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jessacast
Member

Client requested an unpaid "favor"

A client I did a small job for (that contract was completed and closed) just asked me to do him a "favor". He wanted me to review his work for graphics, content load and layout, design, etc, and had a whole list of questions he wanted me to answer. I replied that I'd be happy to do it once he opened a new contract so I could log my hours (and I think this would have taken me about 2 hours). His response was "I was looking for fairly quick feedback as these are comps, as favor, actually, not a paid."
Do I just tell him it's a breach of the ToS for a freelancer to do free work (not to mention an insult to me, as favors don't pay the bills)? There is the potential for more work from this guy, and I don't want to blow that opportunity, but I also don't want him to try to get other freelancers to do work for free. What do my peers suggest?

ACCEPTED SOLUTION

I wouldn't bring out the "breach of contract" and "TOS" my-sensibilities-are-offended stuff. If it were a one-off from a brand-new obvious sheister before I'd done any work for the person, I might, but in this case...I don't know. You might mention that the work is actually about a two-hour job, in pretty much a neutral/factual way (don't spend TOO much wording on this; your time is valuable). Ask again if he'd like to open a contract. Close by saying either way, it has been a sincere pleasure to work with him. That's a "bye, Felicia" but in a non-confrontational way; you're basically giving your final word - open a contract, or this convo is closed, in three no-nonsense sentences. But be polite about it.

 

This is just the way I'd handle it. Other people, I am sure, will have their own ideas. Any may apply to you. I did have one client ask for free "input" that wound up being pretty extensive. I pretty much wrote to him what I've written above. He changed his request to just clarifiying a visual for one of the items I gave him during a consulation. That I was perfectly willing to do (without opening a contract). He was a good client, gave me a bonus (that was out of nowhere...I was surpised and really glad he liked my work), and gave me a great review.

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petra_r
Member


@Jessica C wrote:


Do I just tell him it's a breach of the ToS for a freelancer to do free work (not to mention an insult to me, as favors don't pay the bills)? There is the potential for more work from this guy, and I don't want to blow that opportunity, but I also don't want him to try to get other freelancers to do work for free. What do my peers suggest?


 It isn't actually a ToS violation for the freelancer to do free work, but it is one for the client to ask for it. If it was something quick and easy (10, 15 minutes) and it was a client who had paid me significant amounts (!!) of money I might do it, but the blatant admission that they want a freebie would turn me off the client totally. I had good clients say "Oh, can you do X for me and how much so I can set up a milestone", seen it was a matter of minutes and said "Don't be silly, here you go!" but a client asking for 2 hours of "favour" would rub me up the wrong way and I'd likely go off the client completely and not work with them again.

 

A client who has so little respect for my time and skills doesn't deserve me.

Thank you so much for your input. Your sentiments ring true for me. It helps to hear others' thoughts while I'm waffling between preserving a working relationship for more work down the road and just ignoring the guy.

I wouldn't bring out the "breach of contract" and "TOS" my-sensibilities-are-offended stuff. If it were a one-off from a brand-new obvious sheister before I'd done any work for the person, I might, but in this case...I don't know. You might mention that the work is actually about a two-hour job, in pretty much a neutral/factual way (don't spend TOO much wording on this; your time is valuable). Ask again if he'd like to open a contract. Close by saying either way, it has been a sincere pleasure to work with him. That's a "bye, Felicia" but in a non-confrontational way; you're basically giving your final word - open a contract, or this convo is closed, in three no-nonsense sentences. But be polite about it.

 

This is just the way I'd handle it. Other people, I am sure, will have their own ideas. Any may apply to you. I did have one client ask for free "input" that wound up being pretty extensive. I pretty much wrote to him what I've written above. He changed his request to just clarifiying a visual for one of the items I gave him during a consulation. That I was perfectly willing to do (without opening a contract). He was a good client, gave me a bonus (that was out of nowhere...I was surpised and really glad he liked my work), and gave me a great review.

There are people who think it is okay to walk into a fancy restaurant, take off their shoes and socks, put a foot up on the table, and pick the lint out of their toenails using a fork.

 

These are the same people who think it is okay to ask a freelancer to do a "favor" (such as the original poster described) for free.

You just ruined my appetite, Preston. Just as well I'm on a diet.

 


@Preston H wrote:

There are people who think it is okay to walk into a fancy restaurant, take off their shoes and socks, put a foot up on the table, and pick the lint out of their toenails using a fork.

 

These are the same people who think it is okay to ask a freelancer to do a "favor" (such as the original poster described) for free.


 

No they aren't. That's kind of silly, Preston. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

I pick my toenails with dinnerware all the time but I NEVER ask for free work favors.

 

 

What everybody else said. There's no upside to devaluing your time and expertise by working for free. Especially one you anticipate working with again. If you give a mouse a cookie...

A "favor" is what one asks of a friend -- and even then, one should ask with care and forethought. I would not ask a two-hour "favor" casually of even a very GOOD friend. I might ask casually for a spare Kleenex or ask nonchalantly for a friend to read a road sign that I couldn't make out without my putting on my distance glasses -- those are casually-asked "favors."

 

More than two or three minutes of my professional time is not a "favor." It is called "work," and I charge "money" for that time. And when a client asks for that time, such work is provided by me "in exchange for a fair hourly rate."

 

How exceptionally odd (and presumptuous and arrogant!) of a client to ask for your professional time and skills and to assume that he or she is so valuable to you, such a great guy, that he or she merits a "favor" !

Well, I would eat the pie with a knife. I would respond to the client you will be happy to look at it.  Once you get the stuff if it is 10-15 min. job do it or send him a message that it would take you X hours to do a repectable job, you will be happy to do it if he was the initiate a contract.


@Janean L wrote:

 

 

 

 

How exceptionally odd (and presumptuous and arrogant!) of a client to ask for your professional time and skills and to assume that he or she is so valuable to you, such a great guy, that he or she merits a "favor" !


 

Well, OTOH, it IS possible the client legitimately thinks it will be one-two-three done and has no idea tha this questions will take two hours to complete. As a writer, I've had people ask how writing 1,000 words could possibly take more than 20 minutes or so, since after all, I type very fast. So "How long could it possibly take?" Not long, if the job you're offering me is to free-associate 1,000 words mostly derived from old Stevie Nicks tunes writing on a pad with one of those markers that smell like grapes, but I'm guessing that's not the project, so...

 

(Editing out all the rest of what I wrote, which is mostly babble. Everybody have a good night!)

jessacast
Member

As a follow-up to my original post (and thank you to all of you who offered me guidance!): I elected to send the client a friendly, warm response stating that I appreciated his desire for my input but that he could get in trouble for violating the terms. He was grateful for pointing it out, apologized, emphasized my value, and thanked me. 

Of course, then I never heard from him again. But at least I didn't set off fireworks and anger a potential client.

 

Well-played, Jessica!