Small post-project change. To charge or not to charge?


A few months after completing a website, a client is requesting a small change (literally changing one word to another on the site). I'm tempted to do this 10 second change for free, except that during the project we offered him a maintenance plan, which included changes like these being free, which he rejected.

I'm pretty sure he'll be upset if we charge him a full hour's cost (we charge hourly for post-project changes) for such a small change. However, he was warned about this very thing.

So is it better to:

  1. do the change for free and pass it off as a 'nice thing'?
  2. say that while unfortunate, we do have a maintenance plan for a reason, and charge him a full hour's cost?


asked Jun 2 '12 at 00:44
384 points

3 Answers


Push it through for free as a good-will gesture. It really is a cheap change; you can politely remind them about the maintenance plan for future changes and that any further changes will be charged.

You'll only annoy them by charging for a tiny piece of work and whilst you are within your rights to charge, the long term play is all about how you want to be perceived by your customers. Be perceived as a great designer/developer that gets the job done with some flexibily and you're more likely to get referred. Just this one good-will gesture alone for free might repay itself many times over through future business. And it costs you next to nothing. Think big picture. I'm not saying do stuff for free. We wouldn't survive if we did that.

Imagine your client talking to a friend at the bar about your services - they might say 'yeah, he did a good job but then charged outrageously for the tiniest bits of work afterwards'. You're not there to interject and say 'but I did warn you about those'. Now imagine all your past and future clients having a similar conversation with potential future customers. What do you want them to say about you?

answered Jun 2 '12 at 01:31
2,333 points
  • Probably the friend at the bar will say ..."Yea but they offer a maintenance plan, Why did you not opt in on that plan ...?" What a foul :) – User983248 11 years ago


If the change is due to their change of mind I will say option 2 is your way, as long as they where aware of that option - Don't let them abuse!

If the client look for that change somewhere else most probably they will charge your client for the changes.

BUT If you think you can get a future reference or some other jobs from that client I will say go for option one BUT refresh their memory about your maintenance plan and make it clear that only that change will be made as a "nice thing" (a one off and no more)

answered Jun 2 '12 at 01:03
489 points


I would do it for free and write them an email explaining that you are not charging but that things will be charged in the future.

It is another opportunity to bring up a maintenance plan.

Alternatively just rack up the charges/time until they reach an hour, THEN bill them.

Charging for a 10 second change is not a good public relations move - no matter what the warnings and contracts say.

answered Jun 2 '12 at 02:06
Tim J
8,346 points

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