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Old 04-16-2019, 01:46 PM
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What do you call the phenomenon when a professional charges you a consultation fee....


What do you call the phenomenon when a professional charges you a consultation fee, but then informs you of everything you already know, and talks to you as if you don't know anything.

There is a name for this...

Last edited by Ficer67; 04-16-2019 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:59 PM
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A waste of money?
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:06 PM
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After a few minutes of looking around, nothing is jumping out at me.
Do you have an example? Does the word just show up in one industry or is it used across the board?
Is the word specific to consultation fees, it sounds like you're looking for 'condescending', but that's a pretty common word.
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:10 PM
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"Con", "scam", "hustle" ?
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:13 PM
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I am looking for the name of a hustle.

And, every professional has done this to me, doctors, lawyers, engineers, computer technicians, carpenters, plumbers...

Usually, I have to threaten them by with-holding payment before they start giving me useful advise or doing competent work

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Old 04-16-2019, 02:17 PM
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I am looking for the name, of this particular kind of hustle.
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:45 PM
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And, every professional has done this to me, doctors, lawyers, engineers, computer technicians, carpenters, plumbers...

Usually, I have to threaten them by with-holding payment before they start giving me useful advise or doing competent work
You seem to have had uniquely bad luck.
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Old 04-16-2019, 03:14 PM
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Oversimplifying? Dumbing down?

I'm not familiar with this as a con or scam, just talking down to someone because you underestimate their level of expertise.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:14 PM
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I call it "the initial report." After you've had a chance to digest the situation, I'll be happy to go over the strategy for moving forward.

Seriously, in my sporadic instances of being a consultant, it usually turns out that "everything you already know" is not everything that everyone else already knows and that it's necessary to get everyone officially on the same page.

I will always remember a situation where my company was briefing an organization' directors on how to craft a message to articulate their goals. The meeting broke down into an argument over what exactly their goals were. After a half-hour of them arguing with each, my boss said, "Please call us when you agree on why you want us here," and led us out of the room.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:05 PM
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You seem to have had uniquely bad luck.
Yes, this seems a little unusual.

OP, can you give us an example of a situation?

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Old 04-16-2019, 07:17 PM
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A consultant borrows your watch and tells you the time, the term I have heard is padding.
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Old 04-17-2019, 07:54 AM
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More seriously, it can and often does happen that you know X, everybody else knows X, everybody knows that everybody knows X, but you can't act on that knowlage until you get an outside expert to come in and say X.


"An expert is someone from out of town."
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:14 AM
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What do you call the phenomenon when a professional charges you a consultation fee, but then informs you of everything you already know, and talks to you as if you don't know anything.

There is a name for this...
I never heard a name for it. And I don't see how it describes a single situation. Professional tells you something you already 'knew'. How sure were you before hearing that they agreed? Was it obvious to an honest professional that you would have already known? Etc.

As to consultants in a business setting, it's rare AFAIK for there not to be people in the organization who claim that whatever the consultant finds was already obvious, among those who agree with the finding that is. For the people who disagree with the finding and particularly those whose position it threatens, the consultant is just wrong. And I've never been a consultant.
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:20 AM
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Well, everyone may know X, but the expert knows why X is even a thing worth knowing. They know X, why X is, the multiple distinct situations commonly and collectively (and strictly incorrectly) known as X, and what X means in the larger scheme of things. And that kind of expertise is important because knowledge is much more useful with context.

More to the OP, the term your looking for is "disabusing the client of incorrect beliefs". It's not about you, talking down to you. It's about the expert ensuring his student is beginning with a solid and accurate foundation. About being a professional delivering the services requested to a client properly prepared to receive them.
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:27 AM
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Except for the rudeness, I think the most anyone can expect from an initial consultation is a general discussion of the problem -- not a detailed analysis of specific factors that apply to your case. That's literally the whole purpose of an initial consultation: to give the client a general understanding of the issue from the professional's perspective, and not provide detailed solutions or analysis until the client hires their services.

