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21p/minute telephone interpreting?
Thread poster: Katarina Gould
Katarina Gould
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:45
English to Slovak
+ ...
Dec 3, 2010

Hi all,

I have recently been offered to work as a telephone interpreter for a well established translation/interpreting agency in the UK. The rate they offer is £0.21 per minute!!! This makes £12.60 per hour!!! I am used to charging minimum £20/hour for face to face interpreting (plus travel) and this is in my opinion extremely low. I have contacted one of the coordinators asking for a possible raise, however, they do not seem to see any problem there. They were claiming telephone interpreting is easier and less demanding than F2F interpreting and hence the rates are lower. I was also told, the 21p per minute rate is a fixed rate, regardless of one's qualifications or experience.
What do you think about this? I certainly do not agree and consider telephone and F2F interpreting the same category. I also cannot see a reason why my qualifications should not be considered. I would like to hear more opinions, though. Would you work for 21p per minute???

Thanks for any inputs.

Katarina


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:45
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
No, I would not work for this rate Dec 3, 2010

However, someone else might. You either take it or leave it... A very simple choice.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2010-12-03 15:38 GMT]


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Mr Florida
Local time: 20:45
German to English
+ ...
Your choice Dec 3, 2010

As you point out, it's very low. The way I usually handle low price offers is to simply take other jobs that pay my rates.

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:45
French to German
+ ...
Forget about them! Dec 3, 2010

This is obviously an agency which manages to attract clients with low prices and which, as a consequence, has no room for negotiations with said clients.

As we all know, it is the type of agency which is the most likely to make problems when it comes to payment.


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JpBaugh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:45
Member (2009)
Japanese to English
Outrageous, plain and simple Dec 3, 2010

I would say as someone who regularly assesses telephone interpreters that it is in some ways more complicated than working face-to-face. Not least of the reasons for this would be the lack of visual clues to meaning, and the necessity to clarify and reconfirm spellings and numbers, etc. The other challenge is that telephone interpreters are rarely booked in advance, and most companies require the interpreter to answer unscheduled calls within two or three rings making the time logged on a fairly tense experience.

£12.60 is an absolute disgrace and they should be ashamed of themselves.


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Katarina Gould
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:45
English to Slovak
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I replied something very similar Dec 3, 2010

JpBaugh wrote:

I would say as someone who regularly assesses telephone interpreters that it is in some ways more complicated than working face-to-face. Not least of the reasons for this would be the lack of visual clues to meaning, and the necessity to clarify and reconfirm spellings and numbers, etc. The other challenge is that telephone interpreters are rarely booked in advance, and most companies require the interpreter to answer unscheduled calls within two or three rings making the time logged on a fairly tense experience.

£12.60 is an absolute disgrace and they should be ashamed of themselves.


I replied with a very similar explanation, but as others have mentioned, it is all about the decesion. I can either take it or leave it. I decided and also informed the company that since this job pays the least of any of my normal jobs/assignments, I will not be able to give it a priority. Basically, I will only do it, if I have nothing better to do at the moment.
I am just a bit disappointed, since I had higher expectations from this company.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:45
French to German
+ ...
Yes, but.. Dec 3, 2010

Katarina Gould wrote:
(.../...)
I am just a bit disappointed, since I had higher expectations from this company.

shiny facades and roaring statements are soooo easy to set up nowadays.

[Modifié le 2010-12-03 16:24 GMT]


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:45
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Isn't there always something better to do... Dec 3, 2010

Basically, I will only do it, if I have nothing better to do at the moment.


than working for peanuts?

Besides working on marketing and professional development to find better-quality customers, any of the following would seem preferable: see a movie, spend time with kids and/or partner, work out, read a book, sleep...


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Katarina Gould
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:45
English to Slovak
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Have not thought of it this way Dec 3, 2010

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:

than working for peanuts?

Besides working on marketing and professional development to find better-quality customers, any of the following would seem preferable: see a movie, spend time with kids and/or partner, work out, read a book, sleep...



Hmm, a different point of view and probably quite right.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Katarina: Dec 4, 2010

I know nothing about the going rates for English/Slovak interpreting, and if I'm speaking out of turn I apologise, but is it possible that you're selling yourself short by charging £20 an hour? That sounds low for such a highly skilled job in a less common language pair - and it's less than 60% above the £12.60 this company is offering you.

Next time you get an approach from a new client, why not try quoting what might seem like an outrageously high rate (say GBP50 an hour), just to see what happens? The worst that can happen is that you don't get the job, and the best is a big increase in your income.


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:45
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Cannibalizing your own market Dec 4, 2010

Phone interpreting in the UK is quiet often related to the NHS, a police force or any other public service. These contracts are put out to tender and usually the cheapest bidder gets the job.

By working for these companies you are actually cannibalizing your own market, because you make the system work.

Companies that might offer you a higher rate can't win any of these tenders as long as there are enough interpreters or translators who work for these companies, which are getting the jobs through price dumping.
Think about it before you decide to work for them. If they get through with it, they will respond to more bids and they will not only win them, because you helped them, you will also force other agencies in the field to lower their rates or to leave the market.


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Steve Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:45
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
I wouldn't even get out of bed Dec 4, 2010

for that rate to be honest.

Telephone interpreting is far more difficult that F2F in my opinion but even if it was easier 21 p a minute come on. Alright it works out above the minimum wage but its not a serious offer. The problem is that while some translators accept rates like this agencies will insist on paying low rates.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 02:45
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Agreed Dec 4, 2010

I rarely say this, but this is the sort of rate that's squarely in the "would not get out of bed for" category.
Apart from everything else, what if a better paying job comes along in the last minute and you have to reject it because you took this job? You'd be kicking yourself. Below a certain wage threshold, there is a decent chance that you actually end up losing money by taking a job.
Propose a decent rate (just to make sure this company never contacts you again), forget it and move on.

[Edited at 2010-12-04 10:48 GMT]


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 02:45
English to Polish
+ ...
just a sec Dec 4, 2010

Siegfried Armbruster wrote:

Phone interpreting in the UK is quiet often related to the NHS, a police force or any other public service. These contracts are put out to tender and usually the cheapest bidder gets the job.
(...)
Think about it before you decide to work for them. If they get through with it, they will respond to more bids and they will not only win them, because you helped them, you will also force other agencies in the field to lower their rates or to leave the market.


Whether one interpreter says yes or no has no practical implications. Just to be clear - it's a purely moral stance that you're taking.

That must indeed be a very low rate for UK standards. It's actually less than half my rate for interpreting (I know I'm adding insult to injury, though I don't know what degree of specialisation is required by the UK agency). Regardless, I'd define my choice carefully. A choice between 12.6 quid/hour and reading a book is not the same as a choice between 12.6 quid/hour and 20 quid/hour — when you've got bills to pay.

[Edited at 2010-12-04 10:38 GMT]


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:45
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Not moral but common sense Dec 4, 2010

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:
Whether one interpreter says yes or no has no practical implications. Just to be clear - it's a purely moral stance that you're taking.


A representative of the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission told me about 6 weeks ago "There is no reason to feel any pity for the translators or interpreters complaining about low rates. It is their own fault accepting the low rates that are offered. Things would change rapidly if they just would understand that it is them providing the service".

So don't tell me that I am taking a "purely moral stance". I just can't stand the wailing no longer "agenices are offering peanuts - but I/we have to accept it to pay the bills".

Everybody who accepts low rates is damaging his own income and the income of all other translators - you call it moral - I call it common sense


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