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    Dear Miss Manners....

    Ok, no I won't write to Miss Manners, but I will ask you all for advice ( I trust you more than Miss Manners)

    I am an Accounting professional, part of my job is to assist our clients and their bookkeepers when they have accounting questions.

    About a year ago, one of my clients ( I'll call him Pete) sold his business.

    Pete's former bookkeeper (I'll call Kate), whom I had a "friendly working relationship, but not a friendship with", is now working for a totally different company, Kate, while working for Pete was accustom to me being available for questions most anytime, as Pete never complained about the consulting charges for assisting her.

    Kate has contacted me on several occasions in the past couple of weeks to ask a "quick" question. The first time, I assisted her for an hour over the phone. Mind you I can't bill her employer, as they are not under contract with us. The next time she texted me asking me to call as she had a quick question, I texted her back, telling her that I was really busy with "clients" all day. Since then, she has texted me several times in the past couple of weeks asking me to call her when I have "a moment" to answer a question. History has told me that her "moments" are never less than an hour.

    How do I politely tell her, sorry I only consult paying clients?

    (sorry for being long winded)

    #2
    well we work for money, you too. just tell her you must take paying clients before other's questions! good luck.

    Comment


      #3
      I think you should email her (or text) and explain that your services, even "quick questions", are a billable service, and that you cannot answer any more of her questions unless her new employer establishes a contract with you. Then stand your ground. It's kind, it's professional, and it's the truth. And if she gets angry, well, let her be angry.

      Comment


      • MRoy
        MRoy commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree! Professional and to the point. If possible, keep a hard copy of all correspondence with her regarding this matter (CYA!)

      #4
      Do you have a form you require new clients to complete in order for you to bill them for your services? If so, ask her where you should send the form and to whose attention. Let her know that when you receive the form and set up the account, you will get back to her to answer her questions.

      Comment


        #5
        I would politely tell her that you're working during the day for your business and it's a conflict of interest since she has moved on to a client not with your firm/company. Your hours are billed for accountability and you can't account for that time if it was questioned. I work in finance and although I too like to help people out I've had to learn to balance because at the end of the day my billable work is what I'm graded on and promoted on. Just my opinion. I'm also really careful due to now days something goes wrong and they throw everyone involved under the bus and not take responsibility for their mistakes.

        Comment


          #6
          I think you have received some good advice here. Bottom line, stop providing free services, but offer to send a contract to the proper person. Who knows, you may be able to get a new paying client.

          Comment


            #7
            Yep....what they all said!!
            pat.

            No rain....no rainbows!


            sigpic

            If you can't be nice.....BE QUIET!

            Comment


              #8
              I have nothing to add to the good advice you've received here. I just wanted to say that I'm honored that you trust *us* over Miss Manners!
              Toni ... If I keep sewing long enough, will they make their own dinner?

              Comment


                #9
                Originally posted by MSN View Post
                I think you should email her (or text) and explain that your services, even "quick questions", are a billable service, and that you cannot answer any more of her questions unless her new employer establishes a contract with you. Then stand your ground. It's kind, it's professional, and it's the truth. And if she gets angry, well, let her be angry.
                I agree. Direct and honest. Your time is valuable and pro bono once it a while is a good thing, but.....
                “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” ― John Muir
                “We can be many things in this life, choose to be kind!” ― author unknown

                Comment


                  #10
                  Great advice you have received. Go get that new client. Maybe Kate isn't really a qualified bookkeeper
                  Walk in peace with the Lord by your side.
                  Terry

                  Comment


                    #11
                    Thank you ladies, I knew I could count on you for good advise and to reassure me that it's OK to say no! I did text Kate last night and apologized in advance but made it clear that my professional skills, knowledge, and time come with a price. She understood, but finished with "Boss doesn't want me to call the CPA so guess I'll have to figure it out myself". So I won't be contacting that company as a potential client, no loss on my end, I prefer clients who WANT their bookkeepers to learn and do thing correctly.

                    Comment


                      #12
                      I had to smile when I read that she said "...I'll have to figure it out myself." Great idea, Kate!
                      ~ Carol from PA

                      Comment


                        #13
                        Originally posted by Caroline T. View Post
                        She ... finished with "Boss doesn't want me to call the CPA so guess I'll have to figure it out myself".
                        Wow. So she knew that she was getting professional service from you, but for free!

                        You handled this very, very well.

                        Toni ... If I keep sewing long enough, will they make their own dinner?

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