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What you're paying for

The bargain hunters among us are swayed to action by discounts, freebies, or whatever seems like a good bargain. But sometimes it's worth remembering what we're paying for.

The structural engineer told me that he would give me a discount for more work, otherwise it's not worth his while to travel to see me. Until this point, he had given me a lot of advice over the phone, mainly to help me determine whether the job was feasible or not. It also helped him determine how much he should charge me.

Taken to the extreme, I would like to ask why he doesn't give it to me for free. If he does a good job, I'll use him again.

But I'm missing the point here. While such professionals may give free advice, what we're paying for is the accountability. He is accountable for his estimates, his drawings, and his submissions. Is he accountable for the free advice?

It would be an insult to expect him to do work for free - work which took him years of training.

But we regularly try to get advice, suggestions, feedback, recommendations - all for free. These freebies don't come with accountability, responsibility, liability etc. Just don't expect lawyers to give you anything for free.

27 April 2002 Saturday