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Undisclosed commission?!

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  • #61
    OP--I hope you let us know what happens. When the trainer represents seller and buyer there is a conflict of interest inherently; that's when I'd expect a trainer to be most up front. I agree you need to say something, and say you're willing to compensate her for her time, but that a commission wasn't discussed or expected and is not part of your budget. 20% in the PNW is bigger than most commissions that I've seen, most are 15%. I'd want to know what got paid on the other side.

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    • #62
      Regardless of what is and isn't industry norm, the trainer should make clear to her client what she expects to be paid BEFORE client pulls the trigger on the horse, so that client knows **going in** if this horse is going to cost $X, or $x + (0.1x).

      You can not just add a fee on in some arbitrary non-previously agreed amount at some arbitrary not-previously-agreed later date and expect the client to be your spontaneous ATM.
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      • #63
        Originally posted by mvp View Post

        That is a speculator's way of doing pricing. I get it, but I don't do it when helping clients buy.

        Instead, I charge a straight hourly fee. That way, I get paid no matter what for work I actually did. I try not to get into the business of finding the horses (that takes lots of time and it can seem to folks that it doesn't take real time). But I'll watch any videos they send me and give an opinion. If the horse is worth going to see, I charge for that. Lots of times, my clients have to see a lot of frogs before they appreciate and buy the eventual prince. I'm not betting on their finding the right horse (and/or not changing their mind or somehow buying without me in which case I get nothing... and maybe a horse I can't improve for them). Rather, I can accept whatever they end up buying or not because I already have been paid for actual work done.

        A few other reasons to do this rather than do commissions:

        1. I get paid whether the horse they buy is cheap or expensive. As often as not, I'm ahead if my client is clueless (and so will ask me to look at a lot of horses) and wants a cheap one.

        2. I get to start out on the right foot in terms of professionalism and transparency with clients: I explain how I do it, why I do it in this wildly unregulated industry (and I emphasize that the commission thing is a mess, so for future reference, they should know that they need to ask others about who pays commissions and what those cost; they can be a larger percentage for cheaper horses). I want my clients to appreciate my business-like way of going about things. I also emphasize that I have been in their shoes much longer than I have been in the trainer's shoes and I treat clients the way I want to be treated as a paying client.

        3. I like educating clients and I want to be paid for that. Buying a horse is a huge learning opportunity. I want to help clients with that learning, not buying the perfect horse per se. If we are doing it right, the horses we see get better and better, and the client gets better at weeding through videos before they ever have to pay me to come ride one with them. I want my clients to pay me for education only.... not contacts or whatever else, because, at the end of the day, education of horse and rider is the specific service I am selling them.

        4. I encourage them to attend the PPE. I do too, and I want to be paid for that. They need to know that the DVM has his form of expertise and I have mine. They need to pay for both. And, at the end of the day, it's their purchase, so they need to be substantively involved. They should see the flexions themselves, see the rads taken and bits of those pictures identified and discussed. They should be part of the substantive decision to take more views or not. Again, this process helps set the precedent for how I will work for them as their trainer, and it empowers them as the buck-stopper owner who, nevertheless, needs to pay for expertise that they don't have alone. But often they will see me ask the vet deeper questions than they would have thought to ask... and in those instances, they should realize why it was worth paying me to attend the PPE.

        I just hate reading about situations like this and it frustrates me to no end that professional horse trainers aren't professional business people. So I'm trying to be the change I want to see.
        The times I have worked with my trainer to buy a horse, this is what I did. I paid my trainer to review videos, to come and watch me ride, etc. However, my trainer and I worked this out up front. I think it's wrong for your trainer to send you a bill after the fact and without any discussion. I agree with MVP that you should offer to pay her for her time and be generous.

        BTW, one of my last horses was found for me by a friend who is in the business but who was not working for me (she actually breeds Western QH). She saw a horse (big Trakehener) and thought I'd like him. She was helping out the seller (long, complicated story), but for me it was serendipitous. I sent her a 5% finders fee. She never asked for one, but I wouldn't have found the horse without her.

