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.
Marge, and attys have picked up on that, because they will often ask, "When can I get this? What's your normal delivery?" And I always, always say, "Ten business days." When I used to just say, "Ten days," they'd say, "Oh, we'll get it next week then." Uh, no. So ... there's been a discussion in another forum talking about antitrust and putting the kibosh on saying this or that business practice is wrong, is acceptable or unacceptable. But from the worker bee's point of view, when reporters have to work longer and harder for less and less reward, I won't say whether it's right or wrong, but be assured that it's not very popular.
I'm not a reporter (I'm a legal transcriptionist), but I wanted to weigh in with my two cents. I work with one court reporter and several reporting agencies, and the longest turnaround time I've had was about two weeks, and it wasn't even that much audio! The worst hearing I did was 15 hours of audio with Indian accents, and I had it done in 11 days. It was awful, but that's the deadline I was given.
I take great pride in my work. That means turning things in on time, or early if I can do so. If I get assignments in early I can accept more work. My business is my reputation (and vice versa). If I turn in an assignment late or of lackluster quality, I may not get more work. How can I afford to do that? I can't. My work (and timeliness) is a reflection of those I work for. If I don't make them look good, they don't get work, and in turn don't have anything to give me.
As suggested, make clear in your broadcast to CSRNationers that the TAT is X days or there will be X amount of a reduction in pay after that time.
I'm sorry for rambling, but I just wanted you to know that you should not be dealing with people that don't take this career seriously. Don't give them work again, and find someone you can trust to submit a quality product on time.
I'm glad to see you haven't just decided to kick members here to the curb and are looking for feedback on the situation.
I hope you find some quality CSR stars to start off 2010 right!
I have been in the industry, so to speak, for quite a long time. I have worked in-house for several court reporting companies in my area. I think I have heard just about every excuse in the book about why the transcript is late. I could write a book providing the top 100 excuses of why I can't get my transcript in on time, but that would be the topic for another thread. LOL
I will say one thing about lateness that I have observed.
THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE IN THIS INDUSTRY WHO ARE ALWAYS CHRONICALLY LATE. THEY WILL NEVER CHANGE.
No matter how many apologies they make, no matter how many excuses they can come up with, you can make book on it that they will be late again in the future.
Learning this lessons learned the hard way, when I get burned by lateness today, I remove that person's name from my list of people to help me with jobs. I value the confidence my clients place in me, and I don't want to lose them because of somebody else with poor work integrity.
I worked for an agency that used a reporter they hadn't used before. They asked the videographer how he did. The videographer gave negative feedback about the reporter. The reporter had acted very unprofessionally. The agency decided to send a different reporter back for day two of the depo. The reporter found out he wasn't being sent back to day two. He refused to turn in the transcript. It was something the law firm wanted expedited, and they just could not even get it at all. They finally got him to turn it in but it was a really long time. I think they had to go to court over it.
Boy, what a terrible story. I'd be curious to know exactly what feedback the VAOFR gave and if the lawyers also complained.
One thing I do notice a lot on csrnation is that many agencies are constantly using "cover depos" to cover their work. Do they not ever meet CRs that they like and want to use again? If so, they'd be calling them directly. I understand that they might be using csrnation for locales or scenarios that their regular CRs don't cover, but I see the same agencies so often that it seems like they're using csrnation as opposed to calling directly people they already have worked with.
Patricia, doesn't CA publish a list of members of state-certified reporters who've had disciplinary action taken against them? I think it's a great idea, actually. I believe they also impose a fine. NCRA has some complaint forum, but I don't think it has much bite. Many (not all, for sure, but many) reporters here in the DC/VA/MD area long for some kind of state certification or licensing, requiring proof of compentence in doing the job, and for gosh sakes laws with teeth about who can offer up their service as a court reporter. When I hear stories like this about bad and vindictive reporters, and I think back on my own experience with a downright unethical agency who stole from me, I wish there was a way to keep the bad apples out. Here's to certification for all, and licensing laws with teeth!
There was one reporter at the agency I work for that made a habit of turning work in late. She came right out and said that she will not turn down work. Even if she has a backlog, she'll keep accepting work. She also said she will not work nights and weekends, meaning on the transcripts, not actually taking jobs. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Needless to say, they stopped giving her work, and she complained very loudly about it.
I think you should put in writing that the job is due on a certain date and that there will be a reduction in pay for work turned in after that date. Maybe use the sliding scale for expedites in a reverse fashion, an additional 10% off each day until the job is turned in.
I received an e-mail from an agency recently, indicating that they are now going to cover assignments on a first-come, first-served basis. If I were to hire a reporter, I would want the best reporter for the job, not the first one to answer the phone or respond to an e-mail. Imagine assigning a technical realtime assignment to a fast responder, who writes with 97% accuracy, when the reporter who writes with 99.7% or better is available and just didn't get to the computer to respond as quickly. Client satisfaction should be the priority, not covering the calendar as quickly as possible.
That reminds me of the website where reporters bid for jobs. Another bad trend.
Janet (and Marge), I'm not a big fan of the first-come, first-served method of finding coverage. I realize it's time-consuming for the scheduler to make individual calls to individual reporters, but you're both absolutely right-on with the sentiment that it's the agency's job to match the job to the skill level of the reporter. As I mentioned in another thread about obtaining prep material for RT and RD jobs, a court reporting agency ... a good one, at least ... is more than just a scheduling office.
I tell my clients a week to ten days and am always on time with delivery. Anything under a week is usually considered expedited. Sometimes I get transcripts out in a couple of days and don't charge expedited because it wasn't requested, but on those occasions, I'm usually caught up, so that's the reason for the fast turn-around. I don't do roughs, period.