But of course, there's no call for a professional providing a consultation to be disrespectful.
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:31 AM
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And, every professional has done this to me, doctors, lawyers, engineers, computer technicians, carpenters, plumbers...
If you already know what you need to have done, why are you even paying a consulting fee at all? Why don't you just say, "The sink is backed up. How much to fix it?" Then they fix it and you pay them and that's that.
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:49 AM
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1) High-level analysis
2) Baseline scoping
3) Confirmation
and the good old…
4) Requirements gathering.
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:59 AM
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Stating the bleedin' obvious.
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:01 AM
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If you already know what you need to have done, why are you even paying a consulting fee at all? Why don't you just say, "The sink is backed up. How much to fix it?" Then they fix it and you pay them and that's that.
Likewise for carpenters. You simple ask for bids on a project. What consulting could they do?
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:17 AM
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What do you call the phenomenon when a professional charges you a consultation fee, but then informs you of everything you already know, and talks to you as if you don't know anything.

There is a name for this...
The 80-20 principal. Only about 20 percent (or less ) of professionals in any field are actually competent and the rest are usually coasting.
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Old 04-18-2019, 04:49 AM
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What do you call the phenomenon when a professional charges you a consultation fee, but then informs you of everything you already know, and talks to you as if you don't know anything.

There is a name for this...
It's called...consulting.
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Old 04-18-2019, 06:44 AM
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If you already know what you need to have done, why are you even paying a consulting fee at all? Why don't you just say, "The sink is backed up. How much to fix it?" Then they fix it and you pay them and that's that.
Well, clearly it depends as to why it's backed up. I suppose some can give you an estimated range depending on what the problem is, but, typically, I expect to pay a professional for his or her time if they make a house call to diagnose my problem, whether they do the work or not. Typically, they will say up front there is a fee for them to visit, and that fee goes towards the work they do if you hire them.

I'm still curious to hear a real-world example or two of what the OP is referring to. It is possible they are getting scammed; or it's possible that there's nothing underhanded going on, depending on what is meant by the professional telling them everything they already know.

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Old 04-18-2019, 06:55 AM
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Depending on the situation, it can be called "confirmation" and be completely legit. For example, let's say I think I know how to handle a certain part of my taxes, but I'm not 100% sure. I call a tax expert, explain the situation (I don't tell him what I think the solution is) and the solution he gives me is exactly what I thought. Callooh, callay, oh frabjous day! I had actually read the tax code correctly! But hey, having confirmation is good… specially since the experts I call are my local Treasury's own Tax Assistance Service If one of their coworkers disagrees with their written, official opinion I can whip it out and tell them to argue with each other.
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Old 04-18-2019, 09:29 AM
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Well, clearly it depends as to why it's backed up. I suppose some can give you an estimated range depending on what the problem is, but, typically, I expect to pay a professional for his or her time if they make a house call to diagnose my problem, whether they do the work or not. Typically, they will say up front there is a fee for them to visit, and that fee goes towards the work they do if you hire them.

I'm still curious to hear a real-world example or two of what the OP is referring to. It is possible they are getting scammed; or it's possible that there's nothing underhanded going on, depending on what is meant by the professional telling them everything they already know.
Going with the plumbing analogy for a bit, suppose the problem is “We’ve got leaking pipes all over the place.” That leads to two immediate questions: 1) Have you written down where all the leaks are? and if the answer is yes, 2) Are the executives that hired the plumbing consultant aware the leaks have been documented? If the answer to question 1) is no, then of course the next question is “Where are all the leaks you know about?” And the plumbing consultant will write down where all the leaks are, and then present that list to the client executives as a deliverables document. Which of course states nothing the client worker bees didn’t know already.

If the answer to question 1) is yes, then question 2) is really what’s going to define the project. There may be a communications gap between the people who know about the leaks and the executives who hired the consultant. There may be full awareness of the problem with the leaks, but a lack of internal resources to deal with them. Or it may simply be that the executives are bringing in the consultants because they want the leaks fixed, and none of the in-house efforts have fixed the damn things.

For a real-life example comparable to the plumbing analogy, consider the planning phase of a systems integration project. Change "leaks document" to "systems diagram". Other than that, the comparison pretty much holds true. A systems integration consultant may have more experience with working on that type of project than the in-house resources. But he’s often not going to have the same level of expertise with the company’s systems. Which means asking a lot of questions, writing down the answers, and presenting what’s already known, or that people generally had a pretty good idea about. The benefit of all that is that at the end of the planning phase, there’s actually a plan, which there most likely wasn’t before. And hopefully, there’s an execution phase that follows where the systems are successfully integrated. Or, going back to the analogy, the pipes are fixed.
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Old 04-18-2019, 11:41 AM
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A consultant borrows your watch and tells you the time.
And then refuses to give it back to you.
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Old 04-19-2019, 10:12 AM
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Successful business consulting firms recognize that there function is to provide justification for the conclusions that the people that hire them already have in mind. The trick is to make it non obvious that this is what is going on.
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Old 04-19-2019, 10:21 AM
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Successful business consulting firms recognize that there function is to provide justification for the conclusions that the people that hire them already have in mind. The trick is to make it non obvious that this is what is going on.
Yeah, in addition to the anecdote I posted upthread, I recall two specific cases where our report/recommendations were distinctly NOT what management wanted to hear. One of them took us seriously, the other fired us on the spot.
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Old 04-19-2019, 11:06 AM
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Well, I can see that I have genuinely perplexed everyone, so I am going to call this phenomenon, "Borrowing my Watch," until I get a better answer.

One person mentioned the 80-20 principle, so I am going to have to look for the 20 percent that know what they are doing.

I do not feel that this phenomenon should be called consulting. There are consultants that actually help people, and deserve their payment. The people that tell me what I already know - what I don't need anyone to tell me, definitely do not deserve any money for what they tell me.

Thanks for chiming in people.
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Old 04-19-2019, 11:16 AM
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The people that tell me what I already know - what I don't need anyone to tell me, definitely do not deserve any money for what they tell me.
But if you were already completely sure you knew how to deal with a situation, why go to someone else at all? If you are capable of reliably self-diagnosing your medical condition, computer problems, legal options, etc., why do you even bother going to experts? Confirming that what you supposedly "already know" is correct is a valuable service in itself.
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Old 04-19-2019, 11:29 AM
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... every professional has done this to me, doctors, lawyers, engineers, computer technicians, carpenters, plumbers...

Usually, I have to threaten them by with-holding payment before they start giving me useful advise or doing competent work
This is all a huge red flag. You should disclose this to any professional whom you might be considering consulting. If I were in that position, I would certainly want to know that about you before wasting my time and expertise to inform you of what you already "know."

I suspect that the reason you want a name for this universal behavior that is supposedly cheating you is so that you can say to them "Don't borrow my watch to tell me the time, give me some real information or I'm not paying you," thereby making your accusations more concrete and believable.

I also have to wonder why you're so coy about giving a concrete example. I suspect it's because you know you're being unreasonable.
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Old 04-19-2019, 11:35 AM
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I also have to wonder why you're so coy about giving a concrete example.
Indeed. I'll ask again: can we have one or two real-world examples? I mean, I've taken my kid to the doctor a few times, thinking she has a cold. Turns out, she has a cold. The doctor hasn't told me anything I didn't know. But they did confirm it's a cold, not something worse. And I've taken up their time. And they deserve to be paid for their expertise in confirming and their time. Is this the type of confirmation the OP is on about? Or is it something that truly is a con? It is difficult to ascertain without an example, and given that the OP seems to imply they're being ripped off left and right, I have a feeling we have a difference of opinion as to what is reasonable to charge for and what is not.
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Old 04-19-2019, 04:50 PM
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The other day I went to grocery store and picked up some apples. On the way out of the store the cashier tried to charge me for the apples, which I already had.
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Old 04-19-2019, 05:12 PM
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Likewise for carpenters. You simple ask for bids on a project. What consulting could they do?
Well, I'm guessing that many folks have no idea how a building is built or how to go about repairing, adding on, etc. So It would be totally appropriate to ask your carpenter for their opinion, or for your carpenter to ask you for more information, you might be surprised how much a carpenter can bring to the table.

As has been mentioned, a person giving advice for a fee will want to have some idea of what you know.

I do agree, to the extent that this may seem condescending or give the impression of superiority, then that can't help either party understand what an answer to a given situation might be.

I happen to be in the process of having an estate set up, My Attorney and I have spent some time just to get on the same page, for me, I didn't feel talked down to, I felt I was just spending some time learning a little of the various issues involved.

