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I know this might very well cause a sh&t storm. I truly don't mean it to, but I can see how it might. But I am trying to understand the thinking behind the rate sheets I see, in general, today from scopists. One of my regular scopists is undergoing treatment for breast cancer; so I have been looking for another one to help out with my workload while she recuperates. I am just appalled at the things that I see scopists charging for nowadays. Charging more per page for a lot of colloquy? Charging more for technical but no discount for clean or easy work? Charging more for video versus full audio? (What is the difference?)
I understand that the point is to make money, to earn your income. The more pages you scope, the more money you make. The faster you can go through a job, the more pages you can scope and the more money you make. I get it. But the same goes for reporters. The more pages we write, the more we earn. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in a job as the witness rambles on and on for pages and never answers a question, and I can visualize his testimony margin to margin on the page instead of moving forward page to page. I can't stand when attorneys argue or have long discussions between each other causing the number of pages to slow down. But reporters can't control that. We can't say, "Excuse me, Counsel. Can you all please stop talking and get back to Q&A so that I can get more pages, please?" Reporters don't get paid extra for any of that stuff. Why should we be penalized and lose money when having it scoped? The increasing trend among reporting agencies is not to pay extra for technical material either. I can understand wanting to charge more for scoping technical material, but how many of you give the reporter a break on your regular page rate when it is easy material or the job is well written and you don't have to do much? I have never encountered one scopist who does that.
The reason I am writing this is because of being down a scopist at the same time that I have been incredibly busy, I have had several of my reporter friends help me out by scoping expedites for me when they are available. In the past two months I have had four different reporters scope an expedite for me including a same-day expedite and a daily expedite. And you know what? All four of them refused to send me an invoice. When I told them to send me their invoice, they said no, they did it as a favor. OMG! Wow!
I am not a cheapskate. I pay my scopists fairly. Their regular rate is in line with what other reporters pay theirs. I pay more for video depos. I pay more for expedited turnaround. But what I cannot understand is what seems to be the nickel and diming for every extra add-on that you can come up with. We are still in a time of very low page rates overall after reporter page rates have been reduced, and yet scopist rates keep climbing. I mean if I were to have a daily expedite on a video depo with a DNA expert scientist with attorneys who constantly fought during the depo, after I paid the scopist I could be potentially making less than the scopist with some agencies' page rates. How is that possible or even fair?
I was even more astonished to see this morning where one scopist, in particular, advocates that it is not a scopist's responsibility to research terms that a reporter does not get at the job or to do index pages and cover sheets. Just wow. When I was in court reporting school, I scoped to pay my way. I did all of the reporters' cover sheets and index pages. I researched all terms for them, and that was before the Internet, which makes it a breeze now. As a reporter I don't ask my scopists to do my cover pages because I work for so many different agencies and they're all different. But for those reporters on staff or in court, I don't understand this. And there are many times you just don't get a spelling at the job. No one knows or cares or wants to stay and spell sometimes. It has to be researched. On the jobs that were just scoped for me by the reporters, they sent me back spellings they found from Googling and offered to do the cover sheets. All of this without me even asking or expecting it.
I would never hire a scopist based on the blind email solicitations I get especially with some of the rate sheets I've seen accompany them. The only way I hire is by word of mouth from other reporters I know who have used a scopist. And that word of mouth recommendation is based on the quality of work and fairness of rates. So many seem to be pricing themselves out of the market with ridiculously high base rates and add-ons ad infinitum. Compared to when I was a scopist, today scopists are doing less and want to be paid more.
I'm sure I'll get attacked now and get a bunch of replies defending the absurd rates I see, but I just felt compelled to say something after experiencing the kindness of a few reporters who scoped just to help me out and didn't charge me a thing. No, I don't expect to pay nothing for every job I have scoped, but I just found it particlarly telling to see one end of the spectrum and the other all at once as I search for a new scopist.
Vote with your feet. Just don't use them. Survival of the fittest, the fairest, and the most competent.
