View Full Version : Gripe moan beg for service - but don't pay for it?!

15th Jan 2013, 04:01
I am seriously sick and tired of people wanting my time for free. I am in a service based role and I charge by the hour for the work I do - I am good, quick and don't even charge after hour rates.

There seems to be a culture of people getting work done and then not wanting to pay for it. They feel it is OK to rant and rave when they really need me but when it come time to pay - they look for every excuse under the sun.

Maybe my service should be "give muppets a bullet in the head!" :mad::mad:

15th Jan 2013, 04:09
Tell us more (when you've taken a few deep breaths).Usually helps to share gripes with people who are willing to listen.

15th Jan 2013, 04:28
*deep breath*

OK TWT you asked....

So - I am a shareholder in an IT business (yeah I know fingers of the cross and all that rubbish) and over the past year I have seen more and more businesses (We don't deal with home users) argue with bills.

Today's example:-
Through December irate customer calls -
Customer :- "This :mad: laptop keeps crashing..."
Me :- "Hmm, not good lets take a look"
Customer :- "Not now I'm busy - just fix it!!"
Me :- "Well when you're ready let me know and I will have a look"
2 days later
Customer :- "It's still crashing - what is wrong with it!"
Me :- "I'll need to take a look"
Customer :- "Just organise it to be fixed"
That day we organise some troubleshooting on the device and since the issue is sporadic it took some time to find fault on the hardware - 2-3 hours. With the fault identified - we pushed for the unit to be replaced under warranty (choose spelling of your choice) - and even during the Christmas period. Issue resolved and delivered to customer.

Early Jan have a discussion with customer
Customer :- "That guy that looks like he is 12 seemed to help out - it looks fixed."
Me :- "Excellent, glad we could help..."

Today I receive an email
"Why do I have to pay you when the laptop was :mad: fixed under warranty??!? I could have just sent it on to the supplier and sorted it that way"
Along with much other detail.

This continuous style of communication from quite a few people think that it is:-
1 - OK to treat people who are trying to help like S:mad:T
2 - OK to not pay the people who have the skills to do what you can't!

Sorry for the rant :ugh:

15th Jan 2013, 04:41
I have a friend with an IT business and he says some of his contract customers expect him to just drop everything and rush over to fix problems immediately.Trouble is,none of them have paid for the optional expedited on-site service package.

15th Jan 2013, 04:45
I am sure your friend will also get where I am coming from TWT. By default it is OK to talk to us like sh:mad:t and expect us to be available 24/7.

Rant over. :sad:

15th Jan 2013, 04:48
Some similar stories on this website, unfortunately it's part and parcel of contract and freelance work. Think the longest I have waited to get paid was about 10 months or so. Freelancer does not mean free..............

Clients From Hell (http://clientsfromhell.net/)

15th Jan 2013, 04:48

I know how you feel. Used to work in IT but in sales
but helped in service / customer service when I could.

Couple of things I would suggest if not already done so.

1. I assume the customers know of the /any charges before
a tech goes on site ?
2. When the tech gets to the site, they hand over a sheet of
paper with the service fees etc plus some nice other customer
service words.
3. I assume you leave them with a written service report ?

4. Lastly, you obviously deal with businesses, I found that
on some calls they were so small it was hardly worth writing
a docket, especially if already on site.
So, what we did was write a docket for the full service amount,
but cross the amount off and leave it with them. That way if they
complained in the future, you can always refer back to services
provided but not invoiced.
It's a delicate one but found after a period of time, you built up
a few credits with certain people.
The only exception to the above for me was if games were involved,
if a game had caused the problem I charged for all the time !!!

Hope that helps.

15th Jan 2013, 04:49
I know the feeling.... as if I have all the time in the world. And I wonder which cultures abuse this the most? I have a couple suggestions, but am uncertain whether this is the place to air my true thoughts.

15th Jan 2013, 05:00

You make some point about how we operate - on the invoice I include time which is not charged for, for example I only make about 10% on hardware but it takes me an hour to research the *right* thing and of course answer their questions. Considered cost of sale - I cannot make money on sales and people think I am ripping them off.

I always leave a written report with all detail - including contact with any 3rd parties.

ahh well - sign of the times but time to be a bit more hard nosed me thinks (without being an a$$ of course - treat how you wish to be treated and all that jazz)

15th Jan 2013, 05:02
Many years ago (about 20) my wife sold real estate for a few years, and referred many conveyancing clients to a local solicitor. Came the time when we needed some conveyancing work done by him. Just as we finished signing the final papers at his office, he handed over an invoice and said: "As a friend I would have liked to have done this work for free, but as my bank manager says, 'If you friends won't even pay you, who will?'"

