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What would you do if a hired interpreter within 10mins was prohibited from continuing by the client?
Thread poster: Alex Barros
Alex Barros
Brazil
Local time: 17:47
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Nov 1, 2007

Hello everyone,

I have a let's say "hypothetical "situation that I would like to get feedback on. Let's say that you hire an interpreter whose credentials and information seemed sparkling. The interpreter in question lives out of the state and so you agree on a certain rate (we'll suppose $2400) which covers all expenses.

We are now at the day of the event. Your event starts and the interpreter does such a bad job that within the first 10 minutes the client tells you to remove him from the event and does not allow him back.

This is the question. What do you feel is the right thing to do in terms of the agreement at this point? Do you pay him for the full event? Pay him nothing since he did not have the capacity to do what was required?

Simply put. WHAT SHOULD BE DONE IN A CASE LIKE THIS?


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:47
French to Spanish
+ ...
Bill him... Nov 1, 2007

...USD 1000!

He cheated.
Your client will bill you for damages, I suppose.
Your "image" will suffer.

Well, I suppose your "interpreter" will vanish in the air.

(Some fault is yours, too. "Credentials" are not all the point...)

Best of lucks.


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Salam Alrawi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:47
English to Arabic
+ ...
a contract Nov 2, 2007

Dear Alessandro,

1- You should sign a contract with the interpreter or at least you should make a written pre-agreement (during negotiation) with the interpreter putting on your rules and explaining the idea of that in case of one of them (the client or the interpreter) will mess things up then there will a specific action, by this way you will be on safe side and no one would blame you for your action as long as it is included in a contract or a written agreement,

2- A test should be done for the interpreter before he\she starts the job, as having Credentials doesn't mean everything, still there is experience and the kind of work the interpreter will interp.
See, I worked for an American council, and for some American companies as an interpreter, they all tested me, sometimes they were indirectly, by talking to me using the target language, asking me about myself, the kind of work I did, the hoppies I like, the studies I did, and also some discussions about the kind of work I will work on with them, this way they had some knowledge about my abililties and some expectations about how I woud act and how I would do my job,

Anyway, here is the solution:

1- I bilieve that since you didn't do all these then it would be all your fault, and you should pay him (the interpreter) full payment.

2- to make things work on both sides (you and the interpreter) and having a better behaviour on both sides, I would suggest that you pay the interpreter the expense of his travelling to the client area, and the time he worked there and may be few more dollars (cause it is still your fault).

Now the above solutions are in case the interpreter failed or cheated,
If the cause was the client, then I would say a negotiation between you and the interpreter to solve the problem and make both sides become satisfied is the best solution.


In general, I would suggest a negotiation with professional behaviour would solve everything,

Best regards,
Salam


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
You hired interpreter based on what? Nov 2, 2007

This is an excellent question!!!!

You should not be hiring or subcontracting jobs without first checking the quality of the person you are hiring!!! (And this goes beyond checking qualifications).

This goes both for translating and interpreting.

From what I have been seeing, a lot of people think that an easy way of making money is acting as a "middleman": let's find the jobs, let's find people to do them, let's overcharge (or charge correctly) and let's underpay the translator/interpreter.

There is nothing wrong with acting as a contractor or sharing work you cannot possibly do on your own. But you have to be VERY CAREFUL regarding who you hire. After all it is not only your reputation, it is your responsibility and you are probably liable legally...


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
I had similar situation. Nov 2, 2007

I contracted an interpreter, and she was expulsed by the client after 30 minutes. She had the text before and could prepare it. She had good credentials.
She admitted that she was bad and didnt put the invoice for herself. Of course I didnt charge the customer.


[quote]Salam Al-Rawi wrote:

1- I bilieve that since you didn't do all these then it would be all your fault, and you should pay him (the interpreter) full payment.

I can not understand this position. First of all it is impossible to prove every person you work with. I was NEVER proved by any agency or customer before working. If someone has good credentials, you have to believe it. How can you imagine to prove 100 or 200 persons? It is naive.

This is a fault of the interpreter, as he didnd do his job and broke the agreement. I would not pay for that.
If you buy a car and it doesnt work, you will also bring it back. The interpreter didnt fulfill his part of agreement (even an oral one), so he can not count with payment.
But what does interpreter say about the whole thing?


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:47
Flemish to English
+ ...
Contact both parties... Nov 2, 2007

Contact both parties and hear their stories from both sides.
It may be that due to the speed of the speaker (high-speed rattler) the interpreter was not able to follow. Even the best fail at a certain speed of speech.
It may also be when in a booth (s)he was not able to follow the powerpoint presentation (always helpful) due to the ordening of the room. This may lead to : "we are under the "impression" that you are not able to keep up.
Or it may be that the interpreter was not up to the mission. In that case : no money, no pay.

[Edited at 2007-11-02 10:05]


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 15:47
English to Russian
+ ...
Look at how fast you guys are turning on your own Nov 2, 2007

A bunch of Olympic gods. Please forgive me but it irritates and hurts... I wish I could send you our transcripts on the simo for the daily ISS Program management technical meetings on a broken solar array and a rotary joint and see who will be able to follow at least 30% of it's hotline news speed...

The interpreter might have been the worst in the world, I don't know, but

10 minutes and the guy is dismissed...

No one but Williamson (apparently she had a chance to interpret things tougher than party chin-chins) asked about the subject, materials, level of logistic suppor,... and psyhiatric condition of the client. Maybe it is the client who needs professional help.

What was the agreed daily rate, if I may ask? Contrary to today's situation in translation, interpreting rates remain excellent indications of the expected quality.


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Alex Barros
Brazil
Local time: 17:47
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks for the answers Nov 2, 2007

erika,

I tend to agree with you. Since the interpreter was not able to fulfilll his part of the agreement providing the services for which he was hired. There should be absolutely no payment whatsoever.

Salam,

Thanks for your feedback. Contrary to your beliefs, I tested him thoroughly over the phone asking various questions of varying degrees of difficulty and he did wonderfully. There is only so far you can probe someone.

Heidi,

Thanks for your information but I think all the professionals here on Proz understand the invariable need for assessing the quality of the professionals that perform the various types of jobs.

Juan,

Very sensible, We are actually filing a countersuit against this fake for damages.

***************CLOSING*******************

I see half the interpreters saying that it is the fault of the company in situations like this, but let me also say that we shoyuldn´t have interpreter WANNABES trying to fool companies into thinking that they are legit when they know once they get in that booth they are going to be found out for the frauds they truly are.


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John Farebrother  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
French to English
+ ...
Look into it Nov 2, 2007

How do you know the client is justified in rejecting the interpreter? I once had an incident when a client claimed I couldn't speak his language. This wasn't the case; it subsequently transpired he had serious psychological problems which weren't immediately apparent. I still did the job until the end, as it was not possible to supply a replacement, and I declined to work with the same client again.

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Alex Barros
Brazil
Local time: 17:47
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
More than justified! Nov 2, 2007

John,

I was monitoring the event as I do when I have a chance and this guy sounded drunk and incoherent to my surprise since over the phone he had the voice that would make anyone jealous.

The clients in question were high ranking government officials and intelligence officer from countries unmentioned.

I doubt there was anyone with dementia or anything else for that matter. And I dont see how this extremely rare event has anything to do with the subject in question.

If it rained in the desert we could plant tomatoes, but how likely is that to happen?

Irene,

The agreed daily rate was well within market average and I dont feel that that actually dictates whether an interpreter is of any excellence in his profession.

Ive paid a range of different fees and my experience, you pay for what you get is not true in this field.

I´m sorry to say that even though I am a professional interpreter, I don´t identify with your incessant needs to save your colleagues´ butts.

This stick together mentality is the worst thing any group of people can demonstrate since it only hurts the end client and the companies who hire fakes thinking they are paying top money for a quality professional.

We need to clean house and rid proz.com of a possible infestation of fakes and wannabes and we can do that through the WWAs and whatever other means possible in order to filter out the excellent from the good from the mediocre.

Other sites have great success with feedback systems and proz.com has given us this great tool to help us not have these kinds of problems in the future.

LET´S USE THE WWAs FAITHFULLY!

I take my hat off to the people who had an open mind when replying to this thread and feel sorrow for the ones who immediately felt attacked and in return thought more about the image of their precious profession and colleagues than the professionalism presented to and overall satisfaction and well being of the client.


