Electricians that charge an initial consulting fee?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by TubeGuru, Sep 13, 2010.

  1. TubeGuru

    TubeGuru New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Redmond, WA
    http://www.accurate-electric.com/pricing.html

    This just seems weird. They charge $60 to come to your house to give you a firm bid on the work. That might be fine for large jobs, but for a small job that you know will take an hour or less, they could give you a high bid and you're out $60. The "arguments" on the pricing page for this practice seem kind of lame, imo.

    Does this put anyone else out of their comfort zone?
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,233
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The "I will help you increase your profits by 200%" plumbing gurus have been advocating this for years. I guess they are starting on the electricians now. The way it works is that since you have $60.00 invested with them, any one else who bids the job has to be a lot cheaper. IF they are only $60.00 cheaper, then the customer will be paying the same as if they had the original company do the work, (which is what they are counting one). In addition, they are counting on the average person's reluctance to appear "cheap", so as long as they are already at the job site, the customer will take their price, rather than take the time to get a second opinion, and maybe "hurt the contractor's feelings". One employee of that type of company asked me for a job once, because he said he was tired of people slamming the door in his face when he gave them the price for the job.
  3. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,780
    Location:
    USA
    I've paid charges like that in the past, sometimes to get a second quote (they're rarely the cheapest) and other times to ask them about the work so I have a better idea of how to do it myself.

    Seems only fair.

    But nine times out of ten if I don't do the work myself I go with a small local firm, all of which do not charge for quotes and most of which do the best job for the lowest price.

    I wish I had known that when I first moved to the US but nobody told me.

    Only use trusted, local firms. They're the only ones that are any good and reasonably priced. Big firms are good (but expensive). And warranty contractors are really bad (but very cheap).
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,233
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote: other times to ask them about the work so I have a better idea of how to do it myself.

    That is why I do NOT tell the customer how I intend to do it. Either they use the information to do it themselves, or the give it to the local handyman so he can do it cheaper, but correctly. You tell me what you want, and I will tell you what it costs to do it, period.
  5. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,780
    Location:
    USA
    I don't ask for a diagram hj. Just a small question here and there that seems simple enough. I'm sure even you let something slip. It's called polite conversation.

    Invaluable.

    But then again most homeowners aren't looking to DIY.

    So don't get too paranoid.

    The best one was the window guy. I had no idea how to get my old steel frame windows out. Come quote time, I simply asked.

    "How will you remove my old windows?"

    "We'll cut them out." he simply replied.

    And there I was the next day with a sawzall.

    Worked a treat.

    That was worth the $30 quote fee. I didn't save any money and the job took ten times as long but the satisfaction of doing it myself, as my hobby, was a real treat.

    I also ALWAYS watch the contractors I pay to do a job. That way you learn how they do things. Snaