A Sudden Volunteering Clearing

, , , | Right | July 19, 2018

(I work for a small company that often deals with government programs or contracts. One of the kid-centered programs we often work with is very popular in our fairly small community, and lots of people, including all but one member of our staff, also volunteer with the program. Thus, we have many employees who work a shift with one part of the program, but will show up early or stay late to volunteer in other positions. In this particular case, the event is being held by a school, but the school doesn’t want to pay the company for the company’s product.)

School Rep: “Is there any way you can come down on the price?”

Coworker: “Since you are requiring we purchase additional insurance to complete this contract, no. If you are willing to forgo the additional insurance, the price will be [lower price].”

School Rep: “Well, we don’t want to pay any more than [roughly half the price].”

Coworker: “I’m sorry, but we can’t do that.”

(My coworker goes on to list several other options that will allow the rep to still use some of our services, but will be much closer to the price range mentioned.)

School Rep: “No, no, no, I want all the usual stuff. Can’t you just cut me a deal?”

Coworker: “I’m sorry, but we can only go so low. We already offer [services] at a discounted rate, because it is for a community program. We simply cannot charge less than that.”

School Rep: “I can’t believe you won’t do it. I know! What about if you don’t worry about [lists every possible volunteer position], and do it at [their earlier, ridiculously low quote]?”

Me: “[School Rep], those are all volunteer positions. Company employees sometimes choose to volunteer to fill those roles, but the company is in no way responsible for that.”

School Rep: “But… I can get other volunteers to do that! Why can’t you just make them not do it?”

Me: “…because our company has absolutely no control over what our employees do on their own time? We can’t tell them not to volunteer, and even if we could, it would not change the costs of the contract.”

School Rep: “But why not?”

(The school rep spent the next week emailing and calling us, asking us not to let employees volunteer with the program, and insisting that if we did so, we could do the program at the lower rate. She never seemed to get that the company cannot tell employees not to do volunteer work, although she has succeeded in souring most of us on the idea of volunteering for anything taking place at her school.)

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