Carolyn Bodley - Legal Verbatim Transcriptionist of Audio, Video & Digital Files

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blog entries are strictly the opinion of Carolyn Bodley and may not reflect the opinion of others

(to see archived blog entries, click on the links to the right of the top blog)

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

BLOG - Food for thought
idea.jpgI just don't get how transcriptionists select the way they charge for transcription services. I charge by the hour -- it is a straight and forward process. Clients can expect to pay between three to eight hours for one hour of audio/video. The low end is for clients that just want input and are not that concerned with "actuality" -- meaning it doesn't necessarily have to be typed verbatim with every sound and every word put on paper. The low end gets a machine spell check -- but no hard copy printout, no certification and no word-for-word proofreading. The high end gets a machine spell check, word-for-word proofreading against the audio/video source, spiral bound printout and a certification stating that the transcript has not been altered and is true and correct. There are no nickel and dime surcharges for this or that.

Some transcriptionists charge by keystroke. They have special software that literally counts every keyboard movement -- every letter, number, punctuation, shift key, return key, function key, backspace key, space bar. What confuses me about this charge rate is the fact that the client is also getting charged for the transcriptionist to correct her typos. Let's say the following sentence is transcribed with typos:

"A transcriptionist is repsonsible for inserting cvorrect punctuation to make runon sentences flow as smootlhy as possible wiothout changing what was sais."

The software has counted each keystroke. I may be wrong, but I don't believe it subtracts keystrokes when correcting misspelled words:
repsonsible: will take at least one delete key (or one backspace) and one new keystroke = a minimum of two keystrokes;

cvorrect: will take at either one delete key (or one backspace) = one keystroke;

runon: will take one keystroke to insert a hyphen;

smootlhy: will take one delete (or backspace) and one keystroke = a minimum of two keystrokes;

wiothout: will take one delete (or one backspace);

sais: will take one delete (or one backspace) and one keystroke = a minimum of two keystrokes.

Correcting these typos takes a total of NINE keystrokes (eight if you don't count the hyphen) that the client should not be charged for! This is in addition to the client being charged TWO keystrokes at the beginning of the sentence to capitalize "A" and for each click of the space bar. Charging the client per keystroke just doesn't seem to be in the client's best financial interest -- unless the transcriptionist is perfect and never makes a typo, never has to backspace and never has to hit the delete key.

Then we have the other way where the transcriptionist is the one losing money. I just ran across a company charging "only 75 cents per audio minute." Unless you have an audio/video recording where the transcriptionist can type in real time -- one minute to one minute, which is VERY rare, the transcriptionist will make $45.00 for one hour of audio, which takes her three to five hours or more to type. She will be earning less than $10.00 an hour. Take 35-50% off of that for taxes, supplies, equipment, and the transcriptionist would earn more money flipping hamburgers.

I recently had a three-hour recorded telephone conversation that took me 10 hours to transcribe. The transcript was 71 single-spaced pages. Using this particular service's $0.75/audio minute quote, the client would have been charged $135.00 total. The client would have paid roughly $1.90/page with 36 to 40 lines of text per page or just a little over $0.05 per line. I'm sure the client would have been tickled pink with the price -- however, it concerns me that a transcriptionist would place such a low value on their skills, time and work product. There is no way that this $0.75/audio minute service can operate in the black -- and incidentally, my client knows the value of my time and WAS tickled pink with my invoice because he knew he was getting a quality product -- and my charge was higher than $135.00!--for the $0.75/audio minute service, my charge would be considered much higher.
[end of blog]
1:46 pm mdt 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BLOG - I've been told I'm anal
stubborn.jpgI realize I've got a lot of information on my site and many prospects simply don't have the time to peruse the entire site. However, I state in more than one place that I work independently -- the company is me and that I don't farm the work out. With that said, how can anyone get the idea that I would have a staff of transcriptionists working 24/7 around the clock?

