Interpreters being charged cancellation fees
Thread poster: Cheung00
Cheung00  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 17:40
English to Chinese
+ ...
Sep 18, 2014

Recently, some agencies have notified interpreters that interpreters may be asked to cover the costs by clients if an interpreter fail to attend or returns a job at short notice. I wonder if this has happened to any interpreter. Also what everyone thoughts are on this.

p.s. They are talking about costs that can be more than $500.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 08:10
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Why not? Sep 18, 2014

I can accept penalizing failing to show up without prior notice. That's just grossly unprofessional unless you were hit by a car on the way there etc. $500 might seem excessive but it's not that much considering the possible consequences (several people may have travelled in from abroad for the meeting that you made pointless by not showing up).
Cancelling a job on short notice is different, especially if you propose a colleague who can take your place and you have a reasonable justification for backing out.

[Edited at 2014-09-18 07:43 GMT]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Clients being charged cancellation fees Sep 18, 2014

I also wonder when clients are going to learn to pay cancellation fees when they book and interpreter and then cancel. In the meantime, the interpreter could have booked other jobs but could not because of the commitment that was later canceled. According to my colleagues (I only do translations or interpret at conferences that are never canceled) it is very hard to get clients to pay a cencelation fee. This is one of the problems of doing freelance court and deposition work, jobs are frequently canceled and scheduling is a nightmare.

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:10
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Fixed penalty Sep 18, 2014

Certainly last-minute cancellation or failure to show up without a good reason should be penalized but having the amount determined by the end client leaves it open to abuse. I think a fixed penalty would be more reasonable.

I also agree with Henry that the same should apply to agencies that cancel an assignment at the last minute.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Substitute Sep 18, 2014

It is definitely appropriate for an interpreter to provide a qualified substitute in the event that he/she cannot meet a commitment. It is only proper, and a backup should be considered any time such a commitment is made, for we never know what can happen.

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Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 17:10
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Not recently Sep 18, 2014

Some of the agencies have been practising it for years. And I can understand why- a private doctor charges around 300,00-400,00 AUD per hour. So, who is going to bear the costs when interpreter didn't show up?

And no, you cannot provide a qualified substitute. In Australia, only certified interpreters can work at the hospitals, for the governmental bodies etc. And AUSIT Code of Ethics clearly states that this is not an acceptable practice. In case the interpreter cannot do the job, s/he must notify the client/agency immediately, and then it's up to the client to decide what to do.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:10
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Definitely a backup Sep 19, 2014

Henry Hinds wrote:

It is definitely appropriate for an interpreter to provide a qualified substitute in the event that he/she cannot meet a commitment. It is only proper, and a backup should be considered any time such a commitment is made, for we never know what can happen.


Though I rarely do "unsworn" interpreting work, in such cases I require a non-refundable 50% advance payment to be made by one week before the event, and get a reliable colleague on standby as a backup. I've been a standing-by backup for some colleagues, however so far, fortunately, all of them made it.

In case the job is postponed for any reason up to 24 hours before its start, the 50% advance may be credited to the same job, if it is to begin within 30 days from the original schedule.

I think this fairly splits the risk between the contracting parties.


For sworn interpreting work...

Vanda Nissen wrote:

And no, you cannot provide a qualified substitute. In Australia, only certified interpreters can work at the hospitals, for the governmental bodies etc. And AUSIT Code of Ethics clearly states that this is not an acceptable practice. In case the interpreter cannot do the job, s/he must notify the client/agency immediately, and then it's up to the client to decide what to do.


... the Brazilian law covers it in the same way. However if the "interpretee" fails to show up, or if the interpreter shows up and the job is cancelled for any reason, the first hour (statutory rates) should be charged anyway.


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Cheung00  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 17:40
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The reason... Sep 21, 2014

The reason I posted the topic is that the message/clause by the agencies can be open to anything. There were not much explained in terms of under what circumstances an interpreter can be charged such fees, and how much they may be charged.

As a practicing interpreter, I have seen and heard many unprofessional behaviors, so I can totally understand such a clause being introduced. Without any details, however, are the already underpaid ethical professional interpreters going to be exploited under such condition? For exceptional circumstances sometimes cannot be avoided.


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 15:10
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
That's your job Sep 21, 2014

Cheung00 wrote:

The reason I posted the topic is that the message/clause by the agencies can be open to anything. There were not much explained in terms of under what circumstances an interpreter can be charged such fees, and how much they may be charged.

As a practicing interpreter, I have seen and heard many unprofessional behaviors, so I can totally understand such a clause being introduced. Without any details, however, are the already underpaid ethical professional interpreters going to be exploited under such condition? For exceptional circumstances sometimes cannot be avoided.

It's your responsibility to ensure that the circumstances under which cancellation fees are charged and the amount charged are clearly laid out in any job you commit yourself to, any contract you sign.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:10
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I think she was talking about the agency charging her a cancellation fee Sep 21, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Cheung00 wrote:

The reason I posted the topic is that the message/clause by the agencies can be open to anything. There were not much explained in terms of under what circumstances an interpreter can be charged such fees, and how much they may be charged.

As a practicing interpreter, I have seen and heard many unprofessional behaviors, so I can totally understand such a clause being introduced. Without any details, however, are the already underpaid ethical professional interpreters going to be exploited under such condition? For exceptional circumstances sometimes cannot be avoided.

It's your responsibility to ensure that the circumstances under which cancellation fees are charged and the amount charged are clearly laid out in any job you commit yourself to, any contract you sign.


Not her charging the agency.

I think her agency used an incorrect word to mean the situation. They used cancellation to mean "no-show".


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