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irrelevant rewording of translation - basis for quality claims
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:32
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Jan 27, 2010

I have this weird situation:

1) translated (as usual) a simple non-specialized text with some logical and linguistic crap in the source, and stupid instructions from one agency where they urged strictly to follow these - before accepting the job and after the delivery of the translation, I clearly mentioned to the agency that these instructions are weird and the translation on this basis would really look strange, and that I will translate/translated logical nonsenses on "as is" basis (just added some "followup explanations" to all such places - it took me a lot of time);

2) they accepted the job, and told me "don't worry, this is a demand of our client, we have to do what they want"...OK, no problem, I have a disclaimer.

3) today I got an angry email from the agency telling me that "the client is not happy with the translation, their manager revised and corrected many things"...I told - guys please send me these corrections/"corrections"...

4) took a look and turned into stone...There were NO corrections at all - just someone at the end client's company "revised" the translation, changed many places - deleted whole sentences, changed the meaning upside down, moreover - inserted a dozen of simple grammar and punctuation mistakes - nothing was explained neither why these changes/rewordings were done, nor why these "changes" were considered as "mistakes and errors in my translation"

5) said "sorry, guys, I will always consider claims or remarks for improvement, but I cannot nor will accept any unsubstantiated claims, let alone - source-irrelevant rewordings of the translation text, let alone with numerous grammar and punctuation mistakes inserted by these "claimants"...

6) and the usual reaction from the agency (which "killed me") - please substantiate your opinion (well, I have to spend half a day to prove that I am not an idiot?) because "we do not understand the target language" - interesting, isn't it? the translation agency claims for quality without understanding the target language and demands (not requests, but URGENTLY DEMANS) the translator to prove that his translation was correct...

Shouldn't it be otherwise? Like - I go to a shop, buy a quality electronic device, then take it home, dissaseble it, change parts of it, modify or whatever, hammer it with a stone or a brick, then go to the shop and tell the guys "hey, this device is not working - it is defective - prove that it was good"...What they would tell me?

So, what shall I tell this agency? Cannot tell them "go to hell, if you have claims, please substantiate or I won't accept anything from you"..However, the amount they owe is rather big, I deal with them for the first time, their BB record on Proz is not very much ideal, and I am afraid they can have "a good reason" to cut off the payment amount or to refuse me to pay at all on this "client corrected the translation a lot" basis...




[Edited at 2010-01-27 04:28 GMT]


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Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 02:32
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It happened to me too, once Jan 27, 2010

Unfortunately I cannot mention private names here, but perhaps we're talking about the same company. This company has two divisions. They first hired me to make a translation for one of the divisions. They liked it very much, and paid me a fair price on time. Months later, I got an e-mail from a person working in this company's second division, with good references of the work I had previously done.

Then it happened exactly like all the fuss you mention here. They even dared to say that it was translated by a non-native speaker of Spanish! I swear I am!!! They mentioned all sorts of excuses to justify their discomfort with the translation (or they unwillingness to spend any money), they said there were mistakes which were never shown to me, that some terms were not understandable (how come they said exactly the opposite before, as the translation for the 1st division included terms used here too?), etc., etc. I told them that if there were mistakes they could send me my translation back and I could proofread it completely or use terms they preferred, but they didn't want to listen or reply back.

Sadly, I only got a last e-mail from them, saying that they would not pay me for this second job. I am afraid you could go through this as well. Keep trying to convince them that the job you did was good (I wrote several mails to this bad company), but if they don't agree, just put it in your black list of agencies, move on, and try to charge some cents more in your future job, at least to try to recover from this loss.


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David Eunice  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 16:32
Japanese to English
When I get a brief, I pay attention to it Jan 27, 2010

Hi Marius,

Let me play the devil's advocate a little...

MariusV wrote:
1)non-specialized text with some logical and linguistic crap in the source, and stupid instructions from one agency where they urged strictly to follow these

2) they accepted the job, and told me "don't worry, this is a demand of our client, we have to do what they want"

3) today I got an angry email from the agency telling me that "the client is not happy with the translation, their manager revised and corrected many things"...I told - guys please send me these corrections/"corrections"...


You have my sympathy with points 1 & 2
and the agency has my sympathy with point 3.

From what I understand, you ignored a specific brief.
You were explicitly told to be faithful to the source,
not to rewrite or improve it.
Without further explanation of the stupid instructions,
I would have refused the job, or returned it half done.
I am not interested further littering the world with garbage in, garbage out.

You should always wonder at stupid instructions.
You have no way of knowing what the text is meant to be used for.
It could have been back translation from a dissatisfied translation client.

MariusV wrote:
4) took a look and turned into stone...There were NO corrections at all - just someone at the end client's company "revised" the translation


If they were good at translating,
they would have done it themselves.
Your translation did not match the brief.

MariusV wrote:
5) said "sorry, guys, I will always consider claims or remarks for improvement, but I cannot nor will accept any unsubstantiated claims, let alone - source-irrelevant rewordings of the translation text, let alone with numerous grammar and punctuation mistakes inserted by these "claimants"...


It's not a good idea to see client revisions to translations.
I can accept the fact that if Lamborghini make a car and sell it,
the owner can alter the suspension, drill holes in the engine, saw off
an exhaust pipe, tape crosses on the windows, and stick on chequered
racing stripes and spoilers if desired. But sending such a car back
to the maker to comment on its fitness for purpose is absurd.

MariusV wrote:
6) and the usual reaction from the agency (which "killed me") - please substantiate your opinion (well, I have to spend half a day to prove that I am not an idiot?) because "we do not understand the target language" - interesting, isn't it? the translation agency claims for quality without understanding the target language and demands ... the translator to prove that his translation was correct...


Agencies that provide no service for translators beyond connecting
you with the end client are best avoided.

A competent agent/coordinator does the following

  • As necessary, qualify, mark up, or otherwise prepare work from end clients
  • Assure the quality of incoming and outgoing work
  • Support and protect the translator from unreasonable feedback


MariusV wrote:
So, what shall I tell this agency? Cannot tell them "go to hell, if you have claims, please substantiate or I won't accept anything from you"..However, the amount they owe is rather big, I deal with them for the first time, their BB record on Proz is not very much ideal, and I am afraid they can have "a good reason" to cut off the payment amount or to refuse me to pay at all on this "client corrected the translation a lot" basis...


You mean they sent you other work besides this job?
If it were only this job, I would offer discount because I didn't follow the brief.

The situation you are in is not at all unusual in Japan,
where translation is, in general, poorly understood,
translators are not trusted, and there are a large number
of small koi in big ponds who try to show off their glittering
scales of English ability by altering good translation.

Some Japanese speakers of English have amazing confidence in
their meagre abilities.

My most recent big annoyance came in September, when I was asked
to check feedback from a client. Two weeks earlier I had translated a
narration script.

I have just looked at my response again. Out of 69 suggestions by the client,
none were improvements. Five were sideways moves, they didn't detract
from the text. All the rest were awkward. The client seemed to be trying out
alternative phrasing and words that he or she knew. The results were often
laughable and the extra wordiness would mean the narrator would have to
speed up in the "corrected" passages. It was pathetic.

I billed for four hours.

The client paid the bill but only now, four months later, have they sent
me some new work.

I don't really like working for this agency and once, in a similar situation
to yours, said I didn't need paying for the job in question, and I didn't want
them to ever phone me again. Then I hung up. Immediately, the phone rang.
It was the coordinator. I put the phone down on and didn't hear from them
again for about six years. That suited me.

As a freelancer it's a great luxury to feel that I don't have to deal with
every offer of work. And with this agency I can take or leave anything they send
and bill them for unreasonable demands. If they don't pay, it doesn't bother me,
because I won't accept work from them and so won't have to do their work
for them again.

By the way, the thing that precipitated my childishly decisive behaviour of
putting the phone down was the coordinator phoning me and telling me
that a client didn't want to pay for a job because there were 47 mistakes in it.

This alarmed me and I asked to seen the revised text.

