Cancelling it all out

Terp all sold outA thought struck me last night. Ow!

Recently, there was a public event in which I have been badgering the organisers for some time to provide an BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter. It was a job recruitment/open day for a new hotel opening and I have been telling my clients to go and attend.

Later, it transpired that the interpreter never turned up and I had disgruntled clients complaining about that fact. So, I tried to get to the bottom of it and discovered that the interpreter cancelled the booking at the last minute.Yes, you read that right – cancelled. But the event was not cancelled to 500 hearing people who had no problem in vying for 25 jobs that need to be filled.

I do not know the full reasons behind the cancellation but there was deaf people who travelled a long way to be there and it was a complete waste of time cos no interpreter. I feel if the interpreter cancel the booking then it should be their obligation to find a replacement – no question nor quibble. If they have to use a very expensive emergency interpreter, yes I would insist. It is an opportunity not to be missed.

I would insist because it is also a well-known fact that interpreters will charge YOU cancellation fee if you cancel the booking or change the booking in any way. I do know that some interpreters would usually have a backup job or have no trouble filling up the booking – to double their money.

What happened if the interpreter who cancel the booking or fail to turn up?

How about I start charging BSL interpreters a cancellation fee because of my time have been spent on informing people about availability of interpreter, printing out leaflets, posting it and pestering job centre with phone call after phone call to provide an interpreter? Oh yes, and not forgetting the travel costs and food for the deaf people who turned up on the day. I wish I could put a price on frustration and despair bubbled up on the day and add that to the bill.

It is not a healthy consumer market as we are at the mercy of these service providers. We, the consumers, should be able to have more power to redress these things and whenever we book, it stay booked.

3 thoughts on “Cancelling it all out”

  1. It might be a good idea for events of this type that you require the interpreter to agree to an contract covering this – cancellation fees going both ways etc since this affect a large number of people and that the interpreter should arrange for a replacement if they are unable to make it themselves.

    I’m sure that there will be quite a few that would refuse to sign up to this kind of contract though.

  2. Very good points, and at the very least the interpreter could offer those let down some explanation.  And you shouldn’t need to chase this, either.  Hello, interpreters!  Take note.

    Under normal contracts, there would be clauses in there to effectively make this breach of contract.  A failure to provide an already agreed service, would give the opportunity to ask for money back (or sue if non compliance).

    However, the bargaining power for interpreter contracts does not lie with the consumers: its with the interpreter, because they have taken full blown advantage of unfair bargaining conditions.  i.e. demand far outstrips supply.  Where interpreters have increased, we’re still left with this contractual set up.  Partly because of a culture thing, partly because no real competition exists within the market and partly because at the end of the day people feel so desperate for an interpreter they’ll take anything going.

    When people talk about free markets existing within interpreting sectors, they aren’t exactly being honest.

  3. That is bloody annoying when interpreters cancel, however we do live in a world of humans who can become ill etc etc etc.

    My understanding is that it is an interpreter obligation to find an suitable alternative interpreter. I beleive it is part of their code of ethics or conduct but whether the interpreters can be bothered to do that is another question all together. I have been fortunate that the interpreters I work will always do their best to arrange cover should an issue arise.

    The important point in your blog is should interpreters pay a cancellation fee? This is linked to a discussion I had a while back concerning interpreter contracts. If you are an indivdiual Deaf person using ATW or similar to book an interrpeter why not have a contract that the interpreter must agree to.

    For example if the interpreter has a minimum 3 hour booking fee then regardless of whether the meeting is 1 hour or 10 mins, the interpreter is required to remain with you for the 3 hours that they are being paid for.  It doesn’t matter if there is another meeting or not, there may be a requirement for some informal chit chat with collegues or maybe a last min meeting could be arranged. This would improve Deaf prodessionals efficency.

    If they have another job after the meeting then they should only be allowed to invoice for the work done.

    The contract c ould also contain information about how you expect the interpreters to work as there are many models of interpreting, and depending on the interpreter’s customer they have to judge which model is appropriate. If you have a contract that explains all this then the interpreter can just get on with the job and have no need to judge which is the most appropriate way to interpret this situation.

    Lastly the contract could also include a fee for a no show as it would effect the Deaf professionals career development. Whether this part would be workable is open to debate.

    Excellent post and very thought provoking 

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