23 February 2009

Fickle clients revisited

Following up my last post, my fickle client has turned out to be a complete nightmare.

The trial day started off badly and went from frustrating to hair-tearingly disastrous. You've heard of road rage and air rage. Is it possible to have copy-editor's rage, I wonder? (Well, quite possibly if you've been reading Roy Greenslade of late, but that's another story...)

The copy I was sent was lifted off a newswire abroad and written in English by someone who is not a native speaker. My job was to turn it into house-styled clean and accurate prose. Which might not have been too difficult had the original writer not littered it with abbreviations that meant nothing in English and forced me to make inspired guesses, or even wild ones.

One report I was sent consisted of a mere 2 paragraphs but took 2 hours to sign off as a heated discussion ensued between myself and my overseas colleague who was forwarding the work as we could not reach agreement on the meaning of one word. At one point, this person patronised me and then called my expertise into question which, to be blunt, pissed me off immensely.

All the other work I had lined up for other clients ended up delayed or postponed, worsening my already darkening mood.

I did what any sane person would have done and headed out for drinks and food with a friend that night, and talked over my problem. I was torn between wanting to tell my client to stuff this particular job and recognising the importance of regular work that covers the bills. And decided I'd give it a month, tops.

Next morning, the overseas colleague kindly forwarded more copy without asking, even though I had only agreed to one trial day and was behind with other work. However, I agreed I'd do the editing until the end of the week and in the meantime consult the executive who actually pays my monthly invoice.

Day 2 wasn't quite so bad as Day 1 but on Day 3, no work turned up at all. None. Not a stitch. An email enquiring if I would be needed went unanswered.

Today I sent a very lengthy but politely worded email to the executive asking for clarification of my position and making it clear that I will not tolerate be treated with such a lack of respect by the overseas office. I await his reply but something tells me I'm going to dump this client sharpish as I'm fed up being apparently dropped, rehired a month later and then redropped 2 days after that.
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