I have lots of clients who make me shake my head.
There are the people who hand their kids everything on a silver platter.
There’s the guy who calls at least once a week with a new scheme to avoid paying taxes (“scheme” being the operative word).
There are even people outside of my business world who I see that are just living beyond frugal and into the cheap zone.
Then there’s the person who inspired this little story.
That and an article discussing negotiating fees with your accountant.
But since I had that article still pretty fresh in my mind, it only made sense that that exact scenario would occur the very next day!
Maybe I’m naive, but I think the people I work with are entitled to make a living doing what they do.
And, if they are really good at it, then they should charge an amount commensurate with that level of service and quality.
Otherwise, I wouldn’t want to work with them (and neither should you–why work with someone who isn’t awesome at their job or doesn’t think enough about their quality to charge accordingly).
So I guess that’s why I don’t really bother asking for discounts, haggling, or bitching about prices for every little thing.
But, I do understand that most people aren’t of the same mindset and that’s cool too, however, when it comes to asking for a discount on something, this is one very good example of doing it horribly badly.
I did the taxes for this couple’s business. A bill was sent to them along with a copy of the return and this is what was sent back:
You see, not only do I do the accounting and tax preparation for the business, but I also do it for them personally, so I pretty much know exactly what is going on in their financial lives.
Here are a few facts:
- Fact 1: This is a terrible business–he’s a musician and gets very little work–but there is also very little overhead which means it isn’t a financial drain when business is slow.
- Fact 2: He could be gigging with someone else and taking a little less money, but he chooses not to. Plus anything he got hooking up with another band would be an improvement over the current situation. Hell, he could do any other job and it would be an improvement financially!
- Fact 3: The business actually had a +$10k improvement from the prior year, giving it a profit for 2013, so things have improved (even if just slightly).
- Fact 4: The fee for the corporate income tax return has been the same for 4 years and they have been allowed to pay in installments as a courtesy
- Fact 5: The wife just said they are going to be buying an RV this year so he can perform at RV parks and expand on the business’ exposure.
- Fact 6: The bill is for everything for an entire year–accounting and tax preparation all included!
Granted, they aren’t in the best financial shape in the world, but they aren’t exactly starving.
And, every attempt has been made to accommodate their perceived situation as “struggling”.
There is such a thing as taking advantage of a situation and trying to play the sympathy card, especially when it’s doubtful that anyone else would have bent as much for them as my company had already.
And, let’s just say that providing great customer service doesn’t mean catering to every whim or demand of a client either.
It makes the request even more idiotic when you consider all of the facts that I laid out above–why not have the husband get a job in between gigs that aren’t exactly rolling in?
Why not sack up and hook on with another band for a little while?
I have empathy for what some people are going through, but in this situation, and in particular, after reading that other post I mentioned earlier, I just laughed when I got this in the mail.
It’s perfectly ok to try to swing a better deal in some cases, but there is also a completely, utterly foolish way to try it and this is it.
So, please, if you are going to try to negotiate on the price of something, make sure you aren’t coming off as foolish as this couple did.
BTW, I didn’t say anything about it other than to say explain that while my own costs have gone up, I didn’t pass that along to them and mentioned that many tax preparers charge that amount just for the corporate return itself, let alone rolling the accounting stuff into it as well.
Here’s something to consider if you’re calling me petty or unsympathetic right now:
How would you react if you owned a business and this kind of request was made of you?
What if your clients were more than able to afford your fees–and you know it– but just didn’t feel like paying?
What if it was you who had to give up your pay to placate a cheap person?
Think about that before throwing insults toward others in this exact position!