Translation prices. A rip-off?

by | Jul 25, 2017 | Translators' Column

When it comes to pricing translation jobs, clients, as well as translators, often seem to suspect each other of trying to take advantage.

Translators often believe that clients only want to pay the lowest prices. As a consequence, we translators believe that clients are forcing us to work for a pittance!

Clients, on the other hand, are often convinced that we would rip them off if we could and charge way over the top for very simple jobs.

They frequently ask translators to “give me your best price”. As if expecting us to quote horrendously expensive prices to trick our unwary customers.

Do translators ever quote inflated prices?

It is true that quotes for the translation of the same document can vary widely, even within one country. To assess whether higher prices are justified or inflated, clients should check whether the following services are included in the quote:

  1. Independent proofreading
  2. Checking proofs before they go live or go to print
  3. Printing and postage

Very occasionally, translators may quote a higher price if they don’t really want to take on an additional piece of work. But, they would fit it in, if it was either really urgent or no-one else was available to do it in the time required.

Now this is inflation!

Just recently, however, I have come across some genuine and outrageous overpricing.

A client had asked for a quote for a certified translation of 3 certificates, each of them one sheet of A4.

Having asked to see the certificates and assessed them for complexity and how long it would take me to translate them, I quoted a price well below £100.

The client was highly astonished. In hindsight, this is hardly surprising. Because one agency had quoted £200 for the same job, another £700!

£700 for three simple A4 documents!

I now have much more sympathy for clients asking for “your best price”. My recommendation: everyone should obtain several quotes before placing an order.

For an in depth analysis of translators’ pricing considerations, please read the Iolante article on “Translation Rates“.


This article was written by Erika Baker, Iolante director and independent English-German translator. If you wish to discuss any aspects of this article with her, please contact her.

Accurate, confidential, efficient and reliable English-German translations

Professionally qualified German translator into English and English into German, offering first class translation services for commercial, industrial, governmental and private clients.

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