If you are a professional translator, you have probably heard this.
If you are a translation buyer, you may have said it.
When you’re looking for translators, you send them your documents and you receive quotes. At this point, you haven’t received the final product (the translation) and you haven’t experienced the service.
Based on the above paragraph, I could end this post here because given you haven’t received the final product and you haven’t experienced the service, you are not in a position to know that what’s being offered by the different suppliers is the same, exact service.
But, let's look at a product other than translation. Let’s say you need a new handbag.
You find a bag by brand A. It is made of premium leather that doesn’t scratch and will last forever. It is made in France. It comes through the post in a bag. In the bag, there is a box. In the box, there is a fabric bag. In that fabric bag, you find your bag. You can keep all that to store and protect your bag. It costs £300.
You find a bag by brand B. It’s made of synthetic material in China. It comes through the post in a plastic, non-reusable bag. It costs £80.
Let's be honest though. Translation is not a handbag. Translation is not a product. It's a service. You don’t know what you’re buying until you receive the translation. Once you receive it, it becomes a product.
So when you look to buy translation, you look for translators; the people that provide them.
Translator A offers translation, review, formatting, print-proofreading. They have Terms & Conditions and a Privacy Notice. They are ISO certified. They are registered with the official body of translators. They have a website and a custom domain name and email. On the quote they gave you, you can see exactly what they offer, how and when you’ll receive it. The translations arrive in the post in a protective envelope and case. They are printed on high-quality paper. You also receive a “thank you” note. Later, you receive a follow-up feedback survey. It costs £100.
The truth is both brand A and brand B sell bags.
And with translation, the bottom-line is all translators sell translations.
The difference is that when it comes to translation, you cannot compare online the different products against their prices to decide what the best deal is for you. But you can compare translators’ profiles and what’s included in their quotes.
And once you have done that, you will realise that…
…translators are not the same
…what they do is not the same
…the service they offer is not the same and
…how they deliver it, is not the same.
You can choose to buy from brand A or B. That is 100% your choice. But you wouldn't walk into a brand A shop and yell “I cannot justify your prices. What you’re selling is exactly the same as brand B”. You wouldn’t verbally abuse the staff because brand A charges what they're worth.
So why treat a translator this way?
Maybe instead you could say “I’m sorry, this is not for me. It doesn’t suit my needs. I have found a different offer which does”. Nobody is going to argue with that.
Or maybe you could say “Thank you for taking the time to detail your services. I see that what you offer is very professional, but I am wondering, could you perhaps do a better price? For example, I had xx figure in mind”.
And remember: when you approach a professional, expect a professional charge.
Vasiliki is a professional translator and interpreter working with English and Greek. She specialises in legal, marketing, and psychometrics. She is a member of CIoL and ITI and she is registered with the Greek Embassy. Her mission is to help you reach your goals through the power of words. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.