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View Full Version : Charging Less for Philanthropy


Hooked
07-31-2010, 04:18 AM
Sorry about the ambiguous title, I'm eloquent until I have to explain things in minimal wording. Then I am undecipherable. Note: I'm not trying to recruit anyone. I realize my low post count makes this seem like a sales pitch, but this is a sincere gesture on my part.

Basically, I am a part of the World Community Grid (http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/index.jsp), which is one of the largest grid/distributed computing platforms in the world. It's goals include curing various diseases (specifically cancers and viral diseases, such as AIDS), optimizing food growth and creating cleaner energy. Most would view it as a fairly noble project. It's personal to me, as prostate cancer is one of those generational family scares and I'm worried my time is coming.

The program, for those who are unfamiliar with grid computing, is just a 10mb download that uses spare CPU cycles (so its best used when not under load, which is often for casual users who don't turn their computers off) and your network connection to receive, compute, and send data related to the various projects WCG is associated with.

What I would like to do is start charging clients less if they do philanthropic or otherwise noble things like that. For instance, my plan so far is to go to an on-site job, do my thing whilst explaining what WCG is. When I'm done, if the client was responsive or supportive of WCG, I will offer to waive the diagnostics fee (but not my hourly fee) if they would allow me to install the software which I would of course have on hand. I'd make it clear I wouldn't "check up" on them to see if they are using it, nor would I try to get them to join a team.

My generous nature does not stop at grid computing, but it's one of those things where you can literally do nothing and still help out. Easier than recycling. I am, however, trying to make money off of the business, so I wonder if doing this might make clients think I'm prone to offering discounts on a whim quite often, which I am not.

Any thoughts? Suggestions?

atlanticjim
07-31-2010, 01:11 PM
Personally, I would be angry if I heard your "philanthropic sales-pitch" after you had done work on my computer. Many would worry that you had already compromised their privacy and security and installed some sort of software already.

Proselytizing has no place in business, whether it be for Jehovah's Witnesses, Christians or the World Wildlife Federation. No matter how passionate you are. Discounting based on someones beliefs is onerous: "discounts to all Jews", "if you are have German Heritage. . . 10% off" .

I have my personal causes and beliefs and I keep them personal and separate from my business.

There was a thread recently about getting into religious and political conversation with clients and the consensus is to avoid it and/or let the client believe that you agree with their views (as long as they are not too extreme).

layoric
07-31-2010, 01:58 PM
I don't have a problem giving out bible tracts - I don't work for anyone and do what I want, frankly. However, a discount for a software install? Whatever it's truly for, sounds shady, and I think others would agree, ie - your customers. May bite you in the butt later. Hello, yes my computer is not working, I think it's from that software you installed!

0ldfart
07-31-2010, 02:20 PM
yeah it would tick me off. Keep your proselytizing for your private life. I dont see anything wrong with mentioning it in conversation, but trading it for a discount rate is I bit preachy IMO

loaner
07-31-2010, 02:38 PM
I wouldn't try to "sell" the customer on anything other than my services.

I do a little F@H myself for Stanford University. I was folding on my cpu and both gpu's last night while surfing the forums. Stanford has been doing this for about 10 years now.

This is something geared more for the individual than for a business. Having said that, I still wouldn't mention it to a residential customer.

Put a little flyer on your counter: "Join my F@H team" or "You've heard of folding at home, learn about it here". Put a little information on there about the effort of what IBM and Harvard are trying to accomplish. mention you are building a team and if they would like to join...blah, blah, blah...
Get them to ask you about it.


happy folding....

...goss

Daifne
07-31-2010, 02:40 PM
I don't have a problem giving out bible tracts - I don't work for anyone and do what I want, frankly. However, a discount for a software install? Whatever it's truly for, sounds shady, and I think others would agree, ie - your customers. May bite you in the butt later. Hello, yes my computer is not working, I think it's from that software you installed!

