As I mentioned awhile back, my A/C unit shat the bed and eventually had to be replaced at a cost of thousands of dollars. I called an A/C company out when the unit wouldn’t start, and they couldn’t test it because there was some trouble with the electrical box that served the unit and advised me to contact an electrician.
The guy we’ve used for years to fix electrical issues was out of the country and unreachable. I asked the neighbors for their recommendations, and nobody had anything particularly good to say about any company. So I picked one by reading online reviews.
The guy came out and ended up having to replace an electrical box (not the main one; the one that serves the air handler). I’m guessing it took three hours or so, including time spent going to Home Depot for a part he didn’t have in his truck (I’m kind of in the boonies, so that portion of the job alone took about an hour). He charged me $750 bucks, which seemed like a lot to me, but I know nothing about electrical work.
Anyhoo, we subsequently had two A/C companies take a look and quote a price for replacing the unit, and both of them told us we got screwed on the electrical job. One said he could have handled it as part of the A/C replacement for a third of the cost.
I contacted the electrical company and said WTF? To their credit, a rep called me back and broke down the charges for me. Basically, the parts were about $100, and they think it’s reasonable to charge $650 to send someone out to the boonies for a three-hour job — two hours if the parts were on the truck. (And when I say boonies, I mean 30 or so miles out of the nearest city on decent roads, not a 100-mile sled dog trip.) I disagreed and said so. The rep agreed to refund slightly more than $150. He didn’t have any particular rationale for arriving at that sum — it was probably the minimum he thought he could give back to shut me up.
So here’s my dilemma: I still feel like they ripped me off, and I’m tempted to post my own account of the incident on the same review sites that brought them to my attention. But they did refund at least some of my money. And they should get credit for nutting up and calling me back; I realize some companies would have simply ignored my complaint. Do you think the amount they charged was reasonable? What would you do?
Write an honest review, as you have here, and name the company involved. If they don’t like it, they can learn not to overcharge their customers. What they depend on when ripping people off is that customers will just lie back and take it.
Why don’t you post an explanation like the one you just gave?
Short Bus Bully
I would blare some old school Public Enemy and FIGHT THE POWER!!
Or maybe just say mean things about them on the internet (anonymously) and then look at pics of cats doing funny things. I’m a bad ass like that.
I have to agree with the advice others gave you.
What they just said. Only take out the “what would you do” part.
Agreed. Say pretty much what you just said. They did agree to refund you some money, but that just shows to me that they agree they overcharged you in the first place. If they believed how much they charged was correct, they’d be less eager to refund it to you.
Your explanation is reasonable and shows the good and bad from the company. I’d like to read a review like that if I were researching electricians.
This. Simply state what occurred without emotion. If somebody reads it and decides to get a bid from that company, they’ll know just what to ask.
For the record, that’s high even for California pricing and also, too, would have been part of an install. (But you didn’t know you’d be installing, so that’s how it goes sometimes.)
Plumbing is even worse.
That sounds like a lot to me. They’re charging you about $500 for labor on what should count as either a 2 hour job (if you don’t include travel) or a 4 hour job (if you do). That means they’re charging between $125 and $250 per hour for labor, which seems very high, even for a master electrician.
Maybe things are different where you are but just getting somebody to actually show up is a big deal here.
And now, to indulge my inner grammar cop: The simple past tense of “shit” is also “shit”. “Shat” is a nickname for a moderately talented but well-known actor.
Always thought it was a Richard Roundtree movie.
What about has/have/had? Is it shit, shat, or shitted?
100% satisfaction = 100% satisfactory report. If you’re serious about writing a less-than-perfect review of this vendor, be sure you’re doing it to educate other consumers. I can’t see a responsible business owner getting on your case for a legit complaint. In fact, he or she should consider any expense directed toward pleasing you as a customer as necessary to ensuring continued business success. Period.
You can try applying to Emily’s List and leave a review of the contractor. You could also try Yelp but I never believe most of what I see on Yelp.
The only problem with Emily’s list is you have to pay to join.
“The truth is an absolute defense against charges of defamation.”
So write the review and give the facts of what happened and how you feel about it. If the company that is the subject of the review doesn’t like what you write, fuck ’em.
I haven’t paid less than $160 an hour for home service work in years, and often more. You being charged $250 an hour sounds a little high, but isn’t outside the range of acceptable charges.
Do a scathing review, and don’t call them again.
I thought the owner of
Emily’sAngie’s List was some winger. No?
ETA: Corrected. Thanks, Wendy.
@kindness: Angie’s List. Emily’s list is for political fundraising. :)
I agree, write an honest review and let the chips fall where they may. At least people looking for help will know what questions to ask.
I used to be intimidated by service people. I have finally stopped being afraid and now I get everything named up front. I asked a plumber to install a new faucet when my husband was too busy. The price seemed high, and I politely thanked him and said I would get some other estimates. He started dialing on his cell phone and told me he was asking his manager if they could do better. I said, “Why not be honest and just give me a fair price right up front?”
