Overcharging to tighten nut?

by Readers Question

9:23 AM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Overcharging to tighten nut?

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Overcharging to tighten nut?

I asked a plumber I have used before to check a leaking radiator at my tenants house as soon as he could. Four days later he turned up, tightened the valve connection and left, 2 minutes maximum my tenant tells me. nut

I have now received his invoice for £90 to “tighten a nut”. Should I swallow this charge, send him £50 and tell him to sue me for the rest or any other advice?

Seems extortionate to me.

Martin



Comments

Jon Pipllman

9:44 AM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

You should pay the bill in full and proceed with more rigour in the way you engage tradespeople in future

E.g. you could have asked him to call you with an estimate once he had arrived at the property and made an assessment of the situation; you could have agreed to pay if the work was going to be <£50 or have him call you if it was going to be more; you could have had him make the job more of a priority so it got done quicker if that was important to you

David Price

10:26 AM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Pay the bill and then give him a poor rating on one of the internet sites for overcharging. Never employ him again, and tell him that he has done the last job for you..
This highlights a hidden cost to landlords; as an owner occupier I would have tightened the nut myself, a tenant has no incentive to do so, hence a landlords bill of £90.

Luke P

10:28 AM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jon Pipllman" at "27/09/2016 - 09:44":

Whilst Jon's response is more salient and 'sensible' advice, I have realised the only things that matter in this world are what ACTUALLY happen. There's lots of rules about how one should conduct oneself, but very little enforcement. To that end, I would send the £50.00 and leave the ball in their court. There is an exceptionally real possibility that absolutely nothing will come of the underpayment (other than them not working for you again). In fact I have been dismissed from Court for claiming (rightfully so) a 'ridiculous sum of £150.00' by a Judge.

We all have to make a living but there is no way a plumber is earning more an hour than I am.

Also don't forget to remind the occupants of their duty to behave in a tenant-like manner. They are not in a hotel and should not expect that because they pay rent any and all minor repairs to be rectified by you. Routine maintenance requires radiators to be bled and as such will mean the loosening/tightening of the nut...perfectly expectable requirements from the tenant themselves.

Gary Nock

10:40 AM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

The trouble is that with some tradespeople they hear the word " landlord" and hike their fee by 50% - or as in this case double it. I have some sympathy with tradespeople as I have a property maintainence side to my letting business. Bear in mind that you are not just paying for the "alleged two minutes" it took. You are paying for the time taken to get there, the fuel costs, and public liability insurance as overheads. Most plumbers and electricians I know in the West Midlands work on a call out of about £40. In this case £50 is about right. I would call the plumber and ask what it was that caused the £90 charge. Did he have to drain the system down and refill it to do the repair? Was there another reason for the cost being almost double? And from experience tenants are not always the most reliable of witnesses in relation to repairs. Some seek to minimise the work done so the landlord does not use it as an excuse to put the rent up.

Paul Green

10:42 AM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Pay whats owed, you will have a clear conscience and sleep well, you can not put a price on that. You then won't have any worries about repercussions. End of...Don't tell the plumber your not going to use him again, it will be self evident, when his services are never required again...Do the right thing and learn from experience. Have a good nights sleep and forget the whole thing. YOU will reap the benefit 10 fold....

Luke P

10:49 AM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Green" at "27/09/2016 - 10:42":

I must be an exception. I have, at any one time, no less than half a dozen Court cases going on and sleep like a baby. But then I've won 99% of everything I've ever been party to.

Paying the bill and conducting a silent protest is the very British thing to do and probably the reason for a lack of enforcement in all areas of life in this country...we, on the whole, do as we're 'supposed' to.

Obviously, what ever you ultimately decide, check what was actually done first.

Charlotte Walker

10:54 AM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

i always get the tenant to try and explain the problem first, but don't encourage them to 'have a go' at fixing it unless it is obvious.with plumbing I usually go and look myself before paying someone but that depends on your skills and proximity to the property.

Paul Green

11:00 AM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

It's not British it's a Universal truism.Do not fight one another . Be like water and flow. Your consciences is precious, and does not need to be disturbed unnecessarily...

Yvonne Francis

11:03 AM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

My regular plumber would have charged about £60 which I would happily have paid as it would have cost me more in Taxi's to get there let alone be able (I'm disabled) to tighten a nut. Why did you not ask the call out charge? From the information given by your tenants then only the call out charge would have been justified.

You could tell him you think it excessive and suggest paying him less but if he does not agree then personally I don't recommend paying less as it can be more trouble than it's worth. I once contested a bill which stated 'for failing to find the manhole and unblock the toilet'. I won the case as the plumber had walked over the manhole to actually get to the toilet. However by the time I sent my partner in our delivery van any gain was wiped out by the petrol costs alone as the hearing was quite a distance away. Just ask in future for call out charges or quotes if you think it a larger job.

Patricia Walton

12:08 PM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

It would be advisable if in future, when calling someone out to investigate a problem on your behalf, you actually agree a call out charge or whatever fee structure the contractor has. Having called out a plumber to go over to investigate a leak, one has to expect there will be a charge, not least for the time spent time travelling to and from the job, parking costs, petrol costs etc etc, not to mention the time taken to investigate and rectify the problem. Happily for the Landlord this turned out to be a simple problem, nothing costly and problem solved. I see this as a happy result! Why the heck is this man complaining about the cost of getting someone else to go to the bother or finding out what the problem was, when no one else apparently, was able to! Get a grip for goodness sake - unless you are prepared to train as a plumber, equip your van and pay all the associated costs for trading as such and then go out and do charity work for a lazy landlord! P.S. I speak as a Landlord btw.

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