Why web developers charge for small website changes

Question for the web developers in the group and others who have a lot of dealings with web developers:
There is some text on our home page which is not editable in the CMS. I want to make a very minor edit to this text (like, reaally minor – switching round a couple of words and amending the capitalisation). I sent this request as a support ticket to our developer and got back an e-mail from the account executive saying that this is a development job and that they cannot do it without a minimum charge of £65+VAT charge.
This is literally changing a couple of words – I’ve carried out the task myself in Chrome developer tools just to check if there is something I’m missing and can confirm that no code or extra tags are needed. I cannot fathom how the developer can argue that any kind of charge beyond what we pay for annual service is justified. I’ve requested similar tasks with multiple other developers in the past and they’ve been done with absolutely no fuss.
So my question is, do you think it is reasonable to argue that this is a development job, or am I right to see this as really poor customer service?
Agree on the relationship comment – they may be making the point that they’d prefer to have a retainer arrangement by making these ad hoc changes pricey. It probably is a bit of time to do, depending on how the code is managed, tested and deployed in their hosting environment.
Depends how minor and how easy it is for developer to do. I think we can all hope that our web agency would be kind enough to make minor tweaks for us but at the end of the day their time costs money (no matter how little of it you take up) and it sounds like they’re just charging you for an hour of their time (at a very very reasonable price for one hour!). It’s definitely a tricky one to judge, but good learning for the future to take back some control of how much you can edit.
Depends on the nature of your relationship with them and how much work you give them generally. Bear in mind they’re incurring costs for dev time, project management and invoicing, (plus contingency for chasing an invoice that doesn’t get paid).
So while I agree it seems ott (especially as you have a maintenance contract with them) when you consider it’s not just the edit, but also the infrastructure around making the edit, £65 ain’t a lot…

Just from a technical perspective, this might look like a simple change but the process may involve a number of steps. If the text is written into the code (we call it “hard coded”) then the code needs updating. The code is probably “version controlled” (revisioned) to keep it safe. If the code has not been touched for a while then someone may need to start by downloading a copy of it. They then need to make the change and test it to make sure they changed the right thing. Then “commit” the change (save a new version of the code with your change in it) and re-upload it to where the code is stored. They may then need to “deploy” the change using some process to send it to the hosting server and check/test again once it’s there.

There may be other steps too.
This probably sounds like a convoluted process, and for a change like this it is. But this process is intended to keep your site safe during bigger changes. It’s just unfortunate that the same process baggage also applies to the tiny change you are requesting. It’s for the greater good.
Think of it like camping: there’s a certain set of things you need to take on a camping trip regardless of how long you’re going for. So you’ll fill your car up even for an overnight stay. And you don’t add much to it if you’re staying for a whole week. There’s a baseline of activity for making a change that applies regardless of the size of the change.
Or think of it like a call out charge for a plumber: he may only spend 5 minutes replacing a push-fit joint, but he took your call, drove to your house, invoiced you, and so on.
And, as others have said:
– you might have interrupted the-engineer’s work on something else and it takes time to switch context and back again
– they had to log time and handle the ticket
– someone will need to invoice you and possibly chase payment (thought I’m sure this is not the case with you! ") and process the receipt of payment
Minimum charges are also used to limit small changes. It’s a form of supply and demand control.
Consider if you wanted ten small changes like this and you requested them separately. This is quite painful and time consuming for the agency. (Aside: bundling this change up with other changes may make it cost less – see the camping analogy!)
So in putting a minimum price on it they may be filtering requests to things you will actually get value from.
They might want you to be asking: do I really want to do this? Is it really worth £65? Or can we do without it?
So if you asked for ten things and the minimum £65 charges started adding up, you may only decide to do the five most important ones.
BUT…Having said all of that!!…it does seem a bit mean spirited if this is a rare, one-off, and simple request. My long ramble is an attempt to explain it, not defend it in this case.
As a thought: it may not cost much more to change the site to make this text editable. If they’re going in and making the text change anyway, can they do that? Will it cost a little more now but save you the cost next time?
I hope this helped!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *