It is Tuesday, the day after the Labor Day. I just learned that the deposition interpreting assignment I am about to leave for was cancelled yesterday. Confirmed with the Court Reporting firm on Friday, I had to turn down two other jobs after booking this one. The scheduler‘s message closed with “Please call as soon as you get this message”. Well, at the moment they called, I was in thigh high waders slogging through protected wetlands, photographing an elusive Ibis. I was not working. My voicemail recording noted the holiday, that I would return calls on the next business day. All of this was in my Rates and Terms Sheet they had accepted when they assigned me. I returned the call, mentioning I would have to invoice due to less than 24 hour business day cancellation. The scheduler responded “But, I emailed you on Sunday”. No, you emailed Monday and either way, Saturday, Sunday and holidays are not business days. I was more disappointed in her reaction than in the cancellation.
We freelance professional court interpreters have standard terms that cover cancellations. I present them in writing and ask that they be acknowledged and accepted in writing before I accept an assignment.
Sometimes they are dismissed as unnecessary. When I invoice, I’m sometimes told it’s unfair.
Here’s why cancellation charges are reasonable and necessary:
- I give you the chance to opt out from scheduling me when you are asked to review and accept my terms. Equally, if your terms are unacceptable to me, I can opt to not accept assignments from you.
- You can tell the law firm client about my terms and they can opt to try to find someone with different terms. When I accept your assignment it is a priority on my schedule.
- I turn down other clients to take your job.
- I cannot replace that income in less than 24 business days.
- If I allow everybody to cancel without consequence, I could go for weeks without an income.
- Emergency legal setting cancellations happen and can be accommodated but so do non-emergency cancellations caused by scheduling errors and uninformed witnesses. Forgetting to notify us happens a lot.
Here’s the solution:
A professional interpreter will schedule in a professional manner. You can count on us, you can know what costs are involved, and you can relax knowing we will be on time, respectful to your client and interpret with complete accuracy in accordance with our oath. This is how we show our respect working in a respectful environment.
Make the time to ask for our terms or offer yours. Include your expectation of 24/7 accessibility. Whether or not you are able financially to negotiate, be honest with us. We share our experiences with agencies in professional networks. Don’t be left stuck with only interpreters who will let you down.