If I had you do work for me and you gave me a bible tract, you would never get my business again. You are there to repair my computer, not to convert me to your brand of Christianity. You are overstepping your bounds by doing this.

loaner
07-31-2010, 02:56 PM
This just in...

soon after making the post above, Daifne shoots letter to local congressman demanding seperation of church and business. :D

Daifne
07-31-2010, 03:15 PM
This just in...

soon after making the post above, Daifne shoots letter to local congressman demanding seperation of church and business. :D

Grow up, Loaner. I said nothing about any government intervention. I only stated what I would do and implied that this is a very bad business decision. Who knows how much business he's losing by doing this. My religion, my faith is my own personal choice and I resent anyone trying to convert me. There are many people out there that feel the same. Who's to say that I, or they, are not Christians already? But even if not, it's not the business of the computer repair person to presume to convert.

loaner
07-31-2010, 03:48 PM
meh...relax...it was a JOKE :rolleyes:
thought it was pretty funny myself..it was a nice play on words, had good timing, and I even put a big grin at the end of it.

If he wants to put flyers about it on his counter, I don't see a problem with it. If I belonged to a remote controlled airplane club and we flew our planes every saturday at the airport, what's wrong with having flyers on the counter that inform people and blah, blah.

this is really more of a hobby and should be presented as such, no more or less than fishing, computer gaming, gardening, lalalala.

...goss

ps sorry if i offended you Daifne

Daifne
07-31-2010, 03:55 PM
Flyers on a counter is one thing. That's not shoving them at people. If he's handing them to customers, as it sounded like, then it's pushy and inappropriate.

Sorry, it did not come off as a joke, but a as a slam.

ATTech
07-31-2010, 05:06 PM
Sorry, it did not come off as a joke, but a as a slam.
I'd agree with you if there was no big grin at the end. Because there was, it was clearly a joke.

Anyway, I'm not sure where all this talk of religion is coming from; nothing in the original post indicated that it was anything of a religious nature. Does someone not know what "philanthropy" means?

vdub12
07-31-2010, 05:29 PM
I'd agree with you if there was no big grin at the end. Because there was, it was clearly a joke.

Anyway, I'm not sure where all this talk of religion is coming from; nothing in the original post indicated that it was anything of a religious nature. Does someone not know what "philanthropy" means?

I think the religion came up based on the original poster wanting to give discounts for other people using a program he believed in.

So the way I associate it with religion would be how some people try and push there views on to others. I have to agree with most the posters that there is no place for personal beliefs in business. Theres to much of a chance that your views with clash with someone else's.

I know it would upset me if a plummer came to my house to fix my pipes and keeps judging how I live and trying to convert me to his religion. I see this a lot with devout Christians, not just the people that go to church on Sunday, but the people that are absolutely fundamentalists. I personally consider myself a Christian but according to these people I'm going to hell. :rolleyes:

Hooked
07-31-2010, 05:30 PM
Yeah, I'm not sure what gave the impression that the idea stems from some sort of religious fervor. Although I don't like labels, I guess you could call me an agnostic, which is why I think things like WCG are so important - you only get one chance.

I understand that money is the motivation behind business, but I don't see what's wrong with what I suggested. If you no longer want to hire me because I support the cause to cure cancer, then you're entitled to your opinion. However I think everyone should try to operate with not only an ethical code, but a moral code - what is right and what is wrong, not only from a business standpoint. If I believe in a cause, and someone seems interested in that cause, is it wrong to mention it to them or even incentivize it?

I saw another guy on here saying he charged $60 for members of the church he goes to, but $100 for other clients. Surely the practice I describe is more ethical than that.

The most surprising thing about this is that I clearly stated in the op that I'd be unobtrusive about it and would only go ahead if they seemed responsive. I also said that I was not trying to convert anybody (which is the definition of proselytizing). Either the folks on this board cannot/choose not to read, which is fine, or my word cannot be taken at face value, in which case why would a client hire me in the first place?

