Personal Finance

Charged without consent

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 6th, 2019 12:28 pm
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[OP]
Newbie
Apr 1, 2019
2 posts
4 upvotes

Charged without consent

Hello,

Looking for advice. I recently called my Accountant for general tax information/advice (the information could easily be googled, but he said to call him anytime if I had questions). Well I did call him, and we chatted for 30-40 minutes. I then received an invoice for several hundered dollars a month later. I was not informed the phone call was going to cost money (obviously I wouldn't have bothered calling if I knew it was going to cost that much). I had no idea it was going to cost money, or how much.

I'm looking for opinion/advice. Is this normal? Ethical? I'm in shock.

Thanks.
16 replies
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jul 30, 2007
28941 posts
14501 upvotes
Toronto
Yup. That’s acceptable business practice. He probably charged at $200 per hr.

Just imagine if you speak to a lawyer, that’s easily $500 an hour Face Screaming In Fear
Sr. Member
Jan 30, 2013
841 posts
171 upvotes
RICHMOND HILL
Sunrise2016 wrote: Hello,

Looking for advice. I recently called my Accountant for general tax information/advice (the information could easily be googled, but he said to call him anytime if I had questions). Well I did call him, and we chatted for 30-40 minutes. I then received an invoice for several hundered dollars a month later. I was not informed the phone call was going to cost money (obviously I wouldn't have bothered calling if I knew it was going to cost that much). I had no idea it was going to cost money, or how much.

I'm looking for opinion/advice. Is this normal? Ethical? I'm in shock.

Thanks.
it happened to me years ago.
Competition and change of accountant fixed that
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jul 25, 2008
1541 posts
387 upvotes
Ottawa
May be you should ask how much first.
Member
Sep 16, 2017
346 posts
235 upvotes
time is billable. not free. you didnt go to google because you werent sure so you called your accountant. the fee that you paid was so you can put your trust and transfer the accountability to the accountant. that is why you called him.
Last edited by MasterBD on Apr 3rd, 2019 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Jr. Member
Aug 2, 2018
157 posts
94 upvotes
miscommunication, misinterpretation and misunderstanding?
Deal Addict
Aug 1, 2006
1729 posts
1276 upvotes
Toronto
That's like going to a lawyer and they start off the interview by chatting with you, and that time gets added on to your bill as well. Always assume you are going to be charged by the minute when you deal with a lawyer or accountant. Exceptions for a lawyer would be a fixed fee transaction like a will or purchase or sale of a home.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jul 30, 2007
28941 posts
14501 upvotes
Toronto
... they also charge on each email sent and replied as well. If it takes them 2 mins to type up, it’s likely they will charge a min. rate of $50 or something
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 9, 2012
3498 posts
2135 upvotes
Kitchener
Honest question: Would you work for free for 40 minutes? Would you work for free for 30-40 minutes a few times a day?

My guess is you wouldn't. Their time is money, and if you use it, you have to pay for it.

I remember when I was going through my custody battle with the ex, I avoided calling or emailing the lawyer once I realized that every time I called or email I was changed 10 minutes here and there. Then if I saw his number calling me, it was a dread of expense (but occasionally happy because he was getting good traction).

As I said, though, for me it took a month, plus he also told me to limit emails as he didn't want my bill to get too high (but monthly bills were up to $9,000).

If it can be googled though, why not? Why waste someone else's time if you can google the right answer, as it appears you don't value his time. I think your question was complex and that's why it was a 30-40 minute call.
Why can't we all just get along?
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Feb 19, 2010
6237 posts
2968 upvotes
jeff1970 wrote: Honest question: Would you work for free for 40 minutes? Would you work for free for 30-40 minutes a few times a day?

My guess is you wouldn't. Their time is money, and if you use it, you have to pay for it.
^This.

OP, assuming you have a job, you're not working for free. Why would you expect a professional who spent a lot of money and a lot of years of getting educated to?

Pay your bill and brush up on your Google skills if you don't want professional advice.
Deal Addict
May 16, 2017
1590 posts
2009 upvotes
Costly life lesson.

Call a professional to ask a question within the scope of their profession = expect to be charged.

On the other hand, I did something similar regarding my late father's estate taxes and sat with an accountant for about 15 minutes or so (fully expecting to pay for that time) - he waived his fee.

