Phone interp. Co. decreases rates
Thread poster: Jennifer Gal

Jennifer Gal  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 12:41
Hungarian to English
+ ...
Nov 18, 2010

Has anyone who works for a phone interpreting company received a renewal contract with a lower rate than when they were originally hired? I am an IC for one of the top 5 companies, and the only problems I've ever had have been minor system glitches that the interpreter relations department promptly rectified. I've never had a complaint, in fact several clients have said they ask for me specifically. So I don't think the reduced rate is performance based. According to the general e-mail that obviously went to many of us at once, they have lowered their rates to reflect industry standards, and have changed their call routing system to give higher priority to less expensive interpreters. In response to that do people go back and offer to work for an even lower rate so they have higher priority status? Well, this whole thing seems ridiculous and offensive to me and I'm not sure how to respond. Do any of you know anything about this? What to do?

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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 06:41
Romanian to English
+ ...
No way ! Nov 18, 2010

Since the current rate they pay is about 50% less than what they paid me when I started with them about 15 years ago, I seldom receive any calls (1-2/year !!) although I still work with them for on-site, where they did not dare to ask me for a rate change.

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gfichter  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:41
Member (2006)
English
+ ...
Make a counter-offer Nov 18, 2010

First of all, this is a cowardly way to deal with translators. But you can respond by modifying the price to one you are comfortable with, which would be a counter-offer.
The outsourcer is trying to adjust prices to what the market will bear, but you can do the same thing. If you are really in demand for your quality (or qualities), they will need to accept your offer (or make a counter-counter-offer).
Before doing this, you should consider the potential drop in volume from this customer, of course. But if you're not getting paid enough for it to be worth your while, a drop in volume might not be a bad thing.
(Full disclosure: I'm an outsourcer, but we're all in the same boat).


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
A few considerations Nov 18, 2010

I just started working in the telephone interpreting industry and I found out that telephone interpreters are treated and considered at about the same level (at least here in the U.S.) than customer service operators, meaning that they are paid about the same amount of money. Some companies tried to make me accept their ridiculous rates of 0.30 cent per minute, i.e. 18 dollar per hour, which, after taxes and stuff, is about the same pay of a customer service representative. I obviously did not accept and proposed my rate, which was anyway accepted and was more than double than their proposal. It also looks like 18 dollar per hour is a standard rate for the leading telephone interpreting company here in the U.S. and on top of this you have to sign an exclusivity contract, and work only for them (funny, huh?)

May I ask you what is the rate they want you to accept?

Good Luck!
Giusi

[Modificato alle 2010-11-18 01:55 GMT]


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jorgeluis
United States
Local time: 05:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
Avoid telephonic interpreting Nov 18, 2010

I think the best thing to do if you can is to avoid telephonic interpreting altogether. Stick to other interpreting.

If you can't avoid telephonic interpreting then you will have to negotiate your rate the best way you are able to.

Or you can cut out the middle man and offer your services directly to customers.

Best of luck.


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Jennifer Gal  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 12:41
Hungarian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks and some replies Nov 18, 2010

Thanks so much for your input. It makes me feel better about what they're offering because it's higher than what Giuseppina mentioned. For French I was making .65/minute and getting calls approx 3 hrs daily.*. For Hungarian I was making $1/minute and the most I ever made in a month was $900 just for Hungarian, being on-call about 10 hrs/day, 25 days of the month. I was entirely pleased with this rate and call volume. Now they're proposing .60 for French (which I understand to be consistent with industry standards) and .80 for Hungarian. If I don't sign the new contract w/in a week my code will be deactivated. Of course it feels insulting to be strong armed into accepting less for the same services I've provided for a year. Also, I'm in the process of joining another company because I had to reduce my on-call time and I want more Hungarian calls. They offered .65 for Hung and .60 for French, and were shocked that I was making $1.00/Hung for the other company.

Going back with a counter offer hadn't occurred to me. I thought it was fixed and they'd drop my candidacy if I didn't accept it. I'll make a counter-offer to both companies. Since Hung is more rare I should have a good leg to stand on.

The other factor is that they recently went through a merger and I suspect the other company was paying its interpreters less.

As to switching their priority system it seems downright stupid. Not only are they in need of interpreters in both languages, but also I had to pass a few tests to determine my pay category. For both companies I tested into the highest category right off the bat. Since there are lower categories for both languages, routing first to cheaper interpreters means they're putting their worst foot forward, so to speak. Since quality control and pay rate are so competitive these days, I cannot understand the wisdom of this change. I'll ask about it and let you know what they say.

*I prefer being paid for call time only vs. straightforward hourly.


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Jennifer Gal  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 12:41
Hungarian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
counter-offer accepted Nov 23, 2010

The IC rep wrote a nice reply, and graciously accepted my counter-offer. She said they hope they'll get more clients this way so our volume would go up. For common languages it doesn't make as much difference because they get calls all the time anyway. The change is probably hardest for them bec. they rely on a certain income for an already steady volume. But for a less common language volume fluctuates so much that you can't count on it. So higher volume could make a nice improvement even if the rate is a little lower. We'll see...

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:41
French to German
+ ...
An "easy" way to do business... Nov 23, 2010

Hi Jennifer,
I am happy to read that they accepted your counter-offer.

This being said, I cannot refrain from thinking that they have an "easy" way to do business: instead of searching for new clients accepting their rates, they prefer trying to pass the bucket to the interpreters.


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Jennifer Gal  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 12:41
Hungarian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
good point Nov 23, 2010

You're right. Maybe they're doing both. I feel kinda' sorry for the IC Rep bec. it's sure not her fault, and she has to deal with who-knows-how-many unhappy interpreters. Corporate America sucks, but then we already knew that!

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xxxatarget
Local time: 06:41
Polish to English
it's really bad news Dec 13, 2010

that major opi agencies give ics pay cuts; so far my agency has treated me well ( i.e. starting third year of contract with them and no pay cut so far - no raise, too); occupancy rate for my pair has been in range of 40% overall so i can't really complain.

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Phone interp. Co. decreases rates

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