That pissed me off, like the runaround you get at the car dealership. I told him to forget it. We hired someone else to do it at half the price.
Sure, tell your story.
Isn’t that what people want to know?
And FWIW, you were ripped off, massively. Even if you paid $150 an hour (which is very high for an electrician) that would be less than half of what you got charged, and parts, they admitted, were far less than that.
Just Some Fuckhead
The issue here is you feel like you didn’t get enough value for your money. This is where the repair company went wrong. It doesn’t matter what they charge if the customer doesn’t feel like they got value. If, for instance, they came out and told you they couldn’t fix it and only charged you $100 for their inconvenience, you’d still feel like you didn’t get value? Why? Because you paid $100 and don’t have anything to show for it.
In the case of onsite repair companies, the point where they’re making enough money to float a well-stocked fleet and the customer feels like they got good value for their money is a really hard target to hit.
You are asking for the past participle of “shit”, which is also “shit” e.g. “Honey, your cat has shit in my shoe again!”
Here in the Northeast union electricians earn about $40+/hour. Don’t think it’s as high as $50. Assume overhead if you are dealing with the elec. contracting company, not so much if it is a side job. Don’t know anywhere where wages would be higher except Cali. And if non union, lower. If the call was after hours/weekend/holiday, cha-ching.
Just cut and paste what you wrote here. It’s exactly what I’d be looking for on a review site.
Shit. I was rooting for shitten.
By one of those Jungian synchronicity things, I just had a conversation with a friend who is a local restaurant owner, who asked me when people started going from 0-60 with their complaints. She had a woman who inquired about a bill, and reacted to her server’s explanation with DefCon 5.
We agreed it probably had something to do with corporations deciding you wouldn’t get any customer service until you were screaming like an Irish banshee.
Shat is indeed the past and past participle of shit.
Did they specify billable travel when you called them? Are their hourly labor rates posted or provided anywhere?
650-750 does seem excessive. If rates and billing methods aren’t posted by any home service provider, then they’re not worth doing business with.
Self-Righteous Little White Guy
WWYD = What Would Yahweh Do?
Probably something involving a plague of locusts.
We are in the process of putting and addition on our house. We went through the historic preservation process (with no changes by them) and were issued a building permit. we refinanced the house, I tore down a large part of our deck and we started grading, We found that the city sewer line ran through our property and under two houses on our block. The city has determined that we cannot build unless we move the line at our expense for about 30K.
Not in formal English. (Adjusts bow tie.)
AHH onna Droid
@Roger Moore: Hell, electricians are lucky to make $12-14/hr in North Central Florida. Ibew is under pressure to lower rates. Yall must be rich down where you at, Betty.
If your goal is to get a larger refund, there’s Small Claims Court or filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or, if your state has one, the Consumer Advocate.
If you do want to blow it up, put this post on Facebook. Link to it on Twitter. Post it on Yelp. A courtesy phone call to them warning them of your intent to do that might get a little more attention paid to your complaint, too.
Holy crap man. That is discouraging, to say the least!
Yes, that labor rate is way out of line. An honest and even-handed review is called for.
Better business bureau is useless. Don’t waste your time there.
That has a lot to do with it — phone customer service especially seems to be set up that way.
I remember seeing a Miss Manners column from at least 10+ years ago where a friend of hers discovered that the only way to get her complaint to be escalated was for the phone representative to say she was very upset, loud and obscene, etc. Fortunately, she had developed a decent rapport with the representative and asked him if he would be so kind as to report her as having been upset “and he gallantly agreed to do so.”
But, yes, it’s yet another example of decently-run businesses having to pay for the sins of crappy ones.
True. But there are law firms out there that make their living by offering to sue you for slightly less than it would cost for you to go to court and call their bluff.
@Xboxershorts: No billable travel, but they did tell me there was a $150 minimum for a service call, meaning if I wanted them to replace an outlet cover, it would be $150. I didn’t think that was outrageous — I totally expected an electrical job would cost a few hundred bucks.
@Linkmeister: I recently listened to a podcast on WTF, Marc Maron’s show, with Kevin Smith.
Mr. Smith (director of Clerks and Redstate, among others) was thrown off a SW Air flight for being too fat. While he is the first to admit to avoirdupois, he had his armrests down and his seatbelt buckled without an extender.
In other words, they were full of the present tense of shit.
So after getting nowhere with several representatives of the airline, he got on Twitter, where he has thousands of followers. After about 40 minutes, he saw people running towards him. “Please, Mr. Smith, stop tweeting! Talk to us!”
@kindness: I do recommend Emily’s List. Best twenty odd dollars I’ve spent in years.
Wow, rocket surgeons don’t even charge that much per hour.
