[geeks] What do you get paid for wearing a pager?
Charles Shannon Hendrix
shannon at widomaker.com
Mon Sep 25 10:09:47 CDT 2006
Sun, 24 Sep 2006 @ 21:47 -0400, Patrick Giagnocavo said:
> I have a client that wants to pay me a retainer fee for wearing a pager
> from 7AM to 7PM, Monday thru Friday.
> Then they want to pay an hourly rate for any work I do for them (usual
> sysadmin stuff, plus of course fixing whatever the problem was that
> they actually page me for).
> Kicker: I need to respond within 15 minutes of a page.
> I have done lots of sysadmin work, but really do not quite understand
> how to price the "wear pager and respond in 15 minutes" work.
> What are *your* experiences or ideas?
This sounds like a little bundle of underpaid hell to me.
Pager duty is a way for companies to have the benefit of a full time
staffer, but without having to pay as much for it. Think about that
before doing it, and before agreeing to a rate. They are already
saving money because you aren't on staff.
Pager duty puts severe restrictions on your life. It limits where you
can go because of low signal and of course there are places that forbid
You also can't get started on anything where stopping will take longer
than your response window. That covers a hell of a lot more things than
you might think at first.
On that note, 15 minute response is pretty steep. That's hard to manage
sometimes even if you are in the shop itself. You really want to be
held to that? There are a lot of things you cannot do if you limit
yourself to activities that are easy to stop.
Think $200 of groceries 20 minutes from checkout, a walk on a beach out
of cell phone range, setting up a tripod and camera 45 minutes from your
car or a working phone, etc. There are a lot more things that strain
that limit than you think.
Did the client say how often they would call you? Whatever they said,
assume they are lying, because there is a 99.9% chance they are, even if
they don't know it.
The last time I was on-call, I was told it would only be if *my
software* failed. I was called 7 times for printer failures in
completely different divisions, and once for a server in a different
company that they were partnered with. The idiots put my number on a
global tech support list. They also bitched at me for taking more than a
half hour to respond, even though the agreement was 3 hours.
Assume that they *WILL* abuse this.
The irony is that if you ask for enough money to make it all worthwile,
then they'll feel like they have to call you all the time since they
are paying so much.
It's really hard to make pager duty worthwhile. It requires rules and a
client that will follow them, and one that is honest and gives a damn
about its workers, and one smart enough to know what a real emergency
I'm not saying don't do it, but certainly 15 minutes is too small a
window, and you need to be extremely strict with your rules and make
them sign an agreement about it.
Even if you get a really nice client to work with, you might end up
shannon "AT" widomaker.com -- ["Trouble rather the tiger in his lair than
the sage amongst his books For to you kingdoms and their armies are mighty
and enduring, but to him they are but toys of the moment to be overturned
by the flicking of a finger." - anonymous ]
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