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Fantastic Frequently Asked Questions

What makes your transcripts fantastic?

No other company works as hard as Fantastic Transcripts does when it comes to transcription.

We are constantly working to improve and refine our transcription process. We put ourselves in your place and ask what you would like to see in your transcripts.

That's why we offer a second pass while other companies only do a single pass. Clients expect accurate transcripts, even from less-than-ideal audio sources, and with our two-pass system, our transcripts are simply more accurate than the industry standard.

We're also fantastic because our transcripts are formatted with an easy-to-read, 21st century look rather than the old, outdated, 1950's typewriter look you will get from other companies. Except for legal transcripts, we've modified our formats to make our transcripts look more like printed documents.

On the technology side, we digitally enhance most of the digital files we receive through various software programs to make them as clear as possible, and we run sound from analog sources through our Dell workstations to reduce noise and tape hiss and amplify voice frequencies as much as possible.

We do this so our transcriptionists can hear more of the words from the start, so they can type more of the words with less "inaudibles" than you get from other companies.

Because of our dedication to accuracy, nearly all of our clients were clients of other transcription companies where they didn't receive the level of accuracy they wanted in their transcripts.

Our mission is to do transcripts better than any other company can and we prove it to our clients every day. Let us prove it to you.

Other transcription companies charge by the line or by the page. How does your per hour rate compare with these rates?

Many of our clients were customers of transcription companies that charged by the line, by the page, by the keystroke, or by some other method.

When final invoices are compared, our clients have told us that our charges are about the same or just slightly higher than other companies that do not do a second pass on their transcripts.

When we format our transcripts the same way other companies do (using large type and wide margins) and figure the costs, our regular rate translates to about $3.75 per page, or about 15 cents a line, and medical or legal transcription translates to about $5.00 per page or 20 cents a line. This includes our second pass proofreading, which other companies don't do.

As for quality and accuracy, we've been told repeatedly that our transcripts easily surpass other companies' transcripts, especially with hard-to-hear tapes. That's why nearly all of our clients have sought us out. We believe the industry-standard 98% accuracy for broadcast-quality audio is not good enough.

The reason for our success is in the way we do our work. Companies that charge by the word, line or page have the incentive to work as quickly as possible, not as carefully as possible, to generate their income. If they're working with hard-to-hear audio, or if they hear terminology they're unfamiliar with, it's easier to type "inaudible" than to spend the minute or so it might take to figure out the word. Our transcriptionists do not have the pressure on them to crank out transcripts as fast as possible and they can take their time to produce the best possible transcript.

That's also why you see transcripts with large fonts, fixed-length letter spacing and double or triple-line spacing from other companies. These tactics increase the number of lines or the number of pages, and therefore increase the amount charged.

Legal transcripts are so bloated by these methods that the industry standard is to print draft copies in a window-pane format that displays four pages on a single page! Customers are basically paying a four-page rate for a single page of information.

Since we charge by the hour of work, our incentive is to do as good a job as possible. We can spend the time to go over hard-to-hear material to produce transcripts that accurately reflect what is being said. Our clients tend to be people who want accurate transcripts and not "rough drafts" that is standard in the business.

We're also willing to spend the extra time necessary in working with difficult materials that other companies refuse.

As a result, we produce a product that we believe no other company can match, and we feel that our rates are comparable to other billing methods.

I've been quoted a lower per hour rate by another transcription company. Why should I use Fantastic Transcripts?

When comparing prices, be careful - what might sound like a better rate could turn out to be otherwise.

Some companies will quote a low per-hour rate but then charge you more hours to increase the bill. Other companies will promise quick turnarounds, but once they have your project, they drag their feet and make excuses about why the job isn't finished.

When obtaining estimates for a job, always ask what is the total estimated charge for the project and how long it will take.

At Fantastic Transcripts we will tell you the cost and when we can get the work back to you right up front. There are no surprises and we try our best to come in under budget and on time. With Fantastic Transcripts you will always know how much your transcripts will cost and when they will be ready.

My audio is confidential. Will you be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement?

All of our work is done confidentially and we do not allow anyone else to read or have your transcripts without your permission. We have no problem signing simple non-disclosure agreements.

We have done work for various government departments and agencies. If they can trust us, you can too.

How do I record an interview I want to conduct and send it to you?

The simplest way is to buy an Olympus digital recorder, preferably one of the higher-end WS models. They provide excellent sound and can record directly into the MP3 and WMA audio formats.

If you are going to record in noisy environments, you might consider an Olympus noise cancelling microphone to add clarity.

What file format and recording settings are the best?

For what we do, we feel the MP3 format offers the best in terms of quality versus file size for easier uploading and downloading. We recommend a sample rate of 22 kHz and a bit rate of 48 kbps. Higher encoding rates don't add quality to voice recordings and just waste bandwidth.

