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Interpreting assignment cancelled last minute - how to avoid similar situations in the future?
Thread poster: Olga Simon

Olga Simon  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 12:54
English to Russian
+ ...
Jan 5, 2007

I know I am not the first one and not the last one to have been treated like this, I just want to ask for your opinions – what do YOU do to avoid situations like this.

Last week I got a phone call from a Ukrainian gentleman who was planning to come to Hungary to meet with his business partner. He asked for my services, we agreed on the rate, the number of hours and the date of the assignment. Yesterday the gentleman arrived in Budapest and again called me up asking whether I could show up immediately (on a 30 minute notice) instead of the day we had agreed upon (which was today). I told him that a 30 minute notice it not really enough for me because I had planned other things for that day but I would be happy to work with him the next day, as we had agreed. He said sure, everything was fine and he would stick to our initial agreement. This morning at 6:50 am (!!!) I get a message on my mobile informing me that the Ukrainian businessman has talked to his partner via an electronic translator and would like to ask me to cancel our meeting since he no longer needs my services. What could I do? I sent a message to him saying that it was OK and wishing him all the best, by my day was messed up. I did not take anything else on for today and on the top of everything had to get up at 6 am in order to be on-time for my work and instead just learned that the meeting was off thanks to some electronic translation program. The only thing I do not understand - why did he not inform me yesterday evening…

So what would you recommend in order to avoid such unpleasant situations in the future?

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-01-07 10:15]


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Sabina Metcalf  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:54
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Get legal Jan 5, 2007

Dear Olga,

The situation is terrible and I feel really sorry for you. In order to avoid this happening ever again, I would recommend you to have a contract or some sort of written agreement prior to taking on an assignment. So in this case, when this gentleman called you, you should have sent him by e-mail or fax a short (usually one-page) contract outlining your responsibilities and cancellation fees. For instance, if he cancelled a week prior to the agreed date, he would have had to pay no cancellation fee; 48 hours in advance -- 50% of your daily rate; less than 48 hours -- full day rate. This is how it works I think.

I realise that you are a trusting person and I am sorry that you had to learn this way.

Wishing you all the best in your future endeavours!

- Sabina

[Edited at 2007-01-05 18:02]


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nettranslatorde
Member
Russian to German
+ ...
Some recommendations.... Jan 5, 2007

Well, bad situation, but you could have been paid for the missed day...here are some suggestions which might help:

-Always ask for the name, telephone number and address of potential clients if you don't know them

-Always check the BlueBorad and payment practices lists in order to find out if your potential client is already known as a bad payer before you agree on anything

- Always confirm ALL oral job agreements in writing and have the client confirm the terms of business in writing

- for any job based on a certain time, let the client know in advance what he has to pay if he cancels the job (cancellation penalties are common in other businesses, too)

- if you don't know the client and have never worked for him, let him pay in advance

These are just some ideas...others might have other suggestions.

Good luck,
Kerstin


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Olga Simon  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 12:54
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good luck chasing him!!! Jan 5, 2007

Kerstin Mouhannaya wrote:

-Always ask for the name, telephone number and address of potential clients if you don't know them

- Always confirm ALL oral job agreements in writing

- for any job based on a certain time, let the client know in advance what he has to pay if he cancels the job


Yeah... I know his telephone number is Ukraine and his name. So what? Good luck chasing him!!! He has already left Budapest ........ I knew the hotel where he was staying, so what should I do? Travel there through half the city? Waste half of my day getting there and back just to hear that the meeting was cancelled and I should not complain?


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
in danger? Jan 5, 2007

Olga,
I'm not an interpreter so I never work face to face with clients, but my first thought in reading your post was that you might have been at risk.

Are you certain this person was legitimate? What if they were setting you up for a robbery or worse?

I agree with Kerstin's recommendations, but I'd go even further, insisting that the person identify himself or herself by allowing you to call the company or having a neutral third party verify the person's identity.

Is it also possible to get a written contract in advance of a meeting? Or a purchase order? That might center it in the mind of the client that you are to be taken seriously.

