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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Why do people ask me to work for free?

I need to rant for a moment. 

Twice this week, people who have asked me to do work for them have then complained about receiving a bill, both saying "I didn't realize I would have to pay for it". The first one was a phone consultation about probate. The client asked me to get the original will from another lawyer, who was refusing to release it. I got the will, after a bit of a struggle. I billed the client, who seemed surprised that I'd bill for that. The second one, also on the phone, was a consultation about Letters of Administration. It was a 45-minute discussion, during which I was asked to verify facts by way of Land Registry search. I did that. Again, I billed the client. This one said "I didn't expressly agree to pay you".

Seriously? Who calls a law firm, spends time with the lawyer, asks for tasks to be done, and thinks it's all free?

Do these people receive services from the dentist or the hairdresser or the mechanic or the insurance company for free?

Do they go into stores and think they can just take stuff if they don't "expressly agree" to pay for it?

Both of these people WILL pay me eventually. That's not the point. I'm just frustrated that my time and my staff's time is being wasted on arguing about it. 

Now you see why lawyers ask for retainers. When I do valuable work for people, I don't want to be messed around with "I didn't know I had to pay you". 

Okay. Enough about that. I've cleared the air, now on with my day.

10 comments:

  1. You were a huge help to me when I hired and paid you on two phone consultations. I was executor for my brother's estate that had gone into litigation. Thank you again Lynne. You are very giving of your time with your blogs. Professionals need and should get paid for providing one on one work. As an accountant I have come across the same situation you find yourself in. It does baffle me for sure. Thank you again. I have gained so much experience as an Accountant in regards to Estate accounting and all the pitfalls to avoid. Warmest regards. Chantal

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    Replies
    1. Hi Chantal,
      Nice to hear from you. Hope all is well. Thanks for your kind words.

      Lynne

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  2. Lynne,

    I agree with you. A lawyer's time and advice are his stock in trade-Abraham Lincoln.
    This reminds me of the song title "Blurred Vision" a catchy tune sung by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. There is a 'blurred line' between what you generously offer on your blog and what 'some' people expect from you when they call or write you. Would it not be better to advise them up front that there will be a fee for your services if they are asking you for advice? IMO.

    Webeye

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    Replies
    1. Correction -Title of the song is
      "Blurred Lines" Catchy tune.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyDUC1LUXSU

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    2. Hi Webeye, Yes I know the song. Thanks to you, now I have it stuck in my head for the day! :)

      Lynne

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  3. So true. I agree with your comments/rant. The problem is "advice" is not tangible, not a physical "thing" you can feel. Whereas, I do feel usually discomfort when my Dentist sticks her/his fingers in my mouth but I still have to pay!

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    Replies
    1. So true. Even if you come out feeling as if you've been hit by a truck, you still have to pay for the experience.

      Lynne

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. My father had a small grocery store in the '40s and '50s. When people had cash they would shop in supermarkets, when they were short they would buy on credit in our store. Many never paid their bills but walked away never to be found. Your situation reflects how my father's customers must have felt. BTW, I love reading your FREE blog! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Chris. Thanks for the support! And thanks for reading.

      Lynne

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