Fees, fees, fees...a survey for all my fellow agencies out there big and small

Okay. I have been reporting in NY for over 20 years and have decided to take a survey.
When it comes to extras, what do you charge your client for? I ask this because I wonder how y'all are handling this.

Please write in and let me know if you charge for any or all of the following:
ASCII
E-Tran
PDF
Min-U-Script
Any and all responses are greatly appreciated!

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This is actually frowned upon by the Federal Trade Commission ...
Wow, thanks for that info, Michelle. Glad to know you're up on things with the FTC.
My request is IF folks are charging, not WHAT they are charging, merely IF they are.
Isn't the issue with the FTC regarding price fixing? How does knowing what different areas charge constitute price fixing? I'm unclear in this regard.

Veronica
You should charge for everything and give nothing away. With rates stagnant for many years, no reasonable billable should be squandered. Each of the 4 items you mention is a reasonable billable. Also 10% more per day for rush work, business days only. Also surcharges for expert, video, interpreter, should have gotten an interpreter, dep conducted via phone, weekend, holiday, night. Also cancellation fee after 5 p.m. and a much higher cancellation fee after the CR arrives at the location.
"You should charge for everything and give nothing away"

I agree with Marge.
Not doing so (charging for what you mentioned) will cause agencies to ask reporters not to charge for those services? which will then cause good reporters to go to another agency which will then effect the agency itself because they will basically only have lousy, desperate reporters and videographers, WHICH will then anger their clients (because a cheap videographer didnt show up on time or showed up with one mic.. etc) you will end up with cheap clients who are anal and only have crappy jobs anyway.
Agencies that do it cheap never grow consistently because they suffer on many fronts and between contractors and clients.

look at esquire and Merrill, they are hemorrhaging money (one got sold, the other cant find a buyer)
The only reason they have great reporters is because they have funders/buyers.


no client is better then a lousy, cheap client.

also lipka, I am not sure why this would be frowned upon by the Federal Trade Commission.

Monti
Very valid (and interesting) points you make, Monti.
so true! so true!
Thanks, Monti. Thanks for this site and thanks for your comments. They are well taken!
:)

Federal Trade Commission would probably frown upon a conspiracy to set rates. The question was not about setting rates. If you choose to post what you charge, Premier Reporter might choose to charge less than everyone else and undercut everyone else. Of course, everyone would be very mad at them, but that's their right.

Or, they could decide they only want to work with the creme de la creme and charge higher rates.

Otherwise, there would be no way census bureaus would be able to gather wage data.

IF I said to you, let's undercut everyone in the X area by charging $1/page, still would not be a problem. As long as there are other agencies in the area who are charging different rates. Also not a problem if everyone is charging the same rate as long as they come to conclusion to charge what they charge independently.

Now, if every agency in X area is charging $1/page and they could prove that every agency is charging a $1/page bec. that every agency in X area got together and conspired to provide that rate and corner the market and the consumer would have no choice but to go to you, then there might be some problems. But I think that would be difficult to prove.

For my part, if rates are advertised, great. I know I'm in the ballpark or really high or really low (I hope not), but that doesn't necessarily mean that I will go out and change my rates.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about everything. In which case, you'll probably find me in a nice penitentiary. I hope I end up in the white collar criminal section, I hear they're very nice. J/k
Kyung,
I promise I will visit you in that nice penitentiary!!!!!
All kidding aside, my question was only if folks were charging - not WHAT they were charging so the FCC comment is really silly to begin with. Interesting who replies to things here and what they have to say at times. Very interesting indeed.
Hi, Marge. You and I would sure run an agency a bit differently than some of them out there, wouldn't we? You know, I was reading recently about "the billable hour" that's charged by attys, and how a little better method for keeping track of those billable hours would produce thousands of dollars extra income for an atty just using a better system -- a variation of "You should charge for everything and give nothing away." The atty's stock in trade is his time, so that makes sense. But with many court reporting agencies out there still doing their damndest to pound pages rates into the ground, yet still make money on high volume, we know they're attracting clients not by the quality of their work, but by the bottom-line cheap prices they offer for their services ... or, rather, our services. Just like it's up to agency owners to be in the know about what's going on in their own backyards, it's up to the individual reporter to also be aware of what's going on around them. But there are ways to learn about that other than from potential competitors. Even if a simple request seems innocent enough, I can see how it potentially might lead to unintended consequences.

Oh, so let me ask something then about rates. What's the difference between "networking" with another firm, where one firm calls another firm up and asks them to cover a job for them and must learn their rates for covering that job ... the difference between that and just calling up out of the blue with a fake job offer, learning the rates, then a couple of days later cancelling the fake-in-the-first-place job but making a note of another firm's rates for future reference? Think anyone does that? Don't answer that.

M.A.
Mary Ann,

AMEN!!!

Marge
It may seem like a tame question, "if," but when we attended the Firm Owners Conference a few years ago, that very question, "if" to charge for certain items, came up in what was supposed to be a kind of free-flowing information exchange between firm owners from different parts of the country. It was nixed by TPTB monitoring the room. Just like with realtime, which in some parts of the country is charged for and some parts, not, that's your decision. You're the boss! You can learn that information in places and ways other than from those who might turn out to be your potential competitors. Remember, it's a global marketplace. If an atty goes searching for a reporter in Washington, D.C. or New York, let's say, the first 3 or 4 hits they get back ... depending on where they're looking ... might very well turn up firms based in Kansas City or San Francisco.

M.A.

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