My second observation is if someone is interested in my services, why be so secretive? If you are contacting me by email anyway, simply state your projected needs -- or call me, but don't send an email requesting me to call with quotes on some work. Some work -- what's that entail? And if you state the best time to call is "ANYTIME" then be available when I call, and don't tell me I'll have to call tomorrow, as you are going out the door for a night on the town -- better yet, why don't you call me?

We could have both saved ourselves some time had you simply emailed that you are beginning a start-up business and need transcriptionists to work pretty much around the clock.
[end of blog]
10:29 am mdt 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

BLOG -- I was raised differently
appreciation.jpgHopefully, people will get tired of me harping on the subject and do something about it -- respect, manners and politeness -- a simple THANK YOU!

I don't expect people to kiss my hand or other body parts. I do, however, expect them to acknowledge that I've helped them.

There is a reason I answer very few emails asking how to get in the business. Twice this week, I don't know what came over me, but I did respond to two different emails. People are always eager to ask for and expect assistance, but for some reason, once they've gotten what they need, they throw you out with the baby's bath water.

Yesterday I spent probably between 30 and 45 minutes burning up my cell minutes before my battery died. I know -- my bad -- and I should never have done it. The caller was a brand new notary and wanted to know if I mentor people. With the shape of the mortgage market and the economy, I've quit doing loan signings as a signing agent, so it wasn't really like I was giving trade secrets to my competitor. Since I was raised differently, I guess I expected some sort of--possibly an offer of money for my time and expertise, or even an email thanking me for all the information I passed on. But did I get it?

As for the ride-along on your first assignment -- YOU AREN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO AFFORD ME! -- fool me once, shame on me -- fool me twice, shame on you!
[end of blog]
3:06 pm mdt 

BLOG - Whose to blame?
blame.jpgOne thing never changes in the workplace -- employers are faced with the decision of paying a decent salary for experience and expertise, or paying just what they can get by with for little or no experience. This is not something new with the poor economy -- I've dealt with it my entire working life.

There are two sides to the story: How do you get experience if you aren't given the chance?--and Our purse strings are tied.

If you expect someone to hit the door running, then you're going to have to open up your check register. If you hire someone with little or no experience, you can't just slap them in a chair, ignore them and expect them to know what to do.

I will never forget a comment I overheard in my early working days -- "Who cares if she can type, just look at her!" These attorneys were hiring a receptionist and they were more interested in the eye candy than the brain. I would like to think this hiring practice has gone by the way-side.

This past weekend I went to the annual Health Fair. The good news is all those glasses of milk have paid off - my bones are those of a 20-year old; however, my blood pressure has risen, no doubt, from working with attorneys. My body is wrinkling and my hair is greying -- I would like to think both are distinguished marks and add to my character -- although looking at it from the other side, the hair that is no longer shades of black, brown, red, or blonde but instead more rainbow colors, and with their tats and piercings of the up-and-coming workforce definitely add some sort of character -- I'm just not sure the law office is ready for it.

When you make the wrong hiring decision based on money, I don't want to hear "Well, she was really a sweet person, she just wasn't up to the job" -- when 99% of the blame falls on YOU because you failed to mentor, train and follow-up on what she was doing and how she was doing it!
[end of blog]
8:42 am mdt 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

BLOG - Imagine that -- little 'ol me being a threat
threat.jpgIt is bad enough that we, as Americans, have to deal with off-shore call centers so that big corporations can save a dime!

I love Dell computers, but refuse to deal with them on the phone. I don't know when HP opened up an off-shore call center, but I'm not too happy about that either.

On my site, I don't hide the fact that sending legal transcription off-shore doesn't help our economy or keep jobs here. Sending legal documentation off-shore poses a HUGE identity theft/confidentiality issue, and I wonder how many attorneys actually let their clients know that their personal and confidential information is in the hands of someone in India?

Apparently, my bluntness and concerns have several off-shore transcriptionists in a tither because of all the hits on my site.

