I think I could write a book today entitled "Top 100 Excuses Why My Job is Late." Why is it that some people are chronically late with their transcripts? It almost seems like a disease.

Look, I'm a procrastinator, I must admit. However, when it comes to meeting deadlines, I do have a little work integrity. I am not saying I have NEVER been late, but there are some people who are late each and every job. What's up with that?!

I have heard every excuse in the book when it comes to being late. Here's some of my favorites:

"My dog ate the transcript."
"My computer crashed." (conveniently the morning the job is due)
"I overslept."
"My rabbit chewed my computer cord, and I lost everything."
"My mother is in the hospital." (same mother passed away a year ago)

I know it is an occupational hazard in this industry to be late. I think if people were docked in their page rate, they might start being on time.

Any suggestions on how to deal with lateness? Should people who are chronically late be penalized?

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Yes, if they never get penalized for being chronically late, they are never going to change. There's no reason for them to change. Why should you absorb the added stress because they can't get off their duffs and schedule their time appropriately???
Docking pay sounds excellent. You can use that money, put it in a pot, and every couple of months have a Friday Happy Hour.
I worked for an agency that docked you every day you were late on a job. Okay, these weren't depos though. I worked for an agency that covered workers' comp hearings. Every proceeding was automatically transcribed, and if I remember correctly we had 20 business days to get them turned in and that really was plenty of time. I personally loved it because I had a deadline and motivation to get 'er done. If I was docked, I knew it was my own darn fault.

Maybe you could turn it around and motivate your contractors with incentives and rewards for turning work in timely, say, every three or six months for consistent performance they receive tickets to a show or a gift card or a mani/pedi. If you plan on taking them "off the books," I would be sure to let them know exactly why. I've also worked for an agency that kept a lot of secrets and that was not a healthy environment and created animosity amongst the reporters and staff.

Good luck. I will be interested to hear what others have to say.
Very good suggestions about docking. The thing is that some of these late people don't seem to care about being late. What's worse is when you tell them what day the job is due, they think they can get it to you at 6 p.m.

There used to be this court reporting company in Virginia who docked everybody 25 cents for each mistake or typo in the transcript. This was back in the days when the court reporters had to print out the job and deliver it to the court reporting firm. If you did not get it to her company by the TIME CERTAIN, she would consider it late and cut the page rate down. She didn't get many late transcripts. In fact, she's now retired, sold her business, and is living happily ever after somewhere.

I guess if you inform the person taking the job beforehand that they will be docked a certain amount for lateness, then that should be fair.
I think docking is a great way to assure you of getting your work back. You just tell them up front. You can't lose. You will either have all of your work back on time or you will have more money in your pocket for the aggravation in hunting down the work.
A long, long time ago I assigned a job to a reporter. After three weeks we started calling to find out where the transcript was (my assistant at the time that did almost all of the calling is now a working reporter that I believe visits this site and she can verify all of this). After a few calls and still no transcript, we had to inform her that the attorneys were talking settlement and she really needed to get it turned in. Still no transcript. Sure 'nuf, the case settled. I sent the reporter an appearance fee. She got the transcript in at I think the eight-week mark. She then had the nerve to call the CA CSR board and lodge a complaint against me for not paying her the full amount. When I spoke to the CSR board re the complaint, THEY suggested a docking system for every day the transcript is late, take a percentage off.

In the next, oh, about seven years after I instituted a payment "plan" for late transcripts, I had only THREE late transcripts. I got rid of the docking system earlier this year, tho, and really have not had much hassle with late transcripts (but it has been quite slow and everybody seems to be much more caught up nowadays).

My system went something like if you got the transcript (including exhibits and certs) in within ten working days, you got paid x.xx within xx days; 11-15 working days, you got paid in xx (x2) days; 16+ working days, you got paid in xx (x3) days, plus I deducted 10 percent every day that it was late. When I have a "new" reporter work for me, I send them to my website that has all my particulars (where to send the tript, etc.). I had the payment schedule right on the website, so they couldn't say they didn't see it. I also had an online worksheet, so they definitely had to see the payment schedule in order to get to the worksheet.

Nowadays, if they're consistently late, I just bypass their name completely when I need to hire an IC in their area.
Judy, thanks for sharing the docking system you used.

If and when they were late, how did you deal with the client? It is my reputation that is on the line with the client when somebody is late with one of my jobs. That is what is frustrating. The person who is late doesn't have to deal with the client.

Me personally, you can have the most beautiful transcript in the world. However, if it's late, then having a well-done transcript goes out the window.

The client -- at least my clients -- are more appreciative of transcripts that arrive on time than having a well-done transcript. If the transcript is late, then my name is mud in their eyes. They then let their fingers do the walking and shop for another service provider.
One time, the transcript was so late that the reporter got paid nothin', and the client got charged nothin' (and it's not the same one as above that got the app fee). But... the reporter complained long and hard and threatened to call my client to secure payment, so I ended up paying the reporter. Still didn't charge the client, tho.

The other two times, I don't remember what I did for the client. The reporter certainly didn't get into more than a 20% reduction, so that might be why I don't remember clearly.

