My computer was slow today

Can I pass the cost onto my clients? Our elder advises a freelancer who is struggling with the ethics of their computer situation.


Dear EWC

Hello, I will go ahead and jump right into my question. I am a single parent, I work from home while the kids are at school online. I work self-employed as a grant writer and graphic designer. I get hired by individuals and get paid by the hour. My dilemma is that occasionally my computer runs slow, so my work progress is slower on those days. Sometimes the time it takes to complete tasks is doubled. I cannot just skip out on a day of work because my computer is slow, I need to work while the kids are in school so my time is limited. But at the same time, I feel bad for considering charging people the extra time it takes to complete those tasks on those days. What should I do?


Kathy replies

I have a couple of thoughts as I read your letter. First, I am impressed that you have considered the ethics of your computer situation. I think it is important to be an ethical person in our personal and professional lives. Another thought is can you adjust what you charge for those times when you are not able to work as fast as usual because your computer is slow? From a business perspective if you are charging more than the client anticipated, it might be a disadvantage to future business or recommendations to other potential clients. Unless there is some kind of tracking and monitoring software on your computer that keeps track of how much time you spend on each job; can you adjust the hours you bill your clients? It would seem you could deduct the time spent waiting on your computer to respond. If the problem is your computer, can you afford to purchase another computer or have a computer technician check your computer to see if it can be updated? If the problem includes your Internet speed, can you change providers or up the speed on your present package?

I have some knowledge of computers used for graphic design and from what I understand they are more expensive so purchasing a new computer may not be an option for you at this time.

Adjusting to the actual charge would make sense. The customer need not know, if you kept track of the hours you worked not including the time waiting on your computer. I am not sure if that would work in your field but it would seem to be the fairest for the client. It is not their fault that your computer is sometimes slow. I am also wondering if any clients have complained about how long it took you to complete the job or about the charge? I assume you provide some sort of estimate when you take the job but again, I don’t know how your field works in relation to pricing.

That is all I can think of and I hope I have helped you today. I think it is a good thing you are concerned about ethics and I hope you can find a solution to your situation. In my opinion, being ethical in business and treating customers/clients right is the way to build a long-lasting business. Good luck to you. If we can be of help to you in the future, please contact us.

Article #: 493569
Category: Career

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