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graymachine

Putting the foot down

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Today, I had to do something that I wasn't very comfortable doing: getting firm with a client.

 

I've had this guy that's been emailing, calling, IMing, etc.. tapping me for free tech support. Up until now, I've been cooperative. It reached a point of saturation. "CALGON TAKE ME AWAY!!". So, I put my foot down.

 

I explained that it's not software or hardware, but our expertise that we have as our value. Especially as a freelancer. Tapping me for free expertise once or twice is cool. But repeatedly, it is not. It's unprofessional and he wouldn't want the same thing happening to him. So you can either retain me for consultation, or keep the advice to a minimum.

 

So, I'm curious where folks draw the line with this. Up front? Or, like I did.. reaching this saturation point.

 

Maybe I'm just unlucky enough to get these clients.

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what? you don't like giving out free tech support?

 

I thought all of you "computer guys" were experts on everything that any computer could ever do, could fix any hardware or network problem and, moreover, simply lived and breathed just to share this huge store of knowledge for free with anybody who asked? (by the way, my niece is having trouble with her myspace page, could you stop over later to help out?)

 

hello, photoshop help line...

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You might have it worse than the average freelancer since you're quite the goto guy for tech knowledge what with your tutorials and expert knowledge of AE.. regardless, you did the right thing and did it professionally (minus the posting of the story on the internet ;))

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Guest Sao_Bento

Was it a Mographer? I used to hear stories about a Mographer who did his/her projects via a vast IM network. Constantly IMing different people for explanations of how to approach each step.

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When something like this happens, I like to take a step back and make sure I reacting appropriately. I have no intention of slandering anyone. If he reads this, no harm done.. but it's quite unlikely.

 

As Richard Bach wrote, "Always speak as if the whole world can hear you." I remind myself that a lot.

 

My position was received and acknowledged. I just can't help but think I let it get to a point where I should have done something earlier. Maybe not.

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Was it a Mographer? I used to hear stories about a Mographer who did his/her projects via a vast IM network. Constantly IMing different people for explanations of how to approach each step.

names, we need names.

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Maybe I'm just unlucky enough to get these clients.

 

I think you are in the unlucky position of having a vast library of knowledge and a general sense of good will. I'm sure you handled it well. I definitely would've put the breaks on it, too.

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perhaps you could say something like, "you know, this might be an opportunity for us to set up some kind of consulting relationship, since it sounds like you have a need for some ongoing support. let me put together a proposal on that and get back to you."

 

i don't know exactly what your relationship is with this guy, but that could be a tactful way of saying that he'll need to pay you if he wants to keep picking your brain (and chances are, he won't, of course).

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perhaps you could say something like, "you know, this might be an opportunity for us to set up some kind of consulting relationship, since it sounds like you have a need for some ongoing support. let me put together a proposal on that and get back to you."

 

i don't know exactly what your relationship is with this guy, but that could be a tactful way of saying that he'll need to pay you if he wants to keep picking your brain (and chances are, he won't, of course).

 

nice answer, but where's the mockery...where's the sermon of mockery? :o

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Clients need to be told when they're taking the piss, but obviously you need to do it in a professional manner and Graymachine, i think you handled the situation very well.

 

Sermon, i've made a note of your suggestion - might come in useful one day!

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What, like lying isn't an option? Here are some good dishonest lines to save you time.

 

'I don't actually know how to do that.'

'I did it once a long time ago, but I forgot how I did it.'

'Fuck if I know.'

'Yeah, I got that result, but it was sheer luck. I couldn't do it again in a million years.

'My wife did it.'

'I called the geek squad, have you ever tried that? Here's their number. I keep it on a sticky.'

 

But if you start bugging me all the time for more lines, I'm gonna have to put my foot down. ;)

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I think you are in the unlucky position of having a vast library of knowledge and a general sense of good will. I'm sure you handled it well. I definitely would've put the breaks on it, too.

 

Goodwill will kill you.

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