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When using a Chainlink oracle node that you don't have a formal commercial agreement with, the user pays the node operator in Link tokens, but the node operator bears the cost of transacting on the blockchain in Ethereum (gas).

This means that if an agreement does not exist, node operators must either price at the upper bound of expected costs (i.e. O(gas cost) × O(LINKETH)) to avoid losing money, which means users pay much more than the actual transaction cost; or at a price closer to average, but risk losing money when gas prices are high.

Is there a mechanism whereby contract developers who wish to make use of a Chainlink node can do so at a fair price (i.e. one reflecting the true transaction gas cost), but without needing a commercial agreement with the node operator (i.e. trustlessly)?

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There is not an in-built mechanism within Chainlink to do this at the moment. It is up to the node operators to set up a price they deem fair and change that price if it is no longer fair.

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