How much do I charge for tech support?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Demon Hunter, May 12, 2006.

  1. Demon Hunter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    Hi all. For the last 72 hours, I've tried to rescue data for my dad's public relations firm, as you will find in these threads: [1], [2], [3].

    I don't know how much to charge. The tech they usually use, who we'll call John, charges $50/hr. I basically performed all of his functions, and then some. The data should be ready tomorrow. I've worked a total of 27 hours, including one shift that was 12 hours straight.

    One partner of the company is my dad. The other partner treats me like a kid, and offered me $7/hr. Clearly, this is not acceptable. I did work for them at age 15, when $7/hr was good pay. But now I'm 20. I'm a "man", and I deserve a man's pay. I won't put up with this ****.

    I think I need to confront him. I'm "worth" what John charges, but I'm willing to go lower, like $37.50 (75%). I need to put my foot down, but I also need to be sensitive to the situation and any future prospects I have with the company. I was offered a position this summer (at $7/hr), which I also find unacceptable.

    My duties included: (1) installation, removal and diagnosis of hard drives; (2) calls to support and data recovery specialists; (3) driving around town; (4) purchasing equipment; (5) consultation; (6) miscellaneous tasks.

    I also dropped my entire schedule during this time, because they need the data ASAP.

    Do you think my proposition is fair? As always, thanks for the advice. :)
  2. steelphantom macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2005
    I'm not sure how much you should charge, but it seems to me you should have decided on that before spending 27 hours doing tech support. ;)
  3. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Might want to look at job cost when you do some of these jobs -- unless you come to terms with an hourly rate beforehand.

    How much was the data worth to the firm, $250/500/1000/2000?

    If they don't think it was worth much, they can always seek an outside data doctor the next time.
  4. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    It's worth thousands, definitely.

    You're exactly right, I should've defined my terms early on, but I wasn't thinking and they needed me right away.
  5. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Is the data already recovered and they know how to access it? If so, it's hard to charge too much. However, if not, bill them $1000 and offer the data when paid. If they think it's too much, offer to find them an outside data recovery firm - who will charge just as much. If they think $7/hr is fair, cutting them slack on this won't change their minds on that.

    They tried to cut costs by using aging equipment and not having a backup strategy. That was stupid. Paying you appropriately for your services will help to instill the importance of backups and good equipment. And, if not, at least you'll get paid for your time. $50/hr is not at all excessive for this task.

    And... your age doesn't matter. Would they pay a 60-year-old three times as much?
  6. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    Yeah, they need "backup" pounded into their heads, that's for sure. It's humorous because they consult with experts like me, but listen to misinformed friends, like the one who suggested the Mirra.

    That sounds like good advice. I can take a cue from the Ghostbusters...

    I'm a fan, what can I say. Thanks all...
  7. miniConvert macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2006
    Kent, UK - the 'Garden of England'.
    Damn jsw, I like your style! :p

    If you want to be fair to them, and by fair I mean 'I didn't lay out my terms at the start because it was an emergency, so here's the deal', you could phone up some companies/people who offer a similar service and ask for a quote/details of their hourly rate. You could then put this quote to them and, say, offer a discount of 10% as goodwill.
  8. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I say $50 an hour...just like the other guy.
  9. Duff-Man macrumors 68030


    Dec 26, 2002
    Albuquerque, NM
    Duff-Man says...$50 per hour is definitely in the right ballpark for data recovery operations - especially when dealing with a business that has the $$ to pay for it. I've done recovery things or a few people on the side but it's been on a personal level and instead of charging them I get them them make a donation to somewhere of my choice...that would never be the case for a business that can write off the cost one way or another...recover the data then hold it for ransom heheheh...oh yeah!
  10. TMA macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2003
    $50 sounds quite cheap. My company charges £50 (inc vat) an hour for labour. We do networking/IT support - pretty general all round stuff. Some 'on call' support professionals charge £60-£70 an hour.

    If I do any out of hour support, because it's not my profession, I ask for £30 an hour with no call out/travel expenses.

