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How to respond to this cheeky request

(43 Posts)
joshandjamie Wed 10-Apr-13 22:41:34

So a friend (new friend, don't know well but part of a budding friendship group) is a garden designer. We needed our garden sorted. We asked him if he wanted to take a look for us and do some designs. He duly did and we paid him for them. He then sent us a cost estimate to have the work done by a builder friend of his. It was expensive. I replied saying that we were going to get our own builder to cost it up.

He replied saying that he was happy to talk to our builder to give more details on the designs. So he is being helpful. But then came the corker.

I write for a living. He asked me if I could do him a favour. He asked if he could send over the copy he'd written for his new website so that I could 'look at it with my professional eye and could I edit it for him. No rush.'

So - he does garden design for a living. He creates some designs for us. We pay him.
I write for a living. I must read his copy and edit it for him. For free.

I don't know how to respond to him. It's the principle of it. Why should he get a freebie when I have to pay? I wouldn't mind helping a friend out but surely it's quid pro quo? Incidentally, the price charged if I was being paid would probably be similar to what he charged us.


WhatTheWaterGaveMe Mon 15-Apr-13 15:59:29

I would have said;

Yes, do you want me to quickly proof read or do you need a professional
Job done?

I liked your reply though

bombyxmori Mon 15-Apr-13 15:51:12

sweetie: "not a five minute looking at grammar and punctuation"

Yes, isn't editing a breeze. Don't know how we have the nerve to charge at all.

Well done on your reply, OP - very professional.

thermalsinapril Sun 14-Apr-13 20:45:39

YANBU at all! How cheeky of him!

TeamEdward Fri 12-Apr-13 11:58:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StealthPolarBear Fri 12-Apr-13 10:08:14

good reply!
Team, could you say it's similar to this: <delia, Jamie whatever> but I of course add my own twist/secret ingredient wink

Not suggesting you're ripping anyone else off btw! Just seems like a good compromise

CoconuttysYoni Fri 12-Apr-13 09:59:04

Good reply, well done.

TeamEdward Fri 12-Apr-13 09:55:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NoSnowJustSand Fri 12-Apr-13 05:02:30

I've had a similar situation recently where the implication was very much that they should use something under my copyright for free. I simply ignored what had been implied and sent them a quote (admittedly at a lower rate than I normally charge for such things).

sweetiepie1979 Fri 12-Apr-13 04:55:31

I think your over thinking this! Do what speedos said. If it looks like a massive Job and not a five minute looking at grammar and punctuation phone him and tell him you need to do this this and this and your pretty busy you will have to charge......
Don't over think your meeting trouble halfway.

Doinmummy Fri 12-Apr-13 03:29:48

Good response Op. it's difficult having a skill that others seem to take for granted. I hate it when someone asks me for a 'quick trim' and expects it for free, just because they've used the word 'quick' .

ReluctantlyBeingYoniMassaged Thu 11-Apr-13 18:15:41

I'm glad you didn't do it. I proof read an application for a colleague as a favour and I've since spent hours sitting with him going over personal statements. Sigh.

GW297 Thu 11-Apr-13 18:11:32

Perfect response!

Rattitude Thu 11-Apr-13 13:13:22

An excellent reply, OP!

DiscoDonkey Thu 11-Apr-13 11:28:18

Sounds more than reasonable.

joshandjamie Thu 11-Apr-13 11:09:26

I ended up replying like this:

Re looking at copy - I can take a quick look and give you some pointers but you may want to pay someone to do a professional job for you. I need to focus on getting this novel written and school holidays aren’t helping!

glasscompletelybroken Thu 11-Apr-13 10:21:09

As you said - you don't really know how big a job it is. Let him send you the info and of you think you can do it in quickly then just do it. If it looks like a bigger job then just go back to him and say "I am happy to do this for you but it looks like a few hours work and I will have to do this as a job rather than a favour and charge you £x per hour.

Quejica Thu 11-Apr-13 09:15:01

Can't you just say that unfortunately you don't do this type of work any more but that you can recommend X who you know could do a great job for a reasonable price (obviously assuming you do know an X who could...)

SoupDragon Thu 11-Apr-13 09:14:49

Sounds like he sees his gardening work as "real" work but doesnt see your work the same.

I imagine he sees it as similar to his offer to spend his time talking the designs through with the other builder.

AnythingNotEverything Thu 11-Apr-13 08:56:13

I agree with wannabe - you've trained and aimed valuable experience over a long career to make your skills valuable. Don't give them away!

Lots of people don't understand the difference you can make to copy if you have a trained eye. You're busy - and he charged you for his skills!

Be firm but polite.

Sounds like he sees his gardening work as "real" work but doesnt see your work the same. "Oh its only reading over something."

You should email back and set out your costs. Be blunt. Favours work both ways and your work requires paying for the same as his.

SoupDragon Thu 11-Apr-13 08:45:03

"I'm really sorry but I'm snowed under at the moment. I just don't have the time."

badguider Thu 11-Apr-13 08:38:37

I would say, we'll ill have a quick half hour read of it and email some thoughts but if you actually want an edit job that will take far longer and I can do it for £x or recommend somebody to do if for about the same price.

He might just be expecting a comment or two on the tone which will take no time at all (I edit exhibition text so have a good idea).

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Thu 11-Apr-13 08:33:19

I would be blunt. Sorry, I can't do you this favour. You know how it is when you are self employed. Every penny counts. That's why you charged me £X for the work you did instead of doing it as a 'favour'.

I don't have time to take on this work right now, but if you are looking for a copywriter, I recommend X or Y.

Good luck with the website.

joshandjamie Thu 11-Apr-13 08:29:46

the reason I think he wants it for free is that his email subject line was 'Favour please' and then in the email he said....'And now onto the favour, can you look at.....'
If he wanted to pay for it, he would say something like: As you write, could you let me know what you'd charge to edit my website.
A favour to me = something for free

I like peeriebear's idea

Snazzynewyear Wed 10-Apr-13 23:26:49

I disagree that any of this should be considered so trivial as to be free. The OP is a professional writer and 'a quick look at it' is all potential income for her, same as the garden design is for him.

However, if he hasn't said straight out that he wants a freebie, then don't refer to that possibility when you reply. I would say you are very busy at the moment but if he definitely wants to go ahead, it would cost X. Then if he asks outright if you will do it for free, say you're afraid you can't prioritise freebies over paid work and you are sure he feels the same about his own business.

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