What it had was one mistake repeated 47 times. A misreading of a
katakana word (strut for truss). I asked them why they hadn't assured
the quality of my work before sending it out. And why they weren't
supporting me (I had worked for them for three years) and protecting
me from clients. They had no answer to that.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 10:32
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Ask a second opinion Jan 27, 2010

They should send your text to an independent second translator and seek a second opinion and show it to you. I would not bother to spend any more time on the stuff myself.
If the second opinion shows you are wrong just do not send an invoice and try to get over the disappointment.
Such things happen to every one of us, I'm afraid.
Once I delivered a translation into German to an Italian agency. The customer had provided them with earlier translations of the subject. I managed to insert some of the paragraphs without changes in my translation. But the revisor then changed almost every sentence, even those that were approved by the customer previously. My luck, so I could prove the revisor was way too eager changing each and every sentence. And I got paid, but no further jobs from that agency.

Regards
Heinrich


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A. Petrunova
Bulgaria
Local time: 10:32
Swedish to English
+ ...
I know what you mean Jan 27, 2010

The exact same thing happened to me a year ago. I got very angry and spent some time explaining why the client's "corrections" were completely wrong (the whole text was 4 pages long, I took the time to analyze one page and send my comments). I did not receive any more comments. At the time I assumed the client simply wanted to pay less and had to give some reasons to explain why they would not pay my fee. It obviously did not work. I got paid, no problem.

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xxxAguas de Mar
Could not agree more with David Jan 27, 2010

David Eunice wrote:

From what I understand, you ignored a specific brief.
You were explicitly told to be faithful to the source,
not to rewrite or improve it.
Without further explanation of the stupid instructions,
I would have refused the job, or returned it half done.
I am not interested further littering the world with garbage in, garbage out.

You should always wonder at stupid instructions.
You have no way of knowing what the text is meant to be used for.
It could have been back translation from a dissatisfied translation client.




They way I see it, you received a project with instructions you did not like. You decided you would not follow them, called the agency to inform them so, and took their agreement on the phone as your "disclaimer". IMHO, this way of working is a recipe for disaster.

I believe it is the prerogative of the translator to refuse a job when he/she does not agree with terms, conditions and/or instructions. As freelancers, the ball stops with us, we have no other link in the chain to blame for whatever goes wrong. If we do not proactively avoid working with potentially problematic projects, we will end up in trouble, and it can be considered half our fault.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My opinion Jan 27, 2010

MariusV wrote:
Shouldn't it be otherwise? Like - I go to a shop...


Some analogies work, and some don't. I don't think this one does.

5) I said "sorry, guys, I will always consider claims or remarks for improvement, but I cannot nor will accept any unsubstantiated claims, let alone - source-irrelevant rewordings of the translation text, let alone with numerous grammar and punctuation mistakes inserted by these "claimants"...


This is where you went wrong.

It is a known hazard of translation work that the client (or buyer) often does not speak the language or know enough about it to know a quality product from a poor one, and when two opinions about the work differ, it is natural for the client to ask for explanations. You should be prepared to defend your work... but at the same time you should be smart about it.

In fact, you were at an advantage here, because the reviewer had neglected to back up any of his claims. It is now your task to sow doubt in the client's mind about the soundness of the reviewer's mind. Pick 5 of the most ridiculous errors and explain how they are wrong. Remember, the client's mind isn't made up at this point. To be honest, the client probably feels vulnerable, and if you can't console her, that the reviewer certainly will... and you don't want that to happen.

So, what shall I tell this agency? Cannot tell them "go to hell, if you have claims, please substantiate or I won't accept anything from you."


Shake your virtual head in stunned (but not unfriendly) disbelief and tell them that the reviewer should substantiate his claims, because you are utterly baffled by the proposed changes. At the same time, pick 5 of the reviewer's worst oddities and unmask them for what they are.

