In many cases, a specialized freelancer translator can provide a better level of service to a client than the vast majority of translation agencies that advertise on the Internet.
Most agencies are black boxes. They do not employ in-house translators whose skills have been carefully reviewed. On the contrary, they are simple middlemen who maintain a large database of contact details for thousands of freelancers and assign projects to the lowest bidder. This model is hardly conducive to quality. The results are often disappointing.
However, a small or medium-sized business does not need to become a hostage to fortune. By selecting an appropriately qualified financial translator, a company can bypass the black box of the “virtual” middlemen and entrust the translation of its valuable documents to a professional with the right background who can deliver the highest level of quality at a comparable cost.
Use the following rule of thumb: If your document requires a relatively low level of desktop-publishing expertise or if you carry out DTP tasks in-house, chances are you do not need to resort to the vagaries of a shady translation agency to get your words translated from English into Spanish or vice-versa.
Remember: When you buy translations, you are not purchasing a commodity. Whoever claims to provide translations at the lowest rate is simply delivering low quality work.
The American Translators Association (ATA), of which I am a member, suggests that "you will get best results from developing an on-going relationship with a translator... The longer you work with them and the better they understand your business philosophy, strategy and products, the more effective their texts will be."
To read more on this issue, read Getting It Right: A Guide to Buying Translations, published by the American Translators Association.