How do I know if a translation service is any good?
To start with, the difficulty for you is that there is no easy way of knowing whether one translation service is better than another. They all promise accurate translations yet they are not all created equal. Some proclaim unending quality while others promise low prices. The latter is the first obvious danger signal. The simple truth is that good translators are not cheap, nor should they be. The translation service also needs to add on its cut, ranging from 20%-50% on top of the translator's price.
So, if the prices are too low, it is most likely the translator's cut that has suffered. This will undoubtedly mean that you'll only get inexperienced or poor translators. If all you want is to understand what a document is about, then you'd probably be better off saving your money and using one of the free on-line machine translation systems. If, on the other hand, the material is for your clients then it might be worth getting the job done properly. The bottom line is that in choosing a translation service, price should not be your ultimate deciding factor but rather one piece of the overall translation pie.
So set price aside and ask the agency:
- How it selects its translators?
- What training programme it has in place to continually raise quality?
- About the experience of the translator who would be assigned the translation?
- Why this translator is the right choice?
- Whether it supports the "Quality in Translation" campaign?
Also ask yourself:
- Does the translation service specialise in the type of material you want to translate?
- Does the translation service specialise in some languages, or does it offer every language under the sun?
It is easy to calculate how much you spend on translations. What’s not so easy is determining how much poor translations will cost you.