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Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mtdman, Apr 6, 2004.

  1. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    I have a lawyer that I have worked for for about 5 years now. Good customer, always gets the extras, always prepays ahead of time, nice guy. I have used him for some legal work in the past, no complaints.

    Last month I emailed him with a question about a particular form I needed to fill out, pertaining to the work he did for me last year. I have asked him several questions in the past via email and he's always been very kind to answer me. Monday I get a bill in the mail for $50, a charge for answering the email!

    Now, I can understand a lawyer charging to answer advice. I understand that lawyers charge for everything, and charge too much to boot. However, as I said, I've asked him questions via email before and never been charged, and he's never made it clear to me that answering an email would be a billable event. But what really burns my butt about this is that I spent about a half hour answering several of his emails about his service this year, prepared two separate proposals for him, and made a trip to his house to do some measurements for work he wanted done. All of this free of charge, and all of it for nothing since he didn't want the work done after I gave him the proposals. And no, I don't charge for estimates, but I did put in a good two hours into doing all that for him, free of charge. After I did all that, I send an email and ask him a simple question, that required 2 sentences to answer, and I get charged $50???!!

    When I saw the bill, I was enraged. If it weren't for the fact he's a very good customer and a lawyer, I would have probably sent him his money back and told him off. As it is, I didn't, I've cooled off. But I am still pretty pissed about it.

  2. ColePyck

    ColePyck LawnSite Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 208

    Probably just having a bad day, I wouldnt pay it, say you never received it if he asks. Maybe his secretary made a mistake?
  3. heybruck34

    heybruck34 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 300

    I'm a CPA and we bill by the hour- much the same as I'm sure your lawyer/client did for you. I also love taking care of my yard and a couple neighbors in my free time- hence my joining this website.

    What I would do is pay the bill but enclose a letter professionally stating your objection and why you were upset. It's only $50 and I'm sure the advice he's given you currently and in the past was worth more than that at FMV. By paying the bill you don't really put him on the defensive but you DEFINITELY have a right to be upset about being bill with no engagement letter or undertanding. And you should make him aware of this.

    Also- I think there is a difference in the two professions. I may get flamed for this but lawyers (and CPA's) only have their time and expertise to sell. If we can't bill for our time then what can we bill for? On the other hand, I believe LCO's are paid more for a service or job. Cutting grass, planting, fertilizing, whatever the case may be.

    I agree he was wrong to bill you without notifiying you especially since he did "pro-bono" work in the past.

    And I'm not trying to start a fight of "this job is better than that" so please don't let this degenerate into that.
  4. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    As an LCO, I bill by my time. Everything I do is based on time. My lawn rates aren't all the same for every yard, as the rates are based on how long it will take me to mow the yard. I sell a service, but everything I do is based on how long each service will take. I have operating expenses and overhead, but so do professional services. My work is the commodity I am selling, and I measure that work by the hour. If I could get a charge for giving an estimate, believe me I would.

    If he had ever told me that answering email questions was billable, I'd never have asked him. I could have called the IRS helpline for free. And honestly, $50 to answer a 2 minute question is a bit rediculous. The fact I spent all that time and effort preparing a proposal for free that he rejected just a week prior doesn't help the situation either.

    I'm not sure what I want to do. I do want to object to the charge, not sure how to do it without causing a major fuss.
  5. Trevors Lawn Care

    Trevors Lawn Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,180

    Send him a letter stating your position on the bill, and state that you will pay, but next time you will send his arse a bill for anytime he talks to you.
  6. Bull

    Bull LawnSite Senior Member
    from NC
    Posts: 308

    Go ahead and pay the $50.00. He's saving up to have that work done you quoted.
  7. Pay it and next time add it back in on some work to him as consulting fee.
  8. bluebeard

    bluebeard LawnSite Member
    from ny
    Posts: 21

    Email the jerk a jpg of a 50 dollar bill.

    Crumb snatchers
  9. locutus

    locutus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NC
    Posts: 1,266

    O.K. It's like this, I dropped both of my lawyer lawns this year. Both alway's paid on time, also long time client's. Somehow I always felt uneasy with these two. I cant really explain it, but I feel quite a sense of relief this year.
  10. Trevors Lawn Care

    Trevors Lawn Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,180

    Locust They know the law, and loop holes.. They will bite you in the ass when you fling a rock at their window, because your insurance doesnt cover some random BS and they will win.

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