After the recent deposition of a plaintiff, our client provided us a copy of the transcript prepared by a large national court reporting company with local offices. Along with the transcript, the client also produced an itemized invoice they received. With both in hand, we were able to prepare a detailed comparison of our services.
After reformatting the transcript to our standard page layout, the transcript pages decreased from 310 pages in their page layout to 296 pages in ours. Although this may not appear to be much of a difference on the surface, about a 5 percent increase in page count can really add up when you need to take multiple depositions in a case.
However, a much more significant cost jump comes because this court reporting firm also charges for word index pages at the same per-page rate as the other transcript pages. Their word index for this transcript was 58 pages! Plus they added 2 more pages which traditionally have not been part of a transcript – one page containing an excerpt from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the other page containing a company certificate and disclosure statement.
Their total page count for this transcript: 370 pages (including word index and added pages)
Our total page count for this transcript: 296 pages (no per-page charge for word index, no added pages)
That is 25 percent more pages than we would charge for. To put some math to it, if we both charged $4.50/pg for the original and $2.35/pg for the copy, assuming a copy were purchased, there would be $506.90 more charged just because of the difference in page count.
Put another way, using these same base page rates, this is equivalent to $1.125 more per page for the original and 58.75 cents more per page for the copy than what we would charge. Note that base page rates can vary and that base page rates on the original and copies can increase with additional services requested and other factors as outlined in Transcript Charges and Related Considerations.
THEIR transcript at 49 characters per line (“cpl”) with per-page charge for the word index and added pages:
370 pgs x $4.50 (orig) = $1,665.00
370 pgs x $2.35 (copy) = 869.50
OUR transcript at 52 cpl with no per-page charge for the word index and no added pages:
296 pgs x $4.50 (orig) = $1,332.00
296 pgs x $2.35 (copy) = 695.60
74 ADDED pages in THEIR transcript divided by the total number of pages in OUR transcript:
74 pgs x $4.50 (orig) = $333.00 / 296 pgs = $1.125/pg more for the original!
74 pgs x $2.35 (copy) = 173.90 / 296 pgs = $0.5875/pg more for a copy!
ORIGINAL $4.50 vs. $5.62/pg equivalent
COPY $2.35 vs. $2.94/pg equivalent
The table below shows that even with a higher page rate, costs can be significantly lower with a court reporting company that uses more characters per line, doesn’t add or pad pages, and doesn’t have a per-page charge for the word index.
“What about hourly rates?”
In December 2021, I discovered that two national firms with offices in Kansas City — both of which have a per-page fee for the word index — charge $5 to $15 more per hour for attendance than we charge. If you only take one or two depositions a year, it’s not a big deal, but if you are paying an extra $50 to $100 per deposition, it can really add up when you need to take several lengthy depositions in a case.
5 hours x $35/hr = $175.00
5 hours x $40/hr = $200.00
5 hours x $45/hr = $225.00
5 hours x $50/hr = $250.00
“How does this information help me?”
You can better determine whether the costs you are paying are appropriate and chose a court reporting company that offers a better value.
“I don’t have a choice of what reporter to use. I used to be able to choose, but now the client I work for tells me which court reporting company to call. I don’t like it because I never know who I’m going to get for a reporter or if my transcript will even be usable, but I don’t see any other option.”
Just like when you go shopping for a product or service, your client wants the best value for their money. Using this information, you can show your client how they may actually be paying more when they engage a court reporting company that has a per-page fee for the word index.
Furthermore, if you are not receiving a readable, accurate transcript to rely on, let them know that it can affect the outcome of their case. Ask to use a court reporting company you can trust.
“My favorite court reporter works with a company that started charging for the word index. I would like to still have her cover my depositions, but I don’t want to pay the high rates.”
Ask your reporter to consider working with us. We can take care of the admin side that most reporters don’t want to do, likely paying them more than they are used to while you pay less because we don’t have the overhead that many firms have. Or they may want to consider partnering with Court Reporters Exchange, a local company which provides administrative support for successful court reporters wanting to start their own business.