Ever heard about the one involving a consultant and the sheep farmer? I had my own encounter.
I recently sent my car (the one I was raving about) in for its regular servicing. I mentioned to the service technician that at the last servicing, the previous service technician told me the car battery was weakening and would be due for a change soon. So the service technician said he would check it out. As expected, he informed me that the car battery was weak and he would proceed to change it.
What was puzzling was that when the bill was issued, it mentioned three separate charges related to changing the battery. I quizzed the service technician and his answer was even more startling--the first charge was to ascertain whether the car battery needed changing, second was to change the car battery, and the third was to confirm the change was correctly performed. In terms of services performed, the ratio of charges came up to 3:4:2.
I have no beef with the second charge and I guess I can understand the third one, even though most people would consider it part of the second task. What baffled me was the first charge, given that I was the one who told the service technician of the need to carry out the work.
If you are providing software support, do you charge your clients for telling you of their problems that they encounter? I think you should--after all you spend time listening to them. Then, after you fix the problem, do you charge for checking the fix was proper (that is, performing the acceptance test)? It all now makes sense--afterall, the mechanics have been doing that.