In my first year of scoping, I worked with a reporter whose transcripts made my fingers numb. I spent hours typing in missing paragraphs, and I grew increasingly frustrated each time I was asked to “scope” her jobs.
Transcription is not the same as scoping, which is why I highly recommend that every scopist use growth rates.
What is a Growth Rate?
A growth rate is simply the extra pages a scopist charges for past a certain threshold.
For example, when a transcript grows more than 5-10 percent (depending on the length of the transcript), any pages beyond that percentage would be billed at a higher rate. Some scopists choose to base their growth rate on a set number of pages instead of a percentage. Unfortunately, there is also a small percentage of scopists who don’t implement any type of growth rate, and this has been met with plenty of debate among scopists. However, these extra pages are pages that your client bills as their own, and you can charge for the extra value that you bring.
It’s important to note, however, that this rate is charged when a transcript grows due to excessive transcription, and it only applies to pages that exceed the original number of pages. Assuming a 5 percent growth rate, if a transcript begins with 100 pages and grows to 120 when you’re finished scoping, you would charge the original 105 at your normal rate, and the additional 15 would fall under the growth rate. Every scopist has different page rates, but a growth rate is generally double what your normal rate is. That being said, it’s vital that you always inform your reporter of this before starting a working relationship. It’s better to explain in detail why you charge what you charge as opposed to springing random fees on a client.
The Debate Continues
Unfortunately, some reporters oppose certain policies like this one and view scopists as money-hungry freelancers. But this is not the case at all. Growth rates are merely a method to protect you from consistently bad writers, not punish reporters for having a rough day. However, if you find that “rough days” are happening all the time, it’s best to find another client. Some jobs/clients are just not worth the headache.
Alternatively, over the course of a longstanding relationship, if an occasional growth rate charge is an issue, it’s safe to say that that is a reporter who is trying to nickle-and-dime you.
Thankfully, it’s more common for reporters to not only agree to rates and business practices, but to respect them as well. I find that those are the reporters who are worth their weight in gold. Remember, we provide a service, and there should never be an us-versus-them mindset.
Implementing growth rates could save you a great deal of time and energy and protect you from doing “transcription” jobs at bottom-of-the-barrel prices, but it’s ultimately your decision on how you choose to charge for your services. That being said, the scoping profession exists to provide value to court reporters, so don’t be afraid to charge for the value that you provide.
Here’s a free growth rate calculator I created in Google Docs. Just click “File” and “Make a copy.”
Do you use a growth rate and/or something similar? What has worked for you? Leave me a comment down below. I’d love to hear from you!