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Consulting - Emergency Support?

By Eric9 ·
Hi Everyone,

I have a quick query for the consultants/contractors. We ran into a situation yesterday where a client called one of my techs on her personal cell phone at a bit past six PM and informed her that his server had died and he absolutely needed her to come that instant or they would lose thousands. My tech knew this client was a small store, and was closed at the moment and would not lose anything if they waited till the next morning. The client adamantly refused to wait, and the tech called me. I agreed with her that the client was not justified in demanding someone come out well past business hours; but I also told her that if it was possible it would be nice if she could go and she could take the next day off.

Long story short, she did go, and was able to recover the server and finished up around 2 am; although she was not happy with the client at all.

So I was curious what other consultants that provide time and materials support(as opposed to guarenteed 24/7 agreements) do in regards to emergency work. Do you just flat out refuse unscheduled after hours work? Do you have a special rate for that work, if so, does your tech get any kick back. Do you double bill the client, so your tech gets twice the pay/comp time?



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by Oldefar In reply to Consulting - Emergency Su ...

First comment - although the client was losing nothing at the time of the call, it seems the repair took 8 hours after placing the call. Assuming the discussions and travel took a couple of hours, that is still a 6 hour outage. Had the repair waited until morning, he would have been down for over half of his business day. I would say he was well advised to request immediate service.

As for charges. If you have a time and material agreement with him, it should already be spelled out. If not, time and half is typical after hours, with double time and half on holidays.

If you did not quote a price and his direction was to restore service ASAP regardless of cost, bill what you think is fair. If you did not quote an after hour rate when requested, you might have an unhappy client. Bill what you think is fair, and be prepared to eat any extra if you want to preserve goodwill.

As an employer, you should also be fair to your tech and compensate her accordingly. What you make or lose on the job is incidental unless you share with employees as a percentage.

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But Oldefar

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Interesting

Remember that t is generally after hours where DATA is transmitted to whoever and things ordered so while I don't know the store in question I would say that it was fairly important to get it up and running ASAP and you are perfectly correct about the time of repair which would have been longer if performed during working hours.

Not to mention constantly having to tell who ever that it will be working when I finish as they would no doubt have someone hanging over their shoulder asking them what they where doing?

Why they where doing it?

And how long before we are working again?


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Sounds like you need better legal advice

by DC_GUY In reply to Consulting - Emergency Su ...

Your contract with that client should have been reviewed by an attorney before you signed it. He or she would have red-flagged the absence of a provision for off-hours work. Sounds like the client didn't have legal counsel either. You're fortunate that this was something that you can (presumably) afford to be gracious about in order to maintain the goodwill of both your client and your employee. Let it be a warning. The most outrageous situations can arise in a contracting arrangement, and if there isn't language in the contract to cover it, it can get very ugly. The worst possible case is that the client has a lawyer and you don't. Better yet, you ought to have a Standard Agreement already drawn up by an attorney for prospective clients to sign, and one for your subcontractors; it won't cost more than a few hundred bucks. Very cheap insurance! You can make and sign reasonable modifications on a case by case basis without needing to go back to your lawyers, if the basic structure of the agreement is sound. Take this advice right now while you don't need it. I promise the day will come when you will be hugging your spouse or your dog and thanking yourself for having done so. ^_^

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And nnow, back to ...

by voldar In reply to Sounds like you need bett ...

work. Yes, sometimes you are facing this kind of ?problems?. In some ?situations? you just pray that it will never come again, in others, you don?t.
All is about how you built your "papers". DC_GUY is totally right here. Go and check how your contract/agreement is, and if you have problems, try to change it. It's not very easy job to do, because the Client, now, when he is very aware that this problem he faced last day maybe sometimes in the future he will face it back, he will have to pay much more than right now.
It is up to you and your relationship with him on how the things will end. And, here is my 2 cents advice: I worked before IT as civil engineer (and still do as consultant - but my love is IT), and if you don't have all/any papers to cover you up, you are dead meat. So, from now on, check all the details/problems that you think you might have in the future, and write them down on your paper. You'll never know what future brings some day. So, be prepared!

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Out of the "order" here ...

by voldar In reply to Consulting - Emergency Su ...

Eric, I was looking for your problem with the notepad, and I think I found the sollution. You should go to registry, to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\currentVersion\explorer\FileExts and add to each extension you want to use the notepad.exe the appropiate string value. Look arround for a .doc entry, and add the new one exactly as the others are. Alos, modify the MRU string order.Hope that helps!

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Actually the client was correct here

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Consulting - Emergency Su ...

If you had of gone there the next day and spent 6 or more hours getting the server up and running there would not only have been quite a lot of loss suffered by the company involved but the tech who was sent out there would also have had a longer repair job and no doubt with the Owner/Supervisor constantly hanging over their shoulder asking "How Long Now? Not the best situation to work under and personally I find that if I can go there after hours I get a lot more done with less interruptions as well so the job gets done faster.

Now as far as payment goes unless you have a contract with the shop in question you can virtually charge what you like but at the same time you must remember that if you are perceived as overcharging he/she will find someone else to do their work and that will be one less customer that you have and even worse with all the "Bad Mouthing" it may even lead to the loss of other customers when they get to hear about just how expensive you are and how good company "X" is.

Remember it is a jungle out there with others constantly attempting to pick off you're existing customers for their benefit and the best thing that you can do is offer good service so the customer isn't interested in trying elsewhere as they are happy with what they have already got.

Personally if it was a good client I would only charge him/her the normal rate but you may be able to push that to 1.5 times but no further as they will then start looking for another repairer and no doubt tell everyone that they know just how god the new guy is at you're experience. If you can afford to lose customers like this well you'll be OK but most of us aren't in the category of HP, Dell, Gateway etc and we need every customer we can get just to make the staff payments and pay the bills.

So I would just chalk it up to experience and it is always better to get in there after hours rather than constantly getting a "Server" running for a short time and have it fall over as you'll hear the screams of the staff from half a state away.


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OK - What did you do?

by alexp023 In reply to Consulting - Emergency Su ...

Quite simply if you did not have a specific agreement covering this type of work, I would have just billed the client at time and 1/2.

If the client was unwilling to pay, then settle at straight time. Now you know where you stand with the client going forward.

Was this a big client where you do significant billing? If so, this may outway the additional cost for this specific emergency.

OK, so you made a mistake, now fix it going forward. That's how we learn and grow.

By the way, what did you do at first and what was the final resolution?

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