Hi, Lisa! I absolutely agree with almost everything you say. Even when you say you disagree with, " ... it is not a scopist's responsibility to research terms that a reporter does not get at the job or to do index pages and cover sheets," I'm going to tell you it's my opinion that it is not the scopist's responsibility to do those things ... it's the reporter's. I have never, ever in 35 years of reporting tasked a scopist with index pages or cover sheets - good lord, I don't want them doing that! Getting them the info and apps takes as much time as doing it myself. As for doing research, the top scopists on my list do that as a matter of course, and I appreciate it and move them to the top of the call list immediately. Because, yes, I see these same things happening, I see scopists pricing themselves out of the market quite handily. But also, perhaps the tide is turning and scopists are going to start saying yes, I research terms for you AND check names AND will even give you the web reference where I found the spelling. I'll tell you, I have a scopist who is Golden, and that's with a capital G, because her rates are fair, she researches things that *I* have already said are spelled right (!) and she is always open to my suggestions or reminders (I don't cap Counsel and Sir, I don't use quotes excessively, etc.) And I say this as a reporter who gets paid for every realtime hookup and every rough draft I send out: Having to pay a scopist more than I'm making on a realtime with rough draft job for quick turnaround on real realtime quality work ... and you know what I mean by that ... makes me think, what the hell is this? That's my beef ... paying big bucks for scoofing. Hope all is well out on the West Coast. We are trying to stay warm, safe & dry here on the East Coast ... we were in Richmond, Va. visiting the grandkids and decided to stay until things calmed down.
Wait, don't think we all do that. Yes, I have to make a living, but not at your expense. I do have problems with some spellings and ask the reporter to correct them. I only charge for the pages I do. I charge a rate for proofing, scoping, scoping/proofing, expedites and daily. But as far as for all the extras, I wouldn't feel right charging for those. Good luck with your search.
I avoid the scopists who don't quote specific rates, but say they will bill based on the content of each job. You're right, Lisa. Some jobs are wall-to-wall testimony. Others are full of "yes," "no," or "I don't recall" answers. They tend to balance out. I also avoid speed readers. When someone puts in writing how fast they scope, the warning bells go off for me. I've spent too many hours following behind speed readers, correcting their errors.
I work with excellent scopists. They do research terms/spellings. They care about the quality of the final product as much as I do.
Maybe it was just a coincidence, but I noticed several scopists who received their training through an online program had the extra charges for colloquy, etc. I wondered if it was part of their training.
I had not heard of all these upcharges by scopists. Glad you made your post.
I pay them the page rate they quote me, no extras. Some have said they reserve the right to raise the page rate if the depo is terrible, but that is usually not a huge increase and I have never had a scopist actually do that to me.
I choose to do my own title and index pages. I have automatic indexing so it is easy for me to do that.
Keep looking and you will find another good scopist. Hang in there.
God bless your scopist who is recovering from breast cancer.
I've responded to this on the CRF website, where it is also posted.
The best reporter/scopist teams are those with people who watch each other's back...that means they both do everything possible to produce excellent work. It's important to see how things look from the other's perspective. Both sides of the team learn from that.
I agree, Joyce!!!
So what do you-all think about the notion of a standard for scoping is an untran rate of generally less than 1%?
Judy...how does that convert to what the scopist does?
My thoughts exactly. But I recently read somewhere that a scopist thought anything larger than a 1% untran rate was not "the standard of being able to be scoped." Just wondering what others thought about that rate as a standard to acheive before you send a job to a scopist.
Good grief. :)
I don't think scopists are in a position to dictate to reporters things like that. You take the good with the bad. If the scopist is unhappy with the reporter's tran rate, she can always decline the next job...the joy of being an independent contractor.
Are comments like this from newbies coming from online scopist training programs?
There was mention in Lisa's original post about scopists charging more for colloquy. Never heard of that before. Same question: Are these newbies coming from online schools? If so, these schools are misleading their studens, IMO.
Reporter-turned-scopist that's been scoping for many years, although I don't have a clue how long she was reporting.
And that is an excellent question. Where are these scopists coming up with their pricing guidelines? Schools? Forums?
I think a lot of scopists that are putting these types of things in their rate sheet could probably consolidate a lot of the negatives with one line that says something about work beyond the norm will be billed at a higher rate BUT I will discuss it with you before I do the work.
And, as you say, if the scopist is unhappy with the reporter's tran rate, it doesn't even have to be the next job, just decline it within a reasonable time. Eight hours should be enough time for a scopist to take a look at the file and decide whether they want to accept the challenge. But if a scopist holds the job for any longer, it should be a given that they'll return a completed file at the agreed-upon rate.