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  Reply # 1089324 15-Jul-2014 15:07
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Ask them if they would be prepared to work for free on a Sunday night?  Or anytime?

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  Reply # 1089325 15-Jul-2014 15:09
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jbard: 
Yes this was my thoughts exactly.


@mattwnz: Yeah it was for a totally different website. I have no idea why thy didn't contact the original developer, I understand the site is a few years old so maybe they aren't around anymore. They didn't contact the hosting provider as they only provide office hours support and as i mentioned they wanted this resolved on Sunday night. I have emails from them on Sunday requesting urgent response, I didn't setup any kind of contract because it was such an urgent issue and I assumed (wrongly) anyone would realise support on a Sunday evening wouldn't be free.

The invoice was just for 2 hours of normal time, I didn't charge extra for after hours work or anything like that, so I feel I have been more than fair in charging them. 


I would stick to your guns then. But it maybe a bit of a lesson to quote to clients that anywork will be chargeable and for them to agree. These days people expect people to be available 24/7 it seems, so they may not have thought that contacting someone on sunday and expecting free advice was not really reasonable. Also people seem to think website advice is free, possible not helped by some web design companies offering free quotes and free advice on their websites, and all the free tools, blogs etc now available.  
I have been through this situation myself, so had to look at it from both sides, so now always quote pricing and for the client to agree before doing any work, at least for new clients. For old ones, they know I charge and the charges.

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1089326 15-Jul-2014 15:10
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jbard: Hi


I invoiced the client for 2 hours of consultation time



If it was just a 5 minute call , no problems
But you have done considerable work on their behalf.

Since you dont seem to have regular ongoing work/jobs with this client, charge them.
Explain that you run a business, and MUST charge for your time.



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  Reply # 1089328 15-Jul-2014 15:17
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Perfectly reasonable to charge. But in future, make it clear since obviously some people are a bit challenged. Something along the lines of '...I'll be happy to look into that for you, my standard rates are...'

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  Reply # 1089341 15-Jul-2014 15:39
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Yeah charge them and learn a valuable lesson. In future if people ring you and ask for help ask them if they are happy for you to charge them, if not say sorry I can't help. 

It feels bad the first time, but your time is valuable - especially on a weekend - and they had no standing support arrangement with you.

The client may not like it but if they want free support they are better off as former clients. My only exception is a plumber friend and we just do contra - I'll do stuff for him, he does stuff for us when we need it. But we are friends and discussed it beforehand.



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  Reply # 1089350 15-Jul-2014 15:52
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I give our clients 10mins "diagnostic and assessment" FOC.  anything from that point on is at a cost if they need resolution right then and their staff cannot handle it.  We have agreements in place though.
Maybe you can swing this into a revenue stream? ongoing support with outlined response levels and times? even if its at the cost of halving this one?
Is their significant rework options?

Just a thought


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  Reply # 1089354 15-Jul-2014 15:58
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Some companies may also have a retainer in place to cover support like that. But possible some form of agreement in place before providing support of any type, with charges displayed is a good idea. Last time I used a lawyer i had to agree to all their charges prior to any advice, but I think people expect that anything froma lawyer will cost.

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  Reply # 1089355 15-Jul-2014 16:00
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mattwnz:
nickrout:
mattwnz:
jbard:
freitasm: I understand the website development and this request are unrelated - although the OP didn't make it clear it's not the same website.



Yes I just came to clarify this. This request was completely unrelated to the website I have built them a few months ago which is running without a problem.



So it was for a totally different website? If so why didn't they contact the person who built it for them, or the company hosting it? I think you maybe hard pressed to get them to pay as you would have to prove that you entered into a contract with them, and the extent of work you would be doing. Do you have everything in writing and that it was an urgent request and they wanted you to provide a solution? 
Rubbish they asked a professional for help and the professional is entitled to charge a reasonable rate (as no rate was agreed the law implies a reasonable rate, it's technically called quantum meruit).

