Cheap translation services: too cheap to be good?

Companies find it difficult to choose from the wide range of  translation agencies. The price is often the main consideration: no one wants to pay too much. But what agencies actually base their prices on? And  when a translation is too cheap to be good ? 

To be distinctive, translation agencies take different market positions. While one agency wants to be the best in terms of service and quality, the other might want to gain a larger market share with cheap prices. You really need to have an idea of what you’re paying for.  

translation: value vs. price

There are several factors that determine the price of a translation.  Translation companies quote based on the following factors:

  1. Word Rates (including or excluding costs for project processing)
  2. Translation, editing and proofreading
  3. Cost savings thanks to translation memory

The purpose determines the price of a translation

A language barrier is overcome by more than converting words from English to Chinese. Every industry, every sector and every field speaks its own language. Legal jargon is different than medical jargon. A technical manual reads not like an ad. And a flaming argument should be interpreted with a different emotion than a police interrogation. 

The more services, the more expensive translation is

The service affects the price. Prior to working with a translation company, it’s recommended to draft an SLA ( Service Level Agreement ). It says exactly what you have agreed with the agency and what it has to affect the price of your translation.

Variations example are in:

  1. Opening times (day and night and during public holidays?)
  2. The global network of the agency
  3. Personal service
  4. The experience and expertise of the translators
  5. The format of texts
  6. The turnaround time
  7. The possibility of urgent translations


Cheap Translation Services: Too cheap to be good ?

As mentioned, the purpose of service determines the price. When the rates of a translation agency are far below the rates of other agencies, there must be a reason. These agencies have their own methods to reduce the price or charge any all-in rates: ways that are often at the expense of quality, the translators and our customers.