At the moment, there are three parties here: you versus the reviewer versus the client. Your goal is to turn that into two parties: the reviewer versus you and the client. If the client trusts you, she may turn against the reviewer.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:32
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Don't quite agree with you Jan 27, 2010

Hi David,

Let me explain some things in a simple way:

You get to translate a sentence (source):

"John and Mary are lovers. They live in London, United Kingdom. They hate each other"

What would you do? You'd translate into the target language:

"John and Mary are lovers. They live in London, United Kingdom. They hate each other" and would add a note to the client about some "logical inconsistency" in the last sentence about the word "hate" mentioning you translated as "hate" (not "love") intending to draw the attention of your client (and their end client) about it, esp. when you received instructions "translate as is - strictly".

Then they send this translation WITHOUT any proofreading to the end client, and a nice secretary of the client decides to look into the translation (as such - as text - not as TRANSLATION), and then she changes the translation:

"Peter and Johny are lovers. They live in Paris, Unaited Kangdom. And they go hunting sparrows every day. Also they drink a lot of beer".

Then such a text is forwarded to the agency, which forwards it to you telling you:

"Your translation had many mistakes because the client made so many changes. We will not pay you. Otherwise, provide us a proof that your translation was correct".

What would be your reaction?

Questions personally to you:

1) Why shall I offer any discounts for them?
2) It is not the issue of working or not with them in the future (I won't, naturally), but I want to get payment for my job;
3) If I hooked on such an agency, it does not mean I am a trampslator or "trash bin" taking every possible job for any rate, from anyone, under any conditions, etc. - i took just one of the many "ordinary jobs";
4) Most important - WHY shall I waste my time explaining all this to them? If they have claims for quality (anything can happen to anyone) - always welcome and I will consider these with the highest level of care, BUT why shall I prove them I am not a donkey under such situations? Esp. when they tell they "do not understand the source language"? Can't they simply hire any independent translator or reviser to take a look into these "changes" before attacking the one who did the job with such idiotic claims?

This is what I am speaking about. Nothing less and nothing more.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:32
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agree Jan 27, 2010

Samuel Murray wrote:

MariusV wrote:
Shouldn't it be otherwise? Like - I go to a shop...


Some analogies work, and some don't. I don't think this one does.

5) I said "sorry, guys, I will always consider claims or remarks for improvement, but I cannot nor will accept any unsubstantiated claims, let alone - source-irrelevant rewordings of the translation text, let alone with numerous grammar and punctuation mistakes inserted by these "claimants"...


This is where you went wrong.

It is a known hazard of translation work that the client (or buyer) often does not speak the language or know enough about it to know a quality product from a poor one, and when two opinions about the work differ, it is natural for the client to ask for explanations. You should be prepared to defend your work... but at the same time you should be smart about it.

In fact, you were at an advantage here, because the reviewer had neglected to back up any of his claims. It is now your task to sow doubt in the client's mind about the soundness of the reviewer's mind. Pick 5 of the most ridiculous errors and explain how they are wrong. Remember, the client's mind isn't made up at this point. To be honest, the client probably feels vulnerable, and if you can't console her, that the reviewer certainly will... and you don't want that to happen.

So, what shall I tell this agency? Cannot tell them "go to hell, if you have claims, please substantiate or I won't accept anything from you."


Shake your virtual head in stunned (but not unfriendly) disbelief and tell them that the reviewer should substantiate his claims, because you are utterly baffled by the proposed changes. At the same time, pick 5 of the reviewer's worst oddities and unmask them for what they are.

At the moment, there are three parties here: you versus the reviewer versus the client. Your goal is to turn that into two parties: the reviewer versus you and the client. If the client trusts you, she may turn against the reviewer.



Hi Samuel,

I can agree with you. But please consider this situation in a practical way. yesterday I spend almost 5 hours "defending my work" and explained (in a smart manner) all (each and any) chane implemented with detailed explanations as why it shall not be so, why the change implemented by the end client is against grammar rules (and even quoted these grammar rules).

