When 'thank-you' seems to be the hardest word

When 'thank-you' seems to be the hardest word

Summary: "Don't do anyone any favors or they'll take everything for granted and demand even more."That's the advice I often get.


"Don't do anyone any favors or they'll take everything for granted and demand even more."

That's the advice I often get. The assumption is that your colleagues, friends and even family will not only fail to appreciate your efforts when you go beyond what is expected to better provide for them, they'll expect more from you.

The assumption isn't unwarranted. There have been too many instances where I've given an inch only to have the person demand a yard--and without even a word of thanks.

I've been told it's my fault because I set the bar too high by "over-providing", so my colleagues and friends shouldn't exactly be blamed to assume the "extras" will keep coming.

The solution, I've been told, is to give only what is expected and not to go beyond the norm. That way, my staff won't get presumptuous and I won't be short-changed.

But, that's not a philosophy I'd wanted to subscribe to.

It's the extras that you do which makes you a better editor, better friend and better daughter. If you give only what is expected, you are no different from the next substitute. Where then is your value-add?

However, a post this week from fellow ZDNet Asia blogger and tech lawyer Bryan Tan, got me rethinking...

Bryan related how his mechanic had charged him for identifying a problem with his car as well as for ensuring the repair was carried out properly. He added that the IT industry, if it hasn't already done so, should do likewise and make their customers pay for problem-checking as well as for ensuring the fix was correctly implemented.

At first glance, his suggestion seemed preposterous. Why should companies be made to pay an IT vendor extra for simply identifying a problem in a system or an application, even after it has been told what's causing the bug, and only to pay again to make sure the fix it implemented is working properly?

I figured it must have been the lawyer in Bryan that's calling for every service rendered to be a chargeable item. Isn't that why we all want to be lawyers?

But, after giving it more thought, he does seem to make some sense.

If vendors don't put a fee on each level of service they provide, customers will come to take every "extra" service for granted and over time, will fail to appreciate the real value of each layer of service that has been rendered.

Not every IT service provider has the right skills to correctly diagnose problems, and not every IT vendor has the experience to ensure a fix has been deployed properly. It is this differentiation that sets an IT vendor apart from its competitors, and companies that want to enjoy this differentiation should rightly be made to fork out more to access it.

Customers are customers, and they'll always want a good bargain. So often enough, they won't be able to recognize a vendor that's able to provide great value-add until they're made to pay for it.

So perhaps, I've been wrong all along. While I still believe we should all do the extra that makes us a better colleague and friend, our beneficiaries should be made to realize they can't expect to enjoy the same treatment elsewhere.

And maybe only then, will they recognize the value-add some of us can bring to the table.

Or maybe I'm just bitter from not getting any thank-yous...

Topics: Outsourcing, Emerging Tech, Hardware, Legal, Tech Industry


Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

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  • We always complain about people being calculative. "An Eye for An Eye" comes to mind. But Singaporeans are basically "4 eyes for 1 eye"

    Being a service provider sometimes, you'd feel that customers are generally gold diggers and will suck you clean if they have the chance to. And when you provided more than anyone else at a ridiculously cheap price, the question quality. Too expensive they complain, compare and make a fuss out of small details.

    No thank you given even when you sacrifice for doing something above and beyond what is necessary.

    A thankless job really sometimes.
  • You are describing "per incident" billing for an industry that lives off of charging 20-25% annual maintenance fees. If my car required 25% of its purchase price to be paid to the manufacturer every year, I would be walking.

    The software industry has a lot to answer for before it can expected to be treated with respect - actually providing the features and performance promised, systems that run without "manufacturing defects" or bugs, and license policies that reflect the reality of virtualization and multi-core CPU's. Until then, I am going to push them as hard as I can.
  • It's human nature to take things for granted and only miss things that are not there...

    But I think that it is a privilege that the people I care about take my value-add for granted. I would rather I contribute to their lives than somebody else (unless I happen to be useless in the area they need help in like curing diseases)

    BTW... thank you...hope that relieves some of your bitterness ;)