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        • #64
          Originally posted by BeeHoney View Post
          ...
          The trainer also deserves a rebuke for failing to discuss commission at the time of the sale. As the professional in the relationship, it was her responsibility to disclose her fee. You can't spring surprise charges on people months after a transaction has taken place. Lastly, if the professional wants to charge both parties commissions, the amounts charged to each party MUST be disclosed to the other.
          ...

          FWIW, if the OP were not interested in continuing this professional relationship, I do not think this trainer would have any grounds to pursue this fee. Per the OP, the trainer did not have any price lists or any other disclosure of this fee. If this were indeed a "standard fee" it should have been listed in boarding contracts or price lists. The trainer's only leverage is that the OP wishes to continue working with her.
          All this. (The rest of the post, too, but these are the most relevant points, imo.

          Those commenting keep referring to the OP being in the position of having to take the hit and do the hardest work in order not to jeopardize the relationship with the trainer. And that any discussion with the trainer has to be walking-on-eggshells, in order to preserve the trainer's feelings and sustain such a relationship.

          I say that this is us ammy's putting far too much power over our own lives into the hands of a trainer/instructor of people and horses - once again. It is not warranted or necessary .

          The trainer is the one who is accountable, and who should step up and at least explain it, without creating a big drama, and without being asked. IMO it is amoral and unconscionable that this trainer just handed over a bill for a never-discussed commission, months after the fact , without a word to the customer. Who does that? Oh right - horse trainers do that, apparently without a qualm.

          It is the trainer that jeopardized this relationship, the trainer who should be taking on the burden of smoothing over the awkward moment, the trainer who should be proactively explaining the bill to the paying customer.

          It is the trainer who should be making the effort to keep this customer (or any customer) in her/his barn, by smoothing over and repairing the relationship. And by apologizing for whatever just happened with that bill.

          If the trainer finds this customer to be expendable and not worth keeping, not worth an explanation, not worth a proper introduction to the expected costs of the transaction, then it is the trainer who is not worth working with any longer. Such a trainer is likely falling just as short in other areas of service as well.

          OP, I am all for a reasonably polite and respectful tone in your discussion with the trainer. But please don't go into it as a supplicant, a kid imploring an adult to do better. I hope your tone is that of the one who is paying for a service and expecting a professionalism that didn't quite get there this time. Who expects that the trainer will always treat her with respect (that very late bill with no comment is not respectful).

          For some reason we the paying horse-sport customers have woefully sub-par expectations of the professionals, and that makes us all too often the creators of our own problems. There is only one way to change that, and that is to change ourselves, by treating hose professionals more like professionals, and expecting professional behavior from them. Many people sink to the lowest level that is tolerated.This industry will not change many woeful common practices until we paying customers raise our expectations, considerably. The pros won't start that change because they see no reason to do so. The change has to come from us.

          [takes waving fist out of the air and steps down off soapbox]

          Comment


          • #65
            Originally posted by Bogie View Post
            BTW, one of my last horses was found for me by a friend who is in the business but who was not working for me (she actually breeds Western QH). She saw a horse (big Trakehener) and thought I'd like him. She was helping out the seller (long, complicated story), but for me it was serendipitous. I sent her a 5% finders fee. She never asked for one, but I wouldn't have found the horse without her.
            I have done that as well. When I bought my first OTTB someone who knew me actually led me to the horse. I offered to pay her a commission and she said "Did you pay full price? If so, I'll go to the seller to get it." This was for a $1500 horse in California in the 1990s. Maybe the industry wasn't the scammy thing it is now, or maybe she was just very fair-minded and honest. It certainly was harder to find horses and also to share videos and photos of them back then; you really needed to have an agent or word-of-mouth, especially if you were buying cheap project horses or going to the track.
            The armchair saddler
            Politically Pro-Cat

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            • #66
              Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post

              All this. (The rest of the post, too, but these are the most relevant points, imo.

