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First Contract

, , , , , | Right | February 14, 2023

I was engaged to consult at an executive retreat at a bougie resort on the other side of the country. I sent the contract, they signed, and I flew commercially while their group flew in on their company jet.

The retreat was fine and went as planned, and afterward, the group wanted to continue some of their work and asked me to keep helping out. I obliged as I had the availability. My contract stated the scope was for the retreat only and any additional work outside of that would be billed at my hourly rate. My mistake was in assuming the client read the contract they signed. Then, s*** hit the fan.

After we finished the continuation of the work, the client was shocked because they thought the extra work was included in the fee they had paid. The client called angry about the bill, but I had to outline that I couldn’t simply use my professional expertise to do work for them for weeks on end… for free!

Then, the client asked for my working files so their in-house team could continue the work without me. I said I was happy to hand the working files over, but it was an extra fee — as stated in my contract! Again, shock.

Client: “Well, I didn’t read the contract. Why isn’t it included?!”

Me: “Because it takes time, effort, and expertise to craft the files. It’s an asset, and you can’t just have it for nothing. You’re essentially cutting me out of future work, and the fee is compensating me for the work creating the file and future iterations on it, which you’re now taking over. So you can either pay the working file fee and have your in-house team do it, or you can keep paying me to make changes. Your pick.”

Client: “You’re gouging me! Your estimate for travel to the resort was really high and we felt you could have found cheaper flights and shuttles.”

Me: “You picked a destination on the other side of the country from me. It took three flights and twelve hours to get to. There was no airport shuttle or rideshare at the local muni airport, and the only available option was a limo. You didn’t include me in your group’s catered meals, so the per diem was higher because I had to eat separately from your group. When the only commercial flight in and out of the day was cancelled, I had to stay another day. I’m not gouging you… I’m charging you for the cost of staying at the place you picked and asked me to come to.”

I chose not to work with that client again.

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