A few days ago I received a message asking me if I could take a look at a poorly taken photo of the screen of a laptop stock in BIOS with the text “What should I click here?” My reply, “I can’t see anything, please take a better picture and send it to me”…
A couple of minutes later a new photo come through — clearer this time. “Just press f10 to exit”, was my reply. A minute later: “It’s stock on the same place…”. At this point I realized something bad was going on. Either disk failure, or worse, completely broken laptop. “Please drop it by the office tomorrow morning. I will take a closer look”.
The next day I could confirm my suspicions: the HD was failing. I decided to drop the HD at a repair center just so they could confirm my diagnose. They did.
A few hours after dropping the disk off, I returned to pick it up. They explained to me that the disk had a few errors, and a few bad sectors, which I already knew. They did exactly what I had asked them for, which was to confirm my own diagnose. At this point I pull my wallet out, and ask “What do I owe you?”. “Nothing”, they said. “We didn’t fix the disk”. Which is true, they hadn’t fixed it, but I didn’t asked them to. I asked them for one thing, and they did it. Why would they not charge for it? Is their time worth nothing?
At this point I realized that many people from different lines of work act the same way. I can see two philosophies here:
1) You charge for your time, which means that even a small consultation will generate a fee.
2) You charge for results, which means no matter how much time you spent on something, if at the end you can’t deliver a result, you won’t charge anything at all.
People want results. They want you to fix their stuff, or to make something for them, and if you don’t then there is no reason why they should pay a dime. But why?
This isn’t always the case. For example, if you go to the doctor, they will diagnose you, and charge you for it. They haven’t cured you. Sometimes you can’t be cured, but they will still charge you. If you go to a mechanic and they have to scan your car, they will charge you for the scanning. Regardless of whether they will fix your car or not, they will charge you for using their scan. But if a you call a plumber, and the plumber can’t unclog your drain, you sure won’t pay a dime.
A few years ago a restaurant owner asked me to “put them on the internet”. We talked for about an hour about what we could do to “put them on the internet”, and after some time he asked for a price. I gave him an estimate, to which he replied “So, you will charge me this amount just for thoughts?”. He clearly didn’t have an understanding of how the web, and search engines work. I got up and left. I wasn’t about to embark in a project with a client that undervalues the work I do.
Why is it that for some people it is OK to end hours of work with “No change. Thank you”?
At a reunion party a lawyer and a dentist are having a conversation, and at some point the dentist asks:
– Sometimes people call me to ask what they could take for a toothache, or if they should use X or Y toothpaste. Should I charge them?
– You are a professional in the health industry, of course you should charge. Every consultation generates a fee.
– Wow! You are right. Thanks!
They continue talking a bit longer until they meet other old friends. The next Monday the dentists arrives at his office to find an invoice from the lawyer for consulting services. He remembered the lawyer’s words “Every consultation generates a fee.”