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to charge friends?

(46 Posts)
smurfgirl Tue 09-Jun-09 19:15:09

My DH works in IT and gets asked a lot to set friend's internet and computers up. This week he has two 'jobs' to do for friends.

He has recently started saying that for a bigger job he will charge £20 to do it. The friends seem fine paying. It mostly started after someone he worked with 2 years ago was ringing him every single week asking for something to be fixed on her laptop.

The one he is doing this evening will probably take him 5 hours in total and it involves transferring the data from one computer to another and installing loads of software and setting up other bits and bobs.

He feels that he works with computers all day so if he is going to spend his evenings doing it it he needs something back. For little things obviously he would never ask for money.

Is it ok do you think? We feel guilty asking but equally it takes ages and sometimes people have just taken the piss because he is good with computers.

elliepac Tue 09-Jun-09 19:20:23

I think that is perfectly acceptable. Any friend worth their salt so to speak will appreciate that DH is giving up his own time after a long day at work to do something for them which would cost a fortune elsewhere. We have a friend who is an IT bod and he has done loads of stuff for us. We always offer to pay him something for it. Sometimes he takes it, sometimes he doesn't depending on the size of the job. Although have to admit BIL is IT bod and we do sometimes take advantage of him blush. He is family after all. grin

dawntigga Tue 09-Jun-09 19:20:44

YANBU my partner is the same and won't take money although I tell him he should.

If they had to take it to a shop it would cost them MUCH more and tbh they should be offering anyway.


smurfgirl Tue 09-Jun-09 19:22:01

He fixes things for free for family of course. He is v.v.useful.

bigchris Tue 09-Jun-09 19:22:52

well he could just say no if he doesnt want to do it all day and all evening

my friend fell out with her dad because he kept phoning her dp all the time about computer problems, they fell out for about 2 years shock

if it was me who was being helped out though I would offer a meal or a few drinks out on me

Morloth Tue 09-Jun-09 19:23:11

I think that is fine, also have a nerdie for a husband and he does get sick of random people expecting him to sort out their computers.

We have a bit of a barter system going with many friends though. DH sorts computer, friend does some gardening for us, babysits etc.

risingstar Tue 09-Jun-09 19:24:14

yes, i think that it is absolutely fine, unless you have some friends that might be able to offer something similar in return..... eg could you help us decorate, move house, baby sit etc so it is a mutual exchange.

it is difficult, one friend of ours is a plumber and it drove his wife mad that he was always helping out friends when if he hadnt been around and so accommodating they would have just rung someone and paid. in the end, she decided that she would offer mates rates instead and this worked better for them, a good compromise.

pointydog Tue 09-Jun-09 19:29:18

He needs to be firmer. He can say no, not this week/month or it'll cost you

TheCrackFox Tue 09-Jun-09 19:30:49

He should charge.

My DH is a chef and people do not expect him to go round to their house and cook their dinner.

funtimewincies Tue 09-Jun-09 19:35:12

Charging is fine, but he needs to be squeaky clean about declaring it for tax.

It's amazing how many 'friends' would be willing to phone the Inland Revenue if there was a disagreement.

GentlyDidIt Tue 09-Jun-09 19:35:20

I think that's completely reasonable.

The best way is to say "Of course I will! My callout charge is normally £80 (or whatever), but friends' rate is £20, how does that sound?" That gives them the option to go elsewhere if they really want a freebie, alongside a polite reminder that time & skills do actually cost something.

Or barter for other services as risingstar has said.

smurfgirl Tue 09-Jun-09 19:36:09

He is being firmer hence the asking for money.

Money is more useful to us (that sounda bad) because things are very tight and we don't have children and we don't need too much help around our small house.

He has swapped skills before though, like he fixed his mates computer and his mate came and pressure washed our patio for us.

Pheebe Tue 09-Jun-09 19:41:15

Completely reasonable and I hope he's chargoing more than 20 quid for tonights job. That would cost well over 100 quid if you got someone in to do it.

It also wouldn't be unreasonable to charge an hourly rate for this type of work as it can often take longer than expected as I'm sure your DH knows.

Flibbertyjibbet Tue 09-Jun-09 19:51:36

Not unreasonable at all to charge. Dp is a carpenter and fits kitchens. If a friend enquires about a kitchen I say 'yes I'll get him to give you a ring later on to arrange when to come round and measure up for a quote'. So money is mentioned at the very start, no embarrassment later.

Funny though that fixing someones computer is subject to mates rates or people thinking you can just pop round and do it for nothing - whereas carpentry/kitchens etc people assume its paid work at the full price.

If people ask for mates rates he politely point outs that he does this for a living and they wouldn't take a pay cut just because they got friendly with their boss would they?

GentlyDidIt Tue 09-Jun-09 20:13:37

Flibberty Good point - I think the split in people's attitudes about when it's a freebie situation depends on whether there is a tangible end result.

For instance, your DP's work finishes with a kitchen that can be seen and felt. Even if he was provided with the materials to do it, his work has had a material result. The same can be said of mechanics or decorators - even if parts/materials are supplied, the end result is still a new or improved object.

