Until recently I hadn’t really worried about this situation. About a year ago I was talking with another consultant in my business and the subject meandered into ethical questions. While this other fellow was summing up a general outline of his professional code of ethics, he made the statement, “…and I charge everybody the same rate.”
Well, I don’t charge everybody the same rate and I hadn’t really thought of myself as facing an ethical quandary. Now I’ve come to realize there is some debate in fields related to mine on this subject.
I’ve gathered that the guts of the argument for an unvarying rate is that you’re possibly perceived as taking advantage of someone if you charge them a higher rate for the same kind of work. Contracts and the type and amount of work they entail vary and differences in compensation on that score are quantifiable. The grey area arises from the differences between clients. Whereas there are people who seem to interpret charging different clients differently as taking advantage of some, my perspective had been that of trying to help out some who are less able to pay or reward those who provide regular work or don’t make me wait 90-180 days to get paid.
Anyway, long preamble I realize; question:
Is it somehow unethical to charge different clients at different rates for the same type of work? Why?