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The Asshole Fee

Taking into account that not everyone you work with will be nice

by Caitlin McDonald  |  12283 views  |  9 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Earlier this summer, one of my regular clients passed off a new client to me-- mostly because they didn't want to work with someone difficult. They warned me in advance, and then added, "Charge them whatever you want." So, I did, and they are now my highest-paying clients.

I try not to work with people who live locally, especially because the few who have contacted me about work at notoriously difficult personalities, and I am not convinced they would ever have paid me. So, I quoted them fees that were so ridiculous, I never heard from them again.

I now recommend to everyone who consults that they develop an Asshole Fee. It will make you laugh, at the very least. You don't necessarily have to list it directly on your invoice either. And I don't feel guilty for charging people extra hours when they are assholes: If I didn't, then I would stew and simmer, and I would make less money in lost productivity. So, I just charge them, and get on with it. Oh, how I wish I could have done this when I worked in an office.

Do you have an Asshole Fee? How did you establish it, and when do you invoke it? And if you don't have one... you should.

9 comments so far...

  • This is a great concept! I am sure you are not the first to implement such a fee. It does make you feel good and helps you to move on to better clients who don't hold that title. Some people just have no other way to release their own frustrations and use us hard working people as the scapegoat. Kudos!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by travelmom07 on 17th December 2007

  • i use the **** fee too...altho i call it the PITA fee (pain in the ass) or the hand-holding fee for those who always seem to need to be walked thru step by step.
    and yes, for clients i didnt enjoy working with or who were a PITA, i always raise my rate. then at least, i'm getting paid well while dealing with their issues.
    loved this article!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by melek on 18th October 2007

  • Oooh. I like it!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Lorna Doone Brewer on 4th October 2007

  • I wish there would have been a line for a TAF when I was a mortgage broker! I would have made a fortune. Good for you!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Heather C. on 13th September 2007

  • Brilliant! There will always be some people who are difficult for difficult's sake. You can't take it personally, but you can work with the fact that they exist. Great article. By the way, I call it the "potential pain-in-the-ass factor" when creating estimates. I also don't charge for hours I don't work. If they are a pain and waste time, they get charged. If not, I cut them some slack. In the end, the estimate is either paid in full or slightly under (and you know clients love that!)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by L.T. on 11th September 2007

  • I think this is a great idea - the cost of doing business, you know, and there's a lot more "cost" to you and your business in dealing with the ultra-high-maintenance client. I think Mandy's reversal of the idea - the discount for clients that are especially pleasant to deal with - is great too. And even if your clients talk to one another and discover the difference in charges, that makes total sense if what you do is highly customized to each job. All's fair.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Florinda Pendley Vasquez on 10th September 2007

  • haha, I'm going to rewrite my invoice templates right now! I'm guilty of a little up-charge when clients are difficult, padding time a bit. And I've also over quoted and had them come back for more anyway. It certainly makes me feel better to know I'm getting paid what I feel I'm worth to deal with them. I also give a good-guy discount so what goes around, comes around.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mandy Nelson - Dandysound on 10th September 2007

  • This is hysterical - and SOOOO smart. I'm not sure I see an application to my present work, but I'll certainly store this away for my future career!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 10th September 2007

  • That is an awesome idea. Great post!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Donna Schwartz Mills on 10th September 2007