              Those commenting keep referring to the OP being in the position of having to take the hit and do the hardest work in order not to jeopardize the relationship with the trainer. And that any discussion with the trainer has to be walking-on-eggshells, in order to preserve the trainer's feelings and sustain such a relationship.

              I say that this is us ammy's putting far too much power over our own lives into the hands of a trainer/instructor of people and horses - once again. It is not warranted or necessary .

              The trainer is the one who is accountable, and who should step up and at least explain it, without creating a big drama, and without being asked. IMO it is amoral and unconscionable that this trainer just handed over a bill for a never-discussed commission, months after the fact , without a word to the customer. Who does that? Oh right - horse trainers do that, apparently without a qualm.

              It is the trainer that jeopardized this relationship, the trainer who should be taking on the burden of smoothing over the awkward moment, the trainer who should be proactively explaining the bill to the paying customer.

              It is the trainer who should be making the effort to keep this customer (or any customer) in her/his barn, by smoothing over and repairing the relationship. And by apologizing for whatever just happened with that bill.

              If the trainer finds this customer to be expendable and not worth keeping, not worth an explanation, not worth a proper introduction to the expected costs of the transaction, then it is the trainer who is not worth working with any longer. Such a trainer is likely falling just as short in other areas of service as well.

              OP, I am all for a reasonably polite and respectful tone in your discussion with the trainer. But please don't go into it as a supplicant, a kid imploring an adult to do better. I hope your tone is that of the one who is paying for a service and expecting a professionalism that didn't quite get there this time. Who expects that the trainer will always treat her with respect (that very late bill with no comment is not respectful).

              For some reason we the paying horse-sport customers have woefully sub-par expectations of the professionals, and that makes us all too often the creators of our own problems. There is only one way to change that, and that is to change ourselves, by treating hose professionals more like professionals, and expecting professional behavior from them. Many people sink to the lowest level that is tolerated.This industry will not change many woeful common practices until we paying customers raise our expectations, considerably. The pros won't start that change because they see no reason to do so. The change has to come from us.

              [takes waving fist out of the air and steps down off soapbox]
              This is absolutely how it should be and we should insist upon on it. I do not get why preserving a relationship with a trainer is the client’s responsibility only. I do know if you question the commission OP, the relationship will be tarnished. I have never seen these conversations ever go well. Anytime you question a bill for whatever reason, the trainer will get defensive, at least that is what I have seen and experienced.

              Comment


              • #67
                Originally posted by PonyPenny View Post

                This is absolutely how it should be and we should insist upon on it. I do not get why preserving a relationship with a trainer is the client’s responsibility only. I do know if you question the commission OP, the relationship will be tarnished. I have never seen these conversations ever go well. Anytime you question a bill for whatever reason, the trainer will get defensive, at least that is what I have seen and experienced.
                Then the relationship was never worth keeping intact.

                It is true, IME, that the first sign of disregard for a client's time, money or brain will have others that follow. Whenever I have parted ways with a trainer, there were earlier versions of the same basic lack of respect that I had tolerated. And being tolerant of that stuff-- putting up with lack of professionalism in pursuit of the great horse training--was my part in creating the problem.
                The armchair saddler
                Politically Pro-Cat

                Comment


                • #68
                  Seems to me that since the Barn Owner was involved with the transaction and since the trainer seems to work for the barn owner in some sense, I'd take my questions directly to the barn owner and live with whatever BO suggests if you are happy with the situation otherwise.

                  If I were a Barn Owner who was involved in the transaction and my trainer came in several months later and demanded a commission directly from the client, I'd be pissed unless I had pre-approved it.

                  I'd go to the barn owner first, myself.
                  Last edited by vineyridge; Sep. 12, 2018, 10:57 AM.
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                  • #69
                    Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post

                    All this. (The rest of the post, too, but these are the most relevant points, imo.

                    Those commenting keep referring to the OP being in the position of having to take the hit and do the hardest work in order not to jeopardize the relationship with the trainer. And that any discussion with the trainer has to be walking-on-eggshells, in order to preserve the trainer's feelings and sustain such a relationship.

