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How to charge for interpretation involving flights & overnight stay?
Thread poster: bochkor
Local time: 09:59
English to German
+ ...
Nov 23, 2002

I have just received an offer for an on-site interpretation for a wedding next year. A message was left on my answering machine. It\'s in another state, but here in the U.S., so I would appreciate a reply from U.S.-based colleagues who have been in the same situation before. I\'ll have to fly to that wedding and stay there for 2 nights which is 3 days.

My question is: how far can I go when charging?

I mean, I would certainly charge my normal hourly rate with a minimum. However, the standard for the local (or small job) minimum is only 2 hours (max. 3), but here I\'m sacrificing 24 hours of my time. So how much can I raise this minimum to? What is the standard? 8 hours or more?

Also, I realize that there are sometimes half-day or (full) daily rates. But what I don\'t know is, if a translator is supposed to offer a discount in these 2 cases or is only a 4- or 8-hour minimum meant by half or full day, that is just multiply my hourly rate by 4 or 8? So is a discount customary or not? What is the standard?

In addition, half-day or daily rates can refer to a local job, one that takes up half a day or a full one day, but then you go home. However, in this case I\'d have to stay overnight, so there is a point in charging some extra for that, right? But again, is it customary to charge for everything or is a discount better suited? And if so, then how much of a discount?

Furthermore, how about travel time? Again, locally I charge my hourly rate for travel time. However, is it acceptable in this case to charge for the hours I\'m flying, then the cab rides every day round trip, wherever we go?

All this, of course, including full room & board, air & ground transportation fares. These are expenses which are obviously their responsibility.

So what do I tell this groom who might call back any moment?

So who has done some interpretation in the U.S. involving long-distance travel and overnight stay? I\'d like to hear from you.

Thank you in advance for your advice and comments!

P.S.: I had posted this message yesterday under Money Matters, which has never appeared on the front page, even after writing a Support Request to King Henry. So much about the usefulness of Support Requests... Anyway, now I\'m posting it under Translator Resources, because I see that those postings do appear.

If not all categories appear on the front page, because it\'s the Emperor\'s policy, then really at least a note about which do and which don\'t should be listed on the \"Post New Topic\" page at .

Am I right or not?

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-11-23 16:03 ]

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Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:59
Chinese to English
+ ...
This is my experience Nov 23, 2002


When I\'ve worked in the US on overnight interpreting jobs (they were corporate, not matrimonial, to date!) I was paid (I think) a half-day rate or perhaps slightly less for the day(s) I was traveling. It still came out to be around what I would make in a normal day at home translating so it seemed like an OK deal to me at the time. Naturally the plane fare, hotel, transfers etc. were paid and there was a per diem for food.

I feel that if a client wants you to travel, s/he is requesting this because s/he cannot find a qualified professional at the site. Therefore, he must hire more of your time. Intepreters sell their time, pure and simple. If you were not on that airplane, you could be interpreting somewhere and earning money, so you deserve to be paid for the time you are setting aside to serve this client, whether it be by talking or by sitting in economy class.

That being said, as an interpreter I work mostly ChineseEnglish and I don\'t even have an hourly rate -- it\'s always half day minimum, so maybe things are a bit different.

I\'m very curious though -- what kind of wedding needs an interpreter? I\'ve heard of cross-cultural relationships, but...!

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Patricia CASEY  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Terry Nov 23, 2002

I was married with the help of an interpreter! My husband is Belgian (Flemish) and I am Argentinian and after we met, we kept communicating in English all the time. When we decided to get married in Buenos Aires, he still couldn\'t understand the language completely so we had to call a Dutch interpreter. Might be a similar case here...


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Get paid for your time Nov 23, 2002

I think Terry\'s answer summarizes it well. Basically you need to be compensated for the time you put into the assignment, including travel time and expenses. Otherwise you would be best off staying at home and making the same money.

If the client wishes, he can hire a local interpreter by the hour much cheaper. You can\'t compete against that, but you also cannot compete by giving most of your time away for free.

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Local time: 09:59
English to German
+ ...
I called him again... Nov 23, 2002

...and now I know more about it, enough to say no to this deal.