The results of IT work are not something you can hold in your hand, so even though most people are aware that hardware & software cost money, the work that goes on with them is somehow put in the hands-off category. I've noticed this for hairdressers and massage therapists, too - the work sort of passes through their hands so that the recipient feels less like they're in receipt of something.

shhhh Tue 09-Jun-09 20:34:06


Dh is also in IT, people think he's someone who is office based as add internet etc BUT he's a project manager and does much more detailed stuff that not even I know/understand.

Over the 13 yrs we have been together the amount of hours he's spent on friends computers is stupid.

Its bad enough my dad asks for help (oh just alittle job..lasts days/weeks) or his parents want help creating an email account or fitting a printer, or his brother's works laptop gets a virus (took 2 weekends to sort..) BUT he's also had a few months ago a friend text him (not seen for years and his friends now lives other end of the country) saying "parents computer is broke, can you sort it" shock.

The cheek of some people.shock.

We NEVER call our plumber friends when we get a leak, or builder friends when we need a wall knocking through...and anyway if we did we would pay.

Some people just don't realise that some times peoples "rest" time is/can be precious.
Just to add, atm dh is away alot, travelling the uk alot so family time is precious..Dh doesn't like to cme home and put his head back into a computer and spend hours away from me and the dk's.angry

shhhh Tue 09-Jun-09 20:38:48

Just read about "mates rates or favours" etc.

Makes me laugh, dh sorted his bro's laptop. Took him 2 weekends (dh working away and sorted it in the evenings once lo's in bed). Meant we didn't have as much time together..

BIL dropped into the conversation "oh do you want money" dh replied "you couldn't afford my rates" wink "oh well bil replied" shock

So dh suggested I got reimbursed for my time being taken..I got a £3 bottle of wine..hmm

Hey ho.

lizziemun Tue 09-Jun-09 20:52:51

Dh does this to. Except he won't accept money so his friends tend to 'pay' him in beer & whiskey.

Jux Tue 09-Jun-09 21:05:44

When we get our friend to fix something computerish for us he gets lots of beer.

hatwoman Tue 09-Jun-09 21:15:45

yanbu - and the points about swapping for otehr stuff are also good ideas. One extra point though (from an utterly un-technical person) is that you/dh should be very explicit about how long the jobs they are asking him to do will take - they probably have, quite literally, no idea at all. So if a friend says can you do x, give an immediate answer that says "well, it would probably take a good 5 hours to do that" - in many cases I bet they think it's a half hour job. I think he might get a bit more appreciation (whether financial or in kind) if he educates them a bit!.

Flibbertyjibbet Tue 09-Jun-09 21:17:45

One friend asked my dp to quote for completely re-doing two bathrooms and all the plumbing tiling flooring etc that would go with it.
I said he is really busy for work now, the waiting list is a few months.
She said 'oh we don't mind if he does it as a foreigner on the weekends we can pay cash'
I replied that self employed people don't do FOREIGNERS, and any weekend work requested by customers is charged at overtime rates.
Wonder why he didn't get that job?

mrsrawlinson Tue 09-Jun-09 21:23:19

This bugs me no end. I'm really careful now about who we tell that DH is 'good with computers' because people really do take the mick. One friend rings him up at least once a week as if he's some kind of IT support helpline. The cheeky swine even had the temerity to give our number to one of his mates! DH is as daft as a brush and won't tell him to eff orf like I would. Drives me insane.

Reallytired Tue 09-Jun-09 22:26:56

I refuse point blank to do any IT support outside work for "friends". There is just no end to it and even if you charged minimal rates the "friends" will get resentful.

I have done some work for my fil but he is so bl**dy ungrateful and rude that now I refuse to even help out relatives.

Even though I love PCs I love my family more. With a new baby I have more than enough to occupy my time.

smurfgirl Wed 10-Jun-09 00:14:50

Thanks for the replies.

Its difficult because DH is lovely and his working background is so suited to fixing home computers, he started off as a technician at PC World, he then moved to a FE College as a technician and he now does something with software for them. Am not trying to show off with this (his job is v.dull IMO) it sounds a bit like I am but he has (to quote Anita from the apprentice wink) the rainbow of skills to fix things.

He was at his mates tonight from 6pm to 8.30pm sorting this new computer out, did the same last night and he still has more to go. Its a very very good mate so its ok but still angry He did give him money for his time though.

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 10-Jun-09 13:21:06


nothing wrong with charging mates rates/swap/barter

i like gentlydoes its reply " "Of course I will! My callout charge is normally £80 (or whatever), but friends' rate is £20, how does that sound?" That gives them the option to go elsewhere if they really want a freebie, alongside a polite reminder that time & skills do actually cost something"

a friend of friend asked me to have her child while she was ata wedding on a saturday, she said xxx said you are fantastic with children and she gives you a bottle of wine when you bs for her child

i made it very clear that she would be paying me my normal hourly rate

and she seemed shocked - why on eart would i give up 10hrs on a saturday for someone i dont know hmm

smurf girl - tell your hubby to charge - if they took to a proper person then would costs hundreds

i have a lovely it man, neighbour of a friend and i use him as and when, but i just ask him how much he wants and pay him

the thought of no mn internet would be very scarey!!

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