Subject: Re: Is anyone selling support with a retainer?
From: "C. Harald Koch" <chk@utcc.utoronto.ca>
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 20:37:56 -0500

In message <199702180057.QAA05450@infodock.com>, Bob Weiner writes:
> 
> The question seems unclear.  If someone has paid for support and he
> calls you, the support is either covered by the contract or it isn't.
> If it is, there is no issue of fee. 

Sounds like you've never encountered retainers in the legal profession.

A 'retainer' is usually a fee paid to an individual to "be available" just in
case any services are required. When something does come up, there is still
a fee structure in place to cover the actual services. The retainer is only
a fee that allows the client to ask the individual to drop everything else.

Sometimes, people on retainer will also give a discount to the client. In
some ways, it's like insurance; you pay a stock, regular fee, and then on
top of that you pay a deductable on each claim.

Anyway, there are multiple options, on an approximate scale:

- no retainer, pay full fees
- retainer, plus pay full fees
- retainer, plus discount on full fees
- flat rate support contract

retainers are a guaranteed source of income for the supplier, which is
easier for most self-employed individuals (and small businesses) to manage.
Combined with a discount structure, retainers are also palatable to the
client, since they're getting more than simple availability from the
contract.

[ In short, I think it's an interesting idea. It certainly works for lawyers!]

-- 
Harald Koch <chk@utcc.utoronto.ca>