Mumsnet Logo
My feed

to access all these features


AIBU to argue with plumber's invoice?

26 replies

Cloudysky · 03/05/2011 17:00

Plumbers gave us a quote for some work which they estimated would take 6 hours, but the guy spent less than 3 hours on site (& quite a lot of the time on the phone) so is it reasonable to say I don?t want to pay for more than 3 hours labour?
I'm happy to pay for a good job and don?t want to quibble but at 70 quid an hour it?s not nothing...
The guy also said we needed further work and ?might as well? get a new boiler (they call themselves ?ecoplumbers? which I?m finding a bit ironic as he said only one part needs replacing!).
Help! On maternity leave and obsessing way too much that I'm being ripped off. How do sensible, sane ppl deal with stuff like this...?

OP posts:

bemybebe · 03/05/2011 17:02

I would argue that the estimate is not the final invoice and they would have charged you more was the job to take 10 hours instead. Estimate works both ways. They should be reasonable with you.


nocake · 03/05/2011 17:03

I assume the quote was for the job, not for a specified number of hours? If it was then you need to pay up as they've done the job.


Insomnia11 · 03/05/2011 17:05

Is it broken down into parts, labour, call out fee?

If not could you ask for a breakdown? If it's £70 a good £50 could be the call-out fee, which they charge however long it takes. Doesn't sound a lot for 3 hours' work anyway.


lubberlich · 03/05/2011 17:07

YANBU - an estimate is just an estimate. If he spent 3 hours on site then you should pay him for 3 hours.
I feel your pain - wrangling with plumbers/heating engineers etc drives me round the bend.


TheVisitor · 03/05/2011 17:07

Ask for a breakdown of costs. Agree that if you've accepted the quote, you've accepted the price.


helenthemadex · 03/05/2011 17:09

have you had an invoice yet or just the quote?

if not maybe they will charge you for the three hours they did. I do think it also depends on what the quote says


lazydog · 03/05/2011 17:15

It depends whether the paperwork you agreed to was in fact a quote (i.e. "this is what you pre-agree you'll be paying us") or an estimate, which is basically a best guess, but not binding in any way.


Cloudysky · 03/05/2011 17:16

the quote was an invoice broken down into labour (6 hours) and parts. he took 20 quid off for not using a part he said he was going to use. but it's still 400 odd quid!

OP posts:

Cloudysky · 03/05/2011 17:19

I've left it open for them to quote for the next job, so perhaps will raise the labour issue on this one and say I want to be sure I'm being invoiced accurately or they won't get the next job.

OP posts:

melikalikimaka · 03/05/2011 17:23

Sometimes they used 'hours' to indicate a set amount of work to complete the job, just because they spent 3 hours there it doesn't mean they didn't do the allocated job time. Would you rather they actually spent 6 hours there? This is true in the motor trade also. Each job is given allocated hours, do you see what I mean?


Cloudysky · 03/05/2011 17:25

Thanks lazydog for clarification on quotes/estimates. Useful knowledge that I should have known!! And just asking, is there any legal recourse if one has accepted a quote?

OP posts:

Cloudysky · 03/05/2011 17:26

haha melika... yes probably would rather they didn't stay here six hours!

OP posts:

Cloudysky · 03/05/2011 17:46

Insomnia11 -- the bill was £400-odd, not £70. they charge £70 per hour Hmm

OP posts:

bemybebe · 03/05/2011 17:50

melika I usually stay away from garages like that and go to my independent friendly mechanic who tells me how much the job will cost to complete and not all the blah-blah ('she is a woman, she has no clue')... Wink


KatieWatie · 03/05/2011 18:01

If the job was fixed price then you need to pay up I'm afraid. My DH is a (VERY FAIR!!) plumber and always breaks quotes down with an estimated number of hours. Sometimes it takes longer sometimes it's less - it often depends on what he finds once he goes 'behind the wall'... However the quote is for the job and if it's done and the customer is happy then he expects them to pay it.
(Also if he takes his plumbing mate along they will quote it's 6 man-hours, but that's still only 3 hours on site, could this be what happened in your case?)