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Alex Barros
Brazil
Local time: 17:47
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
only 30% Nov 2, 2007

IreneN wrote:

A bunch of Olympic gods. Please forgive me but it irritates and hurts... I wish I could send you our transcripts on the simo for the daily ISS Program management technical meetings on a broken solar array and a rotary joint and see who will be able to follow at least 30% of it's hotline news speed...



Dear Irene,

Interesting thing you wrote, what exactly are you trying to say with that comment? I think that if the company hires someone to translate daily ISS Program management technical meetings on a broken solar array and a rotary joint and the interpreter is only translating 30% of the communication that person should be fired on the spot and someone else brought in with the expertise necessary to do the job correctly.

Imagine trying to make crucial decisions with someone translating only 30% of the information necessary? Any project would certainly fail. Why should someone be kept on with such poor performance percentage. Would we hire a cardiologist with only 30% of knowledge required to do a triple bypass?

Same thing with interpreters, you either do your job or you should look for work somewhere else, period.

Just my two cents, thanks again for all the replies.

[Edited at 2007-11-02 13:00]


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 15:47
English to Russian
+ ...
I don't need to imagine anything Nov 2, 2007

Because we follow a 100% and there can be no strangers around. No "outsourcing".

Alessandro,
You failed to mention in your first post that you have been present and actually witnessed the event, and provided us with the client's reaction only, and for those of us who work out there a one-sided story is but a non-professional insult. That's all.

BTW, in that case what was your question all about? What to do about a drunk at a workplace? Are there any options to look into?

Regards,
Irene

[Edited at 2007-11-02 15:19]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:47
Flemish to English
+ ...
Self-annointed. Nov 2, 2007

Like there are many self-annointed overnight translators without any formal training, there are "self-annointed interpreters" without any formal training.

The difference between translation and interpreting is that with interpreting you can not hide the lack of formal training. Without having seen a booth, you can not step into a booth and start interpreting.
---
If I were a PM, I would not hire any interpreter, who can not show me a degree from a T&I-school, preferably one on the list of www.aiic.net or member of www.ciuti.org
The quality and duration of this training may vary from school to school, but at least they are trained (by professional interpreters) and this will diminish the chance of failure: a trained ear/mind captures more than somebody popping up out of the blue.
Compare it to flying a plane without an ATPL-license.

With regard to "doing their job" : when somebody is rattling at very high speed even the most professional interpreter can not keep up the pace, paid or not.

[Edited at 2007-11-02 15:22]


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 15:47
English to Russian
+ ...
OK:-) Nov 2, 2007

Williamson wrote:
If I were a PM, I would not hire any interpreter, who can not show me a degree from a T&I-school, preferably one on the list of www.aiic.net or member of www.ciuti.org


Then, I'm afraid, you'll throw out quite a few good man... and women, like me:-) with the bath water.

I've heard from overcertified interpreters next to me that power bolt is such a " ..well, you know, bolt that has a little motor inside and when you switch that motor on the bolt will start acting". I won't be that obsessed with formal training.

I also admit that a certified native did a much better job than likely I would have (he was well trained on that) congratulating the distinquished audience on the job well done. Too bad all the job was done by me with the simulation and modeling team in prep for Air Missile Defense Command Post Excercise...

Only the word-of-mouth of the interpreters I've heard myself will convince me of hiring a stranger.

[Edited at 2007-11-02 15:50]


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pascie  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:47
English to French
+ ...
I am missing something Nov 2, 2007

Hi Alessandro
I have read your posting and so all the colleagues' replies.
Something came to my mind. According to your statement, was the job conference interpreting or consecutive interpreting? It is not very clear. It is very important in order to get the most objective feedback.
If you were in the first category situation, there are always 2 persons in the booth (the lead interpreter, and the second), so in that case, I don't see why a possible lack of training could be so easily deemed to be dismissed, especially after 10 minutes? The lead interpreter being on the spot to overcome any lack, or unfamiliarity. This is why 2 persons by booth are required. It is part of the Quality Assurance process. Please give us more clarification.
I just saw you mentioned being there. Usually you get with the event coordinator, or supervisor earlier enough before starting. Did you notice the person you hired was drunk?
If he was, then in that case I can understand why the client asked you to remove him.
Regards,
P.

[Edited at 2007-11-02 16:40]


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