For a couple of months now, the news sites for professional linguist have been flooded with one main story: Applied Language Solutions took over the England and Wales courts, to save them over £18m a year, but the price the government is paying seems to be higher than the savings promised.
The Real Victims of the Price Drop
After winning the contract last summer, Applied Language Solutions started providing services on February, but it hasn’t been smooth sailing for anyone. In an effort to win the competition, just like many big companies do, they promised big discounts and the same quality of service. To be able to absorb the price cut, the agency forced their interpreters to take a cut in their rate as well, resulting in many freelancers boycotting the agency.
Not only has it affected their own contractors, but the network of interpreters that the courts used to call before giving the contract to ALS, have suffered as well. As you can read in this article from the T&A, interpreters who have been working in the court system for years have not worked at all since February.
Apparently, the agency miscalculated the amount of work it would be, so when many interpreters fail to show up it costs a lot of money and headaches to postpone hearings. One woman’s nightmare lasted longer than it should, after being abused and burned by her husband, because there was no interpreter present at the time of the trial. Another interpreter traveled 564 miles for 8 minutes of work, and even though she was only paid for one hour of work, the cost of traveling had the taxpayers paying retail price for this interpreter. It also seems like they are sending people who are fluent in the language, but are not trained linguists, making the work harder for everyone.
I could keep going on and on with examples of everything that has gone wrong since the UK hired Applied Language solutions as the language service providers, but as I think about this situation, I am wondering if there is a relation between the size of the agency and the services delivered?
I would love to hear what your experience has been, when working with small or big language service companies?