Translation Cost: Minimum Fees, Why They Exist and How to Avoid Them

 In Translation

Translation Services Fees

Let’s talk about translation cost. We all know translation is charged per unit of translation, usually a word of the original or the target document. But have you ever encountered a scenario when all you needed was one sentence and the quote came back with a minimum fee?

Minimum fees are standard component of translation cost. The reasons for that are the following:

  1. Most of the time consuming work the company will perform – like reviewing the document, quoting, identifying the appropriate translator, communicating about the project, etc. – is done the same way regardless of the volume for translation. Charging minimum fees simply helps avoid losing money.
  2. Translation services providers are charged minimum fees by their vendors who feel like having to interrupt their large translation project to translate just a few words costs them time and effort. Which it does.

There are things you as a customer can do to avoid being charged minimum fees:

  1. If the short translation is part of a larger project in the same language combination, let your language service provider know. If they can wait with billing until the entire project is completed, they should be able to avoid charging you minimum fees – and their vendor will likely do the same for them.
  2. Ask about service/framework agreements or retainer agreements. If you plan on translating a reliable volume every month it should not matter that it comes in small pieces. What matters is what it amounts to at the end of the month.
  3. If the translation is not urgent, wait until you amass more work in the same language combination before ordering translation.
  4. Ask if your provider offers varying degrees of quality with different pricing. For example, if you need a short email translated “just to know what it says”, the translation process does not need to include linguistic review or quality assurance checks. Even though a minimum fee might still be applied, it should be much lower than a minimum fee for something you will need to publish on the home page of your website.

If you would like to know how your specific organization may avoid paying minimum fees and find an efficient translation solution overall, do not hesitate to ask for a free consultation. We cannot wait to get to know you!


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