I have just completed my first freelance project with a customer, and I am now sitting down to create the invoice.

In case it matters: Both me and the company are UK based, and I am acting as a member of a partnership (and therefore invoicing under my legal name)

The project has been a little bumpy (as I guess they always are) but everyone seems satisfied now, which is great.

I expected before starting the project that I would be working on a time + materials basis, but I ended up receiving a Purchase Order for the equivalent of the upper limit of my estimate.

As a result of various misunderstandings and miscommunications, I have ended up spending more time than my initial estimate allowed for to complete the task I was given. I am happy to accept this extra work without quibble (largely as I don't have the energy to fight over a few hours), however I would like to try and tactfully inform them that this extra work occurred and I have chosen on my own behalf not to charge them for it, in a kind of "aren't I helpful" sort of a way.

As such - I was considering including an additional line item in my invoice indicating the excess hours worked, billed at a rate of 0 per hour. Or alternatively, applying a discount equal to the extra work done.

I wanted to know if there were any possible negative consequences of this, or if it is something that is frowned upon or otherwise just "not the done thing".

  • doesn't help you now, but why on earth would you work on a project when the pricing/invoicing hasn't been discussed yet? What if they sent a PO for the lower limit of your estimate? Jun 29, 2017 at 11:26
  • I didn't start work until I received the PO and was happy that I could finish the job within that timeframe, had it gone otherwise I would have raised it as an issue Jul 4, 2017 at 17:16

2 Answers 2


Though I understand your view, I would strongly advise against displaying free hours on your invoice. It could just as easily be viewed as a passive-aggressive move, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

Even if it comes across the way you intend - what if there is a next time where you do not include any free work? You might very well be setting an unwanted precedent leading to unnecessarily awkward future conversations.

Just keep your invoice simple and bill the customer for the work - especially when they are satisfied. It does not seem you need small 'tricks' like this to build this customer relationship.

In short: The potential downside seems a lot larger than the upside, which is one of my simple ways of deciding on which actions to take.


Do not go with the discount. Once they smell the lower rate, they will ask it every time.

I would list all extra hours and put price to 0 (zero). This way you stick to your rate and you showed client that you did not charge extra hours. But this does not mean that you will not charge extra hours in the future.

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