Overcharging to tighten nut?

Overcharging to tighten nut?

9:23 AM, 27th September 2016, About 5 years ago 34

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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.



by Patricia Walton

18:19 PM, 27th September 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Price" at "27/09/2016 - 12:52":

Completely missed the point I think. Martin has written further to add more damning comments abut the plumber. The fact remans, don't employ anyone until you know what it is gong to cost! Obviously Martin had some idea, having employed him in the past. However it seems there was a good amount of miscommunication between the two and it is nice to know the plumber was very reasonable when the matter was raised with him. Questioning an invoice doesn't make you lazy, commissioning work without getting a price and then moaning about it, does. You ask, would I have paid it if it had been £500 - silly argument,

by Martin

18:43 PM, 27th September 2016, About 5 years ago

Perhaps we can put this to bed. In an ideal world I would like to build a relationship of trust with anyone who regularly works for me. I don't want to have to ask for an estimate for a leaking radiator valve, but clearly I would if I was having a new boiler fitted. On this occasion the plumber decided to abuse my trust, but it won't change the way I deal with other tradesmen or anyone I deal with professionally in the future. If this makes me lazy so be it.

by sam

21:34 PM, 27th September 2016, About 5 years ago

You did not say where about you are so it is difficult to say whether £90 for a call out is reasonable or not although I would have thought it excessive anywhere outside of central London.

Sounds like you didnt ask the price and neither did he tell you the price before the job.
But surely, just because you didnt ask his price, doesnt mean he can charge what he likes. Rather, I would have thought he has put himself in a very weak position by not agreeing a price before the job - a bill presented doesnt mean it is properly owed. In addition to an offer and acceptance, a valid contract needs specific considerations which seems to be lacking in this case. From a practical point of view, you are the boss until he got your money - after which he is the boss. So act like the boss, find out whats a fair and reasonable call out rate in your area and tell him what you are prepared to pay - nicely. If he doesnt like it, well tough - it is just as painful for him to go to court as it is for you and I really dont think he has a case. There is no need to be offensive and certainly no need to tell him you wont be using him again. (Sorry I couldnt agree with most of the advice given here which seem to me like being very professional with somebody else's money. Just as a tradesman needs to be compensated for his time, an employer needs to have value for his money).

This kind of things seems to happen all too often these days.

A couple of years ago, a guy I had given some work to turned up to look at another job, gave me half an hour of advice then sent me a bill for £100 saying it was cheaper than my structural engineer. I wasnt impressed enough to pay him and he wont work for me again. I would have rather it not be this way as I still had to find somebody else to do the work - more time loss and more hassle for me.

A few months ago, I commissioned a company to do a job. The guy turned up and decided that the site wasnt properly prepared for the job. After 5 minutes explaining what I needed to do, he spent an hour and a half chatting until, presumably, it was near time for his next job. Then I received a bill for £180. I offered £100 and received an amended bill for £150. I ignored it on the basis that £100 for a 5 minute advice plus travel was quite enough compensation. Legally, I doubt if he had a leg to stand on since he did not do what he was commissioned to do and instead gave me what I didnt ask for. Now, I am waiting for him to take me to court - if he wants. Meanwhile, I got somebody else to finish the job meaning he lost the job, didnt get anything for his time and lost a customer. And I ended up with more hassle and time loss.

Just today I received a £750 bill for 2 days work from my plumber : £600 for 15 LL gas cert at £40 each (all within 1 building in Birmingham) + £150 for fixing 2 leaks he found. The £600 was agreed but I thought £150 for an hour's work while already on site rather excessive. Sure I didnt ask his price but equally neither did he tell me his price. Though I wont want the leaks fixed for free, I equally wont want to be fleeced either - especially when I just gave him a nice no. Now I have the hassle of thinking how to approach him to agree a more reasonable figure without spoiling the relationship completely and then find somebody else to take his place. He has lost a customer.

The problem is this : I need somebody to do the work. It is simply not practical to go through 10 different plumbers every time I need work done. The only sensible solution is to try to build up a long term solution with a plumber I can work with. This is proving more difficult than I could imagine.
1 there are lots of 'qualified' tradesmen out there who cant tell one end of a hammer from the other.
2 most, if not all, tradesmen seem to think nothing of letting people down without notice (and I am left to deduce they are not coming when they wont take/return my calls).
3 they all want to get rich quick. Given half a chance, they all think they can charge what they like - or at least try.
4 they all want the easy jobs and getting them to come back to fix their mistakes is like pulling teeth.
5 not a single one would think about 'what value is the customer getting from me for what I am asking him to pay'.
6 I am often left wondering who is paying who.
There is no sense of give and take, working together for a win-win situation, building up a long term relationship etc. Didnt use to be like this.

