Cheap Language Services Will Have You Paying More in the Long Run:

Skimping on language services such as interpretation, translation or localization can literally cost you millions or incite devastating aftermath. Language barriers cause confusion and leave a lot of room for misunderstandings. It’s important to hire a reputable language service provider when in need of language services to ensure accuracy. There is a tremendous difference between being bilingual and working as a professional interpreter or translator. The level of proficiency required to professionally interpret or translate is incomparable to just being able to speak or sign a language. Often, companies and organizations choose the cheap route when it comes to obtaining language services, however you must ask yourself, can you really afford cheap translation or interpretation services and are you truly saving money? The answer is, you get what you pay for.

Reason # 1: Poor Interpretation Cost Millions:

James Wang, a software engineer accused IBM of firing him for being deaf. The discrimination lawsuit was being negotiated by Mr. Wang’s lawyer, who claimed to be fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). The lawyer confused the sign for “million” with the sign for “thousand” during negotiations with IBM. When Mr. Wang received the settlement paperwork he was floored to find out he was only being offered $200,000.00 as opposed to $2,000,000.00. Mr. Wang stated, “I did not realize he read my sign mistakenly until after mediation.” He did not accept the offer, however IBM insisted the agreement be enforced, saying that the sign language misinterpretation was not credible. The lawyer claimed to know ASL, but was obviously not versed enough to fully understand all of the signs during communication with Mr. Wang. A professional ASL interpreter should have been hired to facilitate communication between Mr. Wang and all other parties involved in the lawsuit. If that happened in the beginning there would have never been any confusion over the amount of money being asked for. Ultimately if Mr. Wang’s accusations are true, IBM got out of a discrimination lawsuit at a cheap price due to a tiny yet massive misinterpretation by an unqualified “ASL interpreter.”

Reason #2: Damage to Reputation and Loss of Customers:

In 2015, Taco Bell returned to the Japanese consumer market and had their website localized to accommodate their target audience. The translation on the website was extremely poor, the company’s slogan, “We’ve got nothing to hide” which reflected their choosing of high quality ingredients was translated into “What did we bring here to hide?” and consumers in Japan were eating “Supreme Court Beef” known in America as the Crunchwrap Supreme. The translation of the slogan was off putting and created a perception of dishonestly and a sheer lack of respect for the Japanese language. These are not good associations when trying to sell your product abroad. Taco Bell admitted to using translation software for the localization of their website into Japanese; machine translation is notorious for it’s poor and sometimes humorous conversions. Localization is the language service used to help companies appeal and resonate in the hearts of foreign target audiences. If your translations are not linguistically correct or culturally appropriate, you won’t be received well and you will lose customers.

Reason #3: Poor/Cheap Interpretation or Translation Could Put You in a Life or Death Situation:

When interpretation or translation services are needed in medical settings, diagnosis and treatment are dependent on communication between the patient and medical staff. If a language barrier is present it’s required by law to provide the limited English proficient (LEP) patient with the interpretation services they need. Skimping on the service and using a child, family member or bilingual staff member to perform professional interpretation services, sets your healthcare facility up to potentially face medical malpractice resulting in lawsuits. In an UC Berkeley study, healthcare providers discussed the impact of language barriers and the inadequate funding of language services within healthcare facilities. 35 cases were reviewed with 90% having not been provided the appropriate language services during the time of emergency. In 12 cases, family members or young children were used to interpret and in nearly all cases there was no documentation provided that detailed the language specifications of the patients involved. “The cases resulted in many patients suffering death and irreparable harm. Two children and three adults died. In one case, the deceased child was used as an interpreter before suffering respiratory arrest. In another, the deceased child’s 16-year-old sibling was used as the interpreter. One patient was rendered comatose, one underwent a leg amputation, and a child suffered major organ damage.”

Cutting back and saving money is something every company, healthcare facility or organization should think about. However, when it comes to language services you truly get what you pay for. There is no substitute for a professional interpretation, translation or localization services. Machine translation software or bilingual friends, family or staff members just can’t compare to the services received from a trained and experienced professional.

Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise with 21 years of language service experience. A global network of highly skilled interpreters and translators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-site, telephonic and video remote interpretation services. Our linguists are available in over 350 languages and dialects, and our network includes certified interpreters and translators. Our work is guaranteed with a $1 Million Errors & Omissions policy, so that you can be confident that your project will be completed with the highest level of quality and professionalism within the field. For more information contact us at 1-877-567-8449 or visit our website at

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