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)

Some photos are compressed or removed in archived blog postings, leaving only a description of the photo. The blog postings remain complete and unchanged.

Archive Newer | Older

Monday, March 18, 2013

BLOG - Transcription vs. Over-the-road-trucker
bigrig.jpgWhen I finish this post, I'm going out and beginning my career as a big rig, over-the-road truck driver. After you're finished reading, you will see my reasoning.

The past couple of days, I've received some scathing emails and on-line tongue lashings -- ask me if I really care. Having my own transcription company for more than 20 years', I've built quite a thick skin -- you have to if you want to succeed -- besides, of course, having skills and putting out a quality work product.

The whole thing started, as you can read below, over a 50 some cent an hour subcontract. I've been told that I was rude -- again, ask me if I care -- I don't offer my opinions to make friends -- instead, some are hard, true facts to make people realize that transcription isn't an "anyone can do it" career, and if you've never done it before, and if you don't have the typing skills, nor grammar and punctuation skills, you are doomed before you begin.

The emails and tongue lashings went on to say that these jobs are offered to women, without skills, some on welfare and supporting five children and whose husband just died, forcing the woman and children to move in with her mother/grandmother -- that they are offered these jobs so they will have something to put on their resume. Give me a break. Earning $2-$3/hr. on these transcripts is certainly not support the argument "a little money is better than no money."

These job offers and the clients willing to pay so little, are no better than the offshore Indian sweatshops that I've also been outspoken with.

So, now my reasonings as to why I will make a good truck driver -- just as good of reasoning as why someone without skills or experience should not become a transcriptionist:

1. They have a computer and keyboard -- I know how to drive a vehicle -- and what's more, I even know how to shift with a gearshift and a clutch!

2. They know how to surf the Internet -- I know how to cruise the highways and by-ways.

And a bonus point for me -- I've driven cross-country pulling a U-Haul trailer. Driving a big rig certainly can't be that much different than driving a vehicle.
[end of blog]
4:18 pm mdt 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

BLOG - Price per minute transcription -- calculate the final payout
magnify.jpgWhen you read an on-line post stating they are looking for someone to transcribe 105 minutes of audio at $.50/minute, take a step back before leaping into the frying pan.

First off, 105 minutes is just under 1 hour and 45 minutes, for a payout of $52.00 ($0.50 per AUDIO minute). Let's stop and take a look at how long it is going to take you to earn that $52.00.

Transcription is not done in real time -- meaning it is going to take you longer than 1 hour and 45 minutes to transcribe. The standards are a minimum of 3:1 (three hours of typing per one hour of audio). Three hours is for a flawless audio where every spoken work is crystal clear, recorded in a soundproof vault with no speech impediments, no accents, no stuttering, no false starts, no mumbling, no eating or drinking, no, no, no ... Since this is rarely the case, audio transcription is usually quoted at 5:1, 8:1 and upward of 10:1 or more.

Let's say the audio really sucks and is poorer than poor. At 10:1, you are roughly looking at 17-1/2 hours == you will be earning $2.97 per hour of work. That $52.00/hr. doesn't sound nearly so appealing now, does it?

The original poster sounds me a flaming email telling me how rude I am, that's she's just beginning and not making any money on this project and was throwing it out there so she wouldn't have to tell a new client no, and further went on to say that "some money is better than no money." Coming from someone who has been transcribing on my own for more than 20 years, there are several things wrong with what she is saying:

If you are just beginning, then you shouldn't over-extend yourself and should never have agreed to take on a project that you knew you couldn't handle. Second, I will never believe her when she says she is not making any money off this project -- again, from experience, I know she is betting on both sides against the middle -- she is earning money from her client, let's say she quoted them $1.00/per audio minute, and she is planning on going to the bank with taking at least half of the money while subbing it out. If you are quoting $0.50/per AUDIO minute or even $1.00/per AUDIO minute, what is wrong with you? Is the quality of your work only worth pennies on the dollar? If you are trying to get a business going, cutting everyone's throat to make a few pennies is not only going to make you enemies, the word will get around as to how cheap you work. Yeah, you might be getting work, but the quality of your clientele and of their work, is going to stay in the sewer and you will never be taken seriously by well-paying clients who actually value a quality product and are willing to pay for that quality.

I'm not trying to be your friend. I'm not trying to make enemies or as to what some refer to as rude -- I'm pointing out the true cost of what a transcription project pays, and to point out the difference between an AUDIO hour and the ACTUAL time it takes to complete -- two completely horses of different colors.
[end of blog]
4:15 pm mdt 

Friday, March 15, 2013

BLOG - common courtesy or lack of it -- ONCE AGAIN
frustration.jpgA couple of days ago, I received a PM from someone that I don't know personally, although I do know who he is. He is a very active participant of an online forum.

The PM, in part, gave some very personal information about himself -- that he was hard-of-hearing and, for that reason, doesn't use speaker phones or talk to anyone that is using one. He set up an appointment to call the individual (who he believed he was sending the PM to) on such-and-such date and at such-and-such time.