But, yes, that is the issue, clients depend on their transcripts being sent to them on a timely basis. They trust us, that's why they use us. We, in turn, trust that the ICs we're hiring will do the right thing and get the transcripts in before the deadline. When reporters/scopists/proofreaders are late, at the end of the day it's the agency's owner's reputation that's on the line. I think most ICs understand that too. And if they don't and constantly think that the rules/deadlines apply to everybody but them, well, it's time that their workload got lightened a bit because it's obvious that they are too busy at that moment in time.

I will add the qualifier, there are absolute emergencies that occur and have to be considered. But I gotta say, an absolute emergency is not "I keep getting expedites and I don't have time to do your transcript." My response to that one is, "Then take yourself off of everybody's calendar to get mine done so you don't get another expedite." Oh, and I've had the same excuse of the mother that died twice.
Jeanese, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think every single one of us knows what it's like to have no work, the phone not ring, and sit there with an empty platter.

Recently, I lost a 30-year friendship with a lady who used to work with me. She was chronically late, especially when I was busy, but the quality of her work is excellent.

I gave her a job on a Thursday and explained to her that it was time sensitive, and that I must have it to the client before business opened up on Monday morning. I told her I would call her at 8 p.m. on Sunday night to see where she was with the job, and whatever she hadn't finished, I was going to finish it up. Since I knew she had a tendency for lateness, I was trying to cover all my bases. Also, I was swamped this weekend with hundreds of pages to get done. Otherwise, you can be sure that I would have done this job myself.

Well, Sunday night came, and I called her at the designated time, 8 p.m. She told me she had 10 more minutes. I figured she was in good shape. She said she would e-mail it to me immediately upon completion.

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. on Monday, and the job was not sent. I waited until 6:30 a.m. and then called her. She said she was still working on the table of contents. I said I needed time to process the job and to just send me what she had. After 2.5 hours with no job, she said she was having trouble sending it, that it wouldn't go, and she would have to drive it over.

My chest began to get tight, and I wasn't taking any more chances on her. I told her I'd drive to her home and pick it up. So, on Monday morning during RUSH HOUR traffic on the D.C. Beltway, I'm driving to her home, a 30-minute drive at that time. En route, I experienced shortness of breath on the highway. I thought I was having a stroke or a heart attack. I opened my window and tried to get some oxygen. I was scared and wondered what would happen to me if I died right there on the Beltway driving 65 MPH.

I finally got the job from her and then drove home. It took me over 2 hours to get home due to the damn RUSH HOUR traffic. I will never, ever forget that morning.

There are some jobs that I cannot be late on, and that was one of them. She knew it. I told her over and over and over again on Thursday that this was a time-sensitive job and explained the urgency of having it on time. I even gave her the option to give me what she had Sunday night and let me finish it, and I still got screwed. Today, my 30-year friendship with this lady is over, I am sad to say. I hope I get over it, but I haven't just yet. I still remember that tightness in my chest and then all the other times she was late over the years.

If somebody is late, I can take the job and do it myself. I do transcription of client-provided audio -- no court reporting, no depositions, no court trials, no legal stuff. However, when I'm swamped, there's not enough time in the day to get my work done, it seems.

I don't like having too much work, and I don't like not having enough work. I wish there was a way to regulate the work flow, but there just isn't. It seems like it's either feast or famine.

And let me just end by saying I have been late myself before, but I try not to make it a habit. Sometimes things happen in life that are beyond our control. For me, though, being on time is one of the best work attributes a person can have. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it. LOL!
When you accept a job as a subcontractor, (scopist, transcriptionist or proofer) being late without a major life event or computer meltdown is inexcusable in my book. If you are too busy to take the work, just say so. If you need an extra day say, I can’t get it by Tuesday, but I can by Wednesday and let the reporter/contractor make the decision. When you commit to a job, meeting the deadline is essential. Our job is to help make the reporter/contractor look good and make their life easier.

In most cases, my pay depends on my reporters getting the job back to their client to get paid. Since I am not doing this just for fun (although I really enjoy what I do!), I want to get my money as soon as possible too. The sooner they get paid, I get paid. I think a program like Judy mentioned is a great idea. Bottom line is we are all in business and need to think in those terms.

I am sorry to hear about the split with your friend. After 30 years, I can understand why you feel so bad about it. That’s tough. Only folks that do what we do truly understand the ins and outs and stresses. But your mental and physical health (DC in rush hour, yikes!)is important too, so I see why you had to make your decision.
K.C., I agree with your thoughts on this. In recent times, I had to seek outside help to get a large job covered, 35-plus hours of interviews.

I had been working with one lady whose work was excellent. However, five out of the six jobs I gave her in the past six months, she was late. The last job I sent her, I made sure she understood the job was due Friday, August 21st, at 9 a.m., EASTERN STANDARD TIME. And I even bolded and underlined the date and time. It did not seem to matter, as the job still came in late. I can't work with her anymore. The lateness of it all is just too much for me.

I wish I could clone me. Then I wouldn't have any problems, I guess. LOL

In reality, though, sad to say, the only person I can really depend on is myself. ;-)
"I don't believe in the penalizing. I've seen/heard it proposed before at reporter meetings and the like. It always gets a GASP! I think it's unfair and non-effective. Once a reporter who's late and feels bad enough is now financially penalized, it seems to me would only compound the problem. Putting two negatives together trying to equal a positive doesn't work."


Can you offer up what you think might be an effective course for agencies to take against habitually late transcripts?


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