Is this ethical/moral?


I am not sure if this question belongs in this forum. Anyway, here goes:

I have two clients I work for both in a very distant town. Client A has asked me to come see him to discuss work related matters. He is prepared to cover all travel and accommodation expenses. Client B has also asked me to come and he will also cover all expenses. As they are both in the same town (they don’t know each other) I’ve organised one trip to see them both.

If my expenses comes to x dollars is it right to charge them x/2 each or x each? Each would happily have paid x.

Thanks in advance.

sorry i didnt get the question to clearly but it would be unethical to charge them more than what is reasonable or just… you and your conscience have to make that decision

You should be strictly honest with them and charge each only half of your travel expense. They will appreciate your honesty. What you charge them in terms of fees, on the other hand, is a separate matter.

Hmmm… that is a good question. If the travel expenses are part of your pay then is it wrong to take your pay for doing the work even if you don’t need it? Is it wrong for one to have to pay you and the other gets your service for free? Interesting question. If you were smart enough to arrange for both trips to take place at the same time isn’t that just a part of you managing your money wisely so you should keep the pay even if you don’t need it? I don’t know what the answer is, but it is interesting to think about. I work in a call center and on holidays I get double time and only like 3 -10 calls come in that day because it’s a holiday and people think we are closed or they are spending the day with their family. On a regular day there’s a call queue all day. So I work less and get paid more on a holiday, I get paid to sit and read all day. :slight_smile: Is it wrong for me to take more pay when I take fewer calls than normal? :wink: Or is it just part of my pay for my time as well as the work? It’s the same principle, think of it as double pay for your time as well as your expenses. Or am I looking at this wrong? If the travel expenses come in a form that can only be used to buy tickets and rent hotel rooms then yes tell them, no need to waste the money, but if it comes in the way of money then that’s different because if you didn’t arrange for both at the same time they would have to pay that amount anyway. :shrug: So you should benefic from being savvy with arranging both at the same time. :slight_smile: It’s nothing personal, just business. :wink:

It depends what the understanding is. If the clients are offering to pay strictly for your travel expense, then I think you need to be honest and tell them they were less because you were able to combine trips and charge them each half.

On the other hand, if you have a flat “travel expense” charge as a policy that is charged to everyone who does not live in the area of your office, then its not unfair to charge that to both of them. You could maybe discount some of that in the final cost for your work, if you feel you should.

You don’t want to be dishonest or sleezy, but you don’t want to be struggling with every charge decision or come out losing in your business for honest work and expenses.


In your case I do not see that you have much choice. If it is required for you to work on a public holiday then the pay due to you is as agreed when you signed up by the company. I would see it as being mostly out of your hands as I’m sure the company has a pay structure and you would fall into a certain band. In addition, it is most likely company policy as to who gets paid what on normal and public holidays. So, I would not feel bad about doing little and getting paid double.

Maybe I would try and see what else I can do for the company whilst waiting for calls? Some initiative to improve things around the workplace?

Regarding my question, I organise my flights and accommodation myself as I work for myself. Yes, if I did the trips at different times both clients would be paying full expenses in any case. Thus I do not see it as their right that I should only charge them half the costs if I combine the trips into one.

But, if I ask myself what Jesus would do I guess the answer is pretty easy. He would charge each client their due which in this instance is only half. It will also leave a positive impression on the client if you explain why you’re only charge them half - which could go a long way for my client relationship.

Guess I answered my own question?

Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. What would you want them to charge you?
It is valuable to be one of the few honest professionals left. Ethics is what makes you a professional.
You actually know what to charge them. Do so.
You would be surprised at how much extra work you might get also.

I’ll bet you already know the answer.

You are being tempted. If you charge double your expenses you will feel guilty. Your conscience will convict you.

How does temptation work? I can make some extra money. The clients would feel cheated, but thy will never know.

If you double charge your conscience will bother you.

Don’t do it.

You could also explain the situation to them, and leave it up to them.

Or you could let them know the situation, and offer to donate anything over and above the half you are charging them.

I’d charge them your normal consulting or service fee each, whatever it is, but only half the auxiliary costs (travel, accommodation). The only problem you might have is if they are competitors in the same industry, and who may not appreciate you helping the other competitor.

If they’re competitors, you just don’t need to let them know who the other party is.

Honesty comes back to you in the end, even if it means a short term sacrifice.

To me it would be a bit awkward and a maybe even somewhat tacky to try to explain your give away charity to each. This might also start a precident in which they might want you to plan your trip again in this manner. Or maybe they may want you to flip a coin to see who pays. This might give the wrong buisness impression of you or your company even tho unintended.

You are charging them for some usual legitmate service which is your standard charge.

However if this is not your usual standard charge then charge the one who made the appointment first. The second appointment just got lucky that you happened to be in town. This saves a lot of explainations and would be fair.

Best wishes.

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