I have been working as a freelance transcriber and translator for eight years. I have my own client base which supplies me with a steady stream of work, so I don’t usually take on new clients. Nevertheless, a small firm contacted me through my website for a transcription job when I had a bit of an opening between contracts, so I took them on.
Client: We need this interview transcribed.
He sends me a wma file in possibly the worst quality I have ever seen. It looked like it was filmed with a calculator. It was over 20 minutes of 240p footage of two guys essentially yelling at each other in a heavy dialect.
I’m very hesitant to take the job at this point but quote them my rate anyways.
Client: That is a lot of money. Can you do it by the end of the month?
Me: Yes, that shouldn’t be a problem.
We set up a contract and I went to work. It is, to this day, the worst job I have ever had - the screaming match was barely intelligible and there were some very obvious cuts in the footage where things had been cut out mid-sentence. I delivered my transcript of it three days before the deadline.
Client: What is this? Half of this doesn’t make sense. And why is it in Russian?
Me: Because the conversation was in Russian. You asked me for a transcription – that’s what I gave you.
Client: Oh, I think there must have been a misunderstanding. We want you to transcribe it into English.
Me: You didn’t mention this before. You mean you want me to transcribe it, and then translate it into English?
Client: Yes, I’m glad you understand. Now, can you translate it?
Me: Sure. Here is my rate for translation.
Client: Oh no, you will do it for free because you misunderstood.
Me: No, I’m sorry, that’s not how this works. You want two services here: transcription. You have to pay me for both.
The client then started to scream at me and cuss me out. To this day I get threatening emails from then every now and then, telling me how unprofessional I am.
I’ve been sticking to my client base since then.