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Remember our obligation to serve the public

Remember our obligation to serve the public

Remember our obligation to serve the public

I just got an e-mail from a guy that needs a professional engineer to do some work way out in the bookdocks. It will be a heck of a drive for me to do, but if I don't do the work, who will? The client needs a PE and there are only 8 licensed PEs in the entire county, most probably who wouldn't do the work anyway.

It is a reminder that when the state issues our license, we do have an obligation to provide our services to the public within reason. If I get a call from someone a long ways away, and there isn't anyone closer willing to do the work, then I'll make sure to take the job.

Cedar Bluff Engineering

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

surely one could always find an engineer, as long as your willing to pay to make it worth their effort.  

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

photoengineer...that's very good of you to do so; however, being licensed places no obligation on you to do work for anyone.  It only obligates you to do such work that you choose in accordance with the law and in such a manner as to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

I hope you are rewarded by a customer's accounts payable department that is as conscientious as you are.

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

The law may not say we are obligated to do work for a particular customer, but if they can't find an engineer to do the job, they will simply petition the people that require the engineer to stop doing so. We do have an ethical responsibility to offer our services (when appropriate) to people that are required by law to use our services.

Notary publics in some states specifically are disallowed from denying their services to people. They are required by law (in Arizona) to notarize any document properly formatting when the person has proper documents.

I've done work for this customer in the past, and they pay within about 10 days of my sending the bill. I like working for them, and part of why I do it is for anticipation of future work. They have jobs all over and are easy jobs to do.

Cedar Bluff Engineering

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

so you do it because they are a good customer, not because of some alturistic motive to 'spread the love'. Seriously taking your argument to the extreme maybe we should all do it for free to help out our fellow man.  

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

This kind of fantasy belongs in Kindergarten.  Perhaps soon those dolts in Washington D.C. will start thinking like this, and then we'll all be in the soup as engineers.

The US is still a market based economic system.  Holding a P.E. license indicates to the market that you have demonstrated some reasonable competency in your field.  If you choose to engage in a commercial transaction and provide services to a client under those pretenses, then there is an implied obligation to competently provide services.  The converse is that if you fail to be competent, then your client and the market in general can seek redress of your incompetency through commercial or legal means.

There is never any obligation on my part to altruistically provide services to any party.  Not yet, anyway.  In fact, I have a few former customers to whom I wouldn't even provide the time of day.

This client in the "boondocks" can seek services from anyone, anywhere, at any time.  The vehicle for the exchange of engineering services would normally be a commercial transaction.  The cost may be prohibitive, and schedule unacceptable, and that is a consequence of their boondocks location.

Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

I'm torn... I feel there is a moral obligation to help, but that obligation often ends in my mind when it will end up hurting me (such as reducing my financial capabilities for the month by taking on the client... where is the potential client's moral obligation to me and my financial stability?).

If I want to sue a company, what do I do if no lawyer wants to take on the case?  Sure, you could make the argument that you can always find a lawyer, but that's side-stepping the issue.  Years ago when I was having my car worked on, the shop started out well but left me with what I considered a half-finished product in the end (poor paint job, parts weren't installed, etc.).  The car ran but it looked like crap... I did not get anywhere near what I felt was a reasonable return on my investment.  No lawyer wanted to touch it, because the return on their investment of time wasn't worth it.  In the end, I lost thousands of $s and still had to get the car fixed up.

I cannot begrudge the lawyers for seeing a small rate of return and refusing the work, but without a lawyer I had little to no chance of resolving the problem myself.  What do you do in such a situation if the people you need won't help you?

Dan - Owner

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

How many doctors or lawyers feel "obligated" to serve people by going out of their comfort zone or just because someone cannot find or "afford" another professional?

Licensing does not mean obligation for serve for free or for less compensation. We are in the business to make profit to fulfill the obligation to feed our family, and the business does serve the public. If I were to work for free or for less money, I would make my company a charity organization and take some tax breaks! blllttt

I fully agree with herewegothen that one can always find an engineers as long as they are willing to pay for it.

