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  Reply # 1089424 15-Jul-2014 17:49
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mattwnz:
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.


Oh I no longer check work emails outside of business hours, I found that if you do then people expect you to be on email 24/7.
If they email then it's not urgent and it can wait, if its urgent then they should really call, if i don't answer then leave a voice / text message.

The best thing I ever did was turn my work emails off on my phone outside of standard work hours.

Another good trick is to have a work mobile and personal mobile, then forward calls from the work mobile to your personal phone outside of work hours, this way they never get your personal number and you only need to take 1 phone, just remember to block caller id on the personal phone.  Or sign up for a skype phone number and give people that, then just install skype on your phone :)





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  Reply # 1089431 15-Jul-2014 17:56
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Good tips. One thing I did was setup an after hours email form for emergencies, which specifies after hours rates will be charged and the rates, so it is all clear, and giving a 1 hour response time within daylight hours.

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1089449 15-Jul-2014 18:46
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I feel for you OP, you may have to take this one on the chin.  Next time you answer the phone and you are thinking that this is the kind of call you want to charge for just say

This really is outside the normal scope of my help service, however I am available at the moment if you are happy to pay my normal service rates

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  Reply # 1089489 15-Jul-2014 19:41
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jbard: On Sunday evening a received a urgent request from a client on advice regarding a website of theirs that was running slow and causing the server to crash. I provided a lot of advice about the best course of action and ran numerous diagnostics tests on the site. I invoiced the client for 2 hours of consultation time as it took me a large part of Sunday evening and Monday morning to help them solve their problem. The client is surprised I have charged for my time and is requesting I don't charge for it as I didn't advise the clock was running when responding to their emails. Is it fair to charge for this or should I just let it go?

The bottom line is some people perceive emails to be 'free'. Like maybe a general phone call to a tradesperson where aspects of a plumbing system are discussed and some advice might be given.

In an email situation like this it is easy to see how the issue could arise. Unless some clarity is created about charges for 'email support' at the beginning of these interactions (or as soon as you deem it has entered ongoing and chargeable territory) you will strike this again.

Of course it is fair but in this first instance it might be more sensible to put it down to experience. Ultimately it is your decision and down to the relationship with the customer.

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  Reply # 1089492 15-Jul-2014 19:44
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2 things

1) next time advise your rates before doing the work

2) show them invoice, put a double charge on weekends discount it to single charge and say you gave them a discount because they were repeat customers

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  Reply # 1089538 15-Jul-2014 20:37
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Yeah and say the discount ONLY applies if paid within X days.

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  Reply # 1089548 15-Jul-2014 20:54
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+1 for charging and giving some sort of discount (i.e. discounting the after-hours callout so the bill is at normal rates because yo did not advise the that after-hours rates would apply.

I learned the hard way that if you let clients away with free stuff nights/weekends once they WILL take advantage again and again.




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  Reply # 1089789 16-Jul-2014 10:22
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My view is this is really up to you! If you see them as a valued client in the future helping them out now may bring other work and recommendations in the future. Re Sunday, my dad has his home number as his after hours number so in that respect he can't blame people for ringing on a weekend or weeknight!

Edit: agree with the above re discounting.

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  Reply # 1089872 16-Jul-2014 12:02
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jbard: On Sunday evening a received a urgent request from a client on advice regarding a website of theirs that was running slow and causing the server to crash.

Looking at this again, the client made an urgent request and does not expect an invoice? Try forwarding the original mail and remind the client it is not even your website. If you cannot reach agreement you might not want them as a client.

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  Reply # 1090298 17-Jul-2014 01:23
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I quickly learned two things supporting small businesses
 - You do become friends with the customers
 - You do end up sorting out "while your here" problems
 - You do need to train your clients that time is money

If the customer doesnt want to pay, then dump them because they will only bring you more of the "while your here" or "can you look at this quickly" hour long time wasting free jobs.

Personally, I even stopped using email for a couple of months. I now check them every few days - but clients are getting used to the fact that if they email me, I will generally call them back instead of email back.
And if they want me urgently, they need to ring me, not email me.




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  Reply # 1099485 31-Jul-2014 17:30
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I'm siding with the client for now.

Did you agree on terms at any point (upfront) or did you just take it upon yourself to be 'helpful' and sting them later?

Some people are genuinely helpful to other people and not everything is about money. I usually charge for my time but have often given help for free. (and received free help).

If you just bill them out of the blue, they may or may not pay it, but don't expect either good karma or any further (paid) business from them.

If you inadvertently find yourself in this situation again, a good diplomatic strategy can be to ask for something of value from them - a service, product etc, as a 'koha'.

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  Reply # 1099550 31-Jul-2014 18:54
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What nonsense. He was contacted in the weekend for professional advice. Of course there is an expectation of payment.

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  Reply # 1099898 1-Aug-2014 10:44
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raytaylor: I quickly learned two things supporting small businesses
 - You do become friends with the customers
 - You do end up sorting out "while your here" problems
 - You do need to train your clients that time is money



I dont understand why you wont be charging for "while your here" problems . Is that because it was a social visit ?


The issue I have is when clients staff ask to have something looked at, without authorization . And that turns out to be something that the customers
Office manager didnt want us to spend time & $ on. Then we often have to take it on the chin & not charge.
The tricky thing is when I need to tell the staffer to  talk to the office manager if they want something fixed, then it gets ackward when Im told not to spend time on an issue & that staffer keeps expecting me to fix it (& he gets the impression I cant be bothered or are just fobbing him off )

Or you suddenly realise you're working on the staffers personal laptop/phone whatever and need to stop 1/2 way in   :-(

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  Reply # 1099905 1-Aug-2014 10:50
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MichaelNZ: I'm siding with the client for now.

Some people are genuinely helpful to other people and not everything is about money. I usually charge for my time but have often given help for free. (and received free help).


He spent significant time & effort , across 2 days: it was in effect a job.
It wasnt just a bit of free advice or a 10 minute ph call.

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