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    [RC] How much is a good crew worth? - Ridecamp Guest

    K S SWIGART katswi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Miranda asked:
    >>People lately have been asking me how much I charge, and since I usually feel
    uncomfortable taking money from riders for doing something that I currently enjoy. But
    things do become expensive, driving out to various rides, and food, things like that.
    So, I ask, how much is a good crew worth?<<
    And Terry answered:
    >> I told her that I felt that the rider should incur all her  out of pocket
    expenses such as gas to get there, food, and a place to stay (if not staying
    in the rider's rig), and time away from home as well as level of
    responsibility and work.  I told her that in the case of Tevis for the week
    end it should probably be all her expenses, plus some money (probably $150
    to $200).
    The question is:
    what do you think is reasonable to pay for crew when it is strictly a job,
    and not for love or sex?<<
    For me a real important aspect of this question, and the answer is, are you engaging in crewing as a hobbyist or as a professional?
    If I  were doing it because I love it (even love doing it for people who are neither friends nor relations), then I am a hobbyist, and letting them cover my expenses and feed me, so that I can get there because they appreciate the help that I am giving them is about as much as I would be willing to take, and depending on how much fun I expected to have and how much I could afford to spend on my hobby, I would be willing to get myself there and feed myself if they weren't.
    On the other hand, if I were to charge for my services, then I would become a professional crew person.  I would have a contractual obligation to provide services to my employer.  I would no longer be having fun helping out at a sport that I love but would be engaged in a business enterprise.  And from a purely microeconomic theory standpoint the way that I should price would be to figure out all of my expenses (including being fairly compensated for my labor) and charge that.  However, in respect to another microeconomic pricing theory, the way that I should price is to charge "what the market will bear." (Which is the question Miranda was asking.)  However, there is no real market  (at least not one to which you could provide conventional supply/demand theory), one of the major reasons being that there are too many "hobbyists" in the activity.  I.e. The monetary compensation is not the only type of compensation being offered.  Some people are actually willing to incur expenses for what they consider the reward of the fun of getting to go.  And these people who, monetarily speaking, are willing to do it "for nothing" may or may not be any less competent than those who are professionals.
    So, if I were wanting to engage in the profession of crewing for endurance riders (especially since I enjoy it and am getting that kind of compensation no matter what other compensation I am offered), the way that I would price would be to tell the person who wanted to hire me, "Whatever you think is fair."  And I would mean it.  Let them offer me something and decide if it is worth my effort to take it.
    However, were I to go the be a professional crew route (being a professional horse trainer and riding instructor myself I understand these things somewhat), I would engage in it professionally.  Whether I am aware of it or not, if I undertake to hire myself out as a professional crew person, I now have a contractual obligation to the person who hired me AND (this is not insignificant) I have significant professional liability...and if I am smart (which I am) I will have professional liability insurance (which I do).
    And be aware, that it isn't just the person that I am professionally crewing for that I have a professional liability to.  If I am on a multi-day ride and I am taking care of a horse that isn't being ridden, and that horse gets loose and causes injury to some third party, I am professionally liable for that injury and nothing other than professional liability insurance will cover me...unless I lie and deny that I received monetary compensation for my work (in which case I would also be guilty of insurance fraud).  If I am driving somebody else's rig and taking money for doing so, then I am a commercial driver and to be strictly legal (but it may vary from state to state) I should have a commercial driver's license for it and....ummmm...the owner's truck insurance may not cover me in the event of an accident...and it may not cover their truck either (but this I am not sure of).
    Yes, I can lie and say that I was not engaged in it as a professional, that I was just helping out a friend, that no money changed hands and that I had no contractual obligations.  And the person who hired me may be willing to back me up in my lie (and they might if it meant that it was the only way to get their truck and trailer covered as their RV).  However, if it were to come down to "who gets sued, the owner of the horse or the professional that was hired to professionally handle it?" The horse owners may not be so eager to back me up in my lie.  And most people would not be so eager to lie were they required to do so under oath in court and, if found out, be guilty of perjury and insurance fraud.
    So, if I want to engage in crewing as a hobbyist, I would not "charge" anything, but would be willing to let them help me out by paying for my gas, accommodating me in their trailer and feeding me.  If I wanted to engage in it as a professional, then I would make damn sure that I had professional liablity insurance (and I would be scrupulously honest with the person I buy the insurance from about exactly the extent of my professional responsiblities, because if I am not, then the insurance is worthless, no matter how much I paid in premiums).  At which time the cost of the insurance becomes one of my expenses that I ought to be compensated for in determining my pricing.
    And if I were going to hire a professional crew person, I would also require that that person had such insurance.
    Personal liablity and professional liability are two completely different civil matters.  For me, my personal liability insurance and my professional liablity insurance for horse related incidents come from the same insurance company....just so that there isn't a pissing contest between the insurance companies about just what capacity I was acting in when an incident occured.
    And...if it matters...becoming a professional crew person would revoke my amateur status with most competitive horse organizations that make the distinction.
    Making the switch over from hobbyist to professional is not a decision to be taken without careful consideration to all the ramifications.  Pricing, while relevant, is not the only one.  And make no mistake, once you start charging people, in the eyes of the law (and just about everybody else who will have something to say about it if something goes wrong) you are a professional.
    Orange County, Calif.
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