Client That Created A Loophole To Pay Us Less 50%


In October, we were contracted to perform an ergonomic assessment at a site of a company that provides legal service. We informed them of the price over the phone, and set an agreed time to go over to do the assessment.

As we got there, the person who was the intended recipient of the assessment was in a meeting, so we were whisked away to do another similar assessment on another person whilst we waited for the main person to finish his meeting. In the end, we completed two full ergonomic assessment sessions and sent the completed report to them, as well as an invoice for two ergonomic assessments. The company wrote back via email saying that we had made a mistake in our invoice, that we were supposed to invoice them for one assessment only, as the other assessment was done "whilst waiting" for the main client.

Which in their opinion, doesn't count as professional services.

I then clarified with the staff that the quote was given over the phone and that it's indicated in the website, and their response to me was:

We had already asked you in email if it was fine for you to do another assessment for another colleague while you are here. And there is no mention of additional costs for another assessment.

I thought to myself, this is amazing(ly retarded).

Does that mean if we ever do hire them (heck no) for any legal services, they could do another couple of tasks for us without charge too? Hmm.

It felt and seem that they were capitalizing on a loophole, because it's true that the amount is not written on the email, but it's spoken to them on the phone already. Plus, they found our services online - where our prices are available.

I think it's highly unreasonable to say that "it doesn't count (to charge) as we had asked you if you could assess another colleague while you're here." It's a professional service, and since I'm there already, of course I'd like to do more. In this case, the client took that we should do more for free.

  • It's like expecting a doctor who just finished a surgery, still appropriately garbed for surgery, asking him to do another surgery for free - since he's there already.

  • Or when the dentist needed to do another filling - it should be free since our mouth is already open and he is already there. I can draw up many more examples.

Don't be ridiculous.

She feigned ignorance by saying that because we didn't say that it was billable, hence it wasn't billable. And pressed for us to "correct our mistake" on the invoice.

We are hard-pressed I felt that I was pushed to a corner with no options - we have completed both assessments and had sent both the reports already, so we don't have much of a choice but to say okay.

I think this occurrence is a rare one. We have not even one client that did this sort of thing to us. This legal company is the first, and I think it reflects their value and culture within their companies, or at least, that individual who kept insisting for us to "correct our mistake."

Looking back at the email correspondence, I realize that the email that they sent was very vague, did not seek much clarification (on purpose or not, I do not know), they did not ask the price on the email. Retrospectively, we did have an oral agreement of the price, but the representative of the legal company feigned ignorance of the price that had been mentioned twice (once over the phone, and another when we were there physically).

This seems to suggest that it was in her intention to get two services for the price of one, by implying that it was not communicated to her at all, and that nothing is shown in email.

My concluding thoughts

I thought about this for a bit, and asked myself if I wanted to pursue this matter - I didn't want to. The amount is too small for such efforts and potential time wasters. Plus, she was probably more trained to do things like this - she can keep doing stuff like this, but I'd rather move on to focus on more important things.

I didn't want any distractors or time wasting, so I decided to cut loss and take what I can, though it's effectively slicing my profits for that project by 50%. I decided that it is okay to move on from shitty clients, and focus on better clients that value our services and time.

Also, I think in the future, when it comes to dealing with legal companies, I'll get everything down in black and white in email.

Have you had any bad experiences with clients? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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