Charging for time promised, but not working...
Thread poster: Yvette Neisser Moreno

Yvette Neisser Moreno  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 10, 2007

I have a similar issue to the one raised by our interpreter friend yesterday, but relating to a written project. I had promised a regular client of mine that I would reserve the day yesterday (Monday) to edit a report for him. This is a standard report that typically takes me 5-6 hours to edit, so I had made sure to have that time available. Monday morning by 11am, I had not received the document. Tried several times to reach client. Finally got an email back from client who (normally based in US) said he was in Panama and had emailed the document but apparently there was some problem with the internet system there, who knows. Anyway, the day went by and I did not receive the document until evening. Obviously, I did not do any other paid work during the day. I told the client that I would do a quick edit of the document today, as I already have a rapport with him and I understand that the technical problem was not his fault... On the other hand, as my mother always said, if you wait until the last minute to do something (i.e., send report to editor), you're more likely to run into problems. Meanwhile, I lost a whole day of pay while waiting for the document to arrive; and I had turned down a project from another client because of my commitment to edit said report.

This is not the first time something like this has happened to me (with other clients as well). How would you handle this in terms of charging? Should I charge my actual hours on the report plus the 5-6 hours I had estimated for yesterday? Should I just charge the standard 6 hours that I usually spend on these? Should I charge a bit less (say, 4 hours) while explaining to the client that if it happens again, I will charge in full for my time, regardless of whether I am waiting or working? (Or should I just present the problem and try to come to a mutually agreeable solution?)

Thanks in advance for any thoughts/advice. I would like to get back to the client about this today if possible.



Irene N
United States
Local time: 03:20
English to Russian
+ ...
There is no standard recipe Jul 10, 2007

General advice - no time booking without a confirmed cancellation fee. Remind the client that if the project will not be there in time you might make yourself busy without it. Give him a chance to offer reimbursment before you even ask.

On the other hand, it hugely depends on how regular the client really is. Several years of at least 20K+ a year worth of work is not the same as a few reports a year worth 5-6 hours each.

In similar cases I had it in many different ways - a couple of times the client offered the pay himself, and in a few cases I let go - after a decade+ of steady workflow summing up to 70K+/year from one agency and up to 15K/year from another I do take it as a family matter - things happen and I know that tomorrow they will come back with twice as much. I keep in mind that over the years they'd covered my tail more than once. OK, guys, is it coming or not? When? What happens if I take something else? Sometimes the answer is - pleeeeeeeeeeeeease wait, sometimes - OK, no big deal, we can reassign it if it comes. Don't ever wait in silence, you don't have employee privileges and nothing is guaranteed. Or be prepared for a 24-hour race.

Formally your time should be paid but is it worth making this particular client too upset?

If you prefer to pursue the matter, you can always ask for a copy of the original message - he must have sent it from his email regardless of the location. You can check the time stamp. BTW, that's what I did once when my email got lost, and "cleared my name".

Since he didn't resend it immediately that morning, I doubt he had ever sent anything from Panama either. People don't like to be cornered and react aggressively when that happens. See if you care:-)


Veronika Hansova  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:20
Member (2006)
English to Czech
+ ...
Waist of your time - Charge them, however, less than usually Jul 10, 2007

Hi Yvette,

I believe it is the client's responsibility to make sure you receive the document (similarly as it is your responsibility to reserve the time for its processing). Therefore I would inform the client that you lost one whole day witing for the document. Also, I would inform him that this was not only a matter of lost time but of lost profit too.
Have you two agreed on estimated amount of time you were to reserve for the job? Do you have some evidence of this agreement? If you do and it says - let's say - 5-6 hours of work on the document, I would charge him whole five hours (or the bottom level) with some 25% - 50% discount + the price for the quick edit. This should heal your loss.
If there is no written agreement (PO or whatever) that would specify the estimated amount of time, I would charge the quick edit plus an extra for the profit loss. Tis depends on the length of the text you edited. But it should be equal to the 75% price for those five hours.

I hope it makes sense...icon_lol.gif

Well, to sum it up: don't let the client think he can afford let you lose one whole day. Educate your client. Politely, though strictly...



Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:20
Italian to English
+ ...
Agree with Irene Jul 10, 2007

It's a much trickier situation, because you could have done some other work while waiting for the file if you'd had any to do. I think in this case, as Irene suggests, for the future the only sensible solution is to agree a retainer fee beforehand. I also agree with her that your course of action now depends on how important the client is to you.


English to Spanish
I would charge for the work really done Jul 11, 2007

I would charge him for the work done the day after, plus a hefty "rush surcharge", and I would explain him the troubles I had suffered.

And by the way, I would try to find a better balance between urgent and not so urgent tasks, so I would have had something to do while waiting for the file to arrive.

Good luck!!


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