ATTech
07-31-2010, 05:44 PM
Theres to much of a chance that your views with clash with someone else's.
I'm fairly certain that the OP isn't concerned with gaining business from people who are against finding a cure for cancer, muscular dystrophy or feeding the hungry.

I can understand not pushing religion, politics or moralities, but philanthropy? Are you as appalled by grocery stores asking for donations to fight breast cancer? What about businesses provided discounts to people who bring in canned goods? Where do you draw the line?

callthatgirl
07-31-2010, 06:35 PM
Holy smokes, I would avoid this one! First of all, I have enough people who are concerned about my remote tools letting me on their computer whenever I want, to secondly tell them that it's "ok to share a hard drive" with their personal data on it.

Avoid. Try to do this with your networking collegues, may work better but not clients and their data access. Even if it's safe, I would not risk it.

vdub12
07-31-2010, 06:46 PM
I'm fairly certain that the OP isn't concerned with gaining business from people who are against finding a cure for cancer, muscular dystrophy or feeding the hungry.

I can understand not pushing religion, politics or moralities, but philanthropy? Are you as appalled by grocery stores asking for donations to fight breast cancer? What about businesses provided discounts to people who bring in canned goods? Where do you draw the line?

I think it falls under the same controversy that easter eggs have always been under.

A good example is "Hall of Tortured Souls" in Excell 95. Developers where able to hide an entire Doom like 3D engine in a productivity program without anyone knowing about it. So whats to stop a disgruntled employee from hiding 3 lines of code that steal credit card numbers.

By offering up a program like this and giving a discount to use it might raise suspension with the client wondering what else you have running on there machine.

Hooked
07-31-2010, 07:08 PM
I think it falls under the same controversy that easter eggs have always been under.

A good example is "Hall of Tortured Souls" in Excell 95. Developers where able to hide an entire Doom like 3D engine in a productivity program without anyone knowing about it. So whats to stop a disgruntled employee from hiding 3 lines of code that steal credit card numbers.

By offering up a program like this and giving a discount to use it might raise suspension with the client wondering what else you have running on there machine.

I would counter that what's to stop that from happening to any program you install on your computer? It seems strange that you would be more suspicious of a philanthropic program like WCG than that of a program such as an AV that can be setup to automatically download definition updates without prompting, can run on a scheduler, etc.

I think the problem here might stem from all of you looking at this from a suspicious consumer standpoint. If a client of mine does not like the way I conduct myself, my viewpoints or my mannerisms, or whatever it is that made them suspicious of me in the first place, it's highly improbable they would hire me again anyways.

I don't think I'd lose customers doing this.

vdub12
07-31-2010, 07:17 PM
I would counter that what's to stop that from happening to any program you install on your computer? It seems strange that you would be more suspicious of a philanthropic program like WCG than that of a program such as an AV that can be setup to automatically download definition updates without prompting, can run on a scheduler, etc.

I think the problem here might stem from all of you looking at this from a suspicious consumer standpoint. If a client of mine does not like the way I conduct myself, my viewpoints or my mannerisms, or whatever it is that made them suspicious of me in the first place, it's highly improbable they would hire me again anyways.

I don't think I'd lose customers doing this.

My point is that everything you do in regards to the client is to make money. You are not there to be there buddy. They want to pay you to provide a service. If you are to recommend anything it should be in there best interest regarding there computer. They are not paying you to cure cancer they are paying you to fix there computer and thats what your job should be.

By offering a discount for installing a program makes them suspicious from the standpoint that if your willing to loose money for this software then whats in it for you. There must be some way for you to re comp that money. Most customers will not just see it as you trying to do that right thing because to them you are not the kid down the street your a business and your there to make a profit.

ATTech
08-01-2010, 01:58 AM
My point is that everything you do in regards to the client is to make money. You are not there to be there buddy. They want to pay you to provide a service. If you are to recommend anything it should be in there best interest regarding there computer. They are not paying you to cure cancer they are paying you to fix there computer and thats what your job should be.

