The price unit used to prepare a quotation may vary a great deal from one company to another (word, line, page, etc.). The original word is the most reliable price unit for calculating a quotation, since the original text can be analysed with CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) tools and any corresponding discounts thus be applied. In any event, make sure that you request all quotations in the same price unit in order to be able to compare them properly.
The UNE-EN 15038 "Translation services - Service requirements" standard specifies that all translations must be revised by a second translator. The principle of "two heads are better than one" is indispensable in any quality translation.
If CAT tools are used, discount tables are normally applied, depending on the degree of repetition in the document. When you request a quotation, you should ask about these discount tables. Similarly, if the translation company uses an automatic translation tool, someone should proofread the text produced by the machine.
The number of translators involved in a translation has an impact on translation quality: the greater the number of translators the more difficult it will be to achieve a homogeneous quality. The amount of translators involved can be ascertained from the translation deadline provided by the company. Considering that a professional translator can translate between 2,500 and 4,000 words a day in order to render a quality translation, if the company gives you a term of two days to translate 10,000 words it means that at least 3 translators are involved in the translation (1.5 days of translation +½ day of revision).
As occurs in all sectors, there are many kinds of translation companies, which means that it is a good idea to find out what kind of company is behind what price. Unfortunately, the absence of an official College of Translators means that anyone can start up a translation agency without qualifications, experience or even a knowledge of the languages offered. It is therefore advisable to make sure that the company is responsible, checking, amongst other factors, that its personnel includes translators, proofreaders, terminology experts, concept correctors and project managers.
The company should have a data protection system, as well as the relevant confidentiality procedures, in place. Before commissioning a translation containing delicate information the relevant confidentiality agreements should be entered into.