(UPDATE: Babylon responded and this matter is sorted out. See the bottom of the post)
This is off topic for this blog, but I wanted to tell you about a product experience I found preposterous, on the verge of misleading, by a company I thought was serious.
I’m working on a project and found out that I needed some text translated to Spanish. Since this is a proof of concept I didn’t go to a regular translator but was looking for a cheaper alternative. Yes, I know, you pay peanuts etc – I get it. I needed a quick translation to check something.
A trusted connection suggested Babylon’s translation services. I went ahead and found the website. The form counted my words, suggested a price for the word count, and sold me up on “proofreading”. Not sure what that is, but I went with it. Altogether $12 that I happily spent to get one small translation. Roughly 50 words.
Then, a day later, I get this email from someone named Orly:
My mane is Orly [redacted] , I’m Babylons professional translations project manager.
I noticed that your last request is for translation of 56 word and proofreading. According to that it comes to the total of 84 words.
Currently your account shows the balance of 75 words, so there are 9 words missing.
Please purchase a suitable package that covers your needs so we can proceed with the translation and send you the results as soon as possible.
Thank you and awaiting your reply.
Wait, what? The website gave me a price. I said ok. I paid. Suddenly there’s a higher price to pay? What’s this about? I asked:
I paid $8 for translation and $4 for proofreading as your website asked me to. I don’t understand why I’m being asked to pay more. That doesn’t make sense to me. Do you have a different price than your website?
Because hey, maybe I’m dealing with the militant faction of the human translation network. Like an unplanned road block by the militia. Diligent Orly promptly responded:
Thank you for your reply.
The payment of 12 $ (8$ translation + 4$ proofreading) is related to 50 words translation and 25 words proofreading.
You exceeded this amount -56 words translation + 28 words proofreading.
Due to that you need to add more words to your account in order to get it done.
Something is clearly not coming through. So far I’m far beyond the “One page in one hour” promised on their front page, but hey, there’s an asterisk and maybe my text is that kind of text (it’s not). I try again:
But that’s what your website asked me to pay. How does it make sense that I ask for something, your website asks me for a certain payment, and suddenly I need to pay more?
Trying logic. She replies:
The website offer you to purchase the word quantity according to your decision.
The website doesn’t know how many words you intend to translate. In that case you should choose a bigger words package that will cover all the words.
But, wait, the website has a word counter. It gave me an offer based on my word count. In fact, the price changes according to word count. Check it out.
At this point I decided it wasn’t worth my time. I will move to another service and leave Babylon and their bait and switch techniques to themselves. I asked for a refund and I fully intend to cancel the charge if I don’t get it within three days, as my concern about this company grows. I just want to put the word out there: be careful with Babylon.
UPDATE: I got a response from Babylon. David from the team asked for the following response to be posted:
“We would like to apologize to Ohad. There was a problem with the Babylon Human Translation website, of which our translation account managers were unaware, that caused it to report a faulty word count. It was this glitch that led to the misunderstanding. We are sorry for any frustration or inconvenience this may have caused.”
I appreciate Babylon taking this seriously!