By offering a discount for installing a program makes them suspicious from the standpoint that if your willing to loose money for this software then whats in it for you. There must be some way for you to re comp that money. Most customers will not just see it as you trying to do that right thing because to them you are not the kid down the street your a business and your there to make a profit.

The it could look suspicious that you're offering a discount to install a program is a whole different argument. The argument that was initially presented was that it's not his place to offer something philanthropic from an ethical stand point.

I have a suspicion that rather than making a stretch from philanthropy to religion, the people that replied with religious topics simply didn't know what philanthropy was and assumed it was religious.

From the ethics perspective, this is equivalent to any other business soliciting donations, or providing discounts for them. I'd even argue it's more efficient and effective than said activities, as it's using unused resources and is costing the consumer nothing.

Could it seem suspicious to some people? Sure. Does that mean It's not worth doing? Perhaps. You could, however, argue the same thing about remote monitoring software, or picking up and bringing computers back to client's location. I would certainly take caution with offering it to new clients, especially if they question your every action. If it's a returning client and they aren't too paranoid, I would say go for it.

vdub12
08-01-2010, 02:49 AM
From the ethics perspective, this is equivalent to any other business soliciting donations, or providing discounts for them. I'd even argue it's more efficient and effective than said activities, as it's using unused resources and is costing the consumer nothing.

Good point, I didn't think of it from that stand point.

For that mater there may be laws in place that forbid this kind of practice.

Hooked
08-01-2010, 02:58 AM
Good point, I didn't think of it from that stand point.

For that mater there may be laws in place that forbid this kind of practice.

He wasn't condemning the practice, he was just equating it. I'm fairly certain there is no law that says you have to attempt to make the biggest profit you can.

vdub12
08-01-2010, 05:30 AM
He wasn't condemning the practice, he was just equating it. I'm fairly certain there is no law that says you have to attempt to make the biggest profit you can.

Maybe not but there might be restrictions on giving financial incentives to give donations. However, there probably isn't. I would just look at all angles.

Hooked
08-01-2010, 05:50 AM
Maybe not but there might be restrictions on giving financial incentives to give donations. However, there probably isn't. I would just look at all angles.

I'm at a loss for what possible rationale something like that could be made illegal...first, I highly doubt the government has ever had the problem of people being too charitable, and secondly the only person who might lose out in that deal would be me.

tackify
08-01-2010, 06:32 AM
Hooked

Personally, I find your intention noble.

I do wonder if you may be better off presenting it in a different way.

In my experience, when I finish job for a customer, they're being stressed beyond their normal experience in trying to understand what I'm telling them I did to merit their bill. I think they would be too distracted to think rationally about adding a program for altruistic reasons to their machine at that time, even if it would get them a discount on the current bill.

Perhaps, then, rather than a discount for the just performed service, you could give the customer a brochure explaining the value of the WCG program which could include a coupon for a discount on their next service providing that WCG is running or is set up to run at that time.

This would give the customer a less pressurized time to decide on it's merits and potentially give you quicker return business because your customer has a coupon. Your brochure could have simple and explicit instructions on how to install WCG software if the customer were inclined to do so on their own. When you do get calls for return service, even if they don't have the brochure and coupon you gave them anymore you could still ask if they had it. They're bound to remember it. You could then offer the discount under it's terms to them even without the coupon. They'll think you're doing them a favor.

Hooked
08-01-2010, 06:41 AM
Hooked

Personally, I find your intention noble.

I do wonder if you may be better off presenting it in a different way.

In my experience, when I finish job for a customer, they're being stressed beyond their normal experience in trying to understand what I'm telling them I did to merit their bill. I think they would be too distracted to think rationally about adding a program for altruistic reasons to their machine at that time, even if it would get them a discount on the current bill.