                    I say that this is us ammy's putting far too much power over our own lives into the hands of a trainer/instructor of people and horses - once again. It is not warranted or necessary .

                    The trainer is the one who is accountable, and who should step up and at least explain it, without creating a big drama, and without being asked. IMO it is amoral and unconscionable that this trainer just handed over a bill for a never-discussed commission, months after the fact , without a word to the customer. Who does that? Oh right - horse trainers do that, apparently without a qualm.

                    It is the trainer that jeopardized this relationship, the trainer who should be taking on the burden of smoothing over the awkward moment, the trainer who should be proactively explaining the bill to the paying customer.

                    It is the trainer who should be making the effort to keep this customer (or any customer) in her/his barn, by smoothing over and repairing the relationship. And by apologizing for whatever just happened with that bill.

                    If the trainer finds this customer to be expendable and not worth keeping, not worth an explanation, not worth a proper introduction to the expected costs of the transaction, then it is the trainer who is not worth working with any longer. Such a trainer is likely falling just as short in other areas of service as well.

                    OP, I am all for a reasonably polite and respectful tone in your discussion with the trainer. But please don't go into it as a supplicant, a kid imploring an adult to do better. I hope your tone is that of the one who is paying for a service and expecting a professionalism that didn't quite get there this time. Who expects that the trainer will always treat her with respect (that very late bill with no comment is not respectful).

                    For some reason we the paying horse-sport customers have woefully sub-par expectations of the professionals, and that makes us all too often the creators of our own problems. There is only one way to change that, and that is to change ourselves, by treating hose professionals more like professionals, and expecting professional behavior from them. Many people sink to the lowest level that is tolerated.This industry will not change many woeful common practices until we paying customers raise our expectations, considerably. The pros won't start that change because they see no reason to do so. The change has to come from us.

                    [takes waving fist out of the air and steps down off soapbox]
                    OMG best post ever!! OP please read, re-read and then read again this post.
                    [QUOTE] Originally posted by Vineyridge. Seems to me that since the Barn Owner was involved with the transaction and since the trainer seems to work for the barn owner in some sense, I'd take my questions directly to the barn owner and live with whatever BO suggests if you are happy with the situation otherwise.

                    If I were a Barn Owner who was involved in the transaction and my trainer came in several months later and demanded a commission directly from the client, I'd be pissed unless I had pre-approved it.[/QUOTE]

                    Depends on what the arrangement between the trainer and the BO is whether or not BO should be brought in.BO apparently drew up the bill of sale but did BO sign anywhere on the agreement? Apparently there is nothing in the boarding contract stating that BO or resident trainer is due any sort of commission or finder's fee for a new boarder whether or not horse was currently boarded there or not.

                    I do agree that OP should have a discussion with BO about the trainer's lack of business acumen. 10% of mid 5-fig horse is not insignificant nor should be an oversight- we're talking $5,000+ whoopsie here' s my bill. That's ridiculous. If the trainer elects to take OP to court over the commission the onus is on trainer to prove there was an agreement to pay commission, if they can't provide that to the OP they can't provide to a court.

                    I don't know, maybe the OP should find out what barn the seller went to and go there.

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Have the conversation. Years ago, we acted as an agent for a client who bought a horse through our connections. Client stayed with us, we showed multiple horses to client and trainer, drove them around, etc. Said client understood commission was going to be paid but just assumed buyer commission was included in the sales price of the horse. It wasn't. When we wrote up sales contract, we had a line item for our commission. Client came back, we had a frank discussion and I appreciated the honesty and wasn't upset and learned it had to be spelled out more clearly HOW commission was to be paid. We split the difference and we got 5% instead of 10. We really didn't make any money on the deal when all was said and done but that's okay. I learned a lesson, client appreciated we were willing to work to resolve the situation and everything ended up fine. And client wound up selling the horse and making a very nice ROI so alls well that ends well.

                      Long story short - sometimes people just assume you know the rules. Trainer was wrong to assume you understood there was a commission to be paid. 10% would absolutely be standard. I'd talk with her and see if you can come to a mutually acceptable agreement.
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