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Anonymous Shopping: Apology Number Two

Submitted by ‘Emma Biel’, the Mystery Shopper who posted the original post entitled: ‘Anonymous Shopping: How Much Interpreting Agencies Really Charge’.
It seems I have another apology to make. I received a letter at 4:12pm on the 15th of August 2012. The letter was from the legal firm representing appa and they have requested that the inaccuracies in the original blog be corrected so as not to further cause injury to reputation. The remedy for libel is to modify the blog to correct all inaccuracies.
With respect to the fee quoted, which was £50 per hour for an RSLI and £45 per hour for a CSW (2 hour minimum charge) –they would like it known that this was for an ad hoc booking and that appa have a “more flexible cost structure…”. Regular clients are charged at a lower rate.
On the blog, I failed to mention that appa offer a 10% discount to new clients. Therefore the cost for that assignment would have in fact been £45 for an RSLI and £40.50 for a CSW. Not £50 and £45 as was originally stated. I am sorry for the omission.
I also did not state that in respect of travel, appa do not charge VAT. Again, I am sorry. Having looked again at the email chain I can see nothing that relates to travel and VAT so can only excuse my ignorance based on the fact that it wasn’t mentioned.
In the original blog I claimed that appa offered me a level 4 CSW. This was based on the information provided below:
“Has the deaf person asked you for a prefer level of BSL signer?
For a qualified interpreter they have level 6 in BSL
For a communicator they have level 3 or level 4.
There are various levels and it’s always good to ask the deaf client there preferred level of communication support they require. If your unable to get that information I would recommend CSW BSL level 4 but if its for a interview then I would recommend the above level”
I understood “the above level” to mean CSW level 4, but the inference I have taken from the solicitors’ letter is that they actually meant level 6. So to clarify, in the absence of information regarding a deaf person’s preference they would recommend a CSW who has level 4 BSL. But for an interview they would recommend someone who has level 6 BSL.
I mentioned on the initial blog that appa “Offered to help me apply to ATW to cover costs – then their fee becomes all inclusive” They would like it clarified that this is a free service in which they also process all of the paperwork.
I also need to apologise for some further ambiguity. I stated that appa “Offered me an interpreter for the afternoon even though I had requested the morning”, this was based on the information below:
“I do have an interpreter available for next Tuesday 14th august for 4pm
Please let me know if this is suitable for you.”
They later emailed to say “if you would like us to process this request for the morning we can.”
Because they had previously offered an interpreter for the afternoon I was confused and so did not respond. I apologise. I should have taken the time to clarify the information.
And finally, they would like it known that they are in fact ‘appa’ and not ‘Appa’ as I had previously stated.
These amendments have now been made to the original post.

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  1. I wish people who run language agencies would learn the difference between ‘their’ and ‘there’!!
    Also, appa have sent out emails to CSWs before saying that the MAXIMUM they would pay to the CSW would be £23 per hour as Access to Work will not go higher than this.
    So it doesn’t matter that they are disputing £45 or £40.50 per hour for a CSW. That’s still one hell of a profit.
    I have personal experience of working for this agency and was constantly appalled by the way they treated the Deaf clients and the CSWs.

  2. Firstly I would like to say thank you for doing the work. Very useful, very interesting and very enlightening.
    I would like to pick up on one point:
    “So to clarify, in the absence of information regarding a deaf person’s preference they would recommend a CSW who has level 4 BSL. But for an interview they would recommend someone who has level 6 BSL.”
    Level 4 BSL and level 6 BSL are infact the same qualification. It is a language qualification so no matter what you call it, a person with level 4 BSL or level 6 BSL shouldn’t be working as an interpreter because they have no interpreter qualification. They would need either the Level 6 in interpreting (previously called level 4 – the name changed in the same way as the language qualification) or a post graduate qualification in interpreting.
    I am confused over Appa’s understanding of what qualifications are required. When they say they would send someone with level 6, does this mean a registered interpreter, or an unregistered person who has demonstrated they are proficient in the language, i.e. a person who has exactly the same qualifications as a person calling themselves a level 4 CSW?
    Shame they couldn’t contact you direct to clarify the information and got a solicitor involved.

  3. An email reply landing in your junk mail by accident, as revealed in the last apology? A solicitor’s letter pointing out inaccuracies in the blog?
    Next time, please do your research properly. The credibility of an otherwise timely and insightful exercise in transparency is already impaired enough as it is. Better still, leave it to Panorama.
    As for those people who are trying to expose ‘Emma Biel’ (see comments below the original post), or choose to get a solicitor to highlight errors on their behalf instead of doing it themselves – what message are you sending out?

    • Inaccuracies? Looks to me that appa have panicked and gone in guns blazing. All they’ve succeeded in doing in demanding an apology is drawing attention to the fact that they use unqualified interpreters, regardless of language fluency. The thing is, appa haven’t been outed; the interpreter community have known for years about their dodgy practices. How many times have we seen emails with capped fees for ATW CSW’s! The only difference now is that we know appa recommend them.

  4. In posts by Appa for ‘Communication Support Workers’ for particular assignments it is clear that what they will be expecting these CSW’s to do is ‘interpreting’.
    Secondly, the relationship interpreters and CSW’s have is directly with Appa not AtW. Appa seem to suggest in their emails (‘falling in line with AtW’ – usually typed in red) that they are working for or somehow promoting AtW rates.
    It is a farcical situation that has gone on for far too long.
    Paul Hann (MITI, MVLP)