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Avoid Billing Surprises

No ones likes to get a surprise when it comes to a bill - especially if it's more than what you anticipated. Find out how one D.C. handled an unpleasant surprise and the lessons he learned.

It was a usual Tuesday. I had seen my patients for the morning and was opening the daily mail. I discarded the "junk fliers" and then moved on to what looked like insurance checks and bills.

During the prior month, I had utilized the services of a prominent law firm in town to review a contract for me. I had met with the firm's managing partner in their skyscraper offices, occupying multiple floors, with panoramic views of the city. We exchanged pleasantries and naturally a beverage was offered in fine crystal.

Over the next few weeks, I received a few calls from the firm and spoke with a couple of their associates regarding aspects of the contract.

While continuing to go through the mail that day, one of the envelopes included a statement from the law firm. It contained multiple pages with several entries regarding consultation with me, telephone conversations, conferences among the lawyers within the firm and opposing party.

When I reached page 4, and saw the billing total, I began to physically shake.

While the services were excellent and the contract was executed favorably, the fees seemed exorbitant for the work and the scope of the project.

My first reaction was of anger.

A few hours later (after I stopped trembling), I spoke with the managing partner and discussed my chagrin.

We reached a reasonable compromise and I learned a very valuable lesson.

Professional services in any field can be quite expensive. While it is important to obtain quality advise and counsel, it is important to also have an idea of what those services will entail and their estimated cost.

I still utilize this firm, but in all matters I inquire and set a maximum limit on how much I will pay for the work. Surprises like I experienced are not healthy and can build resentment. Open dialog makes for good relationships.

I would STRONGLY RECOMMEND when engaging professional services that fees be discussed prior to implementation to avoid misunderstandings and distress.

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