Respectfully yours, Zuer-coli
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Old 04-19-2019, 05:52 PM
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What do you call the phenomenon when a professional charges you a consultation fee, but then informs you of everything you already know, and talks to you as if you don't know anything.

There is a name for this...
I think I'll take a swing at the part " talks to you* as if you don't know anything." Well, how is the other person to know what you know? I will allow, as a former Plumber, in general I know more about Plumbing than most homeowners, but I can't possibly know what they know. Plumber speak is not necessarily all that comprehensible to non-plumbers. Most non-plumbers have very little knowledge of venting and as venting is integral to drainage, sometimes you do need to be able to explain venting in non-plumber speak.

If I'm saying something about plumbing that you already know or think you know, it's not at all condescending for me to probe, you may have an erroneous idea or two.

As for the issue of payment, much depends on the situation. If you ask for an estimate up front, I wouldn't expect to get paid unless I do the work. If on the other hand, you call me because you have a problem and I tell you what I think needs to be done, something that it's entirely possible that you also know, and you decide not to use my services, if I've told you there is a trip charge or a "first-hour charge" Use my services or no, I expect to get paid.

*you is used in the sense of a universal rather than an individual.

Respectfully yours, Zuer-coli

Last edited by zuer-coli; 04-19-2019 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 04-21-2019, 07:12 AM
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The term you are looking for is "Arrogance"

As in, *your* arrogance.

By hiring a consultant, you have explicitly told him that "I don't know about this thing, please inform me"
Then you bitch because he does **exactly** what you are hiring him to do?
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Old 04-21-2019, 11:53 AM
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I am looking for the name of a hustle.

And, every professional has done this to me, doctors, lawyers, engineers, computer technicians, carpenters, plumbers...

Usually, I have to threaten them by with-holding payment before they start giving me useful advise or doing competent work
Seems to me that if every professional from a vast slew of different professions has done this to you, there is one common denominator.

There's no con involved here. Your perception of what you are asking them to provide versus what they are expecting they are providing is at odds. I suggest that it is your expectations that need to be adjusted.

People want to be paid for work. Sometimes that work is "consultation", which is conversing about the topic to agree on what is known and what the problem is and what the approach for a solution is. Sometimes when consultants provide the answer, the client then decides to do the work themselves or take it to someone else to do. Thus the consultant wishes to be paid for consulting.
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Old 04-21-2019, 07:09 PM
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It's become plain to me that some of you, who are consultants, have done this to your clients before. And, you are trying to defend your behavior in this message thread.

I am not giving examples, because I am not disclosing situations that are personal, dealing with medical conditions, or the examples themselves could name someone - thereby being slanderous. I am not giving examples because I am being considerate of the individuals in question, much more than they would be considerate of me.

The question that I have posed has been answered, not adequately enough, but to the best of this message board's ability.

Thank you everyone for chiming in, and trying to help me.
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Old 04-21-2019, 07:51 PM
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It's become plain to me that some of you, who are consultants, have done this to your clients before. And, you are trying to defend your behavior in this message thread.

I am not giving examples, because I am not disclosing situations that are personal, dealing with medical conditions, or the examples themselves could name someone - thereby being slanderous. I am not giving examples because I am being considerate of the individuals in question, much more than they would be considerate of me.
You know you can give a general example and anonymize the details? Nobody is asking for names or locations.

But, anyway, it's clear what is going on here (and I am not, nor have ever functioned as a consultant.)

Last edited by pulykamell; 04-21-2019 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 04-21-2019, 08:00 PM
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You know you can give a general example and anonymize the details? Nobody is asking for names or locations.

But, anyway, it's clear what is going on here (and I am not, nor have ever functioned as a consultant.)
Ack, sorry. Forgot we're in GQ. That may have been a bit snarkier than necessary.
Anyhow, glad you got some answers.
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Old 04-21-2019, 09:13 PM
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The question that I have posed has been answered, not adequately enough, but to the best of this message board's ability.
Since the OP seems disinclined to provide enough information for anyone to give an informed answer, and since he regards the responses so far to be sufficient, I am going to close this. I don't think leaving it open will be productive.

Anyone else with specific questions or observations about consulting is welcome to open a thread in an appropriate forum. This one is closed.

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