Often, upon following up on a quote sent to a prospective client, we find out they went with the lowest bidder. This often does not turn out well. One prospect confided in us that he selected a competitor who came in with a much lower quote only to have received a bad translation. The prospect was embarrassed when a native speaking colleague had to fix what should have been a high quality translation. He even used the phrase that he “got what he paid for.”
What could this prospect have done differently? He could have asked about the disparity among the quotes, since the lowest quote was less than half the price of the others. In cases like this, it is important to compare apples to apples. Each quote should demonstrate that the bidder fully understands the scope of the project and should include the same services. Some companies may not include editing, desktop publishing or proofreading in the initial quote, but then add this later on to the final invoice. Most translation services like to hear feedback regarding their quotes. If it is reasonable, they may work with you to align their quote with others if cost is the only deciding factor.
Another way to gauge a translation service’s quality is by asking about the linguists who would work on the project. Quality translation services use educated and experienced linguists, and with that comes a price. Some services rely on low cost translation software or unqualified linguists. They are able to quote dramatically low prices, but are unable to ensure the translation quality is on par with the English original.
The best advice is to get all of the information you can from the prospective translation services. Make sure the quote lists all the services that will be included and ask for references. An ISO-certified translation service will have a well-defined process that ensures quality, starting with the selection of experienced, highly trained linguists.
Make sure that you are getting what you pay for. Because we’ve all heard the saying that if that extraordinarily low price seems too good to be true, it probably is.