@raven: ugh.. The city wanted to give my son 8,000 to put a sewer line next to his house and he added on so many stipulations that they found another location. I guess it was a good idea on his part.
I’m sorry. What are you going to do?
I don’t negotiate with car dealers anymore. I go to dealerships for test drives to pick out the exact car I want. I check online at Edmunds to get a rough baseline for the price. Then I call every dealership within 50 miles and ask them for a quote on the specific make, model, color and options package that I am interested in. If they are not the lowest bid, I tell them the lowest and ask if they can do better. (Alternatively if you don’t have any quality bids to use, you can start by asking if they can beat $X for the car, where X is based on the value you found at Edmunds). When you get a number you like, ask them to send the offer in writing. I have done this a couple times and have never had a dealership refuse to deal with me over the phone. In fact they are often quite happy since they can get a full commission for minimal effort.
Ahem! Nouns do not vary with tense.
(Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.)
Interesting construction story: adjacent to our property is a small lot that’s never been built on. It’s been cleared by the owners for house construction. I went to the city planning commission meeting to observe the proceedings. In the public comment period I identified myself and expressed concerns about rainwater runoff. the lot is low, and is covered with grass and shrubbery. When it’s built up and covered with a house and paving, rainwater will no longer just soak in. I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t end up in our basement. The planners and building inspector had a surprisingly specific answer: the lot grading plan required separate approval and the grading would be inspected for approval before the city would allow occupation. “Hmmm…” sez I.
Later I found out that the city had just lost a lawsuit over a wet basement. They had approved a driveway repaving that caused water in a neighbor’s basement. The neighbor sued. The owner of the new driveway sued the city because the construction received approval. The city had to pay for repairs.
The neighbor with the wet basement is a Planning Committee member. So, yeah, they take grade changes pretty seriously now.
The woman who was in labor in the hospital in Moore was just interviewed on CBS. The nurses came in and said they would have to move her because of the tornado warning. The reporter asked her what she thought and she said “Oh, Crap”
Sounds like good advice.
@Linkmeister: I guess at this point my goal is just to let anyone who researches this company know what they’re in for. Every review currently accessible on several platforms in glowing — could be either employees or just dumb rich people who don’t know they got hosed, who knows?
When I was talking to the guy about the refund, I tried to nail him down on why he charged so much, he admitted there were cheaper services out there but kept insisting that they deliver a “premium service.” Premium reaming is more like it…
I love, love, love this story.
Reminds me of the guy who closed his Highway 50 restaurant after serial fistfights with carsick motorists pulling into his parking lot. “No puke for you!”
Pro tip for sociopaths: do not go into the food service bidnez, especially as an owner or manager.
I think both you and lojasmo are right on this one. Call it a bipartisan consensus?
That said, people seem to mostly use some sort of compound phrase for the past tense e.g. “That motherfuckin’ cat took a shit in Cole’s shoe again.”
@Amir Khalid: I believe you have a kitty (Bianca?) and thus, are worthy of my tolerance and respect :)
Unlike the schmuck who invested the time to give you a test drive and ended up eating dirt.
Ugh, our water heater just assploded. My
garagecar hole is flooded. Preggers wife trying to move stuff. Told her to quit it and racing home.
The say Charles Manson went fifteen years without a single slap-fight.
Higgs Boson's Mate
Aw shit. Have you considered hiring a lawyer? Maybe there’s some leverage in the fact that the line is under two other houses.
You’re perhaps missing those perfectly formed electrons now jetting through your home, delivering silken electricity as pefectly formed as pixie pillows. Have your appliances and lights ever been this content? I thought not.
You remembered her name, and so you have my respect too.
You indicated that the AC company that originally looked at the unit couldn’t do its job b/c of the electrical problem, requiring you to jump through the electrical hoops you described. Sorry to hear about the overpayment problem, but even though the price wasn’t satisfactory, I would have to give the electrical company some credit for following through with a discount. Doesn’t sound like it was enough, but nice to see that they were professional enough in the face of a complaint. Some aren’t.
What I thought most interesting is the AC guy telling you that he would have done the electrical work as part of the AC repair. If the guy that told you that was from the first company that told you to go find an electrician, I’d be more likely to blast that dude than anyone else.
Just me I suppose.
The hell? Gawd, that sucks. Did you do USA clearance before beginning?
If you could provide a detailed list of the parts and services, it would be a little easier to come up with an answer for your dilemma.
Water births are for hippies; she needs a nice comfy chair. Hope it’s not too bad.
BTW, your water down there–chunky.
@joes527: How is that really different than if I started negotiating in person right after my test drive? Obviously, if I did not like the car I am not going to buy it so those schmucks end up eating dirt. And then once I find the car I love, if I sit down and the guy wont come down from a number that I think is too high, I would walk out and drive to other dealerships and start negotiating without a test drive. So that schmuck would end up eating dirt as well. I am just saving myself time. And generally speaking, I do test drives at the dealerships that are closer to me so I would prefer to buy from them and will take a slightly higher offer from someone close, especially if I got a solid feel from the salesman I worked with.