Rafiq Bulsara

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

That is amazing macgyvers2000.
Are you really saying that in a country that has around 1,150,000 lawyers and the highest number per head of population that not one would take up your case?

Or are you just saying that none would work on a no win no fee basis because they felt your case was flawed and not worth the risk and you were unwilling to pay the going rate?

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

Well, obviously 95% of those 1.5mil lawyers don't live near me, 75% of those left don't handle my type of case, and I can't very well spend week after week meeting with multiple lawyers trying to find one to take my case.

After reviewing my pictures, emails, etc., the reason I was usually told was "Yes, the shop obviously did a poor job, but unless you have a written/signed contract that specifies every detail and show how they failed to meet each point, it's not worth the money to try and convince a judge of such.  The judge will ask 'Do you have a list of specific items', and if you can't offer one, they'll toss it."

It didn't matter that the paint was bubbled in areas and filled with wax, it didn't matter the original color showed in areas of the engine bay.  From my viewpoint, the shop failed to meet Suitability for Purpose Warranty constraints supposedly guaranteed by law, but every lawyer said that's difficult to prove in all but the most egregious of cases (like a refrigerator that doesn't cool).  It wasn't worth the risk to them to try and prove it, despite the pictures clearly showing they didn't give me what was asked for in emails between us.  It was a $7k case, so their cut would have been too little for such a "high" risk.  They had a "take only open-and-close cases" attitude, not a "defend the little person from obvious wrongs" attitude.  Every one said I was right in wanting to sue, but none felt the battle was worth it (to them) financially.

Again, I understand their viewpoint from a business perspective, but problems don't have a business perspective, they only exist... if a lawyer was the only real hope I had of navigating the legal scene with even a small chance of winning, what is one to do when no lawyer wants to take up the battle?

Thank God we have the the ACLU lawyers to uphold constitutional rights for free, or else a lot of little people would get crushed (no, I'm not comparing my case to a constitutional issue, just showing that some lawyers do exist to help people on moral grounds, not just financial).

Dan - Owner

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

The point isn't that we should take a hit on our earnings or do the work for free or a discounted rate.

The point is that if we have a customer that is willing to pay a fair market rate on a job that we are skilled at doing, and we have time in our schedule, we do have an obligation to offer our services.

You can say that should always happen because we are a captialist society and there are always some PEs out there willing to work for money. Perhaps there are. Or perhaps there are not.

In this particular case, I am doing it both because I like working with the customer and because I want to support them with their requirement to have a professional engineer do the work.

Cedar Bluff Engineering

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

yes exactly you are doing it because they are paying you a fair rate (to you), you are available and you like working for them.

You stated that we have an obligation to do the work. Like hell we do, if they can't find anyone to do the job for the standard fare because of the location then they need to pay more to sweeten the deal, thats life. I wouldn't expect a car delivered from china for the same delivery cost as buying it two blocks away.

If this customer had messed you about previously would you work for them? I suspect not, what you are saying is if a good customer asks you to do work then you do it. Hardly a revelation. I paid for my education and training in time and money, clients therefore need to pay for the skills.

This is nonsense, unless you live in some kind of commune?  

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

Macgyvers2000 I did not mean to suggest that you contacted over a million lawyers but was trying to make the point that if you could not get anyone to represent you in a country that has more lawyers per head of population than anywhere else in the world and is seen by many outsiders (rightly or wrongly) as having a sue now think later culture, your case must be flawed.

You are after all paying for their professional opinion and advice, in the same way I would not expect an engineer to stamp something they saw as flawed.

I really do not feel there is an obligation to do anything you are not comfortable with whatever field of work you are in, in fact it could be argued it is unethical to take money for something you are sure will fail.

Businesses are there to make money, if you want people to do the right thing but for no money they need to be state funded or charities.

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public


Perhaps the difference here is the lawyer gets a percentage of the winnings, but the engineer gets a flat (possibly per-hour) fee.  Higher risk of getting nothing for the lawyer...

Dan - Owner

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public



The point is that if we have a customer that is willing to pay a fair market rate on a job that we are skilled at doing, and we have time in our schedule, we do have an obligation to offer our services.