He did show a discount on the invoice, and also thanked my wife for the business she sent his way.

I thought it was a great way to communicate what could be a delicate issue, and was quite happy to pay the discounted fee (that may have been increased to factor in the discount - he was a lawyer, after all ;))

I have sympathy with IT professionals, knowing one well and dealing with him regularly. A great tool for him and me is Teamviewer.

15th Jan 2013, 05:05

Good, sounds like you already have that covered.

Agree with you, maybe it's about time you were a bit
more hard nose about it.

Good luck.

Loose rivets
15th Jan 2013, 06:41
We ran a limited company from home. Within a year I was filling the place with unused IBMs. (Dealers were desperate to keep up their commitment.)

XTs were about 3,000 quid, and I could sell them at half that and make more than the dealer. ATs took over. Hi tech, thems were.

Someone said we should go into CAD. We did, and got the Roland agency - along with masses of referrals from all the big shows. It was honey for a while.

My reputation was such that Racal came to me, a long drive, too. They wanted 90 days to pay. I didn't laugh, but only because I knew it was impolite. 1/3 down, and the rest on commissioning the goods. No bartering.

I was replacing HP minies and the like for 30k with a big screen (deep breath) and a plotter. Started going into banks (floor planning) and one day a big name bank gave me the keys to the front door of their headquarters near Liverpool St Station. It was so I could go in on Sunday. I kid you not, I did not see anyone else in the vast area of multiple offices. Surreal.

Then the writing on the wall. "leave it, my kid'll fix it when he gets back from school." That kind of thing. Then came the boxes. Gateway, Dell, you name it. masses and masses of boxes - all in the big multinational I was doing work for. Sold the company to one of my customers and hi-tailed it to foreign parts.

Howard Hughes
15th Jan 2013, 10:02
Simple, get the money up front!

Temp Spike
15th Jan 2013, 11:22
Yes but....you are IN a place with no name! You cannot expect to be treated as if you were actually sombody in a place worth naming. I swear, the people that always want something for nothing.

Gertrude the Wombat
15th Jan 2013, 12:01
the longest I have waited to get paid was about 10 months or so
In the UK you can sue for that sort of debt by filling in an online form, cost a few tens of pounds.

So my phone call[#] goes "I've filled in the form, I've just got to click the Submit button - so, shall I do that, or are you going to pay today?" So far they've always paid up, I've never had to click the button. In one case they went bust a few weeks later, so I was absolutely right to chase them for the money.

Some people react all horrified to this and say "but you'll annoy the customer and never get any more business from them". But someone who doesn't pay hardly counts as a "customer", and you don't want more unpaid work from them anyway.

[#] This isn't the first phone call when the bill is one day overdue. At one day overdue they get a polite phone call reminding them that they have to pay immediately, and would they like me to come round to their office to collect the cheque. The sue-online phone call is if they still haven't paid a week later.

15th Jan 2013, 15:14
I have a client in Canada. They pay at the beginning of the month, but the real irritation is that they do the BACS run on a Monday, and the cash has elft their account by Tuesday. It arrives in my account the following Tuesday or Wednesday: their bank blames my bank and my bank blames theirs......plus when they changed banks, the new lot took £25 each time out of the payment for 'handling fee'. But at least they pay.....even if it takes time.

15th Jan 2013, 15:59
I am seriously sick and tired of people wanting my time for free.

know the feeling. its been happening a lot recently, and in aviation as well.

now i just slap a lien on their aircraft.

15th Jan 2013, 16:44
When I had a collectors' shop an almost daily occurrence was someone coming in, putting something on the counter (which they had no intention of selling) and asking "Could you give me a valuation on that?" When I mentioned the very modest fees I charged for valuations 95% of them decided they could probably get on without.

On one occasion when I was more than normally liverish I asked one guy who objected to paying for my time and expertise what he did for a living. When he told me he was a builder I asked if if he would pop round and do a bit of pointing I needed doing on my gable end. All for free of course.

He still couldn't see my point.

15th Jan 2013, 19:42
There is the other side ....

I used to use an excellent, local, I.T. husband and wife service, both he and his wife were qualified technicians, and good at fixing our computer ( us being a retired couple with limited knowledge of Black Magic ) whenever I took my computer(s) to their home / business premises. We became almost friends.

One day a fault appeared on the desktop which seemed to be connected to our home location in some way, so I suggested a "home visit" ? The call-out price was given and then both of them duly appeared. The wife did most of the exploratory I.T. and computer bashing work, occasionally asking her husband to dive under the desk to connect or reconnect various dusty plugs and telecom connections - which I had installed and could easily have done had only one of them been present.

The husband did almost nothing, just occasionally grunted an affirmative as he studied the contents of our 'home office' in a bored fashion.

They were with us for around 2 hours - then we got a bill for twice the call out fee i.e. 4 hours, and double the travel fee, because two of them had attended - in one vehicle.

We paid, but are no longer friends and use a different I.T. service now.

Both losers, they've lost our money, and we don't get such a good service.

Mac the Knife
15th Jan 2013, 19:58
Amazing number of people who drop in and expect a consult for free.

"Just wanted a quick opinion..."

And don't get me started on the sobbing folks who bring little Suzie in with a gash on her face at 2300hrs to repair and then whine for months about coughing up for it.

Happily this is Cape Town, so for a few rand I can hire a couple of skollies who will pop round and point out that they still have their lives, a car, a house, their kneecaps and a daughter so that it might be nice to keep it that way.

'Tis a shocking world we live in, to be sure...


(Now where DID I put that bloody dentist's bill that he keeps krauting on about)

Cornish Jack
15th Jan 2013, 21:13
If you think you're hard done by, may I direct you to a programme on the Beeb Iplayer about the master furniture designer/maker Chippendale? After a lifetime of providing exquisite furniture for extremely wealthy clients, he died in penury having been owed at least £7,000 (200 years ago!!) for 10 years. His debtors descendants live today in extraordinary opulence.

15th Jan 2013, 21:16
Remember that rich people did not get rich by being profligate with their money.

14th Feb 2013, 20:48
Both myself (slightly more cynical and getting worse) and Mrs OFSO (more charitable) give advice, help, lessons, whatever. Some of it is for free -and it is truly remarkable how few people ever say "thanks".

And some of it for money, fees agreed in advance.

But actually getting people to pay up ! That's another story. And its the truly impoverished who scrimp and save to come up with the cash, and you can always count on, and the very wealthy who always "forget" or "don't have my wallet with me, sorry old boy".

14th Feb 2013, 20:58
Old marketing adage: Never ever do anything, or give anything away, for free. The recipients will automatically think that it has no value. So "free" does you more harm than good.

14th Feb 2013, 21:04

Very true.

You are better off writing out an invoice for the full amount,
then crossing off the $ amount and putting N/C or "No charge
this time" so that they can see the value they received.

14th Feb 2013, 21:20
In my salaried life, nothing is "free," as the state pay's for my services, and as such I get some nice but unsexy benefit's. For example, I've had a major dose of man flu over the last couple of day's and the mortgage, pension, holiday's etc get paid.

I've ventured on to the other side, working for myself, as a "Consultant"- definitely more sexier, (I love the hunt) but probably a little more unfulfilling.

Seem to have reached a good balance now, spending most of my time doing something useful (seeing patients), and fiddling around on the outskirts working for myself, sometimes selling a bit of training (love it), last year even sold a few plants at market:)

Found out more about business selling plants than anything else:) As for giving out things for free....a difficult call. My friend who makes a mint, tells me that his secret is....be honest. I never sell anything that people don't need, and my customers keep coming back.

14th Feb 2013, 21:29
SoundBarrier, interesting conundrum.

My company deals with both sides of the IT spectrum, clients who use our data and software and sometimes have difficulty in understanding it, and providers of software or other related IT services who invest time and other resources to solve problems we can't get round ourselves. And in 18 years of doing business I can't recall a single instance of non-payment, to us or by us, or even any discussion over the invoiced amount.

There's no particular secret there. When we sell data we commit to teaching the client how to use it, and sometimes it takes many patient hours. When we buy services, we pay what was agreed, even if the quality didn't turn out as expected; if that was the case we then change providers.

We also do background checks on both clients and suppliers so we have some idea of their reliability. With the clients, so we can determine how to charge, all up front, in stages or at the end of the process. With suppliers pretty much the same but tempered by our research.

Some on this thread have suggested a more "hard-nosed" attitude. If you're having post-service problems, could "hard-nosed" be translated to "professional".

Good luck and good strategy going forward!

14th Feb 2013, 22:06
My neighbour has had a log burner installed. He's a nice guy, and tomorrow I will drop him some log's off in a net.

