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Following on from some completed freelance work, I have received a request for ongoing support to help in house resources build upon the work already provided.

The company is approximately 1 hour round trip away, and I expect this support work to be relatively brief (at most 1-2 hours), which puts me in a difficult position as far as charging is concerned.

My rate is quite high, but the cost of travelling would probably eat 10-25% of the final invoice, which is not a small amount. I would like to cover this with a call out fee (which on my first thought would essentially be equivalent to 1 hour at usual rate + a little extra for fuel, to covers both my time and my costs) but I am unsure if this would be unexpected or non-standard.

Is it unusual for software freelancers to charge a call out fee for a small piece of work like this? If it is appropriate, does a call out charge based on my rate for time + other expenses seem reasonable?

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Although I do not create software for my clients, I do provide support. I have a driving rate, as well as a work rate. If the client is outside my city limits, I charge $60/hr driving. This is reasonable, as I can hit anywhere in my city within 30 minutes (I live very close to the center of my city).

Anyone outside of city limits, I'll be driving for a minimum of 1 hour, there and back together. I'm not using my head much to do travelling, and I find it relaxing, so I charge slightly less. Once I get on site, my standard rate applies (which is higher).

When you drive long distances, especially in your own vehicle, you put wear and tear on the vehicle and its parts. Oil changes, new tires (in my country, we need both Summer tires and Winter tires - all-season tires don't cut it), standard maintenance, etc all needs to be taken into account with your own vehicle.

Next, imagine if you lived in a different country. Should you not get paid to travel to the customer's site? Absolutely, you need to be compensated!

Finally, you are essentially out of service for your other customers while you are travelling. This means that you are LOSING money (fuel, wear-and-tear, etc) when you need to travel, which is not fair to you. YOU are the expert, and part of that is knowing what you're worth, and your costs.

Having said that, I would ensure they understand there is a cost for you to be driving there, as well as your rate while you're onsite. I also offer remote support with a remote access program, and that is simply my on-site rate, without the driving. I would offer both solutions (if that would work for your industry), and let the client decide if it's worth calling you out, or if it's a simple "Fix this" issue.

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