Don’t be afraid of asking for a discount

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Most providers will be happy to provide you with a discount in exchange of a long term relationship. This may be achieved by means of a contract or a simple commitment of your company to buy a certain amount over a certain period of time.

Another reason why translation companies provide discount is the fact that translation demand is not stable. There are peaks and valleys in demand. If a translation provider has idle capacity they may be willing to work at rates considerably lower than usual.

In this article you will learn all you need to know to confidently and successfully ask for a discount!

Comparing apples to apples

The first thing to pay attention to is what kind of items are being charged in your translation project.
To compare quotes you should have at least a high-level understanding of what you are being charged.

The most common types of items in a translation project are:

  • Translation: main activity
  • Quality assurance: editing, proof-reading, and in-country review
  • Management: project setup, project management
  • Style: glossary and style guide related tasks
  • Desktop Publishing: file conversion, operations in InDesign, etc.
  • Software engineering: coding, configuration, and testing

Other factors that impact price:

  • Markup files: files that need extra attention / time to be translated, such as: HTML/XML/Others
  • Paper documents: there is a need of scanning physical papers
  • Localization/Transcreation: when measures and dimensions should be converted or content should be changed substantially due to cultural-related specifics
  • Urgency fees: if you need people working overnight on your project price may increase substantialy

You don’t need to become a translation expert and learn about all these components. But, you should be able to realize what your providers are charging for and make sure you are getting what you are paying for.

How willing are providers to give me a discount?

A lot. As you may see pricing translation is not an easy task. Because there is such complexity and always a certain level of uncertainty of the work to be done, it is common in the translation industry for providers to play safe and add additional hours and words to your quote. Knowing this fact and answering as many questions from your provider as they may have there is a good chance you may get a discount for simply asking for it!

A few things that will help you land the discount:

  • being flexible with the turnaround
  • possibility of a long term relationship with your provider
  • willing to provide graphic files when requested

Common Sense Advisory, Inc., in their “Translation Pricing” report, reminds us that 42% of the translation providers answering their survey have said they offer “some type of discount, based on customer loyalty, frequency, or volume”.

Is there a reference price table for the industry?

No. There is no such thing as a reference price table for the industry as a whole. Although some entities will publish reference prices for the translation community, you will find a wild variation in prices when asking providers for a quote.

It is important to stress that price is not a proxy for quality, although providers with prices too low will rarely afford high quality professionals.

The main factors impacting the cost of your project

Another thing that is some times difficult to be understood by translation buyers is that even for a same provider prices will vary wildly depending on these four factors:


What it is



It is the subject matter being translated. Main categories are: legal, technical, medical, and business.The technical expertise and time-experience of the translator being required are the two aspects affecting how much you will pay to have access to this kind of professional Do you need a lawyer translating your contract? Or will a paralegal suffice? Or, maybe it is just a standard form that will require neither of these two professionals? For a medical protocol, will you need a translator with a MD? Or maybe a translator specializing in medical is enough?What kind of translator should be assigned to a manual for avionics components? Will someone with only 10 years of experience in technical translation suffice? Or will you need that senior technical translator who has spent the last 30 years of his life working exclusively with this type of translation?


How much time will you allow for translation? Work done late hours and during weekends cost substantially more.Translation is a human activity that takes time. If you want things to be rushed expect to have to pay for that How many people at your company would be willing to work overnight? And, If you find someone willing to do so, how much extra would they charge for their time.Translation is a human activity. It takes time to be done.To make things more challenging you cannot simply “add lots of translators” to a project to get it completed sooner. As you have additional people, there is an increased challenge related to consistency and quality…you will need translators to spend more time referring to a glossary, extra editing, and proofreading…all of that done at a rush pace. Adding translators to a project have only a marginal increment in output.


There are two main “standards” for quality in translation: “for information” and “for publishing”It is difficult for buyers to understand how translations may have so many different levels of quality. “For information”, which means a translation with the main purpose as enabling the reader to understand certain content. This translation is not going to be “published” or “used as a companion to a product in the market”. Think about emails being exchanged by a foreign client and your company. All you want is to understand the sender’s message. You are not concerned if a few typos or style issues are present in the translation.“For publishing”: think about the text on a magazine or the directions on a manual for machinery. Typos and issues with style are not acceptable. This kind of translation will require multiple levels of work such as the “TEP”, which means Translation plus Editing plus Proofreading.From the example above, it is easy to understand why “for-publishing” is always more expensive than “for-information” translation

Language Pair

Costs for different languages are different. It is a matter of offer and demand.If there are lots of translators into Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese, then rates are driven down by competition. Very difficult to find professional translators for languages such as Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish? Yes, so expect higher prices for them.Besides the difference in costs caused by the abundance of professionals in Latin languages such as Spanish and Portuguese and lack of tem in Western-European languages, location and historical context also play a role. When pricing translation into/from different languages, providers will have their own costs as start point. And, provider costs are based majorly on how much the actual translator will be compensated.A Spanish translator working in-house for a translation company in Florida will be less expensive than a Norwegian translator also working in-house for this same company out of their branch in London.When we think about freelance translators, who also work for translation companies, this will stand out even more. How much compensation will a Spanish translator based in Argentina need for a high-standard living? Certainly, it will be just a fraction of how much the Norwegian translator will need to keep a basic standard of living in Norway, one of the most expensive countries in the world.

The Translation Company – a Translation Company in New York

Whether you need a translation agency in New York or a Silicon Valley translation service we got you covered. From technical German to English translation to language desktop publishing we have all you need to go global.

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