Granted that was for 15 vs 40 minutes and the OP's accountant could have been more forthcoming - but in professions like accounting, legal, consulting engineering - time is literally = money and paying for that should be assumed.
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 1, 2019
2 posts
4 upvotes
Hey,

I just wanted to give a big genuine thank you to all of you for sharing your opinion. I think I was a little thrown off by a business charging me a random amount without telling me, but it sounds like this is normal for the profession. Now I know! :)
Deal Guru
Aug 14, 2007
10971 posts
2085 upvotes
Toronto
Sunrise2016 wrote: Hello,

Looking for advice. I recently called my Accountant for general tax information/advice (the information could easily be googled, but he said to call him anytime if I had questions). Well I did call him, and we chatted for 30-40 minutes. I then received an invoice for several hundered dollars a month later. I was not informed the phone call was going to cost money (obviously I wouldn't have bothered calling if I knew it was going to cost that much). I had no idea it was going to cost money, or how much.

I'm looking for opinion/advice. Is this normal? Ethical? I'm in shock.

Thanks.
Have you been billed for your accountants time in the past when done via phone call? No wonder he said to call any time.

You could do the option of tossing the invoice away since you "never received it".
Newbie
User avatar
Jun 28, 2005
83 posts
6 upvotes
Georgetown
lol at these replies..

the only way i could see this being acceptable is if you have a previous repor with the accountant and have paid for his services in the past.

mail him a cheque explaining you were not informed you were being charged for services and at what rate. tell him in the event of this lack of clarity if he feels he is in the right and cashes the cheque you will be serving him with a subpeana to recouperate the funds as unfair business practice.

if i'm a head shrinker and give someone a business card telling them to call me if they need to talk and bill them $1000/h when they do you all think thats perfectly fine too without explaining how/when the fees being to accure?

dont listen to people on the internet, me included.. call fee legal advice with the law society and record the call.
Member
Sep 16, 2017
346 posts
235 upvotes
sm4k wrote: lol at these replies..

the only way i could see this being acceptable is if you have a previous repor with the accountant and have paid for his services in the past.

mail him a cheque explaining you were not informed you were being charged for services and at what rate. tell him in the event of this lack of clarity if he feels he is in the right and cashes the cheque you will be serving him with a subpeana to recouperate the funds as unfair business practice.


if i'm a head shrinker and give someone a business card telling them to call me if they need to talk and bill them $1000/h when they do you all think thats perfectly fine too without explaining how/when the fees being to accure?

dont listen to people on the internet, me included.. call fee legal advice with the law society and record the call.
Sunrise2016 wrote: Hello,

Looking for advice. I recently called my Accountant for general tax information/advice (the information could easily be googled, but he said to call him anytime if I had questions). Well I did call him, and we chatted for 30-40 minutes. I then received an invoice for several hundered dollars a month later. I was not informed the phone call was going to cost money (obviously I wouldn't have bothered calling if I knew it was going to cost that much). I had no idea it was going to cost money, or how much.

I'm looking for opinion/advice. Is this normal? Ethical? I'm in shock.

Thanks.
key word - called HIS accountant. this indicates there is a previous relationship. as I said before he is paying for the advice and to transfer accountability. this is why he didn't go to google and research and subsequently act on his own accord. he is paying for the trust and reassurance and to transfer blame should something go wrong.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Feb 19, 2010
6237 posts
2968 upvotes
sm4k wrote: lol at these replies..

the only way i could see this being acceptable is if you have a previous repor with the accountant and have paid for his services in the past.

mail him a cheque explaining you were not informed you were being charged for services and at what rate. tell him in the event of this lack of clarity if he feels he is in the right and cashes the cheque you will be serving him with a subpeana to recouperate the funds as unfair business practice.

if i'm a head shrinker and give someone a business card telling them to call me if they need to talk and bill them $1000/h when they do you all think thats perfectly fine too without explaining how/when the fees being to accure?

dont listen to people on the internet, me included.. call fee legal advice with the law society and record the call.
LOL at THIS reply.

OP admitted this was his accountant and if that's the case it's extremely likely that OP signed an engagement letter when he started the relationship. That engagement letter would lay out the various terms of the engagement including, but not limited to, telephone advice.

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