I don't surf Indian transcription sites, so why is my site so important?--competitive-wise, am I really that much of a threat to the off-shore market?--or could it be that finally attorneys are opening up their eyes to the information/security threat?
[end of blog]
11:23 am mdt 

BLOG - We're still not ready for speak and type software
speaktype.jpgSpeak and type software is not new -- however, in my opinion it still has a LONG way to go before it can be considered a feasible alternative to typing yourself! You can't just pop it out of the box, install on your computer and let it do its thing. It takes hours of training it to your voice.

For my attorney clients thinking this is the cats meow, it may do a reasonable job with client correspondence or Memo to File, but for the actual meat and gravy of legal documents, the law firm is just not ready for it.

What was dictated:
So this doctor dies and goes to heaven. He finds St. Peter standing in front of the Pearly Gates with a big book and a pen, patiently dealing with the long line of people in front of him. The doctor is not used to waiting in line, so he walks to the front and says, "Excuse me. I'm Dr. Zuckerman, and I believe I have a reservation." St. Peter gives him a long look, sighs, looks at this book and says, "Oh, yes. Here you are. Go to the end of the line and I'll get to you when it's your turn. Thank you." So he says, "Well, OK" and goes to wait in the back of the line, impatiently. While he's waiting, he notices a little man in a white lab coat with a stethoscope waltzing in and out of the Pearly Gates. He instructs the person behind him to hold his place and marches back up to St. Peter. He says, "Excuse me, I'm Dr. Zuckerman, head cardiologist at Mt. Zion Hospital for 30 years. How come I have to wait in the line and that doctor over there can walk right into Heaven? St. Peter looks over his shoulder and says, "Oh, him? That's not a doctor. That's God. He just thinks he's a doctor."

What the software typed:
So this doctor, a cardiologist, goes up to have. He seeks think hear their at the goal in gates in front as long line of people is he was his book and his pen leading people passed one by one. He's not used to waiting so he goes out right of 10 and consists on the excuse me I doctor Superman and I believe I have a reservation. Think here gives him along Logan says Simon Nazi hear ASIC or name down your bone shoe please go back to the back the line and weight and patiently. While he's waiting he notices alone man with a white lab code and a study scope wall thing in out of the early Kate. He instructs the person behind him to all displace any marches backup to sink here. He says "excuse me. I'm doctor Superman, head cardiologist for mounds iron hospital for 30 years. How is it that that doctor over their can walk right and to Heaven? And sink hear says Cohen does not a doctor, that's got. He kissing season doctor.

The two typed entries are actually true samples of what was said and what was typed by the software.
[end of blog]
8:47 am mdt 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BLOG - Transcription needs and the economy
Cutbacks.jpgWe're all looking at our budget -- and the legal field has not be spared by the economy.

It is not just downsizing the legal support staff -- attorneys are getting cut, too. In an effort to save money, attorneys are typing legal/court briefs themselves.

I don't have a problem with them typing Memos to the File or client correspondence; however, there is no money savings at all when they type anything over two pages -- and absolutely under no circumstances should they be typing e-filings themselves.

Many have begun waiting until the last minute to see if the case will actually go to trial before having me or any other transcription service transcribe audio/video interviews, witness statements or recorded phone conversations.

There are some cost-saving measures you can take when it comes to your transcription needs:

1. The age-old saying "you get what you pay for" -- cheaper is not better!

2. Are you being charged by the hour, word, line, page, etc?--Keep in mind that a quote of a few cents per word, line or page can add up to a huge price tag once the transcript of the audio/video has been typed.

3. If you are quoted a word, line or page rate, ask what font is used, the point size of the font and what page margins -- the majority of transcriptionists use Courier which is a lot bigger font than Times Roman and many bump the left margin to 1-1/5". The reasoning for doing so is quite simple -- more lines, more pages, more money from your pocket, and more money in their pocket!