But to make this, I have to refuse a couple of new jobs (and income from my earning for these 5 hours), let alone that my schedules for the pending jobs (other jobs) were upside down, had to "save" these 5 hours working till 3 am. in the morning (to manage those pending jobs on time - for today morning)...Because that client "needed my explanations urgently". And when I sent these detailed "countercomments", no one even said "thank you" nor responded so far about the outcome of this situation.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Time spent defending one's work Jan 27, 2010

MariusV wrote:
Yesterday I spend almost 5 hours "defending my work" and explained (in a smart manner) all (each and any) change implemented with detailed explanations as why it shall not be so, why the change implemented by the end client is against grammar rules (and even quoted these grammar rules).


You have my sympathy, but in my opinion one has to strike a balance here.

1. That is why I said "pick 5 errors". Because what if the reviewer now responds to all your comments? Then you would have wasted all your time. If you picked only 5 errors, and the reviewer turned around and pulled black hat tactics on you, you would have lost only the time you spend on those 5 errors.

2. And if you comment on all changes, the reviewer can pick and choose which of your corrections he wants to comment on, and he may choose a few that are less important but easier to defend (from his point of view). If you had chosen only 5 errors (concentrating on ones that are easy for you to prove but difficult for the reviewer to disprove, yet clear enough for the client to see the point), then the reviewer's ability to selectively pull your work to shreds a second time would be greatly diminished.

3. Also, the client isn't going to read all your comments. If there are many comments, she'll merely pass on the comments to her reviewer. But if there are only a few comments (well-presented, but not too detailed), the client may actually read your comments herself and decide for herself (without asking the reviewer again) that she trusts you and not the reviewer.


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David Eunice  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 16:32
Japanese to English
John and Mary are lovers... They hate each other. Jan 27, 2010

Hi Marius,

Your original message did not go into this kind of detail.
Maybe I misunderstood what you wrote. I thought that
you fixed the source despite being told to stick close to the original.

MariusV wrote:
You get to translate a sentence (source):

"John and Mary are lovers. They live in London, United Kingdom. They hate each other"

What would you do? You'd translate into the target language:

"John and Mary are lovers. They live in London, United Kingdom. They hate each other" and would add a note to the client about some "logical inconsistency" in the last sentence about the word "hate" mentioning you translated as "hate" (not "love") intending to draw the attention of your client (and their end client) about it, esp. when you received instructions "translate as is - strictly".

I don't recall you mentioning that you translated it strictly and commented on the inconsistencies.


Then they send this translation WITHOUT any proofreading to the end client,

This is where I fire the agency. Translation to deadline is tough enough,
and worse without two fresh, comptetent eyeballs to check your work.


and a nice secretary of the client

This is another problem. In Japan it's often some member of the board of directors!
Diplomacy is very difficult.


decides to look into the translation (as such - as text - not as TRANSLATION), and then she changes the translation:

"Peter and Johny are lovers. They live in Paris, Unaited Kangdom. And they go hunting sparrows every day. Also they drink a lot of beer".

Then such a text is forwarded to the agency, which forwards it to you telling you:

"Your translation had many mistakes because the client made so many changes. We will not pay you. Otherwise, provide us a proof that your translation was correct".
What would be your reaction?


All you have do is to show the orginal translation next to the expanded text and say it was actually rewritten not corrected. It's not your fault that they sent you an early draft.

Questions personally to you:


1) Why shall I offer any discounts for them?


Because (according to what I understood in your first message), you didn't follow the brief.


2) It is not the issue of working or not with them in the future (I won't, naturally), but I want to get payment for my job;

I know what you mean. Aversion to loss is one of the most difficult things
about being human. The longer you hold on the more difficult it is to let go.


3) If I hooked on such an agency, it does not mean I am a trampslator or "trash bin" taking every possible job for any rate, from anyone, under any conditions, etc. - i took just one of the many "ordinary jobs";

I didn't say that you were a trampslator (nice term!). But you did accept a job that
doesn't seem ordinary to me.
For nearly a decade I have been getting about 70% of my translation work from three
clients. Last autumn, work from two of them slowed down a lot because corporations stopped commissioning work. I had to find other replacement agencies. Only one of them has provided service nearly as good as my three core clients. The other half dozen have ranged from jokingly bad to coldly businesslike. Agencies that don't appreciate translator's don't understand translation in the same way that I do.
Hard though it is for a freelancer, I keep refusing work from clients who seem bent on shortening my life through stress.