No difference to calling a plumber out on Sunday night 'cos your toilet is blocked, or calling your lawyer and saying "my son has been banged up can you sort it out".


You are assuming everyone is reasonable and thinks the same though. We don't know what the op was actually asked to do, because it doesn't sound like the client considered it a job request. It may have been more general and these days people seem to expect businesses to run 7 days a week. Most hosts seem to be 7 day operations these days and they don't charge. But normally in those situations the charges will be disclosed and that it would be billable at the time of the request. The fact the the client is disputing it does show some communication breakdown. With a plumber visiting your house for an urgent repair it is obvious that that would be charged for, as it involves them visiting which costs them. But they will usually say when you call them that there will be an after hours call out fee. There are two sides to every story.
I am not assuming how anyone thinks. I am telling you what the law says. And I'm not charging LOL.

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  Reply # 1089383 15-Jul-2014 17:05
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I use to have clients like this as well.
I use to find it was the smaller companies that did it and normally the owner/manager that would ask you not to charge them, they always had the money when pushed but had the mind set of "better in my pocket than yours" so will try and get anything free or at a major discount.

Just tell them that you normally charge double on weekends/after hours however as you have already had dealings with them in the past you have already given them a discount on this occasion.  You expect the payment for the work done and anymore after hour / weekend work will be charged at $x amount.

Sure they might pay and never call you again, but do you really want clients/customers that will always push you for free things and then have to run around after them to get paid each time.




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  Reply # 1089387 15-Jul-2014 17:18
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What about the clients who ask for computer help and advice, when you only designed their website. eg they maybe having probelms with their gmail or facebook accounts, which don't provide support. It is pretty hard to charge for that, even though it can take up quite a bit of time to reply.

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  Reply # 1089388 15-Jul-2014 17:18
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Charge them and the once they pay, dump them as a client.

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  Reply # 1089391 15-Jul-2014 17:22
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mattwnz: What about the clients who ask for computer help and advice, when you only designed their website. eg they maybe having probelms with their gmail or facebook accounts, which don't provide support. It is pretty hard to charge for that, even though it can take up quite a bit of time to reply.


It's not hard
you called me at 1.30pm on a sunday, i talked to you till 2pm and then had to work another hour doing a manual on how to check your facebook.
I am charging you 1.5 hours for my time and another 1.5 hours for the call out.

But I agree it can be hard when you first start out to charge for those kind of calls.
Some people think if they call you from 9am - 5pm monday - friday that it is chargeable but if you call outside of those hours then it should be free because you're not at work.

I learnt it the hard way when supporting small business with accounting software, use to have a client ring at 11pm at night because he was doing his invoicing and things where not working the way he wanted it and it had to have it done that night.  He soon stopped after I told him I was going to charge him for call out fees and for waking me up.





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  Reply # 1089418 15-Jul-2014 17:39
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If you're a professional in this area and have published rates then you should charge those. I would expect an overtime rate on a Sunday night to be honest.




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  Reply # 1089419 15-Jul-2014 17:39
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Of course you can always tell them you'll review the bill...
Then admit to making an error.
Saying you actually spent 3 hours on the issue and as it was outside nornal busines hours etc it should have been charged at time and a half or double time.

Folk usually pay up the first bill pretty quick when you highlight these sorts or errors, and they can see how reasonable you were.

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  Reply # 1089420 15-Jul-2014 17:40
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mrtoken:
I learnt it the hard way when supporting small business with accounting software, use to have a client ring at 11pm at night because he was doing his invoicing and things where not working the way he wanted it and it had to have it done that night.  He soon stopped after I told him I was going to charge him for call out fees and for waking me up.






I am talking more about if they email you. With phone calls, it is possibly easier to charge a per minute rate. But with emailing, people see that as a way to get free advice and value it less. I do find email is far better for technical support, because you can write instructions and email links, which is very tedious to do over the phone , but it seems to be valued less than a phone call.
But yes I do find that with some clients you do have to set some boundaries, otherwise they will walk all over you.

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