When the client realizes that a cheap interpreter is not the same as a good interpreter.
August 27, 2012 § 15 Comments
Yesterday I received a phone call from a client asking me to interpret a high-profile conference for their organization. Several months earlier this same client had discarded me as a potential interpreter stating that I wanted too much money to do my job.
This is how it all started: When this client, who I will refer to as “Client A”, first won a contract to provide interpretation services for a big company, they contacted those interpreters who had previously worked interpreting for the same big corporation under the agency who had the interpretation contract before “Client A” ousted them during the bidding process for a new contract. I still remember the first time “Client A” called me. After telling me how they had looked into my professional background and how happy they would be if I were to agree to work for them under this new contract, the person from the agency told me: “…but you are not one of those interpreters who want to charge $600 per day, right?…” Of course I immediately replied: “Of course not. I used to charge that, but it was many years ago when I was not well-known in the industry. Now I charge plenty more.”
Needless to say, after a few months of a little song and dance, I learned through another colleague that they had already retained the services of other interpreters, relatively new to the field, and definitely new to the company the interpretation services were to be provided for. That was it. I did not dwell on it, and I frankly forgot about the incident.
Now, back to the present, the client started the phone conversation telling me how sorry they were that they had not hired me for these assignments. He explained their reasons, all of them financial, and then briefed me on the events the less-expensive retained interpreters had done so far. I learned how the quality of the service was not at the level this big company was used to; I heard how the big company executives had complained about the interpreters, and how they had asked for me by name. Finally, the client told me that they really wanted me on board; he asked me to name my “price” (fee) and asked me to have lunch with them.
Of course, this was music to my ears! Yes I was happy to get the contract under favorable terms, but the thing that really made my day was to see the clients’ realization that as a general rule, quality costs money. I took advantage of this great opportunity to educate the client about our profession, and I was very pleased to see how this client had finally “seen the light”. I know this issue is a constant struggle for most of my colleagues. For this reason, it is important to hear your comments and stories about other clients who may have learned their lesson as well.