Yes, you read that right. The Asshole Fee. What, you might ask, is an Asshole Fee? I developed it after I had been consulting for awhile. I will start by saying that 99.9% of my clients are fabulous. But every once in awhile, I work on a large project in which I work with multiple people outside of my regular client pool. And some of these people are assholes.
It all began one day when I was working on a large project. I was responsible for writing multiple letters, and had received names of people for these letters over the telephone. We had a very very short time allotted to this project, so I wrote the names down and wrote my letters, and neither the person who told me the names nor I verified the spelling of the names. So, I sent the letters around for review to the fifty other people working on this project. And the Asshole sent back an email to me, cc'ing everyone else on the project, correcting the spellings of the names. He couldn't just quietly do it in track changes in his versions of the documents. Oh no. He had to ridicule me in front of a cast of dozens. My first reaction was that I was angry. But then, I simply opened my excel document in which I was tracking changes, and added an extra hour to my tally. I thought, "That was a very expensive email, Asshole, and I hope you're happy now." After that, I was able to get back to work, without my focus being interrupted by the Asshole-ness of his behavior.
Yes. I really do charge people for the privilege of being assholes. The fee is exactly what it sounds like.
I have used The Asshole Fee only one or two more times, but I love the fact that I have it. I have talked to other consultants since then, and I have discovered that some people actually have a line on their invoices that is something like: TAF: $100. They say nobody has ever questioned them about what TAF is.
I mentioned TAF to my uncle once at a family dinner. He own his own company too, and we were talking about clients who have difficult personalities. His wife laughed and told me, "You never want to say no to people or to garner bad will. You raise their fees until they either won't work with you anymore-- and what can they say except that you are too expensive? Or you raise them to the point that you don't mind working for them."
I have a friend who does freelance graphic design work. She had worked with a particular client and not enjoyed the experience, so when they contacted her again, she quoted them twice her original fees. And they still wanted to hire her. So, she worked with them, but she didn't mind nearly so much working at that rate of pay.