You get what you give me

We do a lot of legal copy work here.  What that means is we get those clunky Bankers Boxes filled with all sorts of shitty files that a lawyer needs copies of. Usually it is part of some Discovery and they have to make 1 or 2 copies for opposing lawyers. The deal we have is that we will make EXACT copies of everything in the box.  If one file folder has a post it note on it and inside has 10 sheets stapled with a check stub stapled to that, we take it all apart, make a copy, and put both the original and the copy back together just like it was.  So I copy what you give me.  This gets pretty tedious when the box contains tons of stapled packets, each with about 3 sheets, and a single loose sheet spread out between them just enough to not allow me to get into a rhythm while making the copies.

This service is also expensive.  If you come to me for plain black copies, you would pay $.10 for 1 copy or get as low as $.04 if you are doing over 1000.  These boxes typically contain 3000+ sheets, but they don’t get that rock bottom price.  There is tons of work involved with these jobs making sure everything is exact and in the right order.  And removing and re-stapling everything takes time.  So we bill $.07 per copy plus $35 per hour.  Nice work if we aren’t too slammed.

New law firm comes to us, recommended by one of our current customers.  I go thru our policy of where we copy everything exactly how they give it to us, including file folders and post-it notes, so if there is anything they do not want copied they have to be very clear about it.  We even have a form saying all this that they need to sign before we work on the box.  They say they understand, sign the form and deliver a box to our office for me to copy.

I open the box and it seems pretty typical of what I usually get.  A few larger sections with no staples that I can just drop in and let run,a lot of smaller stapled sections and 2 file folders filled with packets that contain a bill and a check stub stapled together.  Those will take the most time.  As I am running thru the box I notice that some of the originals have printing on the back side.  You don’t often get that in these type of boxes but since they usually contain records from the people in the lawsuit you never know.  So I always check before copying each set.  Now I should point out that I don’t read these things.  I glance at the top page for a reference name on the invoice but after that I don’t read this stuff.  So here I am copying these forms, some two sided, some single sided.  They end up with about 4500 copies being billed to them which is a little more than most but that was because of the double sided sheets.  I call the customer who comes and picks it up and pays.

Next day I get a call from the law firm wanting me to recopy a bunch of the forms and to refund them some money.  I am perplexed and ask them why. It seems that this law firm, in an effort to ‘save money’ decided to reuse forms from old cases inside their office for fax cover sheets and stuff.  These fax cover sheets and stuff ended up in this box, so on many of the things I was copying, the second side that I saw was actually a sheet from some other case they had worked on because they were reusing the backside of the paper.

Now the tricky part was not that I was worried about this new customer.  If they were going to be like this then I am not sure I want to deal with them.  I gave them very clear instructions that I copy EVERYTHING unless told otherwise.  I was not told otherwise.  I was more worried about the referring company being mad since they do a lot of work with us.  But I bit the bullet and stood firm.  I politely reminded them that 1) I don’t read their items so I have no idea what is or is not supposed to be on the back 2) I gave them very clear instructions which they told me they understood, and 3) they signed the form.  I would be happy to rerun the sections for them, and charge them for it, although I would forgo the hourly charge this one time.  The puzzled look on the face of the lawyer was fun to watch, as I think he expected me to just comply with his demands.  He blustered for a moment, saying how I ‘should have known that what was on the back wasn’t related to the case at hand’, but then I reminded him that I don’t read this stuff so there is no way for me to know unless he told me so on the form.  Which he didn’t.

We reran the sections as well as charged the customer. And they called us back the next week to run another box for them, this time telling me that all backsides were garbage and to not worry about it.  And the referring company laughed when I told them what happened and said to not worry about it.

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