I don’t feel right charging for 15 minutes

Ok, I’m a consultant and developer, but asking somebody to pay me for 15 minutes worth of work – I feel like a total heel. I’m a member of this Freelancers website called oDesk. Every once in a while I get a notification from oDesk, asking me to participate in an interview – which I usually accept (after all, we’re all looking for work).

I have to admit that most of the people that come to oDesk are usually seeking to outsource some work to somebody, in the hope that it will be for a cheap price. Now, I admit, my services aren’t cheap and that’s because I take high pride in what I do, and I aim to provide a service from A-to-Z. However, I never take a job without clearly looking at what I’m about to take upon myself – and most importantly, I’ll never ever charge for something that takes me up-to 15-20 minutes.

Tonight, I got an interview request from a man in Miami, asking me to look at his FreePBX installation. The man also stated that he required some development work to be done, so I replied positively to the interview request. Shortly after 10 minutes, I got an IM from the man and we started talking. I started looking at his Asterisk box and as I didn’t have any root access at the point, I commented that it may take anything from 2 hours to 4 hours to solve. In any case, we started talking about the payment, which was a little high for the guy, so we agreed on a price – pending that I take a quick look at the server at root level.

I got root access and logged on – after 2 minutes I replied to the man: “Dude, I can’t charge you for this, it will take me exactly 4 minutes to fix, and 2 more minutes to add the feature”. So, I did the change for the guy, who still wanted to pay me, which I replied: “donate the funds to your favorite charity, I can’t charge for this”. Now, everybody would say: “Are you fuck’n mad? taking 200$ for 6 minutes of work, that’s like a world record!”, well, it’s not a world record to me if I feel like a heel. Charging somebody for something has to mean something, I’ve seen people charge other people for nothing, and I believe things shouldn’t work like that. I truly believe in the existence of Karma, and that the world strives for balance. As I do on to others, others may also do on to me – so there is no use to charge somebody for 10 minutes of help, as I may need these 10 minutes of help some day from someone else.

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