/ '| From the Desk ()_________)
\ '/ \ ~~~~~~~ \
\ of \ ~~~~~~
(__) Dennis S. Wish PE
Dear SEAINT Listservice,
Not good enough Mark. First of all, we are not an association suggesting that
we restrict fees - only that we understand the value of our services and what
are goals or aim should be. This does not restrain other engineers from
underbidding or providing more services for the dollar.
You are making a wrong interpretation of the intention of the suit. No
organization can restrict an engineer for advertising his practice. This was
considered unethical years ago as even doctors and lawyers were not allowed
to advertise. This has, obviously, been removed from the cannons and has
become a common practice by all trades.
As with the fair trade laws - no professional organization can set a range of
fees for services and require their members to abide by it. This will
restrain trade by forcing those who abide by the fee to lose work to those
who underbid. The big questions in this case is who filed suit? Was the suit
filed by an engineer who believed that he could charge whatever he felt was
fair, or by another group who believed that he could not find competitive
pricing due to the professional organizations strict requirments?
This does not prevent any group of independents from discussing a reasonable
range of fees for services performed. My question was not to fix a fee
schedule, but to assert my right to sell my services within a range of fee's
close to my competition and hope that the lowest bidder will realize that he,
too can earn more for his services. This still allows for fair competition
but within a more limited range.
In a message dated 6/2/99 8:18:59 PM Pacific Daylight Time, oakfordm(--nospam--at)RSEC.com
<< FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 15, 1989
FTC CHARGES NORTHERN CALIFORNIA STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS
WITH RESTRICTING COMPETITION;
CONSENT AGREEMENT SETTLES CHARGES
The Federal Trade Commission has charged that the Structural
Engineers Association of Northern California, Inc. (SEAONC)
illegally restrained competition among structural engineers in
Northern California. Under a consent agreement announced today
for public comment, SEAONC agreed not to restrict its members
from soliciting business by truthful advertising; engaging in
price competition; and providing services to clients of other
SEAONC is a voluntary professional association of approx-
imately 1,000 structural engineers who comprise over 70% of the
Northern California licensed structural engineers and civil
engineers who perform structural engineering.
According to a complaint accompanying the consent agreement,
SEAONC had enacted canons of ethics that:
-- prohibited its members from self-laudatory advertising;
-- required its members to charge "appropriate and ade-
quate" fees for their work; and
-- prohibited its members from providing services to the
clients of other engineers.
All of these actions, the complaint said, restrained compe-
tition unreasonably and injured consumers.
SEAONC's principal business office is located in San Fran-
cisco, Calif. The investigation was handled by the FTC's San
Francisco Regional Office.
The consent agreement is scheduled to appear in the Federal
Register August 16. It will be subject to public comment for 60
days, until October 16, after which the Commission will decide
whether to make it final.
Comments should be addressed to the Office of the Secretary,
FTC, 6th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does
not constitute admission of a law violation. When the Commission
issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of
law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an
order may result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
Copies of the consent agreement, the complaint, and an
analysis of the agreement are available from the FTC's Public
Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY 202-326-2502.
# # #
MEDIA CONTACT: Susan Ticknor, Office of Public Affairs,
STAFF CONTACT: Jeffrey Klurfeld, San Francisco Regional
(FTC File No. 881 0081)
How's this for a good reason not to discuss fees - Federal and State Law do
not allow it. Visit the Federal Trade Commission Web Site at WWW.FTC.gov
Mark Oakford, P.E., oakfordm(--nospam--at)RSEC.com
RSE Consulting, Federal Way, WA 98093-1417
T 253-927-6169 F 253-838-3823
Dennis S. Wish PE
Structural Engineering Consultant