    You should always negotiate your fee's before you take the job! But I still don't think the OP should settle for $7 an hour, that's ridiculous and would quite possibly be below the minimum wage (in England anyway).
  11. UKnjb macrumors 6502a


    May 23, 2005
    London, UK
    That seems such the best advice. Particularly the 10% 'goodwill' discount. Never sell yourself cheap. And if oyu can't rip off your father, who can you rip off? (that was meant light-heartedly, BTW :) )

    Will you post back and tell us what you decided? I'm interested in this one.
  12. adk macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2005
    Stuck in the middle with you
    Whatever fee you decide is fair, quote them with a higher hourly price first, because your dad's partner sounds like a real ******* and he'll surely try to talk you down. Quote them at $50, because a "professional" wouldn't have done it any better or faster. I'm sure his partner will try to talk you down, in which case you'll probably get haggled down to about $35.
  13. Boggle macrumors 6502



    Ok, most people think time is money, that's not always true. But money is ALWAYS time. Any Pay system is an agreement between you and the employer as to what you can accomplish in a given time frame. Any task which requires schedule modification and / or extended hours is inherantly more valuable than tasks which may be accomplished over a longer period.

    If they needed the data & it was recovered in time for it to be useful, than you met all job criteria that would normally apply to John & deserve his rate. I would be careful w/ the "man's rate" line of argument. This isn't about your age, (unless you make it so) it is about your work. If the work produced was professional and timely than ask for 27 hrs @ 50/ hr +gas & expenses.

    The argument "I" would use goes like this, "This was a large problem, w/o a simple solution. You weren't able to use your normal resources. I had to prioritize your needs over other events & I delivered a high quality result, on time. This work deserves nothing less than what the normal costs would be. Frankly, considering that the tight deadline was met under these conditions, using the normal pay scale is being generous to you."
  14. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004

    Thanks for your posts everybody! I haven't made a final decision yet, but I did talk with John, and he agrees with me. The data is nearly done copying! :)
  15. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    The fact that your father is a partner there should make no difference, this is a totally commercial issue. They have a normal Tech guy who charges $50p/h. For some reason (sorry I have not read the other thread) he is not available to them or they chose you over him at very short notice. So you should be charging them a convenience fee over the amount the other guy charges. I'd say $75p/h.
  16. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    I charge CAN$85 per hour on an as-available basis, and I charge time-and-a-half if someone wants emergency work outside of business hours, or if they insist I drop my other committments to attend to theirs.

    Emergency service costs money.
    Lack of prior planning costs money.
    Having me pull an all-nighter or work on a stat holiday costs money.

    The last quote I got from ActionFront for recovery (one Mac drive) was $3,000. That's on a no-play no-pay basis though -- if they can't recover, then they charge nothing. Of course youre out the FedEx shipping and your drive is destroyed in either case...

    PS. I recently had to increase my rates because I had too much work...
  17. virividox macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    i think you should charge them the same ammount as the other guy charges, perhaps even more since you spent the last 72 hours non stop on it.
  18. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    Send them an invoice stating the hours done and a standard fee of $50 per hour. Then give them a $12.5 discount and actually write it on the invoice 'discount'. Your dad is a partner after all, you always give a discount to friends/family but by discount I mean discount, not cheap labour. If you were recovering data for your dad's home computer this would of course be very different but its a business.

    I used to work at a tech support company who's basic rate was £75 per hour with a call out fee on top (that was before the service packages, obviously). I think out of hours support cost even more. Lots of our clients learnt the hard way too that they needed proper backup solutions, we didn't advertise them for nothing!!!

    I'm sure your dad didn't get to where he is now by letting people get away with paying bugger all for his services like that.

    Edit: Maybe even charge $60 with a discount afterwards since it was all out of hours. Is the other guy's rate of $50 out of hours dependant?
  19. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    Well I read all your posts again for a little "confidence boost" because I'm charging $50/hr. I told him in the invoice that consultation is always free, and I included my "overtime" in the calculations, so it didn't exceed the hourly rate.

    He seems rather blown away, and he's going to talk to my dad, who supports me. The drama! I'll let you know what happens.
  20. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    This sucks.

    Okay everybody, this is what happened.