He may, or may not, decide to buy a trailer full every month, if he doesn't I've lost 30p, (the price of the net), if he likes my wares then it's another three hundred quid towards the beer&fag&kebab fund. It all adds up:p

14th Feb 2013, 22:20
300 quid a month for logs? Blimey, logs have gone up since I had a log burner!

By the way gingernut, I've finally twigged. The apostrophes - you do it on purpose to wind us up, right? ;)

14th Feb 2013, 22:23
Some similar stories on this website, unfortunately it's part and parcel of contract and freelance work. Think the longest I have waited to get paid was about 10 months or so. Freelancer does not mean free..............

Aware of someone who did shed load of work including weekend getting someones system sorted out because some ******** had downloaded dodgy stuff onto it.

Bill was around £8k but took months to try and get payment with lots of excuses.

System went down in another area on Friday afternoon coming up to Bank holiday weekend and needed him desperately so he said, my last bill unpaid.

They said will be paid next week as most people are gone but he said still put a same day payment through including for work I will do this weekend and will be over in an hour.

Turned up and they said not possible as system down so he just said here is my laptop, its connected, get your people to get on it now or I go and enjoy weekend.

CEO and Finance Director required to be disturbed at home and pay him £16k electronically.

He sorted issue in 4 hours, CEO called asking for refund but was told you took 6 months to pay me and on friday when system down you would pay anything to get it back, I did it so :mad: off and pay your suppliers on time as nobody else wanted to deal with you as they never get paid.

14th Feb 2013, 22:45
If you think you're hard done by, may I direct you to a programme on the Beeb Iplayer about the master furniture designer/maker Chippendale? After a lifetime of providing exquisite furniture for extremely wealthy clients, he died in penury having been owed at least £7,000 (200 years ago!!) for 10 years. His debtors descendants live today in extraordinary opulence.
I sympathise with Mr. Chippendale. I make fine furniture & boxes of my own design, most of which are commissions and some of which sell through a very high quality gallery. I don't have people owing me money, because they don't get the goods until they've payed, and if I'm at all doubtful, I'll take a deposit before I start. I hate some peoples' ideas of what my time is worth for what they consider a 'simple' job like a chair repair. I hate doing repairs anyway; often it's necessary because the item was badly designed in the first pace, and will break again. The most common damage is a broken joint between the back leg and the side rail. To repair it properly a chair will need to be at least partially dismantled and the joint rebuilt. If Fred Nerk has had a go at fixing it, he will have used the wrong sort of glue, which will need to be completely removed.
When I explain to them how long it will take and how much it will cost, a common reply is "I could do it quicker than that.", to which the reply is "Don't let me stop you."

cockney steve
16th Feb 2013, 13:56
t'was the same inthe Motor-Trade.
Saturday,Inever booked workshop -time, because the day was taken with the genuine regulars come to pay their bill, others to book a job in and the most time was for the "canyewjusters"

as in, "can yew just tell me how to put in this sidelight bulb?" " it won't start easily on damp mornings canyew......"

"certainly, my time's worth £20 an hour, so canyew just put a few quid into one of those 2 charity- boxes, please? "Sorted the wheat from the chaff.AS did the "well,if you can't afford to pay for it, I suggest you downgrade to something you CAN afford to maintain properly,- or be like me, get dirty cold and oily by doing it yourself.

Agree totally with the sentiment- "if your friends won't pay you"
and " if you don't value your own time...."
Amazing the difference it made, being "hard-nosed"...."yes , I can come out,
£30 covers the 20 minutes so far of phone-help, loading the kit I now know i'll probably need, travelling time and 20 minutes at your place...If I have to tow you back, that's included as well,if you're happy on the end of the rope behind the van"

And, the timewasting diy-er who was well out of his depth and wanted a phone tutorial...and then dumped it on the forecourt for "urgent " repair...

Hourly rate x2....called him up "have to undo all your bodging before I can assess the real problem and you already had a free session yeaterday.....it'll be £z to £z+50%.....if you want to go elsewhere, fine, only £10 charge so far!"....worked a charm Like Racedo's example....you can get all the unpaid work you can handle!-just 'cos YOU find it easy, doesn't mean you shouldn't value your experience that makes it that way. IF it was that easy. the punter would do it for themselves.

Oh, and last time I tried walking out the Supermarket offering to pay later, it didn't go too well....so what's the difference?

Be firm, be professional. those who don't respect that are not worth doing work for anyway. they'll move on to a softer target.

A A Gruntpuddock
16th Feb 2013, 14:44
This site Clientcopia : Coping with stupid clients : Quotes, Comments & Remarks (http://www.clientcopia.com/quotes.php?id=6300) and 'Clients from hell' extinguished any thoughts I had of doing contract work in my retirement.

