The Indian psyche never ceases to amaze me. And I am literally talking about the “psyche”, as my recent experiences are very relevant to my work and private practice. As with any regular sessions and appointments that a professional conducts in his/her practice, he or she usually bills the client on an hourly basis. And so it is with me. I like to keep things, especially when related to money, simple, clean, and transparent. And so I like to charge, by the hour, and I am always upfront about my hourly fees.
In the last few years of private practice in Mumbai, I have come across a variety of people, as you can imagine. Most of my clients are decent people, who pay in a timely manner, who are punctual and conscientious about time, and who are respectful of the administrative aspects of the therapeutic process. But once in a while, you get the odd one, here and there, who tend to make peculiar demands on how I should charge them.
I have had a few instances where a client has asked me for a “package price” for our hourly sessions. I don’t know about others, but I have never experienced this kind of question in any other part of the world I have lived. Yes, I am aware of the “sliding scale” concept and happily apply it to some of my clients who cannot afford therapy. But never have I come across a client who has asked for a package deal. Is it just me or the Indian mentality?
Clients who ask for “packages” want to have a number of particular sessions, at a particular price, so that they can lock in their therapy sessions at a particular rate. I think it’s rather bizarre and a little uncivilized. What shocks me the most, is that these demands are being made by well-to-do clients, who do have the money and luxury to pay for therapy. Perhaps, it is the Indian mentality that is always seeking more for less, and I have seen this attitude across all spheres of life in India and with most Indians.
Initially, I used to completely refrain from yielding to this “package deal” policy. But it is becoming more apparent to me that it is the done thing in Mumbai. I am slowly beginning to come around and make some adjustments in my desire and abilities to negotiate these packages. I guess, when in Rome, do as the Romans do?
But the most bizarre client experience was today. I had a couple come in for therapy, hailing from the upper crust of society. Our sessions are usually an hour long, but today it went over 30 minutes. When I told them the final amount, the wife insisted on not paying for the extra 30 minutes, claiming that they come often to me and I can ignore the extra amount. I was stunned, but played cool, and decided to let it slip, this time. In all fairness, in this week alone, I saw the husband twice and the wife once, and the both as a couple. So they did shell out a lot of dough, in this week alone. But still! The gall of just demanding and blatantly expecting that I should ignore the last 30 minutes of my hard work, really took me by surprise!
I realize that I will see a lot more of such clients in my practice, and can chose to get upset and frustrated by them. But instead, I am grateful that I only have a few of such clients, and that the rest of my clients are mindful of my work, my dedication to them, and it is because of them that I especially love what I do.