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Rates for telephone interpreting
Thread poster: Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Oct 1, 2010

Hi, I am aware that this issue depends on various elements, as for instance the language combination and location, demand, etc., but I am wondering whether I am the only one which is offered ridiculous rates like 0.30 US cent per minute, for the language combination En/It/En and medical interpreting (!!)

Thank you,
Giusi


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 08:17
Romanian to English
+ ...
Hi Giusi Oct 1, 2010

if this rate was offered by the agency located near Philadelphia, these are their current rates for medical telephonic interpretation. It is supposed to be high-volume. I do not do these kind of OPIs. For common languages like SP, the rate is even lower.
Hope I answered your question.


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not a specific reference Oct 1, 2010

lee roth wrote:

if this rate was offered by the agency located near Philadelphia, these are their current rates for medical telephonic interpretation. It is supposed to be high-volume. I do not do these kind of OPIs. For common languages like SP, the rate is even lower.
Hope I answered your question.


Hi Lee, I was not referring to a specific agency, since this is already the 3rd time I have been offered this rate by 3 different agencies located in 3 different countries (all so-called first world countries.) I also don't understand what !high-volume! may mean on an hourly rate: 0.3US per minute is 18 dollar per hour, and even working 10 hours a day, which is highly improbable, it is still 180USD per day, not much for the effort.

I don't know how any serious professional would ever accept rates like these. I actually find telephone interpreting much more challenging than simultaneous interpreting, that is why I still cannot figure out how come it is generally considered such a cheap thing

The only solution left is: SPEAK SLOW


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 08:17
Romanian to English
+ ...
I agree with you Oct 1, 2010

This is the reason I do not do these kind of OPIs, but you cannot imagine how many people are hooked to the phone waiting to be called. Once I had the opportunity to visit such an agency and it was busier than a beehive. At that moment there were about 30-40 interpreters working the lines around the world.
On the other hand, most of the interpreters are not highly qualified and many of them wouldn't be able to perform on a face-to-face situation.


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 05:17
English to Russian
+ ...
You are not the only one, Guiseppina. Oct 2, 2010

I find these rates ridiculous, too. More than ridiculous - insulting, in my opinion.

Yet, I know real people who slave away for these rates. And, as Lee Roth correctly pointed out, for Spanish the rates are even lower.

I'm not sure which "company near Philadelphia" Lee refers too, but people I know work for a company with headquarters in California. Abysmal rates, however, is not what I dislike about the company most. It's there insistence that you become an "employee", which means - you make a commitment to certain days and hours. (They guarantee to pay minimum wages per hour - how very generous of them! - if not enough calls come in).

Which means: OK, you take take this job "just for now", while trying to get established as an interpreter; finally, a good client offers you a decent paying job - and you can't take it, because you made a commitment as an "employee". And the company I'm talking about is really stingy about giving days off to its employees.

This is simply wrong, period. I would urge my colleagues to ignore said company. They used to bombard me with their "exciting opportunity" e-mails, until I told them to stop.

Thank you for bringing this topic up, Guiseppina. I think it's about time we interpreters openly talk about it and stand up for ourselves.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why worry? Oct 2, 2010

"I don't know how any serious professional would ever accept rates like these."

So why do you worry about it? Forget it.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:17
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's a cottage industry Oct 2, 2010

You know? For people who stay at home with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs. Might as well employ them.

Some years ago they tried to recruit me. We didn't even get around to talking about rates. They asked to tap into my cell phone.

And then it hit me: without headphones, in heavy traffic, they were going to try to hang someone's parole or police charges on my hands. It was about as good an idea as when they sent someone with a police record down to the station to interpret.


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Stevenal  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:17
English to French
+ ...
Telephone Interpreting Rates Oct 2, 2010

Well, the way I see this issue, it goes to say how much more organizing we still have to do as translators and interpreters. Some people still don't even consider us as professionals and I believe we still need to do a great job of educating clients and the general public about who we are and what we do.

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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Why I do worry Oct 2, 2010

Henry Hinds wrote:

"I don't know how any serious professional would ever accept rates like these."

So why do you worry about it? Forget it.


I worry because if somebody is offering these rates, evidently they are the current rate for this business. As I said, I was offered this same rate 3 times, by 3 different agencies (one located in Europe, another global one, and another located in North America.)

Anyway, one of these 3 came around and accepted my rate, which was more than double than the previous one.


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Timo Müller
Germany
Local time: 14:17
An antiquated strategy Oct 3, 2010

Hi,

I think those major OPIs pursue a really antiquated strategy. If there were 3 properties regarding over the phone interpreting that really count for potential customers, what would it be? Perhaps something like that:

1st: Quality
2nd: Quality (that´s no fault )
3rd: Price

Now, all of those OPIs mentioned above expect premium quality for a fee as low as 0,30USD (!) while providing as bad working conditions like Giuseppina, Alexandra and Parrot wrote. Could that work? I don`t think that a hospital patient would like to hear that the person who translates his medical problems to the doctor is less paid than the person who cleans the floor.

I am working on a German startup monitoring this situation since a while. And I can tell you that we are really working hard trying to improve the interpreters AND the customers situation regarding over the phone interpreting. We want to improve:

For interpreters: suitable payment for certified professionals (starting at about 0,50 € = 0,70 USD and even more).
For interpreters: best possible working conditions (no contracts, independent and flexible time management, simple usability, time for preparation and briefing before the job starts etc.)
For interpreters: centralized customer acquisition, technology platform and invoicing practice.
For customers: easy and instant access, single point of contact, great usability, best quality, low price.

