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I do custom computer programming for businesses and I usually end up working very closely with my client's IT director. Often my proposals all go through the IT director.

I have a new client whose contracts out their IT to a company that does LAN administration AND programming similar to what I do. So to my client this is their IT person. To me, she is a competitor.

I don't want to share my pricing with her.

However she is the one contacting me for everything they need done now. I put a confidentiality clause in my proposal regarding my pricing but my client forwarded my proposal and emails that mention pricing to her regardless. (I think they didn't pay attention.) Also we were in meetings where they asked about pricing in front of her.

Now she is the one contacting me for all follow up work and asking "What will this cost?"

Is this normal? Should I just accept that she is going to get all my pricing information if I want things to run smoothly for my client? If I refuse to send pricing through her, I will create an inconvenience for my client as they are quite technologically clueless and have no idea how to evaluate any of this. But it really bothers me to send her my pricing. I mentioned to my client directly that I would prefer to discuss pricing with them confidentially, but the IT person is still the one emailing me requests. And she told the client she would run point on all requests that go to me.

Am I being unreasonably paranoid/protective about my pricing? Do you try to protect your price information from getting into the hands of your competitors? How would you handle this? Just let it go?

Thanks!

  • Talk to the client about it. If there isn't a subcontract relationship, you have no obligations to this third party. If you'd rather stay independent and negotiate directly with the client, make sure that's clear, before the decision is made otherwise for you. – Jeff-Inventor ChromeOS Aug 11 '14 at 2:09
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Am I being unreasonably paranoid/protective about my pricing? - Yes

Do you try to protect your price information from getting into the hands of your competitors? - No

How would you handle this? Just let it go? - Yes

Who cares if your price is public? Most IT/dev hourly rates are pretty easy to figure out. If your value is only based on your price, you're doing something wrong.

  • Paul, thanks so much. My concern is not my hourly rate being know so much as this person having access to all my proposals, how many hours for certain tasks, my ideas for solving their problems, etc. My value is definitely not only based on just price but it is a factor. I have had the experience of a competitor who knew my rate getting wind of a project I was bidding on, approaching the client, and underbidding me. Philosophically I know I don't need clients like that anyhow... but in reality, with the economy and business flow at that time, I actually did need that client. – Emily Aug 5 '14 at 19:08
  • It sounds like you're acting as a subcontractor to the other IT company, correct? Even if this wasn't intended, it's for the greater good of the client, correct? Let's look at this from the competitors perspective. A. They have your price. B. They know how long it will take. C. They have your ideas. In all honesty, none of this matters. It's your relationship with the actual client that matters. – Paul Dessert Aug 5 '14 at 19:31
  • Thanks again Paul - I should focus on your last point, my relationship with my client. But, no I am not a sub contractor to the other IT company. We are both contractors to the same client. They are running their network & desktop support and I provide training and custom software development. Where we overlap is that the other IT company claims to also offer the same services I do - making them my potential competitor, who now has my pricing, proposals, materials, software, etc. I'm most concerned about potential clients and them sharing my pricing/info with other competitors. – Emily Aug 6 '14 at 20:32
  • Sorry, I probably wasn't understanding the relationship. If you are in no way a sub-contractor, then you're right. Pricing, contracts etc. should go directly to the client, not through the other company. If it was me, I wouldn't care about them having pricing etc., I'd care about them not presenting me in the best light. Reputation is everything. You should manage that part. – Paul Dessert Aug 6 '14 at 20:38

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