So you’re looking to hire a translation company, right? There’s no doubt that you’ll contact different agencies for prices, but should you accept a cheap translation quote?

How do you know high quality from low quality translation services? Does a low price really mean a poor quality translation?

When we’ve talked to our clients, they’ve told us price is a top 5 factor when deciding on translation services.

So why do some translation companies charge less than others?

As with any industry there are many reasons why one company can charge less than another. In the translation industry it mainly comes down to the rates a company pays their translators.

Less experienced translators charge lower rates, as when translators start out in the business it can be tough to win work; they need to offer a competitive edge by providing translation services at a low cost.

Translators like this are easy to find, since many start in the business straight from university (or even while at university before gaining their academic qualifications). As careers progress, plenty drop out as they struggle to find work in such a competitive industry. Experienced translators are often the ones who persisted, and were skilled enough to achieve a successful career.

But why do some translation companies offer cheap machine translation?

Machine translation services can be seriously cheap, so some translation companies choose to offer a ‘low quality’ translation service to keep budget-minded customers happy. Yet, these methods come with a risk. Machine translations are never 100% accurate. They are often too literal, employ the wrong vocab for a specific context and never keep the tone exactly as required.

Take a look at this infographic for a better idea of where machine translation goes wrong.

And why do some companies say they offer high quality translations at cheap prices?

The translation industry is competitive, and a translation company may employ cheap linguists in order to maximise their profits. It’s unprofessional, but it’s a no-brainer for many; they say they provide high quality translators with years of experience, but employ inexperienced translators to increase profits. They offer cheap translation services and market them as high quality.

How can anyone be sure of the service they’re receiving?

Everyone says they use high-quality translators with years of experience, but as we now know, this isn’t always the case. Good translators cost more. Experienced translators know their worth and their rates reflect this. If a company is offering particularly cheap translation, it’s worth asking why. And always ask to see detailed information on the company’s work (like their case studies), their clients and any recommendations.

So should you go ahead with the cheapest translation quote?

The answer here is: it depends. If you need to get a basic understanding of a foreign-language email in your native tongue, you may not need professional translation at all. Google Translate can help you out there.

BUT, when you’re looking to communicate with your customers in their language, sell overseas, or promote your products and services around the world, it pays to choose a company providing high quality human translation services.

If you choose the cheapest translation company, always ask these questions before going ahead:

  • Does the quote include proofreading, formatting and editing?
  • Is the work checked using sophisticated Quality Assurance tools?
  • Are the translators qualified, experienced, and equipped with knowledge and expertise in your business sector?
  • Will you be allocated experienced translation project managers who can oversee complex localisation projects, provide specialist DTP in foreign scripts and manage niche terminology?

And ask yourself: why is your business actually purchasing translation services?

Simply to produce your document or website in another language is not the answer. There is a reason WHY you’re getting something translated, and this is what you need to ask yourself.

Are you looking to increase global sales? Do you want to raise brand and product awareness in a new market? Are you establishing an international business relationship? Translation is the process that gets you to that point.

And ensuring the facts of a complex legal document are not lost along the way, that your niche terminology is maintained in a foreign language, or that your marketing material is localised for a specific market, only comes with a high quality translation service. This is when it definitely doesn’t pay to use a low quality cheap translation service.

You wouldn’t use poor copywriters and editors, so why would you choose poor translators?

Communicating with your clients and customer base professionally and accurately in order to maximise your return on investment is no doubt your number one priority. When you’ve spent time and money employing skilled professionals to market your products, create stylish copy or draw up detailed technical documents, why would you then skimp on translation?

Can the very cheapest translation companies truly give you the confidence that your end objectives will be met?

There’s no denying that professional human translation can be an expensive service, so when it comes to buying translation, it’s easy to see why the cheapest option is the most attractive. But there is a reason why a Ferrari costs more than a Ford.

Translation is a premium service. And just like Ferrari, translation companies should boast attention to detail, bespoke services tailored to your needs and high quality products with a glossy finish.

Cheap translation is like mass production: it works ok, but lacks the detail, quality and stylistic flair of a high-end product.

A note from us

We believe in fair prices for translation services. Our translators really are skilled native-speaking linguists with years of experience. We only offer high quality translations, as our clients will tell you.

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Sure Languages is a professional translation company based in the UK. We help businesses from all sectors communicate in over 100 languages through our specialised translation, interpreting and voiceover services.