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 understood quite some time ago that an interpreting service will charge full rates for whatever time they are booked for if not cancelled more than 48 hours ahead of time.  That might have changed, but that was the way it was in the '90s.  This is why I never run an interpreter through my agency.  I will make arrangements, but I don't pay them and then pass the charges along to client.  I have interpreting service invoice law firm directly.  I don't think they're "getting away with" anything.  They know their worth.  They bill accordingly.  Now, whether the individual interpreter, if working for agency, is paid this, probably not.  Like reporting, the person doing the job probably makes far less than the charges (if anything at all, when it comes to cancellation fee).

Quyen, I have been a reporter over forty years, and I don't think I need lectures about, "If you accept a job, you should be committed to it."  Nowhere in my initial letter did I ever say I would give back a job I had accepted because I got a better offer.  And as far as the many factors that go into why a job would cancel, these things are all obvious and don't need to be said.

My complaint is about agencies that book you for a job that they have reason to know is iffy, and they don't want to waste their staff reporters' time, so they'll give it to a freelancer and not tell the reporter that it's an iffy job.  Also, if they book you three weeks ahead of time, there's more time for the job to cancel, and you are unable to accept any other offer during the interim.  And still, it costs the agency nothing at all.  All they offer you is an "I'm sorry," when they have kept you hamstrung over an extended period of time.  I think that's just unfair.  

David, you've been reporting for longer than I've been alive. What I wrote was just my opinion. I meant it in the royal "you" and not you specifically. Calm down and keep your shorts on. I wasn't lecturing anyone.

"Keep your shorts on"?   I never heard that one before! 

Thanks and have a great evening.

I was a legal assistant at one time.  There really is no iffy reporting jobs.  The assistant's job is to schedule the depo with all parties needed to be present.  That is complicated, trying to coordinate attorneys, party representatives, medical people (whoever may be attending the depo).  Getting the reporter is equally as important.  Things don't always follow through.  Emergencies come up with any one party who cannot attend, or the matter is settled or in settlement stages -and the depo is canceled.  Depos are canceled at the last minute a lot.  Also, nothing is worse than having the reporter scheduled, confirming the day before, and the reporter doesn't show up.  Then calling the agency and getting bs reasoning.

I don't understand why a reporting service would confirm a job the day before, and a reporter would not show up. We reporters are professionals, and we try, I hope, to act as professionals, and we appreciate being treated as professionals which, unfortunately, is not always the case.  I know of one situation where one reporter (unavoidably) showed up late, and forever after that, every reporter had to pay for that by being given a false start time, earlier than the actual one, "just to make sure."  That is inconsiderate and unfair.  Unlike lawyers and law firm employees, we don't receive a salary.  We are not paid by the hour.  It costs the firm nothing to bring in a reporter early to sit staring at the four walls for an hour, for free, "Just to make sure."  

And the fact remains that, if the agency has booked the reporter three weeks ahead of time, and the reporter has turned down other work in the meantime, and then it cancels the afternoon before, no matter what the reason, the reporter is THE ONLY ONE who is left without a livelihood for that day.   I once went to a deposition and was told the deposition was cancelled because the attorney's mother had passed away.  I was sorry to hear about that, of course.  But somehow, that lawyer, or his firm, managed to notify all the other parties involved of the cancellation, but somehow just couldn't manage to notify the reporting service.  I came out running a fever to take this deposition.  Why couldn't they bother to keep the reporters in the information loop?

My point is, we reporters are not some ministerial function like the conference table.  We are, actually, people.  The normal rules of decency and courtesy should apply to us, too!  Perhaps if the reporting services would charge clients for unreasonably late cancellations, there would be fewer of those.

David,

I 100 % agree with you!!!  even in court it seems as though the reporter is being more and more frequently down-graded to a ministerial level!!  at least here in Orange County, California, where they have put us on part-time (even though we are still doing the full-time work in the courtroom) and accordingly reduced the medical and retirement benefits to part-time level!!!  

And perhaps we should consider a "late cancellation" fee.  Or how about a "booking" fee?  Charge them $50 or $100 to book the reporter, paid whether the job cancels or goes??

Seems reasonable to me.

:)

and the "bs reasoning" offered by the agency is not necessarily the reporter's fault.  sometimes agencies will pull a reporter from one job to cover a more important or more lucrative job.  Just because the reporter doesn't show up, doesn't mean it is always the reporter's fault.

That's so frustrating. It can affect your whole team, too (proofer, scopist.) It would probably help to know WHY something gets canceled, but I know that's not always possible. It could be SO many things. In so many other fields, though, there is recourse for the professional. If you don't show up at the doctor's office, sometimes you can get billed for a no-show. 

Christine,

I think you have hit the nail on the head!!  Perhaps reporters should consider a cancellation fee.  Or is that what the appearance fee is??  Like the doctor, or at my dog training class, I pay for the session if I do not cancel 24 hours in advance. 

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