Patricia


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:54
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
You can do nothing about it. Jan 5, 2007

If you work with ex-Soviet clients, it is normal that they dont take the agreements seriously. It is naive ti think, that if you had an official contract, you could do something to make him pay. It is impossible.
But it is also exaggerated to think, that such clients could force you to robbery or something similar. I work with Russian and Ukranian clients for years this way. If they need you, so they will pay you. But sometimes, even if they are already in the country, they try to find someone cheaper, going into a pub and looking for Russian girls.
If you want to continue this way, it is OK, and normally you dont have any problems, but in 10 % of cases they break the agreement.
Good luck


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:54
English to German
+ ...
Your question Jan 5, 2007

Olga Simon wrote:

Kerstin Mouhannaya wrote:

-Always ask for the name, telephone number and address of potential clients if you don't know them

- Always confirm ALL oral job agreements in writing

- for any job based on a certain time, let the client know in advance what he has to pay if he cancels the job


Yeah... I know his telephone number is Ukraine and his name. So what? Good luck chasing him!!! He has already left Budapest ........ I knew the hotel where he was staying, so what should I do? Travel there through half the city? Waste half of my day getting there and back just to hear that the meeting was cancelled and I should not complain?


Dear Olga,

I think your question clearly was, how to avoid this in the future and the answers were all suggesting what you could do IN THE FUTURE. So why this reaction to Kerstin's friendly suggestion? I can understand that you are frustrated. But the responsibility for this lies not with us.

There is no use in chasing people you had no verifiable contract with. So I can only agree with the other answerers. Have a written contract in advance in the future, a verified business address of your customer and a clear agreement on cancellation fees. If not, do not accept the job, and even more so for some completely unknown person.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 05:54
English to Russian
+ ...
Hi Olga Jan 6, 2007

Have a written contract in advance in the future, a verified business address of your customer and a clear agreement on cancellation fees. If not, do not accept the job, and even more so for some completely unknown person.


True, but none of this helps if the client wants to stiff you. Especially an individual direct client, a foreigner. How does one enforce all that paperwork? Let's get real... Just count your losses.

It is nearly impossible to do anything about cancelled short-term interpretation assignments with private clients. The client didn't show up, called and cancelled, didn't travel at all etc. The agencies could possibly nail them if they feel like wasting time, but not the individual freelancers.

In my case, I do not mess with such clients at all, and when one of my agencies cancels a call for 1-3 days without pay, I let it go - we've been together for ages, after one mishap they'll feed me trifold, each time they are trying to do their best to fill the void with written work or promise and deliver another assignment. At this stage of our relationships it's more of a family matter...

I'd say one of a three - forget this type of contacts altogether, manage to get an advanced payment or be prepared for cancellations like this and use the free time to do some long-due chores or read a favorite book. In real life any papers would be totally useless.

I hope to finally meet you in person in Budapest and have a glass or two (or three:-)) of those delicious Hungarian wines. I still remember the taste from the old times.

Did the comment about Russian girls help you a lot?....

Cheer up, ok?
Sincerely,
Irene


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Olga Simon  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 12:54
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agree...... Jan 6, 2007

IreneN wrote:
True, but none of this helps if the client wants to stiff you. Especially an individual direct client, a foreigner. How does one enforce all that paperwork? Let's get real...
It is nearly impossible to do anything about cancelled short-term interpretation assignments with private clients. The agencies could possibly nail them if they feel like wasting time, but not the individual freelancers.


Unfortunately I agree... Plus the notion of being "on a stand by" is not yet widely known in the former CIS countries... I am over it. Not a big deal. Just it would have been tactful to warn an interpreter at least the previous day.


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Olga Simon  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 12:54
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
With pleasure Jan 6, 2007

IreneN wrote:
I hope to finally meet you in person in Budapest and have a glass or two (or three:-)) of those delicious Hungarian wines. I still remember the taste from the old times.


I would be more than happy to do that When you are in Budapest just let me know and I will be there to share experiences and a bottle of Tokaji


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 05:54
English to Russian
+ ...
April 26 Jan 6, 2007

For the Proz conference and sightseeing - I'm already registered and the e-ticket is in place:-)

See ya soon!


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:54
English to Russian
+ ...
completely agree with Irene Jan 6, 2007

However knowing that reality sometimes can be far from it (I mean cancellation fees, etc.) I'd suggest to take it easy and simply not to work for the guys in the future. Things happen.. everybody can get screwed, you know.

Wines - yes, this is a better part) Hungarian reds with Hungarian meats and Hungarian music - hey, this is a real life


IreneN wrote:

Have a written contract in advance in the future, a verified business address of your customer and a clear agreement on cancellation fees. If not, do not accept the job, and even more so for some completely unknown person.

... and have a glass or two (or three:-)) of those delicious Hungarian wines. I still remember the taste from the old times.


[Edited at 2007-01-06 22:09]


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