I'll begin by stating I absolutely love the CSRnation concept and have really appreciated the speed in which I can cover last-minute depositions. My growing concern is that in about 80% of the depos I've covered through the site, I am having turnarounds of three to five weeks. As a very small agency, I need my relationships to stay intact and I've had some very frustrated clients. I'm just looking for some feedback from others who are using the site to cover depos. I don't know if pay reductions are typical or a requirement of an unpaid rough forwarded to me right after the job so I have something to send my clients when the reporter is unreachable, which has happened on too many occasions also. Input is appreciated.

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Three to five weeks??? That is terrible!!!! The latest I've ever turned in a job was at the end of the tenth business day. That was a job that took years off my life.

I think pay reduction after the tenth day is fair. Asking for a rough wouldn't be fair to all the reporters who do turn in work on time. I know I wouldn't do that if an agency asked me to.
If you're not already doing it, state your terms before you send someone out on a job for you.
Wow, 3 to 5 weeks, these people have one hell of a nerve doing this. Like Patricia, the latest I get a job in is the 10th business day. The only exception is when the agency whose job is at issue calls me to take something else for them. I'll say, "I can't take this job for you and be on time with your other job." If they still want me to cover their second or third job or fourth job and I've warned them each time, then the job at issue is going to be late. If the 2nd or 3rd or 4th job is expedited, then the original 1st job could be a week late! Any other agency, I'd say I'm booked and that's it. I wouldn't take a new job for Agency B if that means a job for Agency A would be late.

And then these reporters are unreachable? Oh, man, what the hell is the matter with these people?

As a working stiff reporter, I surcharge for expedited, expert/medical, video, interpreter, phone depo (if the questioning attorney is on the phone), so fair is fair and a penalty should be imposed if work is turned in late. But just as I have my rate agreement agreed to in entirety before the fact, this penalty should be explicitly itemized and CR should acknowledge receipt before any job.
Hi, Linda. I love CSRnation as well! Although you said you're looking for feedback from others who use the site to cover deps, and I don't do that, as usual, I do have a couple of comments. I work for a lot of agencies, and it would be unheard of to turn in a job in 3 to 5 weeks. That's insane in these days and times. You're justified in your concern about your clients, because I think I'm safe in saying that, if anything, turnaround times are dwindling. But they are dwindling from a 10-day delivery time. Many firms feel faster transcript delivery, at no extra charge, is going to get them more business. I know if a firm that offers overnight delivery at no extra charge.

You talked about pay reductions, and asking for unpaid rough drafts. The pay reduction wouldn't apply to me, but I would never give up a near-perfect rough draft for free. But then again, if it's taking so long to get final transcripts back from these reporters, they're probably not in near-perfect shape to begin with. If so, why the unheard-of delivery time back to you? Those rough drafts would be worthless.

In many parts of the country -- maybe out your way too -- there are A LOT of reporters who are still desperately searching for work. There are a glut of reporters in many areas. One thing that happens then is that reporters who find themselves in desperate need of work will say they can do things they can't do. Realtime? No problem! ... then they can't write anything readable. Rough draft? Can do! ... then the rough draft comes in, and no one can make heads nor tails of it. Or else your clients are tap-tap-tapping their toes, waiting for the "immediate" rough draft, and it comes in many hours or even days later. Yes, days! Expedited delivery? Sure, I can do dailies! ... then the expected delivery date comes and goes, and your client is furious and looking for someone who CAN deliver.

Linda, it's a shame that you're on pins and needles and at the mercy of reporters who are not delivering on the promise of good work delivered in a timely fashion. I'm quite sure you've dealt with reporters who promise timely delivery and are put off by having to get you the transcript BEFORE the 10th day. My goodness! There are a lot of reporters out there with a sense of entitlement simply because they can write on a steno machine. Avoid those reporters like the plague!

You need to make it very clear what your expectations are before associating your good name with ANY reporter. And I say this from the reporter's perspective! I know the Cover Depos area can be valuable, but you must approach it with caution. Develop good relationships with good reporters, and walk away from the rest! Even on a regular job with no special services, The Warm Body Syndrome can cost you a client or, even worse, a case management case, so let the agency beware!