I know that suitable payment AND a low price sounds like a big contradiction. But just imagine what established OPIs take from their customers (about 2-4 USD) and what interpreters get for it. That´s much money and by using the right technology (which actually is the key) there is great potential of saving cost.

We want to build up an online-platform TOGETHER WITH and FOR interpreters. We want participating interpreters to actively manage and improve quality, features and processes (what means to help improving working conditions).

We were and still are actively searching for interpreters to talk about and improve our conceptual details. We want to imply as many thoughts and wishes of the interpreters community as possible. Later on we will need the help of all of you and your colleagues for beta-testing and spreading the word.

If our "project" sounds interesting for you, I really would like to get in touch with all of you. Feel free to contact me via PM or Email to timo(dot)mueller(at)gmail(dot)com.

Best regards,
Timo

P.S.: I´m sorry for my english, I am not an interpreter


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polskiexpert
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:17
Member (2010)
Polish to English
+ ...
down and down Nov 6, 2010

Hi

I am afraid I have more bad news to share.

I have been working for this so-called one of the biggest and most customer-friendly tel. interpreting provider in the world (plenty of work, freelance)...
I started off with a rate (2007): $30/hr ($0.50/min), then after a while (2008-2009) the rate went down to
$22 ($0.36/min), but now from this year, it's staggering $20/hr ($0.33/min)...
I also liked the way they notified interpreters about that: due to economic downturn, we are forced to adjust rates, etc. no dialogue, nothing, just a quick email...

I wish we could strike or something...
My decision? I simply do not take as many calls as before, what else could I do???

thanks!

M


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:17
English to Hungarian
+ ...
It is worse than you think... Nov 7, 2010

Timo Mueller wrote:
I think those major OPIs pursue a really antiquated strategy.....

I am working on a German start-up monitoring this situation since a while. And I can tell you that we are really working hard trying to improve the interpreters AND the customers situation regarding over the phone interpreting. We want to improve:

For interpreters: suitable payment for certified professionals (starting at about 0,50 € = 0,70 USD and even more).

For interpreters: best possible working conditions (no contracts, independent and flexible time management, simple usability...

For customers: easy and instant access, single point of contact, great usability, best quality...

I know that suitable payment AND a low price sounds like a big contradiction. But just imagine what established OPIs take from their customers (about 2-4 USD) and what interpreters get for it. That´s much money and by using the right technology (which actually is the key) there is great potential of saving cost.

Best regards,
Timo


...because about 20 years ago, when I started telephone interpreting, I was earning towards the top end of the above quoted figures!

We were independent freelancers, worked when we wanted to because we had totally flexible time management, simple usability, good time logging system and supportive site staff.

The customers got more or less instant access, (mind you, that does not necessary facilitate preparation), single point of contact, reliability, and they did not mind paying a decent rate for the good service they received.

What happened? Some "smart" companies started to take over the market, often from overseas, reduced the translators' rates - and I doubt if they did the same to the clients - and the newly set up wannabe companies followed them, preferably with even lower rates. They recruited "interpreters" who were not tried and tested, because a lot of experienced interpreters were not prepared to work for the reduced rates offered.
The clients are less satisfied and are less likely to pay well for inferior services and now the whole business is at a low ebb.

I stopped doing telephone interpreting some years ago.


[Edited at 2010-11-07 00:54 GMT]


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Interpreter246
Local time: 13:17
Does anyone know what the agencies charge Jan 5, 2011

Hi all!

I was wondering if anyone knows what the agencies are charging clients in the UK?
I am new to the interpreting industry, just trying to get established and already thinking of giving up because I can't stand haggling with agencies anymore.
I was considering joining the pool of telephone interpreters of the well known interpreting company. The rate they were offering is 0.25 GBP.
Soon after that I had a chat with the friend who works for council, who said they often use the same agency for interpreting services. She told me they are being charged 25 GBP per minute by this agency and she was pretty sure.
I'd be very curious if anyone knows any more on the rates the agencies charge for telephone or face-to-face assignments in the UK


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Martin Stranak  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 14:17
Member (2009)
English to Czech
+ ...
25 GBP per minute is a rip-off Jan 6, 2011

I think the government is actually charged a flat rate and the ratio between scheduled interpreters on standby and some pay-per-minute interpreters is carefully managed by supervisors of the call centre itself.

I cannot imagine a British clerk, sitting at his/her desk somewhere in council office, picking up his/her phone and dealing with an incoming call using an interpreter swiftly to keep up with the cost.saving schemes being implemented in the UK.


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xxxatarget
Local time: 08:17
Polish to English
I don't know about UK Jan 6, 2011

Interpreter246 wrote:

Hi all!

I was wondering if anyone knows what the agencies are charging clients in the UK?
I am new to the interpreting industry, just trying to get established and already thinking of giving up because I can't stand haggling with agencies anymore.
I was considering joining the pool of telephone interpreters of the well known interpreting company. The rate they were offering is 0.25 GBP.
Soon after that I had a chat with the friend who works for council, who said they often use the same agency for interpreting services. She told me they are being charged 25 GBP per minute by this agency and she was pretty sure.
I'd be very curious if anyone knows any more on the rates the agencies charge for telephone or face-to-face assignments in the UK

But here in the US an agency I contract with pays me $ .60 per minute and charges clients at rate of $ 1.05 per minute, which looks pretty fair to me considering they supply all IT infrastructure, client base and do all invoicing...


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