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Problems with a client
Thread poster: Nuria Navarro

Nuria Navarro  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 14, 2008

Hi everybody!

I've been working as a freelance conference interpreter for an art centre for 5 years now. In this period, I've never had a problem. The thing is that a couple of months ago, they hired a new deputy director (who speaks English, but not with a very high level).

Since that moment things started changing. A week ago, she stopped me when I was interpreting (in consecutive) in press release and said "You haven't explained the question correctly! Let me translate it!", and she "interpreted" it (altough the speaker, who was deaf, did not understand a single word either).

This morning I received an email from one of the speakers who is coming in a couple of weeks and he told me that he is not going to send me any information at all because the deputy director is going to translate everything for me from English into Spanish

What would you do? Would you tell her that I can manage, as I've been doing for 5 years, or should I use her "translation" and keep quiet? Has something similar happened to you?
As I said, they hire me as a freelancer, so I'm afraid if I say something they will stop working with me!!

Thanks for your help!!

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biankonera  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:36
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
my interpretation:) Feb 14, 2008

Dear Nuria,

it seems the new deputy director is very confident about her knowledge of languages and abilities to interpret and also she seems very eager to do 2 jobs at a time (her own and yours).

What you could probably do is try to talk to her and explain your point of view in the most diplomatic way possible to see if she will get the message or not. To press the matter might result in you losing your job with them and since they are the ones calling the shots they can do what they want. Ive had a boss like that myself and from my experience I can say they dont listen, they do as they see fit. I sincerely wish the situation resolves in your favour.:)



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Faruk Atabeyli  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:36
Member (2009)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Stand your ground Feb 15, 2008

I very strongly disagree with Stella. I don't see any point in being diplomatic with a person who seemingly is not very good at understanding matters.

The fact that she is confident about herself does not necessarily mean her claims are true, instead it's very likely that her self perception is grossly exaggerated. One wonders what other jobs she thinks she can do better than the professionals in that field.

If I was in your shoes I would say that this is my profession and she should either trust me with it or let me go. Imagine how much intervention you are agreeing to, and how much worse it will get in time, by not standing your ground today. Five years of interpreting is a very respectable track record. Even if they can afford to lose you I know there are agencies out there looking for experienced interpreters at almost every languge pair. Besides, within a few weeks your employer, if they let you go, may come back (sans the deputy director) knocking at your door, it may even be a good time to renegotiate your rates.

I hope all ends up well for you

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:36
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Talk to the director? Feb 15, 2008

Dear Nuria,
How extremely annoying for you! Since the problem lady is only the deputy director of the company, would it be possible for you to discuss the situation privately with the director? I doubt that the problem lady would take kindly to any kind of criticism, however tactful.
Meanwhile, hedge your bets by seeking other work.
¡ Buena suerte !

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Isabel Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:36
Italian to English
Agree with Jenny and Faruk Feb 15, 2008

Unfortuneatly this is one of the risks of being a freelancer!
A client takes on staff who decide they can do your job and gain the favour of their new boss.

If the Deputy Director has decided that she will gain Kudos with her boss by doing your job and cutting costs, I don't think you have much option but to let her get on with it ... but nothing is stopping you from hoping she will trip herself up sooner rather than later: while she is busy interpreting, she is not "deputy directing" - the job she is paid to do.

Naturally, make sure her Boss is aware that her Deputy has decreed she no longer requires your services but keep in touch with the Boss if you can, so you are ready to step in if / when the Deputy falls flat on her face, (at new rates).

All the best - Isabel

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Marcus Geibel
Local time: 18:36
English to German
You are risking your reputation... Feb 15, 2008

...if you agree to the deputy taking over during meetings. If her quality, as can be expected, is unsufficient and leads to misunderstandings, after a couple of days or even weeks, nobody will know who of you did the real interpreting of precisely that part. It is you being the interpreter at hand and being paid for the job - so it will always be you who is held responsible!

I for my part wouldn't want to be blamed for a non-professional's mistakes - I'd rather step back.

Good luck!

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Nuria Navarro  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks Feb 19, 2008

Thanks everyone for you helpful answers!

In the end, I spoke to one of the workers of the art centre (we get on very well) and explained her what happened. She didn't know anything at all and she was extremelly shocked. She commented the problem with the Director, who phoned me yesterday and told me that I am the professional interpreter and they want ME to interpret

However, the Deputy Director insists on reading the documentation for each seminar before me, so that she can "translate the difficult words for me". If that's what she wants, it's no problem for me. I just don't want to miss that fantastic client!!!

If something else happens, I will let you know.

Thanks again!!

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