Knowing that I was not the intended person to receive the PM, or the person he was going to call, I immediately sent him a PM advising that he inadvertently sent it to me, and that I believe he meant to send it to Jane Doe, who he had been having public forum conversations with.

No reply comment -- no "oh, I'm sorry" - no "DUH", - no "mind your own business", - no "thank you"

Maybe he is embarrassed because of sending personal information to someone he didn't mean to -- maybe he is just a jerk.

I could have just ignored his PM and let Jane Doe be surprised when he called her, and have him explain verbally to her that he couldn't hear her because she was using a speaker phone -- but I wasn't raised that way.

Manners and courtesy -- it is sad that less and less people have either.
[end of blog]
9:29 am mdt 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

BLOG - Why would I want to connect/network with an offshore transcription company?
question.jpgIf a few American companies don't care about quality work and want to send their transcription  to a sweatshop in India, that's their prerogative. 

However, when their transcripts come back looking like crap, full of typographical, grammatical and punctuation errors -- they might think about how much money they saved in the end -- or how much they lost by attempting to save a few bucks.

I simply don't want a client who is more concerned with the padding in his checkbook and wallet, than the quality of his work product he passes onto his client(s).

There are enough AMERICAN transcriptionists -- certainly not a shortage -- so as not to require someone to hire off-shore transcriptionists.

After reading over their online marketing pieces, I can't honestly understand why an American-based company would even consider outsourcing their work to India. Unless English is not your primary language, and unless you didn't make it out of 6th grade, you would have to be blind and just plain ignorant to not see their glaring mistakes/errors.

This is not the first time I have ever been outspoken in how I feel about offshore outsourcing. Why, is it then, that I am constantly being contacted by the owner, president or other individual in whatever capacity of one of these offshore, el-cheapo transcription centers wanting to connect/network with me and inviting me to be a part of their Linked-In connections ??? I would have to be dumber than dirt to have my face, my name and my reputation associated with the likes of them.

They are proud to market that their transcription rates are cheap -- I'll tell you right off, that my rates are not cheap, nor would I even consider advertising that they were.

YOU GET EXACTLY WHAT YOU PAY FOR. Pay for cheap, and that is what you will get. No one to blame but yourself!
[end of blog]
2:44 pm mdt 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

BLOG - Owning your own transcription business or working for someone else
keyboard.jpgSome individuals are no longer working in the traditional office -- getting up every morning, putting on makeup, doing their hair, wearing more than jeans or sweats, and traveling to the large high-rise where others just like them put in their 8, 10, and sometimes more hours per day for SOMEONE else.

Many have put that lifestyle away -- some not having a choice because of company closures, downsizing, cutbacks, and others choosing to make the move on their own to work from their home. Twenty or so years ago when the concept was new, that's exactly what people did -- they began their OWN business -- many wearing all the hats because funds were limited and there was no cushion for waste -- they were marketeers, sales people, gophers, accountants, and the actual workers. They were the business -- they were "THEIR" business -- it was their company and their customers were clients. I spent many all-nighters in the beginning -- making certain the work I promised, was finished on time and without errors.

It seems though, that the past few years things are changing. People don't want to be an employee, although they aren't business owners either. They don't go out and get their own work or their own clients. Instead, they really don't have any responsibility at all -- they want someone else to do all that for them, and, in turn, that someone else will pay them pennies on the dollar for being "their" worker. That person is taking all the risks -- they reel in the client, they hire a SUBCONTRACTOR to do the work -- the client and the subcontractor have no contact with one another. The client is given back the finished product by the person originally hired to do the work. Money is exchanged and the original person keeps 80 to 90 percent and pays the subcontractor the remainder -- a very small portion.

I just don't understand if someone's work quality is good, they are willing to settle for "working" for a middle person instead of keeping the 100% fee for themselfs.  Form your own company, make your own rules, form your own work ethic -- don't work under someone else's game rules with little or no recognition.

Take the risk -- yes, its scary and you might fail -- but you will never know unless you take some initiative on your own.
[end of blog]
7:40 am mst 

Friday, March 8, 2013

BLOG - If you can't act professional, then you shouldn't be in business
skeptic.jpgI've said it before and I will say it again. Home purchases and home refi's should be carried out in an attorney's office, at the bank, the lender's office, the mortgage company, realtor's office, or some other professional office that KNOWS and can ANSWER questions regarding your specific loan ... anyplace but in someone's home by a notary signing agent that is not allowed to answer specific questions, and tells you that you don't need to read anything because you will have three days to cancel -- and won't allow you to read anything. 

Borrower's personal and confidential information is at risk. Someone enters your house -- actually a messenger so to speak, representing the loan company, title company, brokeror mortgage company. This individual has access, right there in their hand, to birth dates, social security numbers, credit scores ... probably 95% arehonest and trustworthy individuals. What you probably aren't aware of is that your documents were sent as email attachments -- how long do individuals keep your info on their computers? Some forward the email/attachments to Kinkos to have an unknown individual/employee at that facility print -- and then what happens to your private information? Is is just "out there" until the end of time? Now, we are talking about your info on another computer. If for whatever reason, the loan doesn't go through, are your documents shredded, or simply taken out to the curb for the weekly trash pickup?

