Plumbers Bill

13 Dec 2006
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United Kingdom
Hi all

I had a problem with my hot water last wednesday spoke to heating guy I use who could not come out until the following Monday. When he arrived he told me not worth fixing get a new boiler.

I took that advice got new boiler. Arrange another guy to fit it as the normal guy does not fit them.

I then receive a bill from the first heating guy of £92 inc vat. He normally works on fixed fee 0f £92 for any repair plus parts. This time had nothing to do only advised to change boiler. Is it rereasonableo still charge £92.

I would appreciate your opinions
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He has come to your property and assessed the situation.

Thats a chargeable visit and should be expected and paid.

We also charge for all diagnostic visits. As we spend our time, travel costs and expertise then that seems totally reasonable to me but perhaps I am biased.

Perhaps you could explain just how anyone could think thats its not a chargeable visit or do you think that heating engineers should all work as a free charity?

I then receive a bill from the first heating guy of £92 inc vat. He normally works on fixed fee 0f £92 for any repair plus parts. This time had nothing to do only advised to change boiler. Is it rereasonableo still charge £92.

I would expect some charge. The man is justified in expecting payment for the time spent there and the time travelling to and from there. Some customers seem to think a technician comes to their house free of charge to enjoy the pleasure of their company.

Whether £92 is justified depends on what his advertised charges are and how long he spent on the task and travelling. You did enquire before calling him, didn't you? If you had done so, you could have shopped around for cheaper. Cheaper is often worse and takes longer though.
Seems reasonable to me. You called him out, he provided a service and should be paid.
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While he was there, he couldn't be earning his wage elsewhere. His fee seems easonable in that context.
it was a Professional Opinion, after visiting and looking, so it`s got to be justified. Unlike car repairers where your time/petrol is used taking motor to their premises , say the foreman spent 5 mins. looking /quote verbally.

The company can absorb 5 mins - even @ £180 an hour or whatever they charge now :eek:
In that situation i wouldn't charge, just carry out an estimate for a new boiler which i wouldn't usually charge for anyway
yes it is reasonable to charge you get nought for nought these days, we give a discount on the new boiler if we fit it subsequent to the visit. the discount is the same as the fee charged for the initial visit. the only time we don't charge is when we fail to fix the boiler through lack of knowledge or when we find a boiler that needs a manufacturer repair because of cost.
With my existing good clients, I often won't charge for a brief visit if I haven't done any proper work, especially if they are local and the parking is cheap or free, but it's not unreasonable to charge a moderate call out fee for the hassle of a visit. IMHO, 92 quid is totally over the top, unless he spent proper time and effort investigating the fault before condemning it. But if you don't enquire first, they can hit you with a big bill, a bit like a mini cab or a Delhi auto-rickshaw...
Who? the rickshaw driver or the mini-cab?

I wonder what happens if you don't pay - if you haven't made any agreement with the plumber, formal or informal.

I'm not suggesting you default paying for services, but it might be reasonable for you to write a formal letter explaining that you consider the fees to be unreasonable and make an offer of £50 as a more reasonable call out charge. It could be referred to your local trading standards. It is unlikely that he will go to the small claims court, especially if you are negotiating a fair fee with him. But if you had already agreed to pay for his services, verbally or otherwise, then you have to pay whatever he charges.
I have to totally disagree with Axel there. Normally I would say that to him in the closed part of the forum for discussions between registered gas engineers but he is not a member.

We charge slightly less as a fixed diagnostic fee. I dont understand how Axel can make a living if he thinks a fee of £50 is right. In London it can easily take an hour each way to get to a customer.

Perhaps if he gets gas registered and has to pay registration fees and take time to study and pay for assessments then he might think differently.


The point I am trying to get across to the OP is that, whilst I agree with you that in some instances the major hassle of attending a far away client even if only for 10 minutes, may justify a call out fee, the OP said this was his regular plumber, and I would certainly not receive any more work from some of my regular clients if I was to charge them £ 92 for a ten minute visit. They are assuming that common sense and reasonable behavior would prevail regarding the fee.

A qualified expert such as yourself may well be worth the full diagnostic fee that you charge, however I imagine that if you called in on one of your existing clients whilst en-route to another job, to quickly condemn a boiler without getting any tools out, you might feel awkward to consider charging your full fee.

With brand new clients there is an unknown - the 'can of worms' factor, and in that situation your full fixed callout fee protects you from timewasters.

I have a full fixed first hour fee, payable if only 5 minutes attendance (although there are those who rush around the house looking for dripping taps if I am about to leave before the hour is up!)

But many of my clients, who are mostly local, rely on the fact that I won't charge them £92 for ten minutes work and 40 pence parking costs.

Even £8 congestion charge doesn't justify £ 92.

I had suggested £50 as a ballpark for callout only.

With regards to gas registration and training, I am fully aware of the costs, having already paid a significant portion of these, although I don't see the relevance of my personal situation with any general opinions of what is reasonable to charge for a non- labour callout. Clearly there is a spectrum of differing views on this matter, all depending on how one decides to run one's business and structure the fees. There are different types / quality of client out there to choose from.
Just so you guys know, i'm setting up a few plumbing companies, the basic gist of the business plan is I come to your house when you have a fault, tell you your boiler is knackered and needs replacing after about 5mins and then charge you for the pleasure.

It's a kind of boiler consultancy. :LOL:
Axel .. just to let you know the lovely 2 faced Agile has gone onto the combustion chamber to have a dig at you , Saying he may not help you with your portfolio as you are libel to undercut him.

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