Got rooked on pricing of work

The thread on how much to charge for your work inspired me to write this. Had a customer that wanted me to make a "batch" of pitman arms for him, he had the local Amish cut the wood to size so that all that was need was to run the wood through the planner to smooth up the sides, cut to length and drill 10 holes. I gave him a price of $3 on each finished arm, figuring about 10 min work on each arm (this is set up and run repeat operations no real labor or time). When I got the wood, cut to size meant a plank of warped lumber filled with knots. I had to rip to size, cut out bad areas, plane at least 6 runs through the planer on one side and 1 each on the other 3 sides. time is now 20 mins. per arm. Moral is to look at the job before you take it never accept sight unseen. Side note the reason the Amish guy did not finish the work is that he got sick and couldn't meet the contract dead line.
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Sounds to me like the terms of the contract had changed. If the Amish guy didn't do his part, how can you be expected to do your part for the quoted price? You should have re-negotiated. If you didn't, that's your fault, and you didn't get rooked, you cheated yourself.
In business, you've gotta be a man. Unless, of course, you're a woman. Then you've just gotta be fairly butch.
Kevin
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"Sweet Sawdust" < snipped-for-privacy@peoplepc.com> wrote in message
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"Kevin Singleton" wrote in message

Not necessarily always the case. Once lived with a woman who started her own risk management company (NOT agency) and it's still going. She had/has a bigger set of balls than any businessman I've ever known, but far, far removed from "butch" ... they disappeared at the appropriate time. Might've still been there if it wasn't for the alcohol abuse that went with the territory.
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Kevin Singleton wrote:

Why be butch when being a bitch serves just as well?

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OTOH, despite the problems caused by another subcontractor, which were neither his fault nor the customer's, he delivered the product he product he promised for the price he promised. Off-hand, that customer would be a fool to not send him as much of his future business as possible--as well as throwing in some extra money for this job well done.
I agree that he didn't have any obligation to do the extra work for no extra money, but the fact that he did is to his credit and it's about damn time people who make the extra effort to do quality work got recognized for it.
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If we're gonna applaud the martyrs, they'll have to stop whining, first.
Kevin
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"Fred the Red Shirt" < snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net> wrote in message
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Please feel free to set a good example for us.
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On 4 Jul 2004 14:53:11 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net (Fred the Red Shirt) wrote:

This was a business transaction, not an altruistic endeavor. The material delivered to SSawdust was not in accordance with the initial specification for the work she was doing. At this point, she needed to make a decision; if the customer was important enough to her that doing future business with that customer (or resulting word of mouth advertising to other potential customers) would be an outcome of accepting the substandard, misrepresented parts, then doing the work at the agreed-upon price made good sense. At this point, she will also be more careful in future dealings with the same customer and will not likely wind up "buying-in" to more future business from said customer. However, she could also have stated that the as-delivered material did not meet the specified conditions agreed upon prior to delivery of the parts and indicated that a change in scope for the work would result in a higher per-item cost to the customer. The customer would then have been free to take that business elsewhere (unlikely, given that I suspect very few other businesses would charge him $18/hour for labor and tool use) or accept the new terms.
It's a tough lesson of business (big or small) that sometimes you aren't going to make everybody happy.
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I'll choose the latter, based on a comparison of what he says he did, vs what what I infer you feel he should have done.
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Mon, Jul 5, 2004, 11:02pm (EDT-3) snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net (FredtheRedShirt) quoted
I'll choose the latter, based on a comparison of what he says he did, <snip>
Now I find that very interesting. One assumes Sweet Sawdust is female, and the other assumes male.
I don't recall every seeing Sweet Sawdust specify gender. Never even thought about it before. I admit, I am mildly curious now, but can't say it matters, either way.
JOAT Just because it's not nice doesn't mean it's not miraculous. - Interesting Times
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Now I find that very interesting. One assumes Sweet Sawdust is female, and the other assumes male.
I don't recall every seeing Sweet Sawdust specify gender. Never even thought about it before. I admit, I am mildly curious now, but can't say it matters, either way.
Sweet Sawdust is Male, Name comes from my business name and was "invented" by my wife who makes candy thus the sweet and my wood working thus sawdust.
The original message was not meant to be whining but only instructive that you should look before you price your work. The customer is important only in that he is the only supplier of misc. machine parts in a 30 mile area and that when I take a job I finish it even if it costs me through my own stupidity, I feel that is only the honorable thing to do.
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On Tue, 06 Jul 2004 13:11:48 GMT, "Sweet Sawdust"