    He was floored. He went to my dad, who said I was worth at least $25/hr, which doesn't help at all.

    He wants to give me $7/hr.

    And $15/hr for overtime.

    I am incensed. I don't know what to do. I'm going to e-mail John, and ask him for help/advice, since this guy thinks I'm worth nickels and dimes.

    If I wanted to I could remove the data and take home the Seagate I installed, since I legally own it until he pays me (it's on my credit card). But that seems rather malicious. And it would hurt my dad's business.

    Does he have the right to refuse my invoice like this? Don't get me wrong, I should have told him the fees upfront, but on the other hand he didn't ask me upfront. If you call 911 you don't ask for the bill before they get started. Or refuse payment when they finish.
  21. UKnjb macrumors 6502a


    May 23, 2005
    London, UK
    I don't know anything about the law on this sort of thing, except that there seems to be an implicit contract of some sort ....
    So you have ended up being potentially shafted and ripped off. Hmmm. If it was me, I would briefly rehearse my arguments, politely, as to why they had called me in the first place, detail the regular commercial charges that were operating and that you had fulfilled what had been required in a commercially professional way. And that you had provided a discount as good will. And I would ask why they thought you could or should do the work so cheaply?
    And I don't think I would give them the disk that I had bought. Not until the matter had been sorted. Good luck with how you handle it and keep us informed. :)
  22. TMA macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2003
    It sounds to me like they think you might be out to rip them off, which obviously isn't your intention. Maybe they just want to see a bit of compromise? (maybe you've already done this, I'm not sure)

    If it were me, to show I was serious I would keep the HD that I paid for and tell them that until you can all have a sit down and have an adult discussion about the matter they won't be getting their data. Then start high and meet them in the middle. Illustrate what other professionals charge, ask them why they think you deserve less. Keep an open mind and reduce your rates from say $50 to $40 an hour if they do raise any valid points.

    You need to make them feel that they've got a reasonably good deal and you should feel you have been sufficiently compensated for your time.

    Good luck!
  23. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    A neutral observer's opinion...

    The facts:
    - the market value for tech support is $50/hour (per John).
    - John was unavailable for tech support.
    - you stepped in and did the job John normally would have done.

    The dispute:
    - your dad's partner feels that $7-15/hour is fair compensation.
    - you feel that you should be paid the market value rate for tech support, less a discount.

    While it would have made it easier for all parties involved that a) you provided them with your desired compensation up front, and b) they asked for your desired compensation up front... the point is moot since neither of the two parties discussed the compensation up front. It all comes down to...

    What if they had hired someone else for this emergency tech support, instead of you? They would have paid John's normal rate, possibly even more... correct?

    Your offering such a steep discount is more than generous... who does the work is not as important as whether or not their data (and therefore, business) was saved in a timely and professional manner.
  24. nbs2 macrumors 68030


    Mar 31, 2004
    A geographical oddity
    It sounds like it might be close to time to bring out the big guns. While you didn't set a rate before hand, you might be able to argue usual, customary, and reasonable and get $50/hour in court with a lawyer. Of course, a good amount of that would get eaten in attroney fees, and your Dad won't be happy. Plus, I really don't know the law that well - I could be totally wrong. But, if Partner-man wants to stiff you, sue him. Yes, there are lots of frivilous lawsuits filed everyday, but the the courts are there for a reason.

    In the meantime, I would hold on to any work that you do or anyhting that you produce. I would also inform them that you will be removing the drive and all installations pending payment.

    That being said - we are talking about $600-1100 (based on $25/hour and $7/hour) in difference. How much more work do you think they might offer you in the future/how much influence in the community do they have? Maybe you eat it, maybe you fight for it. Just remember the opportunity cost...
  25. Kingsly macrumors 68040


    Always stay calm and friendly and make sure you make sense before saying anything aloud. Like they said in thank you for smoking "if you argue correctly, you're never wrong"
    ... or something like that.

    Argue that $50 is what John would've charged had he been available, and that, in fact, you're helping the guy by offering a 10% discount. in a very calm, friendly way threaten to withhold the data and remove the drive (like you said, it is yours) until payment is met.
    Good luck.

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