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My client needed someone to gather confirmed residential addresses and put them into an Excel file, and then to upload that into BingPlaces to help out his business. We spent two days talking, with me letting him know how I can best help him and get the information he needed in a fast and efficient manner. He then told me that he would get someone else to look up addresses, all I'd need to do is to upload them into Excel. I quoted him a price $0.13 per address, since we were talking about thousands of addresses. I made sure each day to let him know I was ready to help him in gathering more addresses quicker, and that I was available to help. He told me for five days straight he was fine, and he was working on it.

Today he went me a list of all the addresses he got. He, in five days, was able to produce a total of 259 addresses. This is coming out to be less than $35.

What do I do? I'm genuinely furious. I feel misled and lied to, and I've wasted all this time for a truly pathetic payout. I've been professional, I've stayed in communication, and I've made sure that I've made it known I am ready to help more than what he wanted me for.

Am I just an idiot for not getting a contract?

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    Why would you quote 13¢ per? Even if it took you 1 minute at a lower hourly, such as $40/hr, it would be 67¢ per. Bad quote on your part.. sounds like you're stuck. You're the one that quoted him roughly $7/hr (assuming 13¢/minute) – Scott Oct 24 '16 at 4:24
  • Because I can use Excel to fill in the cells with data provided, so I was quoting a lower price because of the volume of everything. But you're right, it was faulty on my part to quote so low. Any suggestion for what to do about the workload issue? – Lion Prince Oct 24 '16 at 4:30
  • Well, not really. It's always difficult and treacherous to try and raise a quote. Most likely then best you could do is get him to just agree to an hour of your time... hopefully he goes for that without getting angry and your hourly rate is higher than $35. Ultimately though, you set the pricing. Backing out will just burn the client, which is sometimes okay.. others not. – Scott Oct 24 '16 at 5:36
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This is why many businesses charge hourly rates, because clients fail with understanding how long something takes most of the time.

Most people don't understand the technical requirements, and so these things happen. If you wanted to charge more, then state a minimum price (like $100) for the whole job, then if you have more addresses state a price per additional address before you begin the work. Get the details in writing and get a signed contract. No contract = no work done.

A contract should have cases where additional work must be done that the customer must pay for. Be specific about how this works. Eventually you will find contract wording that is more fair to all.

And sometimes there will be miscommunications or work that doesn't pay as well. Only experience will help you determine which client you want to keep.

My uncle has run a business and so have I. My uncle has actually fired clients, but in a nice way. They were just a PITA because they couldn't follow basic directions or were really needy. The business is there to help people... BUT.... there's a point where a business owner must recognize that "I will just never make any money from this client." These clients were also loss leaders and a liability to the company.

Really rude and overly demanding customers is another reason a business will release a client. There's only so much a human can take. This is a major reason for the decline in people in the trades in the US, like plumbing, electrical, etc. These tradesmen would rather work on building a commercial building than helping residential customers because the rudeness rate of residential customers is much higher now.

Experience will also help you do quotes more accurately.

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There's not much more you can do, than see this as a learning experience.

Always have some sort of contract. It does not need to be an expensive legal document; in many cases a 'mutual project agreement' stating the bare minimum in less than a page will suffice.

In your case, it seems you would have been better off charging for actual time consumed - perhaps with a starting minimum.

Or perhaps you could have step-wise quotes; e.g. expensive for the first 1000, followed by a tapering off.

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