I'm not meaning to downplay the value of Cover Depos for last-minute coverage, but you're always taking a chance when you throw out the offer of work and reporters come flocking to cover it for you.

How about this suggestion? Why not start today with a list of reporters who've worked with you and done a fantastic job. Talk to them frankly and honestly about their first-call status with you. Assure them that they will maintain their first-call status with you, but ask them for referrals to other reporters when they are not available. Yes, it's a backstabbing, cutthroat world out there in reporting sometimes ... but with first-class firms and reporters who are confident of their skills and abilities AND their status on your call list (MOST IMPORTANT for a freelancer) will, I believe, willingly work together to keep you in business and ensure your success, which means more work for everyone who deserves it. It's a harsh reality, but not every reporter is a good reporter, and the players out there can do some serious damage to your firm. Forewarned is forearmed, and you need a good long call list of excellent reporters to call upon to cover your work. Treating them right, they'll treat you right!

Best of luck, Linda.

I am surprised at this. I don't find it acceptable, frankly. I believe ten calendar days is the standard turnaround. Are you stating your turnaround requirements up front when you hire someone? I suggest doing that even as you say, "The job is yours" or even posting it with the job info.

I will admit to now and again going to 12 or 13 days until the recent past. This was because I was overbooking, fearing that there wouldn't be enough work in the near future. I have to admit this affected turnaround time and once, very embarrassingly, the accuracy of detail on a cover page of a transcript I turned in. I don't do this anymore. My policy is the ten-day turnaround, period.

I also did what might be called soul-searching around the problem and realized that I tended to turn work around more slowly with agencies for whom I felt some level of resentment. The problems were mostly a consistent two-plus-month wait for a paycheck (delays do happen with the best of agencies, but they shouldn't happen all the time); a high level of drama stemming from lack of organization or internal problems such as high office staff turnover; or feeling that we were expected to endure too much disrespectful treatment from attorneys, such as a high volume of last-minute cancellations from a particular attorney or firm. Of course, this is not okay. We should be turning out the same excellent work for everyone in a timely fashion. However, it's only human to find that difficult when we're not consistently not treated well, especially as time goes on. So in the last three months, I've let go of a couple of agencies and not pursued further work with one that I tried on for size.

I was really proud when it got back to me that an agency owner referred to me as "low maintenance," e.g., showed up on time where I was supposed to be, turned jobs in on time without a reminder. That's what I strive for. But I do need the agency to be similarly low maintenance for me, too.

Hope this is helpful in understanding the problem from at least one reporter's perspective. And whoever hires me, you will definitely have the work within ten days! Only way to go!
Hi, Cathryn. You bring up a very good point. Reporters can drop agencies as easily and quickly as agencies can drop reporters. If an agency pays well and on time, has a smooth-running operation, and stands up for their reporters, I'd imagine they have a long list of reporters wanting to get on their call list! And you mentioned drama and "low maintenance." Neither reporters nor agencies have to put up with that. It may leave some reporters totally amazed that anyone would walk away from any offer of work ... but especially these days, reporters can't let agencies treat them with disrespect just because there are so many bodies out there looking for work. If topnotch reporters respect themselves, it's easy to walk away from firms who are taking advantage of today's economy. Those agencies deserve to be left with what they get. Excellent statements, Cathryn.

I've had a couple of good jobs recently from an agency that has the eight-day turnaround policy, and yes, I've made sure they got their work on time rather than imposing my own ten-day rule.
Cathryn, even with all my advocating for reporters rights and standing up for ourselves, there's also the win/win situation of making some concessions on both sides!

I do not understand this 8-day delivery that some agencies are doing. I have asked, "If you're giving 8-day delivery as "regular delivery," how many days for the standard expedited delivery? No answer.

With page rates rising at an almost non-existent rate, we ESPCIALLY need our expedited surcharges when we get rush orders.