4) Most important - WHY shall I waste my time explaining all this to them? If they have claims for quality (anything can happen to anyone) - always welcome and I will consider these with the highest level of care, BUT why shall I prove them I am not a donkey under such situations? Esp. when they tell they "do not understand the source language"? Can't they simply hire any independent translator or reviser to take a look into these "changes" before attacking the one who did the job with such idiotic claims?

I sympathize. There are two problems here:

  • One is that the agency is incompetent and now expects you to do their work for them.
  • The other is a question of trust in a faceless world.

No-one in this situation, except for you, knows you.
It is alot easier for agencies to find translators than it is for them to find clients.
Naturally, because you have no relationship with them, they are going to side
with the buyer unless you can tell them why not to.

The first time I had quality issues was when someone who was presented to me
"as one of Japan's top five simultaneous interpreters" had basically rewritten, in tiny
handwriting, all of a company information booklet I translated. I was half looking forward
to assessing the revisions. Many hours later, I was as upset as you are now to have
learnt absolutely nothing. On the other hand, I did know a couple of things more surely than before: translation and interpreting are two very different skills; and a skilled target-language user is going to produce more readable target-language text than 99% of source language users. There are not many Joseph Conrads or Vladimir Nabokovs in the world.

I got permission from the agency, who trusted me, to write a letter to the buyer and enclosed a letter to be passed on to the interpreter explaining what I thought of an competent interpreter but incomptent translator (and with a several choice examples to illustrate the point) casting aspersions on the skill of a competent translator. I don't know if the letters had any effect, but they made me feel better.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:32
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
no no no Jan 27, 2010

David,

Look - the major issues I raised here:

1. Can a source irrelevant simple rewording can be a CLAIM for quality issues?
2. Why shall the translator prove that these idiotic rewordings are NOT relevant to ANY quality clams at all?
3. I understand that if people raise quality claims (for real or supposed mistakes), this shall be SUBSTANTIATED and done by a competent person.

You can reword any sentece, you can change anything in translation - but this "by default" does not mean that this is a quality issue. Esp. when the "changer" inserts elementary grammar mistakes, deletes whole sentences in translation, and the agency tells "sorry, we do not understand the source language".

In my understanding, if there are real or supposed quality issues, it shall be done like that:

"Dear translator, we have/our client has some remarks and concerns. Please find the attached file with proofreader's/reviser's changes and corrections. Please revise them and provide your opinion".

And the list of "errors/mistakes":

1. This and that is (we think) not correct, BECAUSE...
2. Here the reviser thinks you mistranslated something, BECAUSE...
3. Here we would like to use different terms, and we think that your terminology is not quite correct, because...
4. Here you did not follow the instructions - you changed the layout,
and so on...

Not EVERY and EACH mistake/supposed mistake. But, at least, a "generalized substantiation" done by a competent person at the agency (who, at least, understands the source language and IS competent to comment on the quality issues, let alone - to raise such).

"It is alot easier for agencies to find translators than it is for them to find clients."

How do you relate this statement to this specific situation? Do you mean I shall be happy to work for any idiot and then waste my time proving I am not a donkey? I'd better have no jobs at all than deal with such clients. If they are NOT competent to substantiate their opinions/claims, how can I accept these?



[Edited at 2010-01-27 17:10 GMT]


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David Eunice  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 16:32
Japanese to English
On a practical level, what can you do to resolve this dispute? Jan 28, 2010

MariusV wrote:
1. Can a source irrelevant simple rewording can be a CLAIM for quality issues?
2. Why shall the translator prove that these idiotic rewordings are NOT relevant to ANY quality clams at all?
3. I understand that if people raise quality claims (for real or supposed mistakes), this shall be SUBSTANTIATED and done by a competent person.


I was not concerned with questions of principle.
In a just world the agency would play fair.


MariusV wrote:
"It is a lot easier for agencies to find translators than it is for them to find clients."

