Re: ANON: Billing clients

Subject: Re: ANON: Billing clients
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2013 13:19:46 -0700

On 4/13/2013 12:25 PM, Gene Kim-Eng wrote:

I think the contract is just fine for his current situation. If it doesn't say anything about turnaround times or means of contact, he can just pick one of the schemes that have been suggested that suits him, and if the client feels that's not sufficiently "available," he can ask them what they consider "sufficient," tell them how many hours per day he'll be billing them for that level of availability and they can accept that or a reduced level for a reduced number of billed hours.

That is how court cases begin. Terms not written in the contract are not enforceable when there is a written contract, except through a written modification signed by both parties. So there absolutely no opportunity to legally enforce terms from discussion after a contract has been signed.

If "availability" means that a person must check email and have discussions with the client for what amounts to one hour per day, so five hours per week, and there is no project work, the client can refuse to pay for that five hours because the terms of payment for "availability" were not in the contract. No one should do work for free that benefits the client.

An employee can say "I am billing for these hours" and the client can agree. After the work is done, if the client does not pay, the employee has little legal recourse, unless the labor laws of the state provide some remedy in the particular case or a court determines the value of the work the employee provided by being "available."

What would be bad would be if the contract was more precise about what constitutes "availability" without specifying that it could be billed for in addition to actual work done.

All terms of the contract should be defined and as I said, "stipulates how the client will pay for availability." The vagueness is worse than an incomplete attempt at definition. The bottom line is that there is no legal recourse for getting paid when a contract is specific about what work the client will pay for and "availability" is mentioned in the contract without any provisions to pay for that time. Now an employee shouldn't bill for availability and project work that occurs during the same time. One hour is still just one hour, even if work is done on more than one task.

A little more detail about contracts. Courts will look at a written contract as having all terms of the contract and they will not consider any other information, like discussions or emails. If a contract provides no provisions for any payment, then a court will find a reasonable value. When a contract does provide for payment of specific work, in this case, piece work, but it does not includes payment for any other work, then the court will view the contract as including all terms of payment. The vague term of "availability" will not be compensated.

I would never work under a contract that said I should be "available" certain hours and offered no definition of "availability" or terms of payment for that availability.


Gene Kim-Eng

On 4/12/2013 11:17 AM, Lauren wrote:
Your contract is too vague.



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Follow-Ups:

References:
ANON: Billing clients: From: Anonymous
Re: ANON: Billing clients: From: Lauren
Re: ANON: Billing clients: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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