I try to get the sales person to introduce me to the service manager, because that’s who I’m forming a relationship with. Sales folks do jack squat for the buyer after the first week of ownership (being generous).
@Bo Alawine: The dude told me the parts were less than $100, and they quoted the job, installing a breaker box, as a project rather than a detailed list of tasks.
Crazy thought, but is there some kind of modification you can make to your plans that would allow emergency access to that location if necessary? A trap door or crawlspace or something like that? Just throwing the idea out there because I honestly don’t know.
@Amir Khalid: Actually, it’s English as spoken in England and India, perhaps other Commonwealth countries as well. I kinda like it, even if I don’t use it myself.
@Trollhattan: heh. it may have been your water to start with. 30% chance.
An electrician in Deland did our new office for a lot less. Seems high.
@MattR: When you play everyone against everyone else to get absolutely the lowest price, the result is Walmart., And yeah, this is the way you described what you do in your original post. You want to back peddle now, be my guest.
A person has invested in making a sale to you. If they are offering what you want at a reasonable price (maybe not the rock bottomest, but in the zone … they have to feed their family too) you should give them your business.
@Betty Cracker: Most residential electricians in my region (VA, WV, NC) charge between $60-100/hr. per man (This is the rate the company charges, which includes salary, payroll burden, truck, tools, overhead, etc.).
As you note, there is also often a minimum charge for a service call, which is fair because they have take an hour or two just to come out and look at the job. But the minimum is not added on to the total price, it is part of it.
If there was an electrician and a helper working on your job for half a day, your looking at 4 hours at about $120-200 an hour total. But you said there was one electrician, which makes sense just to replace the disconnect at either the air handler or the heat pump. So one guy for half a day should have a cost a maximum of $400.00 labor.
The real issue is why the first AC guy couldn’t fix the electrical supply. As the second AC guy said, he would have done it as part of the installation of the new unit. In my professional opinion, you were overcharged by the electrician, and the first AC mechanic was incompetent.
Put your story into negative reviews on Yelp and Google. For Google you’ll need to use maps.google.com to add the review, but once added it will also appear in regular searches. At a minimum, that may warn some other folks and be a little cathartic for you. With better luck, the company will notice and may re-think their position on charging you $150/hour for labor.
You could also do the same with AngiesList, but my suggestion is not to bother…we briefly subscribed when we moved into a new house, but found it less reliable than the free alternatives.
Higgs Boson's Mate
Years ago, one of my friends was a used car salesman. He was a good used car salesman and he made lots of money at it. He had some eccentricities. One was that he had to sell at least one car every month without a test drive. Another eccentricity was that he would spring for dinner if he managed to sell a car with a manual transmission to someone who didn’t know how to drive a stick.
A lot of these people seem to think that women are idiots. I was having my kitchen cabinets refaced, installing a dishwasher I got on sale at Lowe’s, and wanted the refrigerator’s ice maker hooked up to the sink and a new kitchen faucet installed. The house was my moms, and I hated, with the heat of a thousand suns, the plumber she had used for years. (He had quoted me, and I am not kidding you, $600-$800 just to hook up the ice maker.)
I emailed several local companies and the owners of two of them came out to look and both quoted me verbally somewhere in the area of $400 plus the price of whatever faucet I got. After the dishwasher was delivered, I called the company I liked best and a guy came out. He got that serious look on his face and said the words I know mean a rip-off is coming…”Ma’am, this is a BIG JOB.” Ugh. His estimate was $1,600. When I said that’s not what Tom (the owner) told me he allegedly went out to his truck and called Tom, coming back in to tell me that Tom hadn’t known that there had never been a refrigerator hookup or dishwasher in the house. This was a total lie. Tom had been there with the doors off the empty cabinets and had told me they’d have to drill a couple of holes in the one between the sink and the fridge. I made him put it in writing. Then I dismissed him. I mailed it to the owner and told him that he had lost my business. He called me and basically told me the workers quote whatever they think they can get and he has told them not to overcharge, but they feel they can’t make a living otherwise. I told everyone in town I knew and my family’s been here 53 years.
I ended up getting a recommendation from a friend for a guy who came from 20 miles away and ended up charging me $428, and he bought the faucet.
@joes527: The point I was trying to make in my initial post is that I do not go through the typical negotiation process that so many car buyers find intimidating and which leave them thinking they got screwed but instead phone around for a best price from each (possibly with a little follow up to make sure they know you are only going to ask on this one call). How an individual chooses to decide which offer is best is up to them.
I also see nothing wrong with a consumer consulting multiple sellers to compare prices. That is a fundamental aspect of a market society. In this case, it is not going to lead to the Walmartization of anything because none of them are going to sell a car to a random Joe at a loss in order to get future business. Similarly, none of the dealerships are able to force the car company to sell them the cars at a significantly lower price.
