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billing for travel time
2

billing for travel time

billing for travel time

(OP)
Normally, my business model involves working long-distance with fixed price quotes; however, I'm currently doing a project which is based on hourly rate with a local company.  The company wants me to travel with them by car for a trip that will take one day (leave probably 6 am return 6 - 8 pm).  Is it expected (in US) that for a contract worker scenario such as this that the travel time is billed as work time and at the nomimal rate?

Thanks

www.probasci.com -
Implantable FEA for medical device manufacturers

RE: billing for travel time

i always bill for travel time from and to my office.

RE: billing for travel time

It is a completely negotiable item.  In my Intro Package, I list a rate sheet that explicitly says where travel time begins and ends.  I've had a couple of clients balk at paying the travel time (after the fact) that is in the contract, in both cases they paid and then dramatically cut back on the work they asked me to do.  In retrospect the 30 hours (in one case) that they resisted paying would have been insignificant with respect to the work I'm not doing for them today.  

I'm starting to re-think the whole "travel time" issue.  I'm not sure where I'll end up on it, but it is much more grey than it was a year ago.  Disputed charges are never a good thing.

David

RE: billing for travel time

I look at this two ways. First of all clients never want to pay for travel time. I run a primarily engineering business but also do some home inspections and commercial building inspections. Inspectors do not charge for travel time because that is all they do and it is the equivalent of commuting to a job. On inspections I throw a little allowance in for travel time if there is a lot but I dont specifically charge for it. On anything that is purely engineering, including structural only inspections, I charge for travel time because that is time I could be doing design work in the office. I try to be reasonable though. If it is a short trip, Ill not charge and I try to not charge to the second, just leave an allowance.

Your situation is a little different. This should have been worked out before you took the job. Now that you have it, I guess you need to negotiate with your client/boss.

RE: billing for travel time



I have an hourly and a daily rate (equates to 10 hours). In case like yours I would bill my customer the daily rate, so I would end up being paid for 10 hours. So if I was at site for 4 hours travelling 4 hours each direction I would actually be paid for the majority of the travel time.

Mark

RE: billing for travel time

We use a flat fee charge of 25 miles from our office is $25. Anything above and beyond that, the client is charged mileage (if our car is used - no labor charges only referred to as travel charges). However, if I am traveling those distances and it was NOT known that I would be at the time of bid, the travel time would have to be compensated by the client. No way would I travel 6 or more hours uncompensated if it was not known I would be at the time of bid. Of course, this rule may be bent based on unique circumstances (good client, etc)

RE: billing for travel time


I have a related humorous story:

My supervisor said that our company received a bill from a corporate lawyer for "services". They called up the lawyer to find out specifically what the bill was for. It turned out to be in error and the charges were cancelled. The company then received another bill charging for the time needed to correct the previous, erroneous bill!

As far as charging for travel time, I do charge it since I normally work in an office. Going to meetings or site visits are the minor part of my job. If it was the major, I don't think that it would be chargable.

RE: billing for travel time

I got a bill from a lawyer for one postage stamp. .37 cents...

RE: billing for travel time

The time you spent traveling is time that would otherwise be billable.  As it is for the client's benefit, I believe it is appropriate to charge for it.  Simply be clear about the policy up front, and if a client has an issue with it, you can always negotiate an alternative (e.g. charging half rate) if you weigh the benefits of some revenue to exceed the debits of receiving less than full rate.  This assessment will depend completely on your circumstances.

RE: billing for travel time

(OP)
Thanks to everyone for their input.  

The people I've worked with on this have so far are been reasonable and fair, so I'm not expecting any difficulties.  I will make sure to orally bring up the point before the meeting is finalized to make sure there are no misunderstandings a priori.

www.probasci.com -
Implantable FEA for medical device manufacturers

RE: billing for travel time

I've had a bill from an accountant for a 1 minute telephone call for him cancel a meeting with me.


SC

RE: billing for travel time

1 minute? That is SOP for lawyers.

RE: billing for travel time

Did anyone successfully debate the charges with the lawyers to reduce the charges or eliminate them all together? (I know they were small charges)

Our lawyer recently pulled a fast one on us for reviewing a contract. Said it would take two hours, we gave him a $500 retainer and he charges $150/hr. He charged us for 6 hours and we only visited with the crook for 2 hours. He claims the other time was spent typing up the changes (which we never asked him to do). I intend to contact him and dispute the charges. However, I don't think its going to help much. How can lawyers arbitrarily charge more for services and expect to be paid and us engineers can not? Is there anything to be done from the legal perspective (other than hiring another lawyer to file suit)? Anyone ever taken a lawyer to small claims court?  

Will probably just chalk this up as a lesson learned and bad mouth this particular lawyer as much as I can (will see after I talk to him).

RE: billing for travel time

buzzp,
The typing is typically done by office staff, but charged at a lawyer's rate. I have no idea to keep these crooks under control, certainly not paying one $5000 to dispute a $4500 overcharge. I noticed a book in a bookstore once about the "lawyer problem" in this country (USA)...maybe I will take the time to find it and buy it.

RE: billing for travel time

"Our lawyer recently pulled a fast one on us for reviewing a contract. Said it would take two hours, we gave him a $500 retainer and he charges $150/hr. He charged us for 6 hours and we only visited with the crook for 2 hours. He claims the other time was spent typing up the changes (which we never asked him to do). I intend to contact him and dispute the charges. However, I don't think its going to help much. How can lawyers arbitrarily charge more for services and expect to be paid and us engineers can not? Is there anything to be done from the legal perspective (other than hiring another lawyer to file suit)? Anyone ever taken a lawyer to small claims court?  

Will probably just chalk this up as a lesson learned and bad mouth this particular lawyer as much as I can (will see after I talk to him). "

We need to start voting ourselves and our profession into law making positions.  Once we straighten out the laws, they will be so straight forward, black and white, that many lawyers won't be needed.  Also we won't be sued over stupid stuff anymore and worry about losing.  :)

RE: billing for travel time

I notice where a group of lawyers buy condominium projects, then another group of lawyers starts a construction-defect lawsuit against the same project(and the 2 groups are consorting secretly)- talk about fraud!

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