Obviously if he doesn't use parts he said he would, then he knocks it off the bill as yours have done.


KatieWatie · 03/05/2011 18:03

£70 an hour cheesus wept that's extortionate!! Where do you live - I can recommend someone who works for £150 a day! Wink

However sorry to say if you accepted a fixed quote of 6 hours at £70 per hour then it's pretty binding.


Groovee · 03/05/2011 18:04

I'd ask for a breakdown first. Dh's invoicing is done by computer but we break it all down. The thing is if you accepted an estimate at £400 then that is the price you then have to pay.


bemybebe · 03/05/2011 18:21

Katie I may be missing something, but isn't estimate is an estimate, subject to change and fixed price quote is fixed and is not subject to change.

If the job was estimated to take 3 hours, but took 6 would you expect OP to pay for actual time?


KatieWatie · 03/05/2011 18:31

bemybebe aren't we violently agreeing? if it's only an estimate then yes it's subject to change

I think I've confused things by using the word 'estimate' wrt a fixed quote, sorry. What I mean is he will give an indication on the fixed quote of how long it is likely to take based on his experience so that the householder can see how the quote breaks down and knows roughly how many days he will be there. Whether it takes longer or shorter he still would charge the same, because the quote is for the job.

(My brother was very badly stung recently by not agreeing the price upfront, and saying he would pay by the day for his bathroom refit. He came home every day to find they'd done not very much, and the end result was a £5k bill which he had to pay.)


bemybebe · 03/05/2011 19:16

Katie we do agree I guess (violently Wink).

Agreeing to pay by the hour is a recipe for a disaster. That said, my plumber charges by the hour and is very fair I feel. He gives estimates and then I pay sometimes more but sometimes less. But one needs to trust the integrity of the professional 100%. Which I do in my case.


bemybebe · 03/05/2011 19:20

Having done trading in the City for the past 12 years I am very sensitive to terminology: estimate, indication, rough number are all subject to change; fixed price is the only one figure parties are committed to.


frostyfingers · 03/05/2011 19:42

It's not all about how many hours he was actually at your place though - it may have been 3 hours in situ, but was there any ordering involved, research, collecting etc....? My DH is a plumber and finds it difficult to get some people to understand what else is involved other than just what the customer sees on the day......


squeakytoy · 03/05/2011 19:47

he gave you a quote, you were happy with that quote and asked him to do the job.

the job didnt take as long as he thought, so he was out of your house quicker..

was his the only quote you got?


Cloudysky · 03/05/2011 22:24

Thanks everyone for input, it is much appreciated.
Squeaky, I talked to someone else on the phone who said our falling pressure was Very Dangerous and he should come and deal with it immediately or the consequences would be Terrible, and as these people had been comparatively less alarmist I accepted their quote as the lesser of two evils. With a 4 week old baby I was probably less assiduous than I would have been otherwise. Anyway, upshot is they've been in touch this afternoon, without me raising anything, and reduced the invoice by 1.5 hours. I'm still going to query the final amount (a quick google shows very large markups on parts) but think we can come to a workable solution. Phew! Just wish it wasn't such a struggle & didn't make me feel so vulnerable.
Will certainly ask for a second opinion for the remainder of the work as replacing the boiler seems pretty drastic/expensive compared with replacing the expansion vessel, no? (And this from a company whose motto is 'Save energy, your money and our planet' Hmm)
All this makes me think i should retrain to be a plumber...

OP posts:

frostyfingers · 04/05/2011 18:29

I wouldn't recommend it! Endless and expensive exams needed, plus insurance etc, laying out £££'s for stock, and people (not you!) who expect something for nothing, and several who can be extremely rude to the plumber's wife and treat you like a lower class citizen because your job is "manual"! I have to take the flak from some of these ungrateful so and so's who baulk at paying a call out fee of £75 for a 2am call - bitter moi? Non, well only a tad, and not all the time! It is def worth shopping around though - and double checking exactly what you will get for your money. Good luck.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?