The last time I had an electrician out, it was the strangest interaction. The work was dead simple. run a line through some cabinets and put an outlet on the end of the cabinets. I would have done it myself, but I wanted it all to be done to code, (so there would be no issue down the road if we sell the house) and I had no idea what “to code” meant in this case. I was willing to pay to get it done right.
The electrician kept asking me about details of the job, and I kept replying that all decisions should be made to make it compliant with code. The blank look I got back whenever I mentioned a desire that he work to be done to code was not reassuring.
Oh heck, that’s bog-standard.
My first husband (I was sadly and prematurely widowed) was an autodidact engineering genius. So of course he had cut his baby teeth on internal combustion engines.
I would tell someone at the garage that the carburetor had THIS problem or the timing chain was off, or what-have-ya, only to have a Y-chromosome-privilege voice on the phone patronizingly say, “Oh, we will check it out, and tell YOU, oh-too-high-a-voice-to-be-taken-seriously, what we find out.”
Which would always be what I’d told them.
Bingo. We went with the second A/C guy, who did a fine job for a more than a thousand less than the first quoted.
@WereBear: One of the things I love about the garage I take my car to is that they don’t pull sexist ripoff shit on me.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know anything about cars and don’t claim to, but they don’t use it as an excuse to overcharge the little woman for stuff that doesn’t need to be done. (I used to run what they said past someone who does know about cars, but I haven’t felt the need to do that for a while since it always turned out to be reasonable.)
Some car sellers are just jerks. The last time my wife and I went shopping for a car (1999–we hang onto cars for a long time) I balked at playing games with the salesman; he wanted me to sign a blank sheet of paper that he could show to his manager to indicate I was interested in the used car we’d test-driven.
“I’m not signing anything right now,” I said.
“But it doesn’t commit you to anything,” he said.
“Then why should I sign it?” I said.
I was pretty polite, but he ended up saying I needed psychiatric help. We left shortly afterwards, me feeling a bit shocked only afterwards. My consolation was (a) we’d told the salesman that the tires on the car we were looking at needed replacing, and he called the next week to tell us he’d had that done, but (b) this was after we’d bought a car from a different dealer.
@Mary G: I usually do most of the home improvement and repairs around the house, be they electrical, plumbing, whatever. Just something I sort of picked up from my family and have continued to develop. And with books and the internet it is pretty easy to figure out a lot of stuff if you have enough of an “engineering” mind. And given the rates that get charged, I figure I am at least breaking even on the time I might otherwise spend on consulting work and it gives me a more novel set of tasks to do.
But sometimes, either because, I don’t have necessary specialized equipment or tools, or I am otherwise stumped, we’ve got to call in someone. I think the worst experience we had was when the dishwasher stopped working because, as it turned out, it effectively needed a key combination to be rebooted. My wife was the one that was at home for the service call and the guy charged $120 for 30 seconds of work (there was a $50 minimum for the visit which was scheduled and non-emergency) and refused to show her the code in case it happened again. His response was basically “If I show you that, I won’t get any future business” Well, duh, you lost our future business regardless!
I realize that you are not looking for an electrician but this guy is the BEST I have ever encountered. I found him on Angies List and he is unbelievable. And by that I mean: he shows up on time, has the parts, explains what he’s doing, make smart suggestions, and charges a fair price.
ABSOLUTE ELECTRIC OF TAMPA BAY INC
3959 VAN DYKE RDSTE 222
LUTZ FL 33558 (Map it)
Is your loser electrician on Angies List? If so, I’d consider joining and writing a scathing review.
Are you cool now? And could you have done the work?
I had a guy out for three hours to put in a bunch of new outlets (4), and it was 800 dollars, and when I thought it was high, everyone flamed me for being a cheap bastard.
Think I’ll have Kay write my gripes for me from now on. Y’all are nicer to her.
@John Cole: Well, I was making fun of Cole, but he doesn’t deserve it, being an animal rescuer :)
@David: Yes, I am cool now. No, I could not have done it myself. But that doesn’t excuse the electrician for overcharging me.
@John Cole: John I vaguely remember the post. Your house looks older(just from the pics you have posted) so I wonder if he had to do extra work that may not have been done in a more modern house. $800 does sound quite a bit but whatever.
Betty, it does seem high. I’ve been ripped off before and its awful when you kind of think you’re getting ripped off but you’re not sure and you don’t really have a choice right at that particular moment but later when you find out for sure, you just want to smack the sheet out of somebody. Anyhoo, I’m glad you called the company back. The only thing I have to contribute to this is that in my experience the second person coming in will always always always say the first person raped you. I think they think you are going to think better of them.
@raven: That truly sucks.
Our insane former town wouldn’t even let us build a deck on our property thanks to some insane zoning rule.
