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kimmelsa
Member

Dealing with clients unwilling to provide enough hours to complete a job

Hi All,

 

I have a client who recently reached out to me to help her copyedit some long reports for her company. In discussing the specifics of the time schedule and budget, I explained to her my process where she should send me the files so I can review and provide her with an hourly estimate for completion. She explained that while she appreciates my professional opinion, no matter the scope of the project, she is only willing to budget for 25 hours of work. Additionally, she wants me to sign a statement of work now agreeing to 25 hours; however, she cannot promise me the exact length of the documents I need to review (she can only give me a ballpark number).

 

I do not feel comfortable agreeing to this because (1) it is not enough time to actually complete the work up to professional standards, (2) if the scope changes (i.e., they add a lot more pages!), I REALLY won't have enough time to complete the work, and (3) I do not feel comfortable doing a half-assed job just to finish in the alloted time.

 

She indicated that she would rather have some of my help than none of my help, even inferring that they are okay with me doing a half-assed job to finish the whole report. I now feel like my professional ethics are on the line.

 

Have any of you encountered a problem like this before? Have you been able to negotiate with the client to meet somewhere in the middle or do you just walk away? Any advice would be helpful!

ACCEPTED SOLUTION


@Sari K wrote:
Glad to hear all of your thoughts are similarly aligned with mine!

As an add on question, does it change anyone's opinions that this is for a non-profit org that does not have a lot of money in its budget for this type of work?

Not all non-profits are cash-strapped. There are many kinds of non-profits, and some of them have plenty of $$$ in their coffers.

 

And besides, as others have noted, she sounds like a PITA client. Bub-Bye.

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15 REPLIES 15
petra_r
Member

Just say 'No'

 

It is not worth it!

As Petra says. Move on.

 

ETA: You are top rated. The client is trying it on and should have known better than to try and get some kind of low-priced deal.

 

 

Agreed with Nichola, just leave that client

"She explained that while she appreciates my professional opinion, no matter the scope of the project, she is only willing to budget for 25 hours of work."

 

This is a clear sign of an unreasonable person.

 

Would you expect your lawyer or plumber to agree to a fixed number of hours for work of undefined scope?

 

We constantly read stories of freelancers who get in trouble with clients who do this after initially claiming a fixed amount of work was required. Consider yourself fortunate that at least she was up-front about it so you know to stay far away.

You mean she implied this?

 

I wouldn't trust the client.

 

Once a contract is enacted, your JSS is on the line.

 

Keep on movin' on...

 

Next.

I can excuse a lot of goofy, flakey behavior from clients.

 

But I doubt I would spend any more time dealing with this client. She essentially wants to merge a fixed-price contract with an hourly contract, and I regard that as an attempt to cheat the system.

 

You want me to agree to 25 hours of work, but you won't show me what I'll be working on?

 

No. No way.

kimmelsa
Member

Glad to hear all of your thoughts are similarly aligned with mine!

As an add on question, does it change anyone's opinions that this is for a non-profit org that does not have a lot of money in its budget for this type of work?

"[D]oes it change anyone's opinions that this is for a non-profit org that does not have a lot of money in its budget for this type of work?"

 

Not mine.

 

I think it's fine to work for a reduced rate to help out a non-profit -- that's a personal choice -- but it's never, ever a good idea to agree to a fixed price for an open-ended amount of work.

 

Never, ever do it. Just read all the scope creep horror stories here. You dodged a bullet.

 

ETA: I bet a good percentage of the clients who claim to be non-profits around here aren't.

My time with is my time.

 

Your non-profit is your non-profit.

 

It isn't necessarily my non-profit.


@Sari K wrote:
Glad to hear all of your thoughts are similarly aligned with mine!

As an add on question, does it change anyone's opinions that this is for a non-profit org that does not have a lot of money in its budget for this type of work?

Not all non-profits are cash-strapped. There are many kinds of non-profits, and some of them have plenty of $$$ in their coffers.

 

And besides, as others have noted, she sounds like a PITA client. Bub-Bye.


@Sari K wrote:
Glad to hear all of your thoughts are similarly aligned with mine!

As an add on question, does it change anyone's opinions that this is for a non-profit org that does not have a lot of money in its budget for this type of work?

 If your first instinct with a client is, "Oh No, this doesn't sound right!", why are you trying to rationalize yourself out of that red flag?

 

Non-profits are run by people (as you know) who can be just as downright nefarious as the for-profit organizations. 


@Sari K wrote:

As an add on question, does it change anyone's opinions that this is for a non-profit org that does not have a lot of money in its budget for this type of work?

 Nope ๐Ÿ™‚

gerrys
Member

It's there for you to see. You are seeing it but are afraid to walk away. They are not family or friends; it's business. Your business. I see no happy ending here when someone thinks you "owe" them (your "cheap" labor).

I do plenty of non-profit work. Spent three hours of un-paid time at a church meeting just last night, and threw in my mileage and a huge pan of homemade macaroni-and-cheese, as well.

 

I donate to many do-gooder causes of my own (affirmative) choosing.

 

All of the above are/have been executed at my discretion, and are tax-deductible (except for my hours) (although tax-deductibility is not the point).

 

I do not respond to the nim-nums who call me out of the blue and tell me, for instance, that I must send out envelopes to people in my neighborhood in order to "raise funds for the ladies suffering so badly with breast cancer." (Not my chosen charity; I have no information on the organization calling me; I do not know what percentage of money would go to actual, beneficial programs or research, rather than to "overhead" and "fund-raising" ; I resent the guilt-tripping tactics used; I do not appreciate my work hours being interrupted; I have zero intention of bothering my neighbors!!)

 

The difference in pay rate between my asking professional rate and the rate some putative non-profit offers could be looked upon as a "donation" -- but it would be seen in that light only by me, not by the IRS. That difference may add to my sense of moral vanity, but it is not tax-deductible. Nor do I necessarily understand what is actually being done with such a "donation." In most cases, I could do much better by simply finding better-paying work and directly donating the money that I earn--to one of several organizations that I am certain are doing good work.

 

On occasion, I have reduced my rate for a project here and there that I find to be interesting. Such projects are occasionally done for non-profits. The benefit to me is the enjoyment/experience/connections I gain from the work. I do not do such work as "charity."

re: "I do not respond to the nim-nums who call me out of the blue and tell me, for instance, that I must send out envelopes to people in my neighborhood in order to raise funds for the...."

 

I think you wisely know that there's a good chance people calling you out of the blue are scammers.

 

Just like "clients" sending invitations out of the blue to Upwork newbies are scammers.

 

Just like the "Microsoft technical support reps" who call me out of the blue to tell me that my Microsoft Windows computer has a terrible virus are scammers. (I use only Mac OS X computers at home.)

 

Just like the "IRS agents" who call me out of the blue to tell me that I need to pay overdue taxes NOW (using iTunes cards I purchase at Walgreens!), or I will be arrested, are scammers.