Perhaps, then, rather than a discount for the just performed service, you could give the customer a brochure explaining the value of the WCG program which could include a coupon for a discount on their next service providing that WCG is running or is set up to run at that time.

This would give the customer a less pressurized time to decide on it's merits and potentially give you quicker return business because your customer has a coupon. Your brochure could have simple and explicit instructions on how to install WCG software if the customer were inclined to do so on their own. When you do get calls for return service, even if they don't have the brochure and coupon you gave them anymore you could still ask if they had it. They're bound to remember it. You could then offer the discount under it's terms to them even without the coupon. They'll think you're doing them a favor.

You know, I was just thinking of scrapping the idea until you recommended the brochure (with the coupon) idea. That's a fantastic suggestion, thanks for that. =)

Daifne
08-01-2010, 03:43 PM
Hooked,
Sorry. I wasn't responding to your post, but to layoric's. He stated that he gives out religious tracts.

For a while I was mentioning Folding@Home to my customers. I didn't even get a nibble, so I just stopped. They thought it was a good idea, but were not willing to do it themselves. If you get nibbles on this, wonderful, but I agree that it would be better to offer a future discount.

NeutronTech
08-04-2010, 04:28 AM
I'm not going to address the moral / ethical side of this argument, but I'll address the long term business side of it.

My concern with this is installing 3rd party software like this on a client's machine. Whenever they get a problem after that, they are likely to blame it on said program. Even if they don't tell you about it, they might tell others that you installed so and so and it messed up their computer. You don't need the bad word of mouth on that one. Also I would consider this; if you install this software and a customer has an issue with the program or even a perceived issue with it causing another problem, they will be expecting you to support it for free.

mkeathley
08-04-2010, 07:21 AM
I wouldn't becuase I would be afriad that customers would think of that program everytime they had a problem with slowness or some such.

As for the religious stuff folks were talking about, I talk with almost everyone one of my customers about Jesus. Its simply who I am. I teach youth at my church and thats my life, working on computers while enjoyable is simply how I make a living.
Never had a compliant even from my atheist friends.

Rider
08-04-2010, 05:47 PM
I don't like the idea of it being presented to the customer in the manner you described. Someone compared it to being asked for donations for breast cancer at the grocery store. Yes, that does annoy me. I'm a poor man. I like to give where and when I can but I despise the guilt trip I feel when I have to tell someone no. If there is a jar with a sign at the register I might drop my change in it but when I am directly solicited I always say no.

The brochure idea is not a bad one. Another idea, put a banner on your website that says something to the affect of ask me about this program and recieve a discount. My point is, leave it up to the customer if they want to be solicited. I don't think I'm alone in the fact that I become resentfull when I am solicited for anything.

You sound like a very kind and giving person, I like to think I am too. But you would lose my future business if you presented that idea to me.

On another note, I have tried those ditributive computing networks before and I always end up uninstalling them, there are always some undesireable affects that I would rather not deal with.

Rider

ATTech
08-04-2010, 09:19 PM
Someone compared it to being asked for donations for breast cancer at the grocery store. Yes, that does annoy me. I'm a poor man. I like to give where and when I can but I despise the guilt trip I feel when I have to tell someone no.

You realize that the substantial amount of donations they get from being proactive about getting donations, rather than reactive, far outweighs the cost of making people like you feel guilty for saying no?

I'm not telling him to keep pushing until the client screams at him, but a simple "Would you like..." will go leaps and bounds farther than just having a brochure or putting a little statement on his invoice.

norm1320
08-05-2010, 01:35 AM
Perhaps, then, rather than a discount for the just performed service, you could give the customer a brochure explaining the value of the WCG program which could include a coupon for a discount on their next service providing that WCG is running or is set up to run at that time.

This does sound like a much better way of doing it. I think you should add that even if it is not set up when you make your next service call, you will still honor the coupon if they allow you to install it for them at that time. (And of course do not include the time spent installing it as part of your billable hours.)