So let's see, what could these agencies be doing? Do we think they're doing this???
8 business days standard turn-around, no extra charge
7 business days, 20% extra
6 business days, 30% extra
5 business days, 40% extra
4 business days, 50% extra
3 business days, 70% extra
2 business days, 80% extra
1 business day, daily copy, 100% extra

I don't take work from these agencies. One agency that's called me is giving 7-business-day delivery as standard turn-around. If they wanted to pay me my rates, which are based on the customary 10 percent per day extra (50% extra for 5-business day and 100% extra for next day), I would take their work. I will not take the hit on this rush work. The agency who has the volume should be taking the hit. If they want the volume generated by this faster standard delivery time, they should absorb it and pay the CR the appropriate surcharge for cranking the work out faster. (Not only do we give up jobs but we pay scopists & proofreaders a higher rate.) C'mon!!
Could be they've set the eight-day turnaround policy because too many reporters were getting their work in late. If I'm correct about this, they've said eight days in the hopes that it would mean said reporters would in actuality turn in work 10-12 days later instead of two to three weeks later. A theory only.

Edited to add: And that's not eight days from reporter to agency to client. It's eight days from reporter to agency.
Yes, Cathryn, agencies who are PROPERLY sticking with the 10-business-day turn-around to their clients want to get the work from the CR on the 8th business day. I strive to do that. As I said earlier, when I'm in a bind, I will get it to them on the 9th or even 10th business day so at least their client can get electronic on the 10th business day. In an effort to be low-maintenance, I try for the 8th day, sure, but it's not always possible.
Hey, Marge! You're right ... agencies are bumping up delivery times and not upping their charges for that. Sometimes it seems to me that there's more push-back when agencies give away something that 99.9% of all reporters can do (get a job out quickly) than there is when they give away specialty services that require the talents and skill of an expert reporter (realtime, rough draft). I'm not sure if you were referring to my 8-day comment, but when a transcript is due to the client in 10 days, it only makes sense that the final get to the firm at least 1, preferably 2 days before it's due so production can do their thing. But when they want to deliver it to the client on the 8th day, that means the reporter needs to get it in on the 7th, preferably 6th day. That's pushing it! Even with a 5-day delivery (that's 5 BUSINESS days), you've always, always got the weekend. Once regular delivery without expedited rates is sooner than 5 business days, over a weekend, I'll have to seriously consider stepping away from it all. That's craziness.

Hello Mary Ann!

Yes, your statement reminded me of this major irritant:

[[ But they are dwindling from a 10-day delivery time. Many firms feel faster transcript delivery, at no extra charge, is going to get them more business. I know if a firm that offers overnight delivery at no extra charge. ]]

Ugh. Who ARE these people (agencies) both offering this faster delivery for free (next day for free?? whoever HEARD of this????) and who are these people (CRs) who are willing to take this work??

Mary Ann, you said this:
[[ Once regular delivery without expedited rates is sooner than 5 business days, over a weekend, I'll have to seriously consider stepping away from it all. That's craziness. ]]

You meant "expedited delivery without expedited rates" I'm sure. And yes, for expedited 5-day delivery, it's either give up work or give up your weekend. And for 50% extra, that's a fair trade-off.

But 4-day, 3-day, 2-day, and 1-day, frequently there is no weekend to play with and the CR must sit home during the week in order to get out the work. The surcharge is there to compensate the CR for lost income and it's appropriate that we get the 100%, 90%, 80% or 70% extra for that, not to mention the additional fees we pay scopists & proofreaders for doing their thing quicker.

Off topic think but what the hell: I recently paid my proofreader same-day (under 8 hours) proofing rates for regular 10-business-day delivery work that was on the verge of being late. It wasn't her fault that I've been having fun and not keeping up with my work but I had to get the work in and preserve my fairly pristine rep.

Her rates:
.35/page for regular delivery (48 hours or more)
.50/page for expedite delivery (24-48 hours)
.65/page for daily delivery (24 hours or less)
.80/page for 8-hour delivery or less (I added this to her rate sheet; 8-hour delivery is a lot more burdensome and it seems only fair)

Somebody in this thread mentioned 10-day delivery from agency to client, weekends being included in those ten days. This is just WRONG. This is giving 8-business-day delivery to the client for free and they're probably expecting the work from the CR on the 6th or 7th business day. This agency is probably including holidays in those 10 business days as well, Again, this is WRONG!


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