Well, this guy (the groom) is a total jerk, arrogant as hell! Listen to this: he started out by telling me that he just needs somebody to show up 6pm-midnight on Saturday (March 29) and 6pm-1am on Sunday (March 30) at a hotel in Palm Beach, FL and translate whatever is going on for his parents who don\'t speak English (probably coming directly from Hungary for the wedding).

Next I asked him first about the expenses (airfare, hotel, cab, food, etc.) and mentioned it would be 3 days then. He answered twice saying \"he doesn\'t care about all that and that he just wants to get a total price, that\'s it\".

When I insisted nicely that these are things we need to talk about, that I just want to hear it for the record that expenses will be covered by him (not me), he repeated his previous statement and added that it\'s always done this way. I said, no, on the contrary, but if that\'s how you want it, fine.

Still, trying to make some common sense, I mentioned that it doesn\'t make sense for us to do separate reservations, if we\'ll both fly out of New York, since we\'ll be flying together (he also lives in New York). His reply was \"he doesn\'t want to fly with me\". I lashed back by asking: \"Why, am I so unsympathetic to you?\" He said: \"What if I\'m flying down to Florida earlier?\" So I replied: \"Okay, then why can\'t we talk about exactly these things? That\'s why I\'m calling, to find out.\" You know what his reply was? > \"Why do I have to tell you all this? As I said, I just want a total price and I don\'t care about the rest and don\'t want to deal with it.\"

When I mentioned \"Why not book just another room in the same hotel?\", he countered by saying \"No, I don\'t want to book a room for you, what do you care about where I\'m gonna be staying at? I just want a total price and I don\'t care...\"

Then he added arrogantly that \"We\'ve been talking for 5 minutes already and I told about 6 times that I just want a total price..., I don\'t have time for this.\" I said: \"Sure, you told me 6 times, but because you\'re not trying to understand me that these things need to be clarified.\" (Normally these things are REALLY taken care of by the hiring party, so this guy has no idea! I should never have to put the plane ticket, etc. on MY credit card!)

I asked him where I would get the money then, if it\'s all cash business. He said: \"In Florida.\" So I mentioned that because he\'s not a company, I wanted the money in advance. He said he never pays the full amount in advance, but he can pay 50% here in New York and the other half there. I said, fine. (But can you imagine? This is a guy who doesn\'t have 5 minutes for me, so how will he find the time to meet up with me in New York just to hand over the down payment?)

Then he said (arrogantly) that he just wants people to call him with their total price, after which he would not give an answer right then, just call back the one with the best price. And added that if I\'m not interested, that\'s okay, he\'s got plenty of others to pick from. I said I\'ll call him back, too.

But you know, this whole thing just stinks! How am I supposed to get along with this guy for 3 days, if we can\'t get along for 5-10 minutes over the phone?! He would just use any excuse not to pay me the rest and then what\'ll I do? I\'m standing there in Florida, expenses covered, but my plane leaves only in 3 days and I could have used those 3 days working on another job at home in New York. Because the down payment will most likely just cover the expenses, not my time there.

What do you guys think? Should I call him back with a total price and pity for this job at the cost of a heart attack? Or should I just let it go? I\'d rather let it go, but I want to hear your opinions.

Thanks to all who responded!

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Nathalie M. Girard, ALHC  Identity Verified
English to French
+ ...
I would not touch this job with a 10 foot pole! Nov 23, 2002

If the man will not even listen long enough for you to say:

\"The price is US$..... PAYABLE IN FULL, IN ADVANCE - cancellation fee of 50% if job is cancelled less than 7 days prior to departure. The fee includes: Interpreting fees, return airfare, hotel, all transportation and food allowance\" (find out the prices for the plane ticket and for a room at the hotel, and estimate on the HIGH side for the rest of your fees).

He would have to agree to this in WRITING (no verbal agreements)...

But I feel that he would not listen anyway, so my own thoughts: I would not touch this job with a ten foot pole.

He will bring you too much aggravation (as he has already).

My 2 Canadian cents!


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Dave Greatrix  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:59
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
God help his future wife..... Nov 24, 2002

or his subsequent wives!

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