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Anonymous Shopping: An Apology and some Additions

There has been a rather strong reaction to the last post which was an anonymous post submitted by a mystery shopper. On the whole there was a good reaction with responses saying how finally there is some transparency as to what agencies charge and whether they provide Registered Interpreters or not.
Before I go on I need to publicly apologise to RAD (Royal Association of Deaf People) and their interpreting service. The original post stated that the mystery shopper had emailed RAD twice and had no response. After a complaint was made by RAD, the mystery shopper was informed. They got back to me after a few hours when they had investigated and found RAD’s original response in the spam folder of the Gmail account that was used. As the spam folder does not automatically show up in the navigation menu the shopper was unaware a response had already been sent. This information has now been added to the original table. Needless to say many people who work with the Deaf community and beyond are aware of RAD’s excellent interpreting service. They state any profit that is made from the service is put back into their Deaf community projects. They had also clearly stated they only use NRCPD Registered Interpreters.
The mystery shopper and I, as publisher of the information, both sincerely apologise for any inconvenience or damage done. When I realised that information was missing I should have flagged this up before publishing the post. It is regretful and I truly hope RAD, its employees and any interpreters that may be affected by this error, can accept this apology.
The mystery shopper has now added a comment on the original blog with the original script of the email and an explanation of why the survey was done in order to clear up any misunderstandings.
I also need to notify readers of the blog of one more addition to the table, with a very late response, which was K International. They quoted £250 + VAT for the mystery assignment lasting an hour. No information was given about standards or registration.
On the whole both interpreters and Deaf people have been overwhelmingly positive about the survey. There has been much talk of agency standards and even regulation over the years which has not come to anything yet. This is, in the main, because it is not in the interest of most agencies to be regulated. This needs to come from an external body. Work has been done on publicising the registration process to Deaf people who are better informed than ever about their rights to a Registered Interpreter. It is the most vulnerable who would be unaware or unable to ask to see an interpreter’s registration badge on arrival and these are the people who need protecting.
What I am also aware of is that some agencies have said they only use Registered Interpreters but I have know them to use CSWs and signers on occasion. Until we have regulation and more accountability there are agencies that will continue this practice.
It is worth noting that a cheaper price often reflected the fact that an agency had in house interpreters who they were able to provide at a cheaper cost or the agency required freelancer interpreters to work at a much reduced rate than the published average from ASLI’s Fees and Salaries survey indicating that profits were more important than quality of interpreter or standard of service. It is hard to tell as a consumer of interpreting but interpreters will find this information useful as they will know what they are being asked to charge.
What the survey has cleared flagged up is:
– many agencies are using unregistered and untrained interpreters and charging hundreds of pounds
– some of the bigger agencies are charging over double the amount a freelance interpreter would quote
– some parts of the Deaf community are still vulnerable to the unethical practices of some of these agencies
– many of the interpreter and some of the Deaf-led agencies came out favourably with the interests of Deaf people at heart
– people booking interpreters are being given wildly differing and sometimes completely inaccurate information about interpreters and the registration system i.e. being told someone with level 3 is ‘good enough’ for an assignment
– we need to set up regulation of agencies urgently
– we need to stop the use of CSWs being used for any assignment and agencies should not be allowed to decide on behalf of the consumer as to whether or not this is acceptable
– we need to protect the title of interpreter to ensure anyone who is not a Registered Interpreter can not legally work as one to safeguard all involved
Again, I would like to thank the mystery shopper. It really wasn’t me. I am merely the messenger. Please do not shoot me.

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