Working with a translation company – what to do if you’re not happy with the results
Whatever service it is you’re paying for, it’s important that you are happy with the final result, and translation is no different. It’s important that the translation you receive is as correct and true to the source as possible, whether you’re translating legal documents, marketing content or website copy, accuracy is key. However, there is much more to translation that simply the words being translated, and it is important you are happy with the process as a whole, and that you act accordingly if you are disappointed with what you’ve received from your translation company.
Whichever translation company you use, here are some things you can do before placing a translation order to ensure you’re happy with the result, and some advice as to what to do if you aren’t.
Ensuring you’re happy
Though you can never entirely eliminate the possibility of being unhappy with the translation, there are some things you can do to try and improve your chances:
Research different translation companies
Unless you, or someone you know, has used the translation company before, it is difficult to be certain that you will be happy with the outcome. For this reason, you need to research a few different companies to compare the services they offer, their guarantees as well as testimonials and reviews. Of course, everybody will have a budget but, if you’re looking for a high-quality translation, cost should not be the only thing you consider. While cheap might shout low quality, the most expensive translation provider isn’t necessarily going to be the best. Ask a lot of questions – if people don’t like answering them, you should avoid them anyway.
Set clear guidelines
For you to be happy with a translation, it is important that the linguist has understood and followed guidelines on what it is you require and expect. They need to know what it’s going to take to make you happy – don’t just assume they’ll understand what you expect. It is the translation company’s duty to ask, but regardless, you’ll need to provide them with any special guidelines you might have before you complete your order that could affect the outcome of a translation, such as the form in which the text will appear, or any character limits. This will give the linguist the opportunity to ask any questions about these guidelines, allowing you to solve any potential problems before they arise.
Invest in proofreading
Even the world’s most talented linguists are only human. Their ideas and opinions are still subjective and there is always a chance of them seeing things differently to you, taking things in a direction you don’t like or (dare I say it) making mistakes, which means having translated material proofread is always a good idea. Your translation provider should also offer an in-house proofreading service, and it would be preferable to choose this over a third-party to avoid any discrepancies, as different companies will have different guidelines. Bear in mind that it’s still not a guarantee. As with translators, proofreaders can vary in quality too, so not all companies are equal in this respect. Proofreading should mean that any problems can be resolved without you needing to know that they ever existed.
If you aren’t satisfied
If you aren’t happy with the quality of the translation you have received and need to make a complaint to your language provider, there are some things you should consider:
If you are unhappy with the outcome of your translation, it is important that you notify the translation provider as soon as possible. Even if you don’t speak the language you should check the document for any obvious issues as soon as it is returned to you. Not only does this mean any issues are quickly resolved, some providers will have deadlines after which they won’t make any changes and any complaints raised after this time are deemed invalid.
Complain in writing
Of course, you may want to raise an issue over the phone to quickly alert the translation provider of your dissatisfaction, but you should then also make your complaint in writing. For many companies, an email specifying the issue should suffice, but some require a letter and proof of postage (goodness knows why), so be sure to check your provider’s complaints policy.
Are your complaints justified?
Obviously, as a paying customer, it is important that you are satisfied with the service you receive. However, you should first consider if the complaint is justified, and an issue that needs to be fixed (an incorrect translation), or if it’s a preferential change (such as a synonym for a word used), that should have been specified before you placed the order.
There’s a really important point here – if you haven’t used a marketing specialist, there is a strong likelihood that complaints will only be upheld if the translation is actually factually wrong. If you don’t like the style, or the document just doesn’t feel right, you’re very unlikely to get any sympathy from your translation company. Even though this may leave you with a file that’s basically useless.
If there is a genuine error, any translation provider should be happy to rectify this for you free of charge and any genuine errors should be sufficient grounds for the translation company to proceed with a review of all of the materials that have been translated but the company’s terms and conditions will determine that ultimately. Unfortunately, many translation companies have established terms and conditions that mean that the whole burden is on you, the customer, to provide the arguments as to why a translation is wrong, and it can be quite difficult to get an easy resolution when you just don’t feel it’s good enough. Either way, you should bring up the problem, but be aware that purely preferential changes may incur a fee.
Beware of withholding payment
Many translation providers state in their terms and conditions that payment should not be withheld even in the case of the complaint. This means that doing so would put you in breach of terms and condition, and your complaint could lose its validity because of this- even if the fault lies with the translation provider.
If you are unhappy with a translation that you have received, as a paying customer, you are within your rights to complain. Do remember that you’re not the expert in the process, they are. That means that the translation company should bear the burden for asking the right questions and accumulating all the necessary knowledge to do a good job of the translation. However, do bear in mind that the company’s terms and conditions may specify a particular course of action for dissatisfied clients, so it is important that you familiarise yourself with these before you place a translation order.