Stories from my past: I won’t pay you until everything is perfect

perfect solution

perfect solutionI had a customer once named Ned. Ned was a farmer who was very particular. I had been working and fixing various things for about two hours and the last thing he asked me to do was to align his check printing. Now I had never done this task before. It required the check to automatically align horizontally in a tractor feed printer.

I read the printer manual on how to accomplish this and it required measuring the distance from the top, bottom, and sides of the check and inputting that into the printer. After about six tries it was very close and Ned said that since I couldn’t seem to align it, that he wouldn’t pay me for my work. He was frustrated because he thought it was a simple matter. I told him that I had never done it before but it should be possible and he agreed to give me some time to try it. He wasn’t really a patient person, however. I said that I will align it perfectly and he can go do something else until I get it done, and if I can’t then I won’t charge him anything.

On the next try it perfectly aligned and we printed another half-dozen checks as a test. It was really quite amazing to see it automatically line up. Ned was happy and more than a bit disappointed that I actually got it to work. I asked him if there was anything else and he said no. He paid me what we agreed on and I left. Ned called me again to work on his stuff but I had better customers than him at that point. I thanked him but told him I was too busy to help. A person’s time is valuable and can solve the problem.

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