What audio formats can you transcribe?

We can transcribe from nearly every audio or video format either directly or by converting it to a format we can transcrbe. But we do prefer MP3s, WMA/WMVs and WAVs.

Why does Fantastic Transcripts require a credit card number or a cheque before it will transcribe my material?

We have found that many accounting departments are slow to pay these days, and there are some companies that don't pay at all.

Since we cannot tell in advance which companies pay quickly and which do not, we have instituted a policy that requires all clients to pay when services are rendered.

This helps to keep our prices low since paying customers do not have to subsidize non-paying customers.

We also save money by not having a collection department and by not having to borrow money to pay our employees.

Instead, we can concentrate on what we do best, transcription, not billing and collections.

I have video tapes that need to be transcribed. Do you transcribe video tapes?

Yes, we do. If you have a VHS videocassette or DVD, we can transcribe it. And we can include timecode with our transcripts for a small additional fee. If you have a digital video tape, just make a VHS or audio cassette copy, or rip an MP3 from it and send that to us to transcribe.

Can you transcribe digital audio files on Websites or e-mailed to you over the Internet?

Yes, we do it all. More than 80% of our business now consists of digital files sent over the Internet. We can handle all digital formats including MP3, Windows Media files, Sony DVF and Olympus DSS files. And we can record streaming audio directly from the Web.

To upload files to us, we recommend a service called YouSendIt.com. A basic account is free and allows you to upload one file at a time. But we can also download files from your Website, FTP site, or any other file-sharing it. We will quickly transcribe your files and send you back a Microsoft Word document via e-mail.

Why do you recommend against using microcassettes?

Although Staples and Office Depot still sell microcassette recorders, they never had good sound because of their slow recording speed and very thin, see-through tape. They are basically obsolete and we do not reccommend using them.

Full-size cassette recorders provide better quality audio to transcribe from, and we still accept tapes, but with digital recorders producing better quality sound, even from cheaper recorders, they too are obsolete.

Typically, the cost of a high-end digital recorder and microphone will pay for itself in transcription cost savings, sometimes with the very first job.

Why are some of the words listed as "inaudible" in my transcript?

In a typical transcript there will be some instances where our transcriptionists and proofreaders cannot understand words because the speaker mumbled, talked too fast, the recording volume was low, or background noise obscured the words.

We don't have our transcriptionists make up dialog or fill in what they think was said, as other companies do. Our transcripts reflect exactly what we can hear. You should expect to do some light editing on our transcripts to make sure we identified people properly and to make sure we used the correct spelling of your company's products or services.

The number of "inaudibles" in a transcript is usually an indication of the recording quality of the material. The more difficult the audio is to hear, the higher the number of inaudibles. Clear tapes usually result in no inaudibles at all.

We do our best to clear up as many inaudibles as we can and to identify speakers and spell company terms correctly. We use the Internet to research company and product names, and we routinely ask clients to provide a list of names and terms that might have been used. The more we work with a client, the more familiar we become with names, voices and terminology. And that's why customers use us again and again.

Why are some of the speakers not identified or misidentified in my transcript?

We our do our best to identify who is speaking in our transcripts, but there are times when it isn't clear who is speaking, especially if participants have similar-sounding voices or accents, or if the speakers aren't identified originally and there's no way to infer it from the dialogue.

We try not to guess, but sometimes we're fooled, especially when people have similar sounding voices. We usually suggest that someone who was at the recording read over the transcripts, especially if they're going to be printed or posted to a Website, to verify the speaker identities.

You did a transcript for me two years ago. Is there any way I can get another copy?

We can look on our computers for it.

While we don't actively archive our transcripts, we do hang onto them until we need to free up space on our hard drives or until we switch out old computers for new. We delete the audio files after a month or two, but hang onto the transcripts for a while just for this very purpose. So there is a good chance we can find your missing transcript - even a year or two later. No promises, but we will do a search for you at no extra charge.

What other services do you offer?

We offer a wide range of secretarial and communication services for our clients.

We type manuscripts, digitize and encode audio and video, certify court transcripts, proofread and copy-edit galleys, tabulate survey results, and even design Websites and printed publications.

Please read our Business Services page for more about what we do.

I'm looking for work. Is there a way for me to do transcription from my home?

Although most of our transcription is done at our offices, we do take information from people looking for work-at-home employment. Please keep in mind, however, that we receive dozens of e-mails a month from people looking to work from home.

For employment opportunities in our offices, see our employment page, and for work-at-home opportunities see our work-at-home page.


"You guys are awesome."
Bill Breen, Senior Editor, Fast Company Magazine

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Fantastic Transcripts

Ten Winthrop Square, Fourth Floor, Boston, MA 02110
(617) 451-1807