We had quite a lengthy discussion here on rates a month or so ago, and
yes, there is pretty much a general range of page rates that each
scopist establishes after they have a bit of a track record and know how
many pages they can do in an hour, say, for a particular reporter, for
jobs with and without tapes, for videotaped jobs. I think a fair rate
to start out would be in the .75 to 1.00 range. You will find you go
quicker on jobs without tapes, so you might want to charge more for
tapes. As you get more experience, you will become very aware of the
types of jobs for which you want to charge more.
The first few jobs will go agonizingly slow as you are learning your CAT
system and trying to remember about a bazillion things, so don't worry
about that - just keep plugging away. I never offered to scope any jobs
for free, although I did stay at the low end of the range until I got
myself established. I know some scopists do offer to scope the first
job for a reporter for free, so that's totally up to you. You may find
a reporter who tells *you* what they pay, and sometimes it's higher than
the rate you would have set. All the better!
I think it's wise to start out with a small to medium-sized job - that
goes for any first job with a new client, even for an experienced
scopist. That way you don't end up with a 1000-page trial that
translated at 60%!
One of my first reporters was an official in Upstate NY. I had done
maybe a handful of fender-bender depositions by then and when I hooked
up with her, she asked if I would take a six-day trial. "Sure," I said,
bravely. Well, that's a lot of pages to arrive all at once! It can be
a bit intimidating!
But back to rates: The rate you start out with for a reporter will be
the rate they will expect you to stay at. That's just how it is. When
I talk to a reporter for the first time, I ask them straight out: How's
your writing? If they say, "Great, I do captioning on the side," or,
"It's good, I'm a realtime writer," you can safely expect their work to
be a dream and you can agree to give them your best rate.
If they say, "Well, I've been reporting for 20 years and just got a my
first CAT system last week," or "Well, I'll need you to fill in all the
things I missed by listening to the audio tape," you can count on
spending a lot of time making corrections and typing in drops, so start
them out at a higher rate.
I always establish a rate up-front with the proviso that if I need to
adjust the rate either up or down, we'll visit about that in the
future. That way they understand what the rate is going in and that you
won't change it without talking to them first. Our list has a chat
feature and we might want to set up some practice dialogues as if you
were talking on the phone to a reporter. Being prepared will keep you
from getting asked a question and going, "Uh.....well...."
Then one day you'll look at the calendar and realize you've been scoping
for six months or a year (or two years) and you want to give yourself a
raise, or maybe you've quickly developed a reputation as one of the best
darn scopists in the country, so you announce (well ahead of time) that
your rates will be going up to x, y and z on such-and-such a date. Your
negotiating skills may be called upon here, but by then you'll be able
to handle it. :)
My experience has led me to ask for a small copy of their notes so
I can quote them a fair rate and not have to change it later. When they do
send me a file (some don't 'cause they're looky-lou's) I then scope about 10
pages for them so they get a sample of my work. Fair is fair, is what I
tell them when they get their file back. I saw theirs, they get to see mine, and
then I don't undercharge or overcharge. I usually get the work after that,
and it weeds out those with serious inquiries and those that are just
"shopping around." I found that has worked best for me.
We had a lot of posts about rates when the list first started, but
unfortunately it was before we decided we wanted to activate the message
archives. I did find a few that I had saved as kind of FAQ replies, but
nothing that's really in the format of a price listing. Mostly just
suggestions for ranges. More recently, which you would be able to find
in the archives under both "Proofing" and "Proofreading," I believe, was
some discussion about rates for that - but again there are so many
variables it's hard to set one rate.
So if it helps at all, the scoping ranges were like from .75 to $1.00,
depending if it was with or without tapes or if you charge extra for
medical/technical/expert witnesses, etc. An additional 50% for
"expedite," double for "dailies"; but again, everyone's got a slightly
different definition of what that means.
If you set your rates within these ranges, you'll at least be
Hopefully this will help some.
If a reporter knowingly sends me a job that's unusually technical, for which
I making an inordinately large number of entries, I call before the job is
completed and let the reporter know that seriously more time is involved and
that the rate will be adjusted.
And I do this with all of my reporters. The new ones learn that I don't
that kind of call lightly and the rest of them trust me.
It doesn't happen often, but there's no sense in getting off on the wrong
foot. This is what feeds me and pays my bills.
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