Went into a dealership a few years back and told the salesman up front I wasn’t going to commit to buying anything that day, I was just scouting models I was interested in. He was fine with that. We focused on one model in particular, took a test drive then came back to talk about some of the features. While I knew I wasn’t going to buy the car (too small, my shoulder was rubbing the B pillar most of the drive), I appreciated the time and effort and was prepared to investigate another larger model. Up walks another salesman (the one I had was new to that dealership) and the second guy starts right in with the high pressure “what is it gonna take to put you in a car today” spiel. I explained to him as well that I was just scouting, and anyway I was working with his colleague. Dude just would not stop. I quickly reached my limit so I stood up, thanked the guy who’d been working with me, then turned to the second clown and raised my voice enough that I could clearly be heard back into the offices. My rant ended up something like this, “Look, I told you I wasn’t looking to buy today, but you had to push the issue. Because you were too fucking stupid to take the hint, I’m leaving and won’t be back. I won’t bother considering for any future cars, either. Your manager should be proud you just cost him a potential customer.”
With luck, I at least got the second clown a talking to. More likely, I got the first guy in trouble. Such is the way with shills and frauds.
@ranchandsyrup: Better Business Bureau may be worthless, but my county has a consumer affairs department. I’d been getting the run around from an appliance company that was refusing to replace a microwave that stopped working within about 6 weeks of installation. After about 5 months of crap from the company I called my consumer affairs folks, had a new microwave in a week and a half.
Based on northern NJ prices, that sounds a little high, but not so much that I would use the term “ripoff”. Last year we paid a total of $450 for about the same amount of electrical work, that included parts. But after we had accepted the bid it took two more calls and about 3 weeks to get him to actually show up to do the work. So if you got fast service, that might justify paying a premium. And he did offer you the rebate instead of just telling you to go pound sand …
It’s been a couple years, but when I was a commercial electrician in the Seattle local our wage package cost the contractor about 75 bucks an hour. That’s wages, pension, L&I, taxes etc. Seattle is one of the higher wage areas. I think at that time they were figuring $100/hr when bidding jobs. $200/hr seems high for a residential job.
So you’re saying an AC guy (who sounds like he isn’t an electrician) is incompetent because he knows he isn’t an electrician? Nice.
@John Cole: Price of copper where it’s been the last few years, you were lucky to get the wire to dispersed locations around your place, which IIRC wasn’t built in the last 50 years, for that.
All y’all who are suggesting that she slam the business on Google, Yelp or whatever should know that those sites will then use Betty’s irritated review to extort the electrician for ad revenue to bury the negative review. So if you want to donate your time to Google, that’s a fine idea.
If you want the company to satisfy you, define what that would mean (FYI, they shouldn’t have charged you for the hour part run, that’s bullshit, they knew what they were coming out to BFE to install/replace and at their hourly can damn well afford to equip their trucks) in writing and fax it to their office with a deadline.
Let them know that in the event that you’re not satisfied, you intend to report same to the BBB. They’re in the business of giving the vendor the opportunity to respond online, which Google and the complaint sites don’t allow.
If you want sympathy, here it is: You got rooked.
JR in WV
I hire an outfit that does a lot of commercial work. One time their guy was out doing routine repair, his pager went off, he used my phone to call the office, and told me he had to go to a local plant, as they had a contract to repair a machine that had the plant at a standstill.
I had no problem with that, since I knew they would be back to finish the job that evening or the next day. They’re expensive, but reliable, never have to come back to re-repair anything.
It’s worth the extra hundred bucks for the reliability. They do water and gas plumbing, wiring, appliance repairs, etc.
If only they did roofs!
The Pale Scot
Well you could try calling them back and try to get the bill down to 500. Tell ’em that you got in touch with your usual goto guy and that’s what’s he thought would be fair. (always put the estimate on someone who’s not there) Throw in that you’ll give them good recs on the internet if they do. (that’s the NJ in me talking)
Just remember that the servicer probably gets paid by the job. But like you think, the price you paid is the upper limit of what they think is reasonable, Haggling is not impolite.
And if you installed an new air handler, make sure you have a service contract that sends someone out to clean and inspect it. The f__kers are composed of copper, steel and aluminum parts, and nobody making them has heard of an anode. There’s one that’s made of stainless steel but has it’s own issues.
And have you ever been to Anne Marie Key? Was there once when I moved to Fl years ago and took my visiting shu
tterbug sister there last week to get some pics. God it’s beautiful, If it had 5 ft rollers it’d be perfect.
Also I know a great auto mech in St. Petersburg if you need one (not sure where u are), let me know.
That’s why you can’t have nice things. You want someone who will bend over backwards and does a good job and is cheap. That is why good tradesmen only do residential when they have to. Because it’s a PitA and people always beotch about the price.
That price you mentioned is very reasonable considering the guy basically spend an entire day. Not just the 3 hours but the drive time and this and that. It’s not like he had time to do anything else and you seem completely oblivious to his overhead as well. Gas for example.
