Another Day, Another Type of Clients

I’ve been in this business for over a decade now, and believe me when I tell you, I haven’t seen it all, but I have come to expect anything by now!

So a few days ago, one of my clients and good friends sent me an urgent translation job – just a single legal document – which I translated within a few minutes.

My hubby went to deliver the translation to my client’s client. When she took a look at the document where her gender was translated into French as “Féminin” (obviously!), she looked at him and told him:

– “Excuse me, but we say “Madame”, not “Féminin”.

My husband explained politely:

– “Féminin” is for the gender. “Madame” is completely different and it is not an accurate translation.

– But I prefer the word “Madame”.

– I am sorry, but it is wrong and we cannot use it.

And then her friend asks her:

– Why didn’t you translate the document yourself?

Her reply? As epic of a fail as it can get:

– I would have, but I am not sworn and therefore cannot sign and seal it.

She is not even a translator to begin with 😀

When will bilingual people who have nothing to do with translation stop being so arrogant and stop thinking that they can translate just because they know 2 languages? So basically, I only got the job because I am sworn? You can translate ANY other type of document so long as it does not need to be certified? I wish you could see me shaking my head right now.

This arrogant and ignorant behavior needs to stop. I usually no longer reply to such clients because I wouldn’t want to waste my time on the spot, but I find a blog post from time to time sort of amusing 😀

On another note, I will soon be writing a post with a list of the worst kinds of clients, so stay tuned! 😀




  • Bernard Larochelle

    Femelle? Did she belong to the human race or do you translate for great apes? Just monkeying around!

    June 19, 2016 at 7:59 pm Reply
    • Rania

      Bernard, thank you for your comment, the post was corrected. I usually only write “f” and not the entire word. I know it is “féminin” but I must have been too tired to pay attention! I stand corrected 🙂

      June 20, 2016 at 3:16 pm Reply
  • Fabienne Coupe

    I have met a similar situation in an interpreting assignment I did for the Society of Friends of the Museum of Modern Art of Paris (a group of about 15 people) – planned for 4 days. It took them 6 weeks to finalise the terms, and they kept going back and forth with everything, even up to a few days before the assignment, when they changed the program at the last minute. I had to ask questions about things such as locations and finishing times, anongst others, which they avoided to tell me about, so as not to pay for the extra time. When they saw I was wise to that and charged the appropriate time for it, they then went to take some time off on the 3rd day of the assignment, and expected me to reduce my fees accordingly. They even quibbled about paying for my train fares and meals (which they did not pay), when I had to work till 8 pm in the evening, and Saturday and Sunday, and hardly charged anything on top for it. Some members of the group were extremely rude, with people shouting over me, laughing, making remarks about that they visited, etc. To top it all, the organiser fancied herself as an interpreter, and had the arrogance of telling me I didn’t know French and English enough to do the job, after the first day, speaking on behalf of the group (or so she said!), and not to come back for the remaining days. In the 16 years I have worked as a qualified interpreter and translator (with distinctions and merits at MA and BA level), I have only had praise from my clients, and this came as a great shock.
    Trusting them – and for my sins, I didn’t draft a proper contract or purchase order (although I nearly did), and lost 3 days worth of work – as well as 2 translations, which I was asked to do during that time, but turned down because of this assignment. I did tell them the full rate would apply, as this was a last minute cancellation, but the organiser (a very young lady just starting out) would not have it. She made it she was very sorry, but to me, this was just a cost cutting exercise, which she practiced from the time she contacted me about this assignment.
    I was wondering is any of you has had a similar experience with your clients in the past, either with the Society of Friends of the Museum of Modern Art of Paris, or any other intepreting clients, and how they dealt with it. I look forward to read your comments.

    July 8, 2016 at 8:24 am Reply
    • Rania

      I am so sorry to read this, Fabienne!

      I have never had problems with interpretation assignments. Some translation clients are the ones usually giving me a headache!

      July 8, 2016 at 8:46 am Reply

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