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Ponderer983's avatar

How do you deal with friends who want your professional services for free?

Asked by Ponderer983 (6401 points ) July 1st, 2012

I am in a situation where a friend has come to me and asked me to do some design work for him. I would love to do it, but from the conversation, he expects it to be for free. I said to him that since he doesn’t have any professional skills that I would need to trade, that I’d have to be paid. It would be a reduced fee, but still compensated for my time. If I were to hire a friend to do a job, I pay them, or exchange services. I feel as though my services are taken for granted and looked over. How do I deal with the situation and make him realize that I am serious about being paid?

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16 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It sounds as if you have already stated to the friend that payment is expected. What did the friend say?

One of the best lines I’ve heard from people in your situation was, “Do you want it fast, cheap, or good quality? Pick two.”
1.) Fast and Cheap – It can be done short-term for a lower price, but it isn’t going to be up to your standards.
2.) Fast and Good Quality – It’s going to cost full price or be done by someone who has the time.
3.) Cheap and Good Quality – You can do it at a discounted price, but it would have to be in your spare time.

This always seems to put into perspective that no matter what, it comes at a price.

Rarebear's avatar

Agree with @Pied_Pfeffer. You already stated how you’re willing to work. You don’t need to do anything else.

Ponderer983's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer When I said about being paid and him not having anything to offer me in return, I think the comment was he’ll find something that I need (bad cell connection). So essentially, he passed off the comment.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Just don’t do any of the work until he’s come up with something that you find agreeable.

woodcutter's avatar

You have to sell the idea that you are busy trying to keep up with those who have hired you for your services.

wundayatta's avatar

You have to set clear boundaries. Even though they are your friend, this is your business, and you can not give them free services. You have to be clear about about this or you will be taken advantage of and you won’t like your friend so much. It may be a little tough to lay down the law, but usually it really helps in the long run, even if it is uncomfortable at first.

jrpowell's avatar

I tell people I have paying gigs that come first. The paying stuff comes first and I will eventually get around to them.

Coloma's avatar

I’ve volunteered to help decorate friends homes, but, within reason. I may go shopping with them and pick out a few pieces with them, give them a few ideas but I won’t make over their entire house for free.
Offering a reduced rate is already very fair of you.
It’s one thing to be a little generous and entirely another for a friend to just expect special favors that you are normally paid well for.

Gabby101's avatar

I would discuss it again, giving him your quote for the work and then asking if he is ok with the quote or if he’d rather shop around. Just explain that if you’re doing work for him, it prevents you from earning money from other clients.

Not having these straightforward conversations leads to hard feelings on both ends. We had a friend we threw a bone to and gave him a remodeling job. He gave us a great deal, but didn’t complete the job. I guess he thought given the deal we wouldn’t mind, but I would have preferred paying full price and not have had to do any of the work. I don’t think either of us walked away feeling good.

ETpro's avatar

I’m a web developer and run into this from time to time. @Pied_Pfeffer‘s suggestion is excellent. It makes it clear you can’t make a living and donate free work to friends, nails down expectations and hopefully gets your friend thinking about a budget for the work. Early on, discuss what the budget is. Otherwise you both may invest considerable time and effort before realizing your friend is dreaming the impossible dream.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Ponderer983 I’m all for bartering. It has to be a win-win situation though. If the friend is offering a product or service that is of equal or greater cost to what you can provide, it still isn’t worth the effort if it holds no value to you.

Judi's avatar

Write an estimate with terms which include a deposit before you begin the work. Have him sign it.

Sunny2's avatar

If in doubt, put it in writing as @Judi suggests.

JLeslie's avatar

In the past I have certain things I will do for free, answer questions and even do a quick internet search to help a friend, but eventually if I need to put a lot of work into it I give the kinfolk price, which seems to me is what you did. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

I do admit that when a close friend does not give me a reduced price it annoys me. But, I would always expect to pay them, I would never expect them to work for free.

Ponderer983's avatar

@JLeslie That’s what bothers me is that they are almost surprised when I say I want to get paid. I always pay (at least offer, and let them deny) to pay my friends for the work they do for me. I just never feel as though that is reciprocated.

mowens's avatar

I dont work for friends anymore. Being in IT, I get questions all the time. It is time consuming!!!! So usually, i will give it 5 minutes. If I cant fix it in 5 minutes, I tell them what they need to do.

It has gotten to the point where my friends dont ask me for help anymore. Except for @Tedd…he hasnt figured out yet that I no longer help people with computers. :)

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