Cheap Translation: 5 Consequences

5 negative consequences for selecting cheap translation services

As economy continue its negative state, companies and businesses in general will continue looking for ways to cut cost and squeeze cash out of a flat (at best) revenues. And as good as that tactic might sound and agree with this as a good  business practice and appropriate to do, however when it comes to translation services, squeezing cost will ultimately cost the organization more than the saving that you are trying to realize.

Translation and communication in general do represent the image of your organization and a badly translated document would have major consequences on your business, here are few points to consider.

1- Drop in revenue: let’s say you need to translate a user manual for a device you are selling abroad. The user manual deals with specific operational, maintenance and troubleshooting information related to the said product. As early adopters consumers begin buying the product, a badly translated user manual will result in users not taking full advantage of the product features and functionalities, and A) they will return the purchased product B) tell others about the negative experience and hence preventing further sales, therefore revenues associated with the product will drop or disappear in some cases.

2- Lawsuit and Legal Liabilities: a badly translated document could result in bodily harm or injuries resulting of what could be considered “Misinformation” that could be a very costly error for your business, and I highly doubt that any business would want venture into a legal battle if they can avoid it by using something as simple as a professional translation company. Here where it get tricky, a procurement manager’s answer to this issue is a tight contract with favorable “liability clause”, a contract is good idea however cheap translation generally produced by small companies/individuals, therefore if there is a law suit the only thing you can take from them is their laptop computers in some cases, as these companies or individuals has no assets significant enough to outweigh the mistakes in a sensitve hi exposure translation of a document.

3- Negative image: Low quality translation is instrumental in creating negative marketing for your company, here is how, a wrongly translated brochure, website etc…from English into Spanish (as an example) can send the intended marketing message in the opposite direction. Here is a good one, GM made a car to be marketed in Latin America they called it Nova get it? NoVa, I don’t think this product/car sales volume is going anywhere similar to car name.

4- Drop in profitability: Some people might not believe this, but picture this, you sold a machine to France with no translation or badly translated document, the country where you sold the equipment (let’s say it’s an MRI Machine). The Manual accompanied the machine deliver misinformation re the exact operation of this complex medical instrument, someone looses their life resulting your cheap translation. You business is liable, and the dollar spent to fix legal cost, penalties, and other associated cost is coming out of your business profitability directly. Some people might say this is not that significant, well that’s not true GE paid 750K per month penalties per month to correct a translation issue associated with a batch of MRI machines sold to France. Compare this with the cost of good translation (makes you think, no?)

5- Loss of opportunities: Most business they lack the ability to really calculate this important factor in an accurate manner. Let’s run through a scenario whereby the procurement officer select the cheapest translation provider, and you ended up in one of the following: Legal battle, Misuse of product, or misinformation re product or company! It’s obvious that your sales will dip and those individuals who were thinking about buying your product or services will automatically get cold feet and back off on the buying decision this is your loss opportunity. Your sales team in country will end up not realizing revenue objective and you will have to replace them and that’s another cost all together (hiring, training etc..)

Conclusion, if you had to go to court would you hire the cheapest Lawyer to defend you? Or you would hire the best? If you needed a surgery would you select the cheapest doctor? Why would you want to select cheapest translation service provider when in some cases millions of dollars are at stake? Something to think about

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If you need more info or if you like to discuss this further let me know

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