4. Are you charged for every keystroke?--Shift, enter, space, etc. Are you charged for underlining, boldfacing, italicizing?

5. Does the transcriptionist advertise that they accept microcassettes and standard-sized tapes, but then turn around and charge a surcharge?

6. Does the transcriptionist advertise that they accept CDs and DVS, but then turn around and charge a surcharge to "rip" the audio?

7. Does the transcriptionist charge you if they have to view the video?

8. Does the transcriptionist charge you for certifying the transcript as being true, complete and a correct copy of the original audio/video?

I charge an hourly rate in tenths of an hour. I don't add surcharges for this or that. To put it quite simply, you get a professional, true, accurate and correct transcript in a timely manner -- at a very reasonable price. I don't require you to jump through hoops, cut your wrists or offer me your first-born -- and I NEVER nickel and dime you.

If you've been paying the other transcriptionist way, contact me -- I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the quality of my work, as well as with the HOURLY cost-savings!
[end of blog]
3:09 pm mdt 

BLOG - Worker Bees
workerbee.jpgI suppose every workplace has them -- and it is not just in office settings -- the two types of workers -- those that are protective of their job and work, and will do anything and everything in their power to not pass the unfinished work onto someone else -- and then the ones, who are actually pretty clever in how they get someone else to do their work.

I just heard on the radio that this is National Office Support Week. Hmmmm, it used to be called National Secretary Day, although I guess since very few people want to be called secretary today, that Office Support pretty much covers everyone. Personally, being called a secretary doesn't bother me in the least.

I always felt that one day or one week a year shouldn't be put aside to tell someone they were doing a good job -- that it should be a given to be praised, if you deserved praise, and not just hear when you do something wrong.

I salute the hardworking secretary -- no matter what title you want to give yourself -- the secretary that busts her butt to get the job done and to meet the deadline -- the secretary that doesn't watch the clock for the morning or afternoon break, lunch and quitting time -- the secretary that works through lunch -- the secretary that is always at her desk, and if she is not, will be found at the copy machine.

For the other type of secretary -- well, what can I say -- it should just be another day and week for you while you plan on how you will get out of doing something -- because it is conflicting with your smoke break.
[end of blog]
10:01 am mdt 

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With a typing speed of 120 wpm, Carolyn Bodley began offering independent contractor/secretarial and transcription services to the Denver metro legal community in 1992.

I am not a court reporter or medical transcriptionist and I don't videotape depositions -- I'm strictly a legal transcriptionist which means putting spoken words on paper. All my transcripts contain a certification stating that to the best of my knowledge, belief and ability, the audio/video I received has not been altered in any way, and the transcript is true, accurate and complete. I have never been advised that a court rejected one of my audio or video transcripts. If my transcript is rejected by the court, you will be reimbursed in full for my services. Because I certify that the transcript is true and complete, the entire audio/video must be transcribed--I am unable to transcribe "just a portion" that you need. 

I guarantee that your transcripts will be typed confidentially, accurately and with attention to detail at a fair price.

  • Discovery is often turned over in a format other than hard copy. This discovery includes, but is not limited to, recorded telephone conversations, police interviews, depositions, investigations, witness statements, and more. The audio and video "words" need to be put to paper, and your already overworked legal staff often don't have the skills, equipment, the inclination or the time.
  • Discovery is often the deciding factor of whether a case goes to trial. Most of us hear, but do we listen? Recently I transcribed a video that had been viewed and listened to several times and by several people before I transcribed it. There was a one sentence statement that not one person caught -- this one sentence was not the only reason the case was dismissed one day before trial--however, it carried quite a bit of weight -- and I'm the only one that "heard" it. Had the video never been transcribed, how many other words would never have been heard?

Add-On Services:

  • laser color printing
  • laminating
  • spiral binding
  • proofreading/editing your work product

Your Documents are Your Reputation ...
Making Them Look Good is Mine!©1992-2016 Carolyn Bodley

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