Before we talk about TranscribeMe, let's outline how we assess these types of services.
Our series on transcription services apps will evaluate the features, pricing options, competition, and overall value of using each service.
However, these are not hands-on reviews since evaluating a service based on a single performance would not be objective. As this is a human-based solution, how good any transcription will be is based wholly on the performance of one or a few individuals and their capabilities on a specific day.
All these companies aim to provide a level of service, but it's for their customers to evaluate if the transcription is appropriate for their exacting needs.
What we also consider is how the company is perceived not only by its customers but its employees, who will critically provide the service. Happy employees often do better work or go that extra mile, and conversely, unhappy ones don’t.
The company promotes this service as easy to use, accurate and great value for money.
Is that an accurate overview of TranscribeMe, or is the user experience slightly different?
- Want to try TranscribeMe? Check out the website here (opens in new tab)
At the lowest level, TranscribeMe offers one of the cheapest human transcription services around, at just $0.79 per minute for its ‘First Draft’ tier. For that money, you should get a transcription that is 98% accurate on average, and it may be delivered the next business day or within three, ideally.
For those wanting a better service, TranscribeMe’s Standard service costs $1.25 per minute.
The extra cost guarantees 99% accuracy and 1-3 business day delivery.
Both First Draft and Standard can have Speaker ID and timestamps added at extra cost.
As the term ‘Verbatim’ hints, the top tier service transcribes everything said, Speaker ID and timestamps are included, and the work is completed within 2–5 business days for $2 per minute.
Alongside the general transcription service, HIPAA, Medical, and Legally accurate transcription options are available for those that wish to be quoted, and special deals can be made for Enterprise customers.
In addition to the transcription, TranscribeMe also offers AI-based translation in a wide range of commonly used languages.
Where the value in this offering is for any customer will be dependent on what tier of service is acceptable and how accurate the transcriber genuinely is.
How it works
Where it is difficult to fault TranscribeMe is that this service is straightforward to use. It’s a simple web-based interface where you can upload audio files for processing, provide a URL of its web location, or point the service at Dropbox.
The supported formats include wav, mp3, mp4, ogg, aiff, aif, m4a, mov, wma, avi, flv, 3gp, 3gpp, 3ga, amr, caf, m4v and mxf. They don’t accept physical media of whatever type.
For those on the move, a mobile application for both Apple and Android can capture the audio directly and then submit it for transcription directly.
TranscribeMe also offers access to an API, for those wishing to automate the processing of recordings from within an existing software infrastructure.
Once the transcription is complete, the customer is notified, and they can then download the completed work via the TranscribeMe portal in Word, PDF, NVivo or HTML file formats.
One interesting aside of this service is that payment is exclusively by credit card, which might impact those that want to use the service from outside the USA. Or, that won’t allow lower-level employees to access a company card.
High use customers can ask for invoice payment to be organised as an alternative to cards.
What customers will like about TranscribeMe is the cost of the service. If you can work with First Draft level transcription, it is remarkably cheap. If that tier turns out not to be insufficiently accurate, then even the Standard level service isn’t that expensive.
Where this solution is less palatable is the same issue that we ran into with Rev (opens in new tab), specifically how it treats and pays those that do the work.
According to the TranscribeMe website, it pays between $15 and $22 per hour of audio transcribed. That sounds wonderful until you realise that it isn’t possible to transcribe an hour of audio in an hour, irrespective of your skills.
A highly experienced transcriber might be able to do it in two hours, and those with less experienced will take much longer maybe four to six hours. Suddenly being paid an average of $5 per hour, or much less, seems much less attractive a proposition. And, those numbers assume the audio is good quality, as deciphering bad audio can take even longer.
The top quoted monthly earnings of $2,200 appear to assume that 100 hours of transcription was completed at the top pay band or just five hours per business day.
In short, nobody is likely to get rich being a transcriber, and the negative feedback from ex-employees is significant on Trust Pilot and elsewhere.
Another concern is that according to ex-transcribers, often the work entirely dries up, adding inconsistency to the low pay issues.
As transcription services go, the customer gets a good deal with TranscribeMe, possibly better than they deserve.
- We've also highlighted the best transcription services