Baka Idiota

, , , , , | Right | January 10, 2019

(I am a freelance Italian-English translator. I have told all my regular clients that I will be on holiday for two weeks from the middle to the end of August and planned my workload around that. My website doesn’t reflect this, but I’m fairly confident that if I get any enquiries I can schedule the work for when I get back. Then I get an offer I can’t refuse. It’s an urgent job, but the client is offering a huge rush free — about four times what the job itself is worth — if I can get the work done within 72 hours. I do some sums and realize that if I do the job, it’ll more than pay for my holiday and mean that even if I get no work in September, my mortgage will still be paid.)

Me: “Okay, then, I’ll cut my holiday short by three days and be able to start on it after lunch tomorrow. Email the document to me at [email address]. I’ll be travelling between now and then so I won’t be able to acknowledge receipt until about noon tomorrow.”

Client: “Thank you. That’s great. We’re just sorting out the final draft and will send it to you this afternoon, so can you acknowledge it when it arrives?”

Me: “Well, not immediately. As I said, I’ll be travelling, so it’ll be a bit tricky, but I’ll be in touch as soon as I can.”

(I arrive home and switch on my computer. I check my email. Nothing. I contact the client.)

Me: “Hi, [Client]. I’m a little concerned that I don’t have the document from you yet. Are you sure you sent it to [email address]?”

Client: “Oh, no, sorry. There’s been a bit of a delay. We should hopefully be able to get it to you by nine o’clock tomorrow.”

Me: “Well, make sure you do or I won’t be able to get it done by [deadline previously agreed].”

Client: “No problem. We definitely need it by [deadline], so we’ll make sure it’s in your inbox first thing tomorrow.”

(Next day there’s still nothing, and I can’t get hold of the client. It’s the following day — almost two days after I should have started work — that I manage to speak to him.)

Client: “Sorry, sorry, sorry. I’ll send it to you as soon as we get off the phone.”

Me: “Okay, but you realize I won’t be able to do it for [deadline] now, don’t you?”

Client: “But you promised!”

Me: “No, I promised to do the work within 72 hours of receiving it. If you’d sent it when you said, I could have done it by [deadline] because that was 72 hours away. Now 48 of those hours have passed and there’s no way I can translate such a long document in 24 hours.”

Client: “Why not? It’s not that long. How many words do you translate an hour?”

Me: “About 400 to 500, but it’s very labour-intensive, so I need frequent breaks.”

Client: *does the maths* “So, that means you need between 18 and 22 hours to do it?”

Me: “Yes, about that.”

Client: “And you’ve got 24 hours before [deadline]. I don’t see the problem?”

(I explain how draining translation work is and how the industry standard is typically six productive hours a day, eight at a pinch. He doesn’t sound convinced, but faced with the options of finding a new translator or a new deadline he opts for the latter. I eventually receive the text five days after it was supposed to arrive — and two days after I’d have got back from holiday if I hadn’t cut it short. I’ve had to juggle various other jobs to be able to fit it in, but the client’s still going to be paying that juicy big rush fee, so it’s going to be worth it. I open the document. Remember how I said I’m an Italian-English translator? IT’S IN JAPANESE!)

Me: “Er, hi, [Client]. I think you may have sent me the wrong document.”

Client: “Really? Hang on. I’ll check. Can’t you open it or what?”

Me: “Um, no, it opens fine. The problem is it’s in Japanese.”

Client: “Yes?”

Me: “You know you’ve sent me a document in Japanese?”

Client: “Yes? Is there a problem with that?”

Me: “Well, I translate Italian and English. Not Japanese.”

Client: “But you’re a translator.”

Me: “An Italian and English translator.”

Client: “But on your website, it says you can translate all kinds of documents.”

Me: “All kinds of Italian or English documents. Not Japanese ones.”

Client: “Well, why doesn’t it say that?”

Me: “…”

Client: “So does that mean you can’t do it?”

Me: “I’m afraid not.”

Client: “That’s not very professional! What am I supposed to do now? I’ve half a mind to sue you for misleading people by claiming to be able to translate things when you can’t.”

Me: “Yeah, good luck with that.”

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