My apologies for the gender confusion (I think I mistook your pseudonym with another contributor to the newsgroup who is female).
I really believe that you are beating yourself up for something that is not your fault however. You were not stupid when you were told in what condition the items being delivered to you were to be, they were misrepresented to you. By not getting an agreement in writing, you were exposed, but you can rest assured, especially given the fact that your customer is a businessperson himself, that your customer knew what you had agreed to and what you were expecting to get in terms of raw material -- especially since he told you why the components did not meet the condition you were expecting. As I said before, I don't think there was any way he was going to get anyone else to do the work you had offered to do for $18/hour (10 minutes per piece). At no time was I suggesting that you not finish a job you agreed to, however, I was suggesting that there is no dishonor in pointing out the fact that the conditions of the job had changed and that the price would change accordingly. Do you think that the person with whom you were dealing would have accepted a loss on a transaction with him had the situation been reversed, or would he have politely told you something to the effect, "this is not in the condition I had initially believed it would be in, therefore this will cost somewhat more than we agreed upon"? I know it's easy to say this kind of thing from afar, however, you are running a business and need to make enough to remain in business.
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Hey, Sweet -
I wouldn't believe 'your' customer. There is NO WAY an Amish craftsman won't finish a job or meet a promised dead-line. Even if he is so ill that it would put an 'English' in the hospital, he will be working. If something happens that HE can't do the specifics, then one of his family will do the job, or even a neighbor. That is simply, 'Their' way.
If you received improperly prepared material, it WASN'T because of the Amish. Most likely your customer didn't want to pay the cost of preparation, and you got stuck with doing ALL the work.
Chalk it up to 'experience', and vow never to be a 'sucker' again. Even a short co-signed note, outlining what is to be done, and what is to be presented {to you}, can ease your conscience when you have to say, "No deal, Sport. THAT wasn't the order".
Regards & Good Luck, Ron Magen Backyard Boatshop

SNIP
Side note the reason the Amish guy did not finish the work is that he got sick and couldn't meet the contract dead line.

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Sun, Jul 4, 2004, 9:57pm (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@att.net (RonMagen) says: Hey, Sweet - I wouldn't believe 'your' customer. <snip>
My original thoughts on the original post weren't near so detailed, but I vote for Ron's explanation.
JOAT Just because it's not nice doesn't mean it's not miraculous. - Interesting Times
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That's a good point, though as one local farmer's wife pointed out to me one time, just because a man is Amish doesn't mean he's honest.
One thought that occurred to me was that the pieces he received may have been up to Amish standards. An Amishman won't plane a board if it will work fine rough-cut, that would be proud. He won't throw away a warped or knotty board if a warped or knotty board will work, that would be wasteful. Amish women are permitted to make beautiful things in the form of quilts, that seems to be pretty much the only art the Amish permit for art's sake.
Somewhere out on the net there is a website selling 'Amish hand painted saws' featuring pastoral scenes from eastern PA. Aside from the fact that an Amishman wouldn't ruin a good tool by turning it into a crappy piece of art, representational art is forbidden to the Amish. If those saws are painted by Amish, they are painted by Amish who have literally sold their souls to some Yankees.
More likely the painters became Amish the same way that my friend, of Hungarian-American descent became a native American back when he was making 'genuine Zuni Indian Jewelry'.
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FF

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Fred the Red Shirt wrote:

There's one in Middleburg, NY ( I think it was) that sells them, or tries to, for ridiculous prices. The saws need resharpening and a soak in paint thinner. I saw some nice Disstons (no sons) in there and went ballistic. Embarrassed my wife and everything. I doubt that the Amish had anything to do with it. The people there didn't look Amish.
Dave in Fairfax
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Over on the OldToools list I heard tell of an auction where a couple of Disston and Sons saws came sold for about $20 each. Then a couple more of similar vitage and condition, except for having painted scenery on it, sold for about $2 each. Probably took a lot of work to strip them.
Oh well, hopefully the practice will have the unintended effect of preserving some of history's greatest hand tools the same way that some great artwork of the past was preserved by painting over it with something else which shielded the underlying work from environmental damage.
--

FF

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When I truly and genuinely expect to make money on a job, I make sure every tiny detail is in writing. Then, if something changes I can renegotiate, stop, or keep going (accepting that my rate/profit margin has just taken a hit). This nips regret, bitterness and resentment in the bud.
Since I do mostly commissioned work for friends (who pay for the lumber), my shop rate turns out to be miniscule, however my risk is negligible. It's basically a gift in exchange for a small stipend to further my hobby.
Humbly submitted, O'Deen
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First, the good news. It will never happen again will it?
I suspect there is more to the story than your customer told you. In my industry, we often quote a job based on what the customer tells us about the existing tooling. Every quote of that sort has a line that reads "Quote tentative pending inspection of customer supplied tooling" That line has saved out behind a couple of times. When the tooling arrives it is only two cavities, not the four he said, or it is falling apart from abuse, or is for an entirely different machine etc. Ed
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You must do plastic.
wrote in message

no
the
two
for
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