Just this morning I was talking on the phone to a client called Harry Porter. He's an older guy and is generally known in the office as Harry Potter, much to the delight of Teresa's children.
"I don't understand why my income is so high," said Harry. "My tax is so much higher this year. Did I really earn that much?"
I looked at my working papers file.
His invoices all added up to the total sum I had put in his accounts, and nothing had come back from Henry when he reviewed the file.
"I think you did, Harry," I told him.
"Are you certain, Alice? Look, I'm not telling you how to do your job, but I'm sure my sales didn't go up that much. Can I ask you to look again?"
He said that very politely so it didn't annoy me - much.
I looked again at the sales invoices list. The figure in the net column was indeed much lower than Harry's total sales.
Then I saw it. I had started with the gross figure and instead of taking the VAT off, I had added it on. Poor Harry, no wonder his income had looked huge.
"I'm really sorry, Harry, I've been an idiot," I told him. "Your income wasn't that high. I will send you the revised figures."
"Thank you, Alice, I appreciate you looking. And will you make sure Henry doesn't charge me for the time you spend correcting it? A year or two ago, my tax return had to be re-done by Teresa and I got a bill for her time. I had to ring up to get Henry to agree that wasn't fair."
I have nothing to do with the billing but I agree with Harry.
"I'll flag that to Henry for you," I promise him. "And I'm really sorry again about the mistake, Harry."
"Please don't worry, Alice, we all make mistakes."
I say goodbye and put down the phone, feeling guilty. Poor old Harry. A stupid mistake nearly got him a huge tax bill.
I really hope Henry doesn't charge him for my extra time to put the error right. When I do my timesheet for today I will put a note that I am correcting a mistake that I made. Hopefully that will keep it off Harry's bill.
For those readers who've asked if this blog is fact or fiction: All names and some details have been changed, and some characters are composite, but all the stories are from real life.