Well, if anyone knows about gas, you certainly should.
I have become adept at toilet repairs: they don’t make the guts like they used to (or, I keep buying the same cheap Home Depot parts). I have also changed the wax ring a few times, being a fat boy.
Last time the wax ring seal broke, I drained the toilet and removed it, and discovered the bracket the toilet screws to was broken. Beyond my capabilities: I called in a plumber, using the Yellow Pages ads for reference. Guy came out, and because I had already removed the toilet and cleared away the space beneath in the basement, took $150 off the price. He replaced the bracket and the top of the drainpipe to which it was attached (why I couldn’t do it myself) in such a way that the next time would be easier for me to do. Saturday call, about $500 for about three hours’ work. Thought it reasonable.
It’s amazing how handy owning a house makes you– I’ve done all sorts of things. “Real” electrical work I would leave to the pros, though: no sense sitting in the dark, or watching your house burn down, chuckling over how much money you saved.
@raven: Did you say previously that the city had no easement for that sewer line? And it sounds like it wasn’t marked on any map if you ran into it, right?
If those two assumptions are true, I’d have a talk with a lawyer, because it sounds to me like the city is not only at fault, but maybe liable for any damages incurred. IANAL of course so check with a pro.
Talk to a local electrician and ask what they think. At first, don’t mention names, but if the electrician says “I bet you’re talking about X (where the electrician you dealt with = X), you should definitely post honest reviews (including that they did refund part of the fee). Otherwise, go with your judgment after the electrician tells you what’s up.
Here’s the thing, though: they can reasonably charge normal labor for travel time. Time they’re driving to your place is time they’re not able to ply their trade. If it’s three hours of work, and one hour of travel, then that’s $650 an hour divided by four hours, which is $167.50 an hour. What does an electrician around your way bill per hour?
If that’s the case, though, I think you were treated poorly because they didn’t warn you that there would be a billing for travel time, and it looks to be about (so long) a trip, so just to show up at your door is $X.
But you really need an electrician to judge this for you. They can tell you what’s a fair market rate, and so forth.
I would estimate this job should have cost $450 – $500. The other guys could have done it for less than this because they would be there doing more work.
How do I arrive at that figure? First figure that 25 – 35% is the business’ overhead and profit. That leaves you with $300 – $375 being the actual cost of the job. $100 for parts, so $200 – $275 going to labor and mileage. Not outrageous for a 3 hour job (and yes, you have to count the time going to get the part too – they can’t have every part on the truck with them for every call). So with the refund, they overcharged $100 – $150.
@Poopyman: Yea, thanks for all the input. I have contacted an attorney and am hoping for the best. I also have a friend on the city counsel and I was very surprised at how matter-of-fact he was about the decision. No easement, two levels of approval, major expense already and it seemed like it was “oh that’s too bad”.
I’d move to Alaska where you will never have another need for a air conditioner and as a bonus will be able to see Russia from your house.
At least in the United States, shat is the past participle of shit. Merriam-Webster.
Nope. The shop doesn’t get to add profit to a time & materials bid that they’re the highest hourly on.
To justify those rates, they should have asked for photos of the problem area and loaded the truck appropriately before leaving their parts shed.
I own a 1910 house that is 45 minutes from vendors of this kind and 1800 miles from where I live. There are tools to make it easier to know what part you’re going to need if you serve a dispersed rural area. I won’t use a vendor that doesn’t exploit them, because it’s too damn complicated to deal with a bozo who doesn’t have a smartphone, for his own convenience. His time clearly isn’t worth top dollar.
Two countries divided by a common language.
(Okay, I’m guessing most people in Malaysia speak Malay, but I’m assuming that much of their English usage and grammar is more heavily influenced by British English than American English.)
I had two 2.5 ton units replaced in my last house around 4 years ago for a total of just a hair over 4,000.00 and that included the cost of the crane rental to remove the old and lift the new units to the top of my town house.
Others had quoted around 8,500.00 for the same job. As noted the biggest problem you had was with the original A/C company.
I would have thought that shat is the “proper” British usage as well, but I was too lazy to pursue it. I think it’s funny that Amir Khalid’s pedant nerve was jangled on a blog where roughly 99 out of 100 commenters use shit as the past tense anyway.
Next up: Why do people keep using peoples’ as the possessive form of the collective noun, when it should be people’s?
The Pale Scot
@PhoenixRising: Ya man, but that ain’t FL,
They were willing to come 30 Miles outside of town and get the parts and then the work for $750. I’d think myself lucky if I got a deal like that. Electricians or any trade person for that matter is expensive. Here in B.C. they do a 4 yr apprenticeship and go to school also. then they get certified. You aren’t paying for the time, you are actually paying for the trades knowledge. Its like getting a hair cut. Some people only want to pay half the price for “a trim”. It doesn’t matter if its a trim or 5 inches of hair, you are paying for the expertise.
