Begging for refactoring time

"Begging for refactoring time" is a common developer-PO trope driven by the fuzzy nature of technical debt.

While features that customers offer money for and bugfixes that lose money have a very obvious return on investment, the return on fixing technical debt is obvious mainly just to the developer, who won't be able to quantify it.

As a result of this lack of clarity of ROI, important bugs and features will typically be ranked far above important refactoring. In many cases no refactoring work will be scheduled at all until the developer starts begging.