Like hell we do

....uh, DITTO, on that!!

Just because there's a need for engineering services places no obligation on any engineer to fill it, paid or not.


RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

I am very glad to see there are some like you.  I've been in the position of trying to get a part or quote, only to be passed by because the business or industry is a "backwater".

I've never asked for less than a fair quote, but sometimes it's frustrating that so many are actually willing to walk away from our money.

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

Star for photoengineer.  

Some have been burned and run over so many times that they forget the reason we are engineers and the reason we get licensed.


RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

The title of this thread led me to think this was about serving the public.  The discussion is all about choosing and serving clients.  Big difference.

Distance does not prevent the procurement of engineering services.  I have spent many hours in chartered light aircraft and many more in automobiles, traveling to remote areas.  As long as the client reimburses my expenses and pays for travel time, no problem.  

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

Wow, yet another reason for me not to get licensed then.  I thought the US was a capitalist economy etc.

Are engineers meant to be social workers too now?

At what point does the 'obligation to provide services' start to contravene the 13th amendment or the like?

One thread a bunch of folks are complaining about how bitter they are at work, how other professions get treated better paid more etc. and now we have someone proposing that we should give away, or at least subsidize, our services because in some situations there may not be much competition.

Does the obligation also impact how much one can charge to do this charity work?  Sure I'll drive hundreds of miles etc., oh but it will cost you a 1 followed by lots of 0's or something like that.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

exactly Kenat, this is nonsense. the obligation is to put the public above all else in our projects not subsidise clients. As I said you can always get an engineer like Macgyver would have eventually got a lawyer if he continually upped his offer unconditionally on outcome of the case, eventually a lawyer would go for it.   

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

Bullcrap. No one is "Obligated" to any such thing just because they went through the registration program. It's a "choice" to get a PE license, and is therefore a Choice to use it or not.

A notary of republic has become a notary to provide a necessary service, and knows up front that they must notarize when asked to do so. It's a choice to enter this obligation.

Get a PE license and go flip burgers if you want. If YOU want to make a mandate on your own choice, and perceive yourself as soooo important that you view your job as an obligation...hey... more power to ya.

Don't project your obligatory views on others.



RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

purple stars are great, but both facebook and eng-tips need a thumbs down button thumbsdown

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

I think you can serve the public in other ways, such as volunteer work that does not necessarily involve what you do for pay.  Like coaching little league softball, or community clean-up projects.  I always try to squeeze in some room for volunteer work.  Right now I am offering my time two nights a week to help teach dance to the blind, but then I've got the time at the moment.

"If you are going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance!"

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

Cass...way to go...That's what public service is about...not going to a remote location for a client who will pay your bill....

Let us know in the pub how things are going for you...we all want to know but they're too shy to ask....

I have a friend who has a business supplying used and new pet supplies...wire cages, cat scratch poles, etc. She spends so much time volunteering to rescue dogs (she has more than she can EVER afford....but she does it anyway because of her values and commitment...I admire her so....She would allow her business to fail before she would turn down a rescue...that's f'ing commitment.

If any of you are into animal rescue, check out someone who does it from the heart!!  www.petstuffresale.com

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

"if we have a customer that is willing to pay a fair market rate"

Does that fair market rate include your travel costs?  If not, then it's not a fair market rate.


Eng-Tips policies:  FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

The current economic climate has "obligated" me to take on work that I may have previously refused before, but it was always my choice (no matter how dumb).  Feeling sorry for a potential client is a big step away from being legally obligated.

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

this is a free economy. if you are willing to take the work with less than normal compensation then I guess it is "fair". buyer and seller have a mutually agreed upon price. nobody is holding a gun to your head. If you don't believe it is fair and don't want the work, then don't take it. I just can't believe anybody would think that they are morally obligated to do it for any price or especially if it meets some arbitrary definition of a "fair market value" cost. Does the federal government set the minimum fair market value for my services? Hope not, but probably will soon.

RE: Remember our obligation to serve the public

FSS...well said!  We can make any dumb decisions we want with regard to clients...but morally and ethically we're not obligated to do so!!

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