Reserving reporters far in advance - and then the job cancels!

Am I the only one who has been suffering from this syndrome?  Certain agencies reserve you a week or even two weeks beforehand.  They tell you just enough about the job to get you to take it, like, it's supposed to be a full day, this lawyer "usually" orders a rough at the end, etc.   So you turn down jobs, sometimes better jobs, that are offered to you as late as the day before.  Then, Bam!   At 3:30 or four p.m. on the day before, they tell you it's canceled, and they're "sorry."  

Does it strike you that there's something unfair about this?  When it happens, the agency has no obligation to the reporter at all.  They're "sorry," and that's all you'll get from them.  Meanwhile the reporter is left with no work and no recourse.  But if you turned the job back to them because you got offered something better, there's hell to pay!  They'll never use you again, etc., etc.  I think there's something lopsided about this.  Why  is all the onus on the reporter?  If they've tied you up for a week and required you to turn down other work, and then when the day comes, they have nothing to offer you, shouldn't they have some obligation to you?  How do others handle this?  I'm really getting tired of it.

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I always reach out earlier to ask.  Sometimes they know ahead of time and don't say anything because they get busy.  Ask way ahead in the day so you have time to pick up something else.  If the firm has a practice of doing this to you, I'd figure they're shopping the job for a cheaper rate with another reporter and telling you it canceled.

I was working with an out-of-state agency that was booking me four or more weeks ahead of time and they'd end up canceling a lot.  And the jobs weren't that great.  I finally told them I can't reserve myself that long ahead of time unless it's for something with copy orders and realtime, etc.  They can call me that week and check with me, but I'm not doing that anymore.  They understood.

Of course, if it has copy orders and realtime it can also cancel.  But it's likely, if it has those extras, that it's a more serious case, and perhaps less likely to cancel, unless they settle before the deposition, which can always happen in any case.

how do you know for a fact it cancelled?  maybe they did find a less expensive reporter, or they gave the job to one of their "staff" reporters....

I've run into this, too.  There are a few agencies I work for that automatically give me a late cancellation fee, even if the job is canceling the day before.  It's a bit less than the same-day cancellation fee, but I sure do appreciate the gesture, and because of it, I am much more likely to accept work from those firms.

Other agencies pay me so well and treat me so well that I don't worry about not being compensated for a job that cancels the day before.  Besides, they often replace it with another job that just came on calendar.

I feel strongly that once I've committed to a job, I need to honor that commitment, even if something better comes along.  (Besides, that "something better" might end up canceling, too!) 

There are some agencies that paid so poorly that I decided to make up my own rate sheet to send to them, letting them know those are the rates I expect.   On that rate sheet, I include a fee for cancellations with less than 24 hours of notice. 

I don't know where you're located, Emily, but it sounds like the way things used to be in NYC.  If a job cancelled, they could most of the time put you on something else, maybe not as good, but not bad, either.  That hasn't been true for a couple of decades here.  If your job cancels, you get a "sorry," and that's about it.

I agree that once you're committed to a job, you stay with it. 

David, we sure could use you in Los Angeles!  There's a tremendous scarcity of reporters - one of the reasons I know this is because instead of getting 5 posts on Cover Depos every morning, it's more like 40 (although I suspect some of these are agencies who pay so low they can't get anybody to stay on staff so they use Cover Depos to cover their complete calendar every day hoping to snare an unsuspecting reporter)!  I freelance for a lot of agencies, and a few have a cancellation fee, but most don't.  I do negotiate my own rates but haven't had to add a cancellation fee into it because there's so many jobs out there, it's easy to get another one.  But I do hate holding a day for someone that's just a regular job, then turning down realtime jobs, then having the first one cancel.  What I am starting to do is agree to hold a day in the future but only on the condition they pre-confirm it about 3 days ahead to make sure the atty hasn't cancelled it.

With the tremendous scarcity, have reporters in the area raised their rates?  Probably not--but, boy, if there's ever a time to do it...

I agree with you, Amanda!

We just don't want to price ourselves out of 

the market, but when I hear an atty complain about how much

we charge, and yet the attorneys are charging $450 an hour for

a trial, then I get a little annoyed.  

Perhaps they are complaining because they think what the

agencies charge is going to us, and it is NOT!  

I'm not even raising my rates, BUT I am holding the line and refusing to work for discount rates.

This is a sore spot for me. Last week I had an agency inform me after the fact that they had a two-hour cancellation policy, and since they called me at 7:00 a.m. to let me know my 10:00 a.m. job was off, they didn't owe me anything - "Sorry."

I told them I was very sorry to hear that they were willing to willing to disrespect court reporters over a couple hundred bucks - or in the case of this agency, probably not even 100. They just said, "Sorry." If anyone would like to know the name of this agency, please message me.

In a period of 10 years, we seem to have gone from being well-paid, well-respected professionals to being dime-a-dozen know-nothings that the calendar people have to endure. Mind you, none of the calendar people I've ever known are or have ever been a reporter. And now, if you don't bow down and take the arrogance and disrespect offered by most calendar people these days, you don't get work, period. What you will get is scheduled and canceled repeatedly, and if you dare to question their disregard that you've lost a day's pay due to their inability to properly do their job over and over again, week after week, you get blacklisted.  I know I have been.

I still love the art of stenography, however, now I don't like my job anymore. I can't stand this BS.  Can we get together to do something about this? After all, we are the reporters.

That's my two cents :)

I think that somehow, and I don't know how, this industry needs to be returned to the control of reporters, not takeover executive types, not salespeople, but reporters, the way it used to be when agency owners were reporters.  Today we have lawyers, accountants and former models owning reporting agencies.  And we have huge conglomerates now owning national agencies, where the owners can't possibly know the reporters, who are the foundation of their business.

Although I must say that many of the calendar people I have known have been and are wonderful people.   It isn't their fault that their agency's clients are low-class.


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