Agency work (The nerve of those guys!)

Not long ago, one of our favorite case managers called me in desperation looking for a French-speaking interpreter. She had been using a well-known national agency, and for the third time, the French interpreter was not going to be at the appointment!  The case manager was angry and frustrated; she needed to ensure the proper patient care. She always uses us for Spanish interpreting and was hoping we could help.

We quickly found exactly what she needed through our ever-growing network of quality linguists. Our client asked us to do this job through the agency to make paperwork easier for them. Normally, I would insist on doing it directly.  However, this was a long-standing, excellent client so I worked with them at the 11th hour. The French interpreter arrived early did a superb job and disaster was averted. Everyone was happy, that is to say until I billed for it.

First, we were informed that we needed to access the company portal to submit the bill; the company failed to provide us access.  Second, we repeatedly attempted to contact the company in order to access its system, to no avail. Third, we were informed electronically that if we did not turn the report in within 48 hours, we would not get paid. Fourth, after spending many agonizing hours attempting to contact them, we finally sent the invoice via postal service. Fifth and finally, after receiving the invoice and assisting us with the online portal, the company announces that we would not get paid because our report was not detailed enough.

Really? “Not detailed enough?” We helped that company out of a desperate jam after the company failed the client several times, and this is how we are treated. I remember why I stopped working with them in the first place!  But imagine, it gets better.

The same agency had an interpreter fail to show up for a deposition. In desperation, the local law firm called us directly to rush an interpreter immediately. We were happy to do so. All of a sudden, we receive a call from the agency with the nerve to ask us if we could bill through them so that it could get a piece of the action! We haven’t had a business relationship in years.  It recently activated us in its system, made us jump through fiery hoops, and then refused to pay us.  Of course, we are not billing through that company!

I would not repeat that mistake again. Many of the bilingual persons they hire and call interpreters do not follow a code of ethics. If a better paying job appears, they quickly jump ship for more money. When you pay the cheapest possible price and hire unethical people, and then refuse to pay quality interpreters, that’s what you get.

The next blog will talk about when an agency I never heard of decides to call me last minute for a rush job.

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