Yep, when the housing market was at its boom and before the mortgage crisis, I went to borrowers' houses with loan documents. As soon as I printed, I immediately wiped from my computer. I never kept any documents in my filing cabinet. All documents were cross-shredded -- AND, if borrowers wanted to take the time to read word-for-word the entire loan document, that was their right, and I didn't rush them as many point-and-sign agents do. If people had been allowed to ask questions right then and there when signing the loan documents and were allowed to have the loan documents explained to them, five, eight, ten years ago, there wouldn't be so many people today that are underwater with their home mortgages. A notary agent is not allowed to answer questions or say anything that could be construed as UPL - unauthorized practice of law. I did my last signing, when two different loan officers told me that they didn't care how I did it, but to MAKE the borrowers sign. EXCUSE ME!!! I'm not about to make anyone sign or do anything they are uncomfortable with.

There is an Internetthread that began yesterday and rolled over to today. Someone is meeting the borrower at a cemetery/mortuary. The thread is entitled "EWWWWWWW" -- and how old are you people? Show some respect for not only the living, but the dead -- better yet, hang up your notary stamp and get out of the business. You are a public servant -- act the part.

I fully believe in, and would back legislature forcing all states to become "attorney only" when it comes to loan documents  -- documents that will impact your life for many years to come.
[end of blog]
4:11 pm mst 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

BLOG - Personal courtesy, common courtesy ...
thanks.jpgWhat has happened to the simple courtesy of a "thank you" a "no, thank you" "yes" "no" -- JUST A PLAIN OLD COMMON ACKNOWLEDGMENT?

I'm not a high-maintenance "thata girl" "great job" "keep up the good work" -- I don't need constant pats on the back -- I'm on the downside of my working career, so I really don't need all the rah-rah of a timid, just-up-and-coming person beginning their working career.

With that said, however, I do expect to be, um, recognized isn't the right word -- I guess acknowledgment is a better word. Recently I transcribed several hours of audio. The client and I never met face-to-face. We did all of our communication by way of telephone or email -- which was fine, although it is always scary when it comes time to get paid -- but getting paid was not the problem in this case either. I emailed PDF files as I got finished. After sending a little over half, I requested payment for what I had already done, and an estimation of the remainder. I was immediately sent full payment, plus extra for shipping. I printed three copies of everything and instead of just banding or clipping, I actually made into books and spiral bound each. I sent all the tracking info and expected date they would arrive. I checked the tracking, and found that they had actually been delivered a day ahead of schedule. Great. Not one word from the client. Again, I didn't expect "thanks for going the extra mile" or "they look good" or even "it's the worst job I've ever seen" -- what I did expect though was, "thanks for the tracking info and keeping me in the loop -- actually, they arrived Friday morning instead of Saturday morning." I guess I can always chalk it up to the old saying "no news is good new" -- but, instead I view it as a complete lack of courtesy.

Second case is I accepted an assignment from a client I've known for years. It was actually an assignment he booked nearly four months in advance. I did appreciate the courtesy of booking it in advance and not waiting until the last minute. However, since accepting it, I have the opportunity to take nearly a month-long hiatus. It was a hard decision -- stay and do the assignment or go on a much-needed get-away. We're looking at 2-1/2 months out. I should have gone to the client in person, or I should have called, but I know how busy his own schedule is, and how difficult it is to actually see him in person, and I have been extremely busy myself -- I guess two wrongs don't make a right. At any rate, I emailed advising that I was going to have to back out of my commitment (something I never do) and explained why. As I said, both of our schedules are busy, so I really didn't expect a phone call. I did expect a follow-up email, thanking me for giving advance notice so he could get other coverage and not waiting until the last minute, and maybe even a "have a great time." A week goes by and nothing. So now, I question -- could he be out-of-town himself? -- could it be buried in his email in-box? -- did it go to his spam folder? -- did he even get it -- the Internet connection could have burped or whatever. So this morning, when I got up at 5:00 a.m., I forwarded the same message with "don't know if you got this, so sending again because I didn't want to leave you high and dry." Mid-morning I receive an email "got it."  HAD I NOT FORWARDED THE EMAIL AGAIN, WOULD HE HAVE EVER ACKNOWLEDGED THAT HE GOT IT?

Maybe, I just take things too personal, but let people know that you've received something -- again, it doesn't have to be a "thank you" -- just acknowledge that you are in receipt of whatever -- or, do people in today's society place the responsibility on the other party to follow-up and make sure something was delivered/received ??

Nah, I'm still of the old school -- if you have done what you are supposed to do in sending something, it is the responsibility of the recipient to reciprocate.
[end of blog]
5:05 pm mst 

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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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