How to charge for telephone interpreting?
Thread poster: Olga Watkin

Olga Watkin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:15
English to Russian
Apr 27, 2007

Dear colleagues,

I would like to ask a question on behalf of my friend who is an interpreter. She has a local client for whom she has interpreted during a conference call in his office. Clearly, one gets an hourly payment for this. However, the same client keeps calling my friend and asks her to call the other side and translate a couple of sentences to them (international calls). The other side also calls back with similar requests to call the client and translate something to him. And it happens a few times a day (sometimes as late as 10pm!), interrupting my friend's activities. The charges for the international calls will be paid back to her, but she is not sure how to charge the client for these endless short phone calls. Would you charge hourly? for each call? apply some minimum charge? Please help! I myself am not an interpreter, so I don't know much about such things. Thank you.

[Edited at 2007-04-27 07:05]


Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Minimum Fees Apr 27, 2007

Well, why not charge a minimum fees as it is difficult to keep track of such small tasks as we do for small translations?

Just an idea...


Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:15
Turkish to English
+ ...
My own practice Apr 27, 2007

I personally base the fee I charge private clients for telephone interpreting on each five minutes of the call ( The fee for the first five minutes is my de facto minimum charge. I am only called on to do this kind of work once or twice a year, so it isn't a big deal for me.
That's what I do, but we operate in a free market and everyone is at liberty to devise their own system.


liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:15
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Come to an agreement with all parties, but you hold the trump card! Apr 27, 2007

Well, you are fortunate in that you will probably be able to "dictate" your terms...

I do telephone interpreting (for 2 US companies) and am paid by the minute...

However, as you are doing this privately, why not work out how long your average call has been - say 1/2 hour, and charge per 1/2 hour, or charge per 1/4 hour, it's up to you..

I note you say they phone you at 10 p.m.; well, frankly, I would increase my rate per 1/2 hour or per 1/4 hour if I were you as in just about every other profession this would be classed as overtime!

They NEED you, so you can take the initiative here, without being unreasonable in your request.

Good luck to you!

Liz Askew


Olga Watkin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:15
English to Russian
Thank you very much Apr 30, 2007

Thank you Ritu, Tim and Liz,

I have forwarded this thread to my friend. Now she has got an idea what to ask for such jobs and thanks you all, too.


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