The Human Cost of Cheap Transcription Services - Multilingual Connections

The Human Cost of Cheap Transcription Services

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We periodically share news and updates about language and our business. We’ll never share your contact information with anyone.

For those involved in the professional audio transcription world – like us – last week’s news that Rev.com was slashing minimum pay rates for freelance transcriptionists was quite the topic of conversation, both online and off.

Rev is well known as a cheap transcription provider that charges a flat rate of $1.00 per audio minute – a rate very few of us in the industry can even come close to matching, and especially those of us that care about paying our freelance transcriptionists a living wage.

Transcription is time-intensive work that requires skill and keen attention to detail, and for every one minute of audio, it typically takes a transcriptionist four minutes to transcribe. Rev previously paid $0.45 per audio minute, so a typical worker would earn the equivalent of $6.75 per hour. At its new rate of $0.30 per audio minute, that same worker doing the same work would earn only $4.50 per hour. According to the company, this new structure dropped the lowest per–minute rate while at the same time increasing its highest rate for more complex audio; however, how this will average out for typical workers and typical projects is yet to be seen.

Being a transcriptionist is a great option for those looking for a flexible career, as it can be done when you want and wherever you want – from home, from a coffee shop or from the beach (as long as there’s a good wifi connection!). And for some people in some regions of the world, Rev’s new rate floor still provides reasonable compensation and continues to be a compelling option. But for many transcriptionists, in particular, those based in the US, this is just untenable.

When I talk to clients who are looking for affordable transcription services for interviews, focus groups and conference calls – whether market research companies, video production companies or academic researchers – one of the first questions they often ask is if we’re as cheap as Rev. My stomach does a little flip…and then I answer no, and that we don’t try to be. I know we lose business to low-cost transcription providers like Rev with massive online marketing budgets, but fairness to our workers and the need to ensure quality come first.

At Multilingual Connections, we care about the relationships we build with our clients, but we also care very much about the relationships we build with our high-quality transcriptionists and translators – and we believe in paying them fairly for their work. We’re a certified woman-owned company based in the Chicago area that provides English and foreign language audio transcription, as well as translation, transcreation, subtitles, and voiceover in 75 languages.

If you’re interested in learning more about the services we provide and the relationships we form with our partners – reach out!

Want to see more like this?

We periodically share news and updates about language and our business. We’ll never share your contact information with anyone.