Can interpreting agency PMs read?
Thread poster: Ivars Barzdevics

Ivars Barzdevics  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
English to Spanish
Mar 22, 2011

Dear colleagues.

I'd like to share with you all something that has happened to me twice in less than a month.

I've been interpreting for Market Research projects (Focus groups, IDIs... Sp>En) since 1998.(In Spain).
Towards the end of February, a Spanish agency contacted me to see if I'd be interested in working with them and asked me my rates. I said I charged 90 euros / hour. The following day, they asked me to confirm my rates, and , again, I said 90 euros per hour. Two days later they had a job for me, and they offered 51 euros/hour. Naturally, I kindly declined their offer.
Last week, I contacted a US interpreting agency with, according to their website, offices all over the world, to offer them my services. I sent them my résumé and my rates (minimum $100 USD/hour). They answered very promptly saying they'd love to have me on their team. And again, they asked me what my rates were. And I said: "minimum $100,00 USD /hour". The following day they urged me to fill out some forms. And, surprise, surprise, one of the questions was: Please indicate minimum rate per hour. My answer: $100.00 USD /hour . Well, and this is end of the story, yesterday one of their PMs wrote to me and asked me if I'd be willing to work for $45.00 USD /hour!!!! (Of course, I said "no")

Why do they do this? Why waste my time, and theirs, doing this?

Has this ever happened to any of you?

Ivars (Steamed-off)


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xxxrusstran09
English to Russian
+ ...
Because Mar 22, 2011

Because $100.00 per hour in the USA is an unrealistic price.

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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:10
Member (2008)
French to English
Tactics Mar 22, 2011

It's all a part of negotiations. Who will blink first...

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xxxsonjaswenson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
No. Mar 22, 2011

I think sometimes it is just ignorance, and sometimes it is wishful thinking that if they ask you enough your rates will magically halve themselves.

The same thing happens to me and probably everyone else all the time. Part of it is probably because they often just don't know anything about interpreting/translation. Other times it is probably because they earn far less per hour, as they work 40h/week themselves and think that anyone who asks for such a high price must be deluded. Not taking into account that it is a lot harder to become a qualified interpreter than to become an agency PM.

I also have a problem where I tell them very clearly what my language combination is, that I will not work into my C languages, send AIIC links explaining why, and then repeatedly get offers to do so anyway. Explaining it to them leads to more confusion and doubts as to my capabilities in general. This month I also had issues with two agencies trying to get me to work 8h alone in a booth, and getting upset when I told them no.


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Natasha Dupuy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:10
French to English
As my Irish boss used to say... Mar 22, 2011

"God loves a trier"

Yes it's happened to me, yes it's annoying, but at the end of the day you just have to laugh it off.

Good on you for standing by your rates!


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:10
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Stand pat Mar 22, 2011

If I wanted to earn $50, I'd stay home translating at below the speed I interpret. It's all just maths.

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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 08:10
English to Russian
+ ...
Same here Mar 22, 2011

It's the case not only with interpreting, but with translation as well (and I do both). In particular, one very big London-based translation company with amazingly high scores on the Blue Board did the same to me three or four times, after which I had to ask them to remove my name from their database.

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Javier Wasserzug  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
schedulers Mar 23, 2011

The agency has your information on file.
Different schedulers need to fill jobs and they check their database looking for interpreters who match the requirements. They know how much they pay and they might be able to see your rates. However, when the scheduler needs to fill a job and all the regulars are busy, they start trying with those who have higher rates to see if they can find someone.
This is not fun for the schedulers who have to spend a lot of time making phone calls and/or send many emails.


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Agnese Gorgolini  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:10
French to Italian
+ ...
I think I can read Mar 23, 2011

...but your doubts are legitimate
PMs usually have a budget for each project and this budget cannot be exceeded. I guess they were interested in working with you but they had to propose lower rates. Professionals have obviously the right to turn down offers which do not suit their expectations and I would behave exactly the same way if I were an experienced interpreter as you are.
Anyway, let me say it is kind of sad to read that PMs are seen as non-qualified and stupidish clerks: I am young and have loooooots to learn, but I hold a university degree in translation and interpreting myself and I take into great account the skills and the needs of professionals working for my agency.
Have a nice day (spring has come to Italy, finally)!
Agnese


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Kathi Stock  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:10
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Nope Mar 23, 2011

russtran09 wrote:

Because $100.00 per hour in the USA is an unrealistic price.


That's not true! It may certainly depend on your language combination, but there are lots of clients out there paying these prices in order to get top quality. Agencies usually have a hard time swallowing them but you've got to be persistant and deliver top quality!

Kathi


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xxxsonjaswenson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agnese Mar 23, 2011

Agnese Gorgolini wrote:

Anyway, let me say it is kind of sad to read that PMs are seen as non-qualified and stupidish clerks: I am young and have loooooots to learn, but I hold a university degree in translation and interpreting myself and I take into great account the skills and the needs of professionals working for my agency.
Have a nice day (spring has come to Italy, finally)!
Agnese


I didn't mean to insinuate all PMs are stupidish clerks, sorry if you were offended.

Unfortunately however, my experience in the US is that they usually are not language professionals and generally are assigned the task of booking the job as cheap as possible, as fast as possible. It's not necessarily their fault, but the people in charge of hiring language professionals on the private market, at least in my part the US, generally do not understand how we actually work.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:10
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yiddish folklore - the schnorrer Mar 23, 2011

Such character in Yiddish is named a schnorrer.
There is even a Wikipedia entry for it, in English!

The story goes like this...

A schnorrer walks into a tailor's shop, and asks:
"How much would you charge for making trousers for me?"
"$60."
"Aw, that's too much. All I'd pay for them is $30."
"No way. If you are not in a rush, I could go down to $40."
"Ah, then I'd be willing to pay you only $20!"

Cutting to the chase, the somewhat chagrined tailor eventually says:
"Listen, buddy, today is my daughter's birthday, I don't wanna spoil my good mood. So, on this special occasion, I'll make them for free to you. Do you understand?"
"Yes! In this case I'll want two of 'em!"


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Agnese Gorgolini  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:10
French to Italian
+ ...
No I was not offended Mar 24, 2011

Sonja Swenson wrote:

Agnese Gorgolini wrote:

Anyway, let me say it is kind of sad to read that PMs are seen as non-qualified and stupidish clerks: I am young and have loooooots to learn, but I hold a university degree in translation and interpreting myself and I take into great account the skills and the needs of professionals working for my agency.
Have a nice day (spring has come to Italy, finally)!
Agnese


I didn't mean to insinuate all PMs are stupidish clerks, sorry if you were offended.

Unfortunately however, my experience in the US is that they usually are not language professionals and generally are assigned the task of booking the job as cheap as possible, as fast as possible. It's not necessarily their fault, but the people in charge of hiring language professionals on the private market, at least in my part the US, generally do not understand how we actually work.


Don't worry Sonja, I was not offended and I know that it's upsetting to work with such unprofessional outsourcers
Thanks for your reply, have a nice day!
Agnese


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