How do you relate this statement to this specific situation? Do you mean I shall be happy to work for any idiot and then waste my time proving I am not a donkey? I'd better have no jobs at all than deal with such clients. If they are NOT competent to substantiate their opinions/claims, how can I accept these?


It is hard to know who you are getting involved with when
you take on work from new agents. You can't know if they are
competent or not until you work for them. And if you find out
that they are incompetent, yes, don't deal with them.

Wouldn't it be great if every agency had great coordinators
who were never overworked and never took time off leaving
a trainee in charge?

What are your options?

1. Spend time refuting the claims of poor quality.
2. Pay a third party to offer an opinion (arbitration, and who pays?).
3. Reduce your stress by leaving this bad experience behind you.
4. ....
5. ....

On a practical level, what can you do to resolve this dispute?
The buyer can withold payment and if paid, so can the agency:
it's as simple as that.
And the agency can to do it without difficulty because
"It is a lot easier for agencies to find translators than it is for them to find clients."
In the balance of business, an ignorant agency is going to try
and please the buyer more than an unknown translator.

Business runs on trust, and if someone doesn't trust you,
as it appears in this situation, can you be bothered to win their trust?

If the situation is as you've clarified, on principle, you are in the right.
But how do you win the practical battle?

Translation quality issues are notoriously hard to resolve.
"Fit for the purpose" is about the best criterion I can think of.

That might be one way of directing the the agency's attention to
the buyer's unreasonableness. That and simple comparison of
translation volume as I suggested earlier.

I don't know how much they owe you, but if you want to be paid,
it is best to stay calm and be persistent. It would also be good to
know someone who might know someone at or connected with the agency.
I have found that insinuating that a rumour may start about
the solvency of a defaulting payer can be effective. But you need
to drop the hint through someone who is familiar to the agency.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:32
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Arbitration Jan 28, 2010

Hi David,

It would be great to have an independent competent arbitration. Not even in such an absurd case, but in many other cases when some disputes arise for real or supposed (malignantly imposed) claims for quality. And that independent competent arbitration should be some professional translators' association or other organization where competent people can say their verdict and that is it. In my specific case, when I am fully sure about quality and when it is more than obvious that an incompetent agency (without even understanding the target text) claims for quality issues just on the basis of some irrelevant rewordings by their end client, a couple of words by the arbitrator would be enough telling them "guys, this is not the way to do things - let's start from the issue that quality claims shall be substantiated and you SHALL know what and how these shall be done"...And that would be enough to calm down such an agency (esp. if they have a falt-finding intent). Or I can tell them briefly and in plain words - "Sorry, guys, I cannot accept your claims because they are not substantiated and not relevant - I am sure in this case that I delivered what I had to deliver. And if you do not trust me (not knowing the source language), send this text to this arbitration institution and that is it - you can see yourselves". And if I had myself any doubts, I would not offer them to go for this arbitration. Same with them - if they are playing a foul game, they will not dare to go to any independent competent arbitration. And arbitration costs, as far as I know, shall be covered by the party which loses it. That means that foul claims and low professional level can end up in additional costs.

About knowing in advance - no one knows anything till real work starts. Moreover, this agency had really good BB ratings (probably posted by their best friends and/or relatives). As I can see now, BB ratings are useful only to track some notorious scams (to see how bad the agency is).


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 09:32
French to Dutch
+ ...
This happens from time to time Jan 28, 2010

"Peter and Johny are lovers. They live in Paris, Unaited Kangdom. And they go hunting sparrows every day. Also they drink a lot of beer"."


I had an absurd case like this about a year ago. It was mixed up with another problem, the agency had another translator working on the other half of the texts and he (or she) was Flemish and had another writing style. There was also a "test", done halfway, which was approved, but the subsequent translation was rejected ("worse than the first one, horrible writing style, lots and lots of grammar and spelling mistakes"). The agency draw the right conclusion, i.e. the client wanted copywriting and not translation, but didn't defend the translators and cancelled the PO because "client wasn't happy". Never worked for that agency again.


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