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Shall I request payment for lunch? Or not?
Thread poster: J Chae

J Chae  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:16
English to Korean
+ ...
Nov 25, 2008

Hi everybody.

I was recently engaged for a three-day local interpretation service, on an hourly basis since the client had a very irregular schedule every day. We initially agreed that the payment will be based on a pre-established hourly rate.

The first day, the meeting lasted from 09:00 to 16:00
The second day, from 09:00 to 14:00
The third day, from 14:30 to 17:30

I later sent an invoice for a total of 15 hours. Problem is, the client refused to pay for the first two days lunch time, during which his partner had the generosity to pay the meal for the party, including me. He claimed that nothing during the lunch time was relevant to the business and suggested that I re-send the invoice minus two hours that account for the lunch time.

Well, I appreciated the lunch but I was still engaged to my service, as far as I'm concerned. Over our lunch my client had requested interpretation and I did my job, regardless of whether it was in a conference room or in a fancy restaurant, or whether the talks were related to their business or not. It's not my job to question the nature of the talks.

Had I known that my client was considering the lunch time as a time apart, I would've taken my hour off to rest and grab a sandwich with a coffee rather than being constantly alert amidst the party. Honestly, this reaction of my client is rather disappointing, but I won't blame his opinion. maybe this is part of our usual misunderstandings.

What's your opinion about this? Shall I still request payment for lunch?


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Óscar Delgado Gosálvez  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:16
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
lunch with clients is work Nov 25, 2008

Dear J,
My impression is that you argued your case pretty well in your post. Did you say all these things to your client?

My recommendation is that you send the bill unaltered to your client, and tell him that if he does not agree with his partner keeping your during lunch hours, he should bill his partner for the two hours he kept you, but not deduct them from your work.

Good luck.


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:16
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Of course! Insist on full payment Nov 25, 2008

Hi J Chae,

There is no such standard or practice NOT to pay the interpreter just because the meeting took place in the restaurant! By all standards you've been doing your job and you should be paid for this time, regardless where it was and what the client was actually doing (eating, for example).

I'm afraid the person you're dealing with either doesn't know much about interpreting or simply tries to cheat you. Stick to your guns, explain politely that work is work and it's for the client to pay for the privilege of having an interpreter during the lunch with their foreign partners and not the opposite.

BTW, is payment per hour a common practice where you live? Here, we mostly charge per day or half day. So even if the meeting last only one hour, you still should be paid minimum half rate.

Good luck with your client!

Magda


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:16
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
To avoid misunderstandings like this in the future Nov 25, 2008

Make written terms and conditions for your service and request the client to acknowledge their acceptance in writing or simply state at the outset that these apply.

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Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:16
English to Dutch
+ ...
You could have worked Nov 26, 2008

on a written translation job, sent out your resume, chatted up clients during the lunch hour. The client takes your time away from other opportunities, so the client should pay.

Compare: if you are a fulltime employee, does your boss not pay you for Saturdays and Sundays when you're not working?


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J Chae  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:16
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Nov 26, 2008

Thanks for all your kind concern.

Oscar, of course I could say that. Or, I could also say that if he does not agree with the invoice he could read his own engagement proposal again and see if there's any mention of the said lunch time. Thanks for your support.

Magda, I don't think my client was trying to play a game. Or maybe I'm too naive. My assumption is he's surprised. Surprised of what he didn't expect, but as you said it's a privilege of having an interpreter (I love your statement). I'm mostly disappointed because he doesn't realise what privilege he had. We'll see how he'd feel next time when he ends up having a lunch with his foreign partner and no babelfish in his ear. One thing's sure, I won't be around for him.

I don't know how others do their work. For me, it's either by hour or by day. Or by week. I always do my best to stay behind the scene and make my clients comfortable with their businesses.

Kevin, that's one thing I should've done. I've learned my lesson, hopefully I won't repeat the same mistake again.

Benno, you're aboslutely right. For some reason it doesn't always go through our clients and we have to mention it for them - it's as if they think since there were no big deal at some moment they won't have to pay for that moment. If you rent a car and let it parked a whole day, does it mean you won't have to pay for the rent? Not that we're like those cars, no way.

[Edited at 2008-11-26 03:10 GMT]


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Chun Un  Identity Verified
Macau
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
You should be paid Nov 26, 2008

I was always paid for the lunch break regardless the client paid for the lunch or not and it was really a 'break'. In your case, you actually WORKED during these breaks. There was no excuse not paying you!

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J Chae  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:16
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Absolutely. Nov 27, 2008

Thanks for your support, Chun.

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