Translation Costs: Avoiding common hidden costs and fees with your LSP

Cost is always an important consideration when hiring out services for your business. Translation and other language services are no exception—which makes it all the more frustrating when translation costs for these services are inflated by surprise fees.

Unfortunately, the use of hidden fees is a common practice among many language service providers (LSPs). Before you agree to payment terms with an LSP, review your quoted price for translation services and make sure you aren’t subject to hidden fees and charges that will drive the total cost of services higher. 

Here are some of the most common hidden costs in translation projects.

Hidden Translation Costs #1: Project management fees

Project management fees are perhaps the most common hidden expense, and they’re often the biggest surprise charge that will show up on your invoice. 

A typical project management fee will range between 10 and 15 percent of the overall quote for a translation project. This means a $2,000 project could be accompanied by a project management fee between $200-300.

The problem with project management fees is that project management should be an assumed component of any project performed by an LSP. Your business should look for an LSP that is upfront about project management costs when initially quoting a project.

Hidden Translation Costs #2: Engineering costs

Several types of engineering costs could be tacked on to the price after you’ve hired an LSP to provide translations. This may include preflight work, where engineers extract text from a PDF or scanned image to produce translated content that is visually similar to the source content. 

Engineering fees are also commonly charged when dealing with complex design files, eLearning modules, and content involving images, video, and voiceover. Engineering fees are often added as an additional cost by LSPs that lack the internal bandwidth or professionals to handle engineering in-house. As a result, they outsource this work to a third party—and pass on the added cost to you.

Hidden Translation Costs #3: In-country review

In some cases, an LSP will charge extra for any revisions or changes recommended through the in-country review (ICR). ICR is an important stage of quality assurance, giving your business the ability to have translated content reviewed by in-country experts who can make sure the copy makes sense and reads well to the target audience.

Oftentimes, the ICR review process does lead to edits and changes that need to be made. Some LSPs will charge extra to incorporate this feedback into the finished product. But your business should look for an LSP that builds ICR edits into their initial quote for a project. In most cases, additional charges for ICR should only occur when the review process demands significant changes that go beyond that original scope of the project.

Make sure you’re getting value from your language services

It’s tempting to choose the LSP that offers the lowest translation cost per-word, but those low advertised prices are often hiding hidden translation costs that will end up costing you more in the long run. Save yourself this stress by choosing an LSP that offers up-front, all-inclusive pricing that your business can count on.

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