How much to charge for on-call web dev
May 30, 2010 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Reasonable rates for on-call tech support/web development cover?

I have a web development client (B) who would like me to be available on-call (he'd like me to be available 24/7 but I do have to sleep!). His company is currently spending around £1.5k per day on pay per click advertising so obviously any downtime is very costly.

In putting the feelers out I said I was willing to negotiate on rates but the response I got back left me somewhat speechless and I'm struggling to compose a polite response.

Their offer was £50 per month retainer plus £20 per issue.

I've never offered 'on call' or out of hours as a freelancer before so I don't know what a reasonable rate is but I do know this:

I currently charge £50 per hour for development work. I have one client (C) currently on a retainer agreement of £1500 per month to be available for 20 hours per week - no out of hours support or guarantee of emergency availability (obviously if I'm around and a client is having an urgent issue I'll do my best to take care of it urgently but I'm not contractually obligated to), generally they do use all their 20 hours.
B does send me a lot of out of hours emails and if I kept my phone on, wouldn't think twice about calling me any hour of the day or night (all of which is unpaid! - We have a 'per project' arrangement but the client tends to treat me like an employee) however, actual emergencies are rare and usually not something I can do anything about anyway (although that doesn't stop him contacting me about it) - the site uses external feeds exclusively for its data so generally, if there's a problem with the site, its almost always a problem with the feed, but I do go through the motions every time of checking the feed and the data to confirm the problem. The latest issue has been ongoing via email for 4 hours, even though the problem is not with the site code its with the feed provider.

So given all the above, I have 2 questions:

1. What is a reasonable rate for eg. 9am-11pm on-call emergency web dev cover
2. How to I compose a polite response to their 'offer'
posted by missmagenta to Work & Money (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Given that their opening offer was so insultingly, absurdly, stupidly low, the only polite response is "sorry, given my other commitments I'm not available for this."

They've done you the favor of letting you know ahead of time that they're going to be nightmare clients; do yourself a favor and take the hint.
posted by ook at 10:38 AM on May 30, 2010

(If these issues generally take around 4 hours to resolve, then an appropriate per-incident amount would be that times your hourly rate, so £200. Or just agree "work to be billed at my usual hourly rate". The retainer is there to cover the inconvenience factor for you, when they call you at 10:45 PM when you're already on a tight deadline with another client or are out at a show with friends or otherwise getting on with your life. Decide how much money would make you feel okay about that happening three or four times a month: that's what you should charge as a retainer.

But they're clearly never going to accept a reasonable amount, so don't spend too much thought on it; just make a bland excuse about other commitments and put it behind you. I trust you've learned from this never to accept a per-project job again -- always always always bill by the hour...)
posted by ook at 10:50 AM on May 30, 2010

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