Explain Your Fees

© Helen Lesser, 2014

Nikola Tesla visited Henry Ford at his factory, which was having some kind of difficulty.
Ford asked Tesla if he could help identify the problem area.
Tesla walked up to a wall of a boilerplate and made a small X in chalk on one of the plates.
Ford was thrilled, and told him to send an invoice.
The bill arrived, for $10,000.
Horrified at the size of the bill, Ford demanded a breakdown of costs. Tesla sent another invoice, indicating a $1 charge for marking the wall with an X, and $9,999 for knowing where to put it.

This story is told in dozens of different ways, involving well-known geniuses (Edison, Einstein, Archimedes) or unknown skilled tradesmen (boat-builders, tech wizards, plumbers, mechanics, etc).

The moral of the story is always the same – one pays for experience and expertise, not for the action or time involved.


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HelenLesser has written 303 articles