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There are companies which I visit on a roughly weekly basis for a few hours to offer consultation about algorithm development, for a specified payment per hour.

Sometimes, in between my visits there's a need for me to clarify / expand on the work we've done in the physical meeting - which we do by email / phone while I'm at my home office.

I'm wondering if there are best practices for how much to charge for this followup work, if at all.

On one hand, this is extra work I'm doing for the company, and as such should be billed normally by the time spent.

On the other, this usually takes a relatively short amount of time, and I don't want to be so stingy that people can't even talk with me without me demanding payment. Also, depending on the specific circumstance, there might be a case for arguing that this is a form of warranty I'm giving for the work I've already billed.

ETA: I don't have any written contract. For every client I just presented my fee, they agreed and we started working. So I'm trying to understand what would be considered implicit without a contract, or generally accepted and appropriate.

  • Your question is attracting close votes because this is quite a broad topic and standards will differ by industry and type of work and normally depend on the contract you have. A question like "Should I bill my client when I'm contacted outside my normal hours?" is better but likely still up for debate, given that you can argue it either way. Normally that time is always billed in some way: either directly or by using a higher base rate. However, this is answerable with some general guidelines so I'd vote to keep this open. – Lilienthal Apr 8 '16 at 6:37
  • 'ETA: I don't have any written contract' Well. There's your problem. – Alex M Mar 29 at 19:07
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It's up to you.

In my case it depends on my relationship with the client. In the majority of cases I write this cost off as non billable unless it takes up a lot of time. If it's just clarification, I wouldn't bill, because the way I look at it, there shouldn't have been a need if I had done it correctly in the first instance. I make a written report at each stage of a job for reference, and document everything as I go. Anything I deem to be my fault I don't bill for, and I'm pretty easy going when defining it. It rarely happens though.

With clients who are known for wasting my time on inconsequentials I will invoice them in much the same way as I have a base call out fee. I have even billed for meetings if I thought the meeting was a waste of my time. It sends them a message to use my time constructively if they don't want extra bills.

I never do anything that is not implicitly authorised for payment, so normally I only deal with Financial controllers or CEO's or top management who can make sure I get paid. So if I recieved a call or email from a clients staff, I usually refer them to whoever is supposed to me my point of contact before doing anything. Judgement call on this, I sometimes get urgent requests that need to skip the hierarchy.

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For me I do not bill in less than 15 minute increments. Just a quick email takes up 15 minutes of your day. I go with if it is less than 30 minutes or less then I round down and more than 30 minutes I round up. So two quick emails would be free but 3, 4, 5 or 6 would be billed at 1 hour. Or you could go with a policy of round up at 30 minutes.

As for warranty you need to deal with that in the contract.

Also if the email could help lead to more business then I am more inclined to not bill.

If the email is from someone not authorized to approve the billing (invoice) then cc the person that is authorized to approve the invoice.

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