Am I expecting too much ? Or just plain naive ?

Any comments/advice anybody ?

On the other hand, The guy who installed the fire alarm and intercom/access control system in my building - I cant sing his praises enough. And another company who installed my lift - I would recommend them any day. Let me know if anybody needs a contact.

by Paul Green

23:06 PM, 27th September 2016, About 5 years ago

Most tradesman charge a price for a job, which means they will do the job for a fixed fee however long it takes them, they then take on the risk if it takes longer than they expected; there is an element of call out costs built in ; however they usually always make the most money this way. if it's a big job it can pay to ask the tradesmen for a labour only day rate. They all differ for example I have a painter and decorator that charges £150 a day an electrician that charges £250 a day. I dont have a plumber at present as I use a British gas service contract for my boiler and central heating pipes, radiators, thermostat at £23 a month. Although plumbers are up there with electricians. I live in the south east of England . I once had a solid oak floor fitted in my own house and floor layer charged me £750 it took him 2 days. The room size was 12 foot by 24 foot, he was excellent; however very expensive. These solid oak floor layers are charging £28 or more per square meter, this was in 2011. Brick layers, plasterers and carpenters are around £200 a day . It's very difficult to negotiate a discount because they have more than enough work to turn me down and do another job for their full price. Hope this helps... I think labour charges I far to high for tradesmen full stop and out of proportion. But they have me over a barrow. I do understand they a skilled professionals , but their is no price regulation and every year labour costs go up. Unless your salaried , in which case they stagnate...

by Mandy Thomson

13:59 PM, 28th September 2016, About 5 years ago

For plumbing issues I find Homeserve to be very good value for money (they charge a small monthly fee and a £50 call out charge, but cover most plumbing emergencies). For other planned jobs, I use MyBuilder as you can read reviews, check the tradesman's insurance, and most tradesmen will do their best as they want good ratings. Unlike other tradesmen introduction sites, the onus is on the tradesman to come to you (though you can invite up to 5 businesses) which means you get a good few responses.

by Puzzler

8:38 AM, 1st October 2016, About 5 years ago

A bit pricey (usually about £60 for a call-out) but you're not paying for tightening a nut, you're paying for his time (which will be a minimum of an hour) and for knowing what to do. Next time use someone else.

by Seething Landlord

12:16 PM, 1st October 2016, About 5 years ago

I'm reminded of an old anecdote: plumber called because central heating not working. Hits pump with hammer and charges £5. Asked why he thinks he can charge such a high amount for 30 seconds work he replies: it's 5/- for coming and hitting the pump and £4/15/- for knowing where to hit it.

by Michael Barnes

11:19 AM, 2nd October 2016, About 5 years ago

Talk to the plumber in a friendly way to find out why it is so much.

It may be that more was done than the tenant says, or he may reduce the bill.

My experience is that a leaking joint often needs re-application of jointing compound to ensure a seal, rather than just tightening. That in turn requires a drain-down.

I would expect my plumber to charge about £20 for such a job (actually I wouldn't because I would do it myself), as he would fit it in between other jobs. But if he didn't know the cause he may have put off other work to allow sufficient time to fix a more-serious problem and therefore need to charge more.

Finally, a 'loose valve connection' seems to me an unusual problem, except in a recent installation: there is nothing that should cause a valve to come loose, unless it is the nut around the spindle rather than connection to pipe work or radiator.

by Andy Bell

12:45 PM, 5th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Green" at "27/09/2016 - 23:06":

Paul, I can't quite believe you said,
"Brick layers, plasterers and carpenters are around £200 a day . It’s very difficult to negotiate a discount because they have more than enough work to turn me down and do another job for their full price. Hope this helps… I think labour charges I far to high for tradesmen full stop and out of proportion."

These are time served, skilled, self employed, grafters. On those rates, when times are good, and they are fit enough, and everybody pays them, they might be making 30K pa. With a family to support, and pension to build up (for when their bodies can't take it any more), you are asking the state (tax credits) to support their low rates of pay you think are "out of proportion".

If that's your attitude then maybe your are a Landlord that deserves these extra taxes and some more on top. Personally I would rather pay good money for a good job, not rely on the state to subsidise the work I get done for my benefit and as a result, have a lower tax burden.

Rant over. Just think about it.

by sam

13:03 PM, 5th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Andy Bell" at "05/10/2016 - 12:45":

What do u pay your tradesmen Andy ?

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