16th Feb 2013, 15:09
Maybe there's some mystic element to posting a whinge about non-payers on JB, because lo and behold, 24hrs after my post above, a miscreanat called up and said hey I still owe you *** we have to meet and I'll pay you......

17th Feb 2013, 00:35
Ages ago, early 80s, I was in a full service IT business. Small, just a few partners, but we did everything with emerging PCs; hardware, software, installation, training, etc.

One Friday morning, I received a panicked phone call from a client that the bookkeeper was off sick and they needed to run the payroll cheques. Now, I knew that the bookkeeper had processed the payroll before she left on Thursday as it was her practice to do and print the cheques on Friday morning.

I had the appropriate software and gained access to the client system. I had one of the client’s staff, the owner’s wife, put the cheque blanks into the (dot-matrix) printer. I ran a couple of dummy cheques and asked her how they were aligned. Small adjustment required. I printed the pay roll. Done and dusted.

Invoiced for $ 800. 48 hours after mailing, I get a phone call, now, from the bookkeeper: “Isn’t $ 800. a bit excessive for an hour’s work?” I promised to ‘rework’ the invoice: $ 50. for running payroll; $ 750. for "knowing what to do". Paid by month end. :D

17th Feb 2013, 14:38
Mrs radeng and her friend wanted to learn spinning. She heard of a group where that could happen, and arranged to go along. Held in someone's house. Very friendly, five other people there, all of whom were experienced. So mrs and friend each got a personal teacher all day, plus a very nice home cooked lunch. At the end, asked how much and were flabbergasted to be told 'Nothing'.

So the least she felt she could do was to send a 'thankyou' card.

But there's big difference between doing things free when it's a hobby type activity and when you do it for a living.

G&T ice n slice
17th Feb 2013, 17:01
When I was a lowly air cargo reservations agent for a blue airline I used to rather frequently have conversations with obnoxious shipping agents/forwarders along this sort of line....

ring ring
Me: blue airline cargo reservations Me speaking

Obnoxious Shipping Agent (OSA) : need to get N tonnes ships emergency breakdown parts from A to B, with you by 23:00 tonight needs to be in B before today-plus-two, there are 'x' pieces that are "really big" and "really heavy" and there are 'y' pieces that include flammable cargo aircraft only.

Me: (tickety-tappity-tickety-tappity on the res. system) Yes can do.

OSA : price needs to be no more than penny-farthing per tonne

Me: sorry best price given priority is "big money"

OSA : your competitor carrier can do it for 1 groat per tonee and give me 5% commission (names crappy unreliable airline who only (a) operate belly passenger aircraft and (b) only operate on 1 x weekly basis)

Me: well, sorry you'd better go with them then

OSA: yes, but it's too much for them and they can't take to big bits and they can't carry CAO

Me: OK then, when we can't carry it and can't take the big bits and can't take the CAO we'll do the same price, but at the moment it's "big money"


count to 5

in walks the Boss: "what did you tell big obnoxious shipping agent?"
me : we can take it get it there when he wants it but for "big money"

Boss: OK I'll tel him "big money plus 10%"

17th Feb 2013, 21:16
Way to go G&T, and no release of cargo until payment of all freight and charges!

17th Feb 2013, 21:35
In another life I used to develop custom software. Client would ask for a new report or changes to an existing one. We would spend 3-4 days discussing the requirements and ensuring we have the proper data to display. Sometimes, when data was missing there was a need to change the database structure to carry it, from then on. Then we would go away and create this report in a day or two. The invoice for 3-4 days worth of work would follow when the screams would start. Somehow all the time we spent with them analyzing the needs were expected to be provide pro-bono. It took a while to make them understand that when we were working with them we couldn't be working on other, revenue generating, stuff.

We also had a hard time explaining that when something broke or malfunctioned we couldn't always drop everything and come to the rescue as we had other customers we were taking care of. We suggested a "standby fee" so that we can take on less work elsewhere in case an emergency presented itself but it was never accepted.

Some clients are almost not worth having.

G&T ice n slice
17th Feb 2013, 22:42
Way to go G&T, and no release of cargo until payment of all freight and charges!

Damn Right !!!

Metro man
18th Feb 2013, 06:07
Reminds me of a previous employer who was less than reliable when it came to paying their bills. Many people were owed money including myself and a large firm of solicitors.

One day said previous employer was attending court proceedings, in the middle of those proceedings their legal representatives "found out" about their outstanding legal bills and dropped them like a hot potato.:E