The fact the company responded to your complaint and refunded you $150 is kudos to them and you. Forget about the comments and just get on with life.
@NickT: Are you like 12 or something?
The Pale Scot
@The Pale Scot: I’ve seen contractors deliver the wrong structural beams to a house being build by a couple who was in their 70’s, the contractor just shrugged and said oops. The wife died before the house was finished.
There is no protection from dirtbag contractors in this state. Hell, The Florida Legislature vetoed a law removing lobbyists with felony records, two of them have counterfeiting convictions, but I still get problems over a possession charge from the 90’s.
In my previous life as a project manager I subcontracted and managed electricians in NYC. Nowadays I bring products to market and set pricing strategies. To determine if you were actually overcharged you need to invest some time to understand the hourly rate in your area and the average time it takes to complete the task. When he moved from hourly rate to a “project” you then would need competitive bids to determine if the price is reasonable or unreasonable. Not sure what constitutes the claim of a premium service, unless that electrician has some level of experience that was far beyond what anyone else has in your area. Frankly it sounds like BS.
Also consider that a broken AC generally causes most people to lose their reasoning because of the heat, the number of days it takes to complete, etc. You have to weigh your desire to get it fixed again your available funds. Sometimes you pay more just for the peace of mind.
I personally keep a home warranty for the security of knowing that any repair, no matter how extensive will never cost more than $50. I also don’t have to worry about responsiveness. Some years it is a good investment, so years I lose.
We are about to expand the kitchen and dining room and we will be holding our breath during permitting because even though we’re on a septic system that’s designed for a much larger house, the Health Dept can arbitrarily decide that we need it replaced. They are the slowest part of the permit process, too. Supposed to get our first look at the plans on Tuesday; hope to have it enclosed before the rains come back in the Fall.
Tim in SF
If you think you were screwed, write the review. Tell the entire story, though, just to be fair.
They may contact you and offer an even bigger refund, in which case you can give them back a star or two. Or not. :-)
I’m a big believer in, and user of review sites. I wish more people would write reviews.
@Central Planning: That’s exactly what I’m saying. An AC mechanic making a repair call should be able to fix the cutoff. of course I only worked in the residential readers for 18 years so what do I know.
You should absolutely post the whole story because you DID get ripped off. This was a $300-$350 job at the most. Replacing such a box is one of the easier things an electrician would have to do, and it should not have taken more than an hour.
It’s sad but a lot of these companies (and the chain auto repair places are similar, maybe worse) simply prey on folks, depending on their ignorance and the fact that once the work is done it’s pretty hard to back out.
You did make one mistake however, you should have asked for an estimate before they began work. It is harder to jack up the price if they have already given you a reasonable quote.
Don’t use Angies’s list.
1) Their high-dollar hard-sell TV ads do not bode well.
2) They advertise on Rush Limbaugh.
3) My wingnut sort-of-brother-in-law recommends it highly.
@John Cole: 4 outlets? $800? My frakin’ lawyer wouldn’t dare charge me like that.
@accidentalfission: Angie’s List can be helpful if you’re trying to find someone to do work that you never have had to hire for before, or if you’re new to an area. I take the recs with a huge grain of salt, but one thing I have discovered is that anybody you hire from the list is very meticulous about meeting the letter of the agreement – just make sure you know exactly what is in the agreement before you start. We’ve hired several different companies using Angie’s List, with varying degrees of satisfaction, and have not been completely ripped off yet. We keep the cards of the ones we like best for future reference.
@Baud: I would say shit, shat, shat, but others will disagree. I will shit and will have shat upon their inferior opinions.
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
No. Shitten is the name of my kitten when she misbehaves.
It looks like they charged you about $95. an hour for the work which works out to about 6 hours. The last time I hired an electrician they were charging about $85. an hour.
That 6 hours would probably include the time it took him to go buy the part he needed. Then you had to pay for the part: he should have shown you a receipt for the part so you would know if that was correct.
That the Rep. offered to reimburse you was very good I think and you might have been able to negotiate slightly more if you had pressed him. If you want more clarity, call them back and ask for the hourly rate of their electricians.
I live in Florida and that rate is about standard, but it might be different where you live.
p.s. I had to replace my AC unit last year and had a heck of a time getting estimates. Every company I called gave me a different story on the prices of the air handler in the house: the part that had broken, and the actual unit outside.
In fact most companies would not even break the price down so that I could just replace the air handler without buying the unit outside.
When I called Lennox corporate headquarters re. replacement parts for their unit, they would not even quote a price at all. They told me that THEIR DEALERS IN EVERY PLACE THEY HAD DEALERS WOULD QUOTE ME A PRICE. THIER COST WAS CONFIDENTIAL AND THEY WOULD NOT DISLOSE IT.
I did not relace my AC with another Lennox.