errors were not made by me at first. Since they use online memoQ, I was not able to recall the documents and check if I actually made the mistakes to show them the evidence (after repeated cases, I discovered a way to export the documents to keep a copy).

When I first started working for this agency based in Poland, they didn't have such a policy. I think they include this policy about 2 years ago. I will stop collaborating for this agency but I won't stand idly.

Not to mention that I had never worked in such terms and conditions and it's the first time that an agency applies a discount or complains about my finished work (in fact it's rather the opposite), I wonder if such a behaviour is legal and when and where should be reported if possible. If I don't take action I think there will be more and more agencies adopting this kind of questionable measurements.

I would appreciate any comments, suggestions or experiences regarding this matter.

Thank you!
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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:17
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Legal? Feb 1

I think so... they can do whatever they like. If you don't like it, stop working with them. Personally, I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole...

Fatine777
Philip Lees
Natascha Schmiedeberg
Jorge Payan
Hans-PH
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Borderline legal--illegal, IMO Feb 1

Natascha Schmiedeberg wrote:
I receive feedback from an alleged internal "revisor" and they send me a DQF report with "errors".

Sending that report makes it borderline legal, in my opinion as a non-lawyer. At least, it's a first step in that direction. But they're supposed to give you the chance to defend your choices. If you can't, then you'd be expected to offer a discount -- which has the same effect money-wise but is world's apart respect-wise.

I discovered that some of the errors were not made by me at first.


When I first started working for this agency based in Poland, they didn't have such a policy. I think they include this policy about 2 years ago.

If they insist on blaming you for errors that weren't yours, that makes the discount borderline illegal, I'd say.
And if you never had a chance to know about the changed terms, it's definitely your right to insist on the full rate for the job this time. I'm sure you aren't going to press for a next time, anyway.

It distresses me that so many freelance translators are willing to put up with these practices.


Teresa Borges
Angie Garbarino
Laura Kingdon
Yolanda Broad
Philip Lees
Morano El-Kholy
Natascha Schmiedeberg
 

Natascha Schmiedeberg
Argentina
Local time: 17:17
Spanish to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
So thankful Feb 2

Many thanks for your comments! I really appreciate that.

I can only agree with your opinions and I already stopped working for that agency. Due to legalistic loophole and lack of evidence, I don't think that I can initiate any legal actions against them. However, I'm thinking about reporting this in order to warn other freelancers working under such conditions. This behaviour must be definitely cut off at the root. If you have any recommendations regarding where to report this, just
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Many thanks for your comments! I really appreciate that.

I can only agree with your opinions and I already stopped working for that agency. Due to legalistic loophole and lack of evidence, I don't think that I can initiate any legal actions against them. However, I'm thinking about reporting this in order to warn other freelancers working under such conditions. This behaviour must be definitely cut off at the root. If you have any recommendations regarding where to report this, just let me know.


Thanks again for your help and I wish you all a great week!
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Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
Katarzyna Slowikova
 

Eleonora_P  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:17
Member (2012)
English to Italian
+ ...
My experience Feb 3

Hi Natascha,

last year I was contact by a Polish agency to sign their NDA.

I read it carefully (as I always do in these cases) and found out a clause about deductions due to translator's mistakes, very similar to the one you just pointed out.

To be honest, that was kind of discriminatory and vexatious, so after asking the PM for clarification, I was told this is something they rarely apply, but which can happen.

I also decided to contact other
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Hi Natascha,

last year I was contact by a Polish agency to sign their NDA.

I read it carefully (as I always do in these cases) and found out a clause about deductions due to translator's mistakes, very similar to the one you just pointed out.

To be honest, that was kind of discriminatory and vexatious, so after asking the PM for clarification, I was told this is something they rarely apply, but which can happen.

I also decided to contact other translators who worked for this agency by searching in the BB and many of them reported they had problems with this unfair system.

So I decided not to sign their NDA, because I know I would work under stress and with the constant fear of deductions. Definitely not for me!

Eleonora
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Katarzyna Slowikova
 

Katarzyna Slowikova  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:17
English to Czech
+ ...
Online shaming may work Feb 3

As already hinted by Sheila, it depends if this was in an agreement or other Terms and Cond. document that you received from them.
If it wasn't, I'd fight. Often just a threat to publicize their bad practises among translators makes wonders.
BB is a good starting point but there're more websites devoted to shaming bad apples like this.

40% is really a lot for a couple of mistakes (even if they were yours), for this rate I'd think the translation was a totally unusable pi
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As already hinted by Sheila, it depends if this was in an agreement or other Terms and Cond. document that you received from them.
If it wasn't, I'd fight. Often just a threat to publicize their bad practises among translators makes wonders.
BB is a good starting point but there're more websites devoted to shaming bad apples like this.

40% is really a lot for a couple of mistakes (even if they were yours), for this rate I'd think the translation was a totally unusable piece of crap. Knowing the usual rates of Polish agencies, this must hurt a lot...
Btw. I'm very curious which agency it was. I also work for Polish agencies every now and then but haven't encountered these kind of policies. Do they have a BB record? If so, is it bad? (I'm supposing you wouldn't be allowed to link to the BB record... you can try, if you want to risk).
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Natascha Schmiedeberg
Argentina
Local time: 17:17
Spanish to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agency rated 4.4 at BB - but doesn't look legit Feb 3

Hi Eleonora & Katarzyna! Thanks for your responses!


I also decided to contact other translators who worked for this agency by searching in the BB and many of them reported they had problems with this unfair system.


Regarding this, I looked for them in the BB and they have 4.6 points which are not bad. However, when looking at the ratings in detail, there is something a bit fishy about it because you see only 5 point ratings and suddenly 1 point ratings. Furthermore, since I haven't a PRO membership I am unable to see their comments in detail.


So I decided not to sign their NDA, because I know I would work under stress and with the constant fear of deductions. Definitely not for me!

You just made the right decision.


40% is really a lot for a couple of mistakes (even if they were yours), for this rate I'd think the translation was a totally unusable piece of crap. Knowing the usual rates of Polish agencies, this must hurt a lot...


I find this policy a bit extreme and the translation was definitely not a piece of crap. The revisor found 6 errors of which 3 were minor, the other major but one of them was definitely not my mistake.
I also analysed their website and translation platform and it's definitely chaotic, which could have caused database fails (termbase) leading me doing these mistakes.


Btw. I'm very curious which agency it was.


Unfortunately, I can't post the agency's name due to posting rules, but if you are curious just send me a PM. They have 4.6 points, but it doesn't look like legit ratings.

I found the contract that was signed by me 3 years ago (no DQC method by that time, only delay penalties) and they have changed their T&C last year (just by email informing about the DQC method - but not about the penalties) but I didn't sign a new contract for that. I usually have to sign a new contract each year for every other agency I work for or when T&C change.

I think I will open a thread soon hoping that other freelancers will be aware of that.

[Edited at 2020-02-03 17:06 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-02-03 17:07 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-02-04 14:22 GMT]


 

Eleonora_P  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:17
Member (2012)
English to Italian
+ ...
It's two Feb 3

Hi Natascha!

I was curious to find out if your agency was actually "my" agency and it turns out it's not the same, as the agency I wrote about has an average of 4.6 on the BB.

So it's kinda interesting to know that there are two Polish agencies (can we dare say "at least two"?) that use this questionable system.

It's always better to stay (far) away from these kind of practices.

Eleonora


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:17
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I'm with you for your experience Feb 4


Regarding this, I looked for them in the BB and they have 4.4 points which are not bad. However, when looking at the ratings in detail, there is something a bit fishy about it because you see only 5 point ratings and suddenly 1 point ratings. Furthermore, since I haven't a PRO membership I am unable to see their comments in detail.


but the above line of reasoning doesn't flow to me. There are many reasons why "you see only 5 point ratings and suddenly 1 point ratings." This fact itself doesn't make it fishy at all.

[Edited at 2020-02-04 04:29 GMT]


 

Natascha Schmiedeberg
Argentina
Local time: 17:17
Spanish to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Just an intuitive assumption - which turned to be right. Feb 4



but the above line of reasoning doesn't flow to me. There are many reasons why "you see only 5 point ratings and suddenly 1 point ratings." This fact itself doesn't make it fishy at all.

[Edited at 2020-02-04 04:29 GMT]


I perfectly understand your reasoning and I fully agree. This was just an "intuitive" assumption. And it turned out to be right. I had a few email exchanges with other ProZ users confirming that the scoring in ProZ is not reliable. This polish agency has a bad reputation on another website.

On the other hand, I transcribed the wrong scoring. This agency has 4.6 points in the BB. I will edit that right away.


 

Eleonora_P  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:17
Member (2012)
English to Italian
+ ...
Talking about the same agency Feb 4

Hi everyone,

I had a brief email exchange with Natascha today and it turned out we are talking about the same Polish agency, which is rated 4.6 on the BB.

So it's not two agencies, but only one.

Just wanted to make that clear

Regards,

Eleonora


 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:17
German to English
+ ...
a customer can't award themselves a "discount" Feb 5

The agency is your customer. The fee for your work is your fee. They cannot create a "discount" for any reason, just like I can't go to a grocery store an announce I'll pay 40% less because the bananas don't have the shade of yellow that I like. It is up to a seller to offer a discount. The agency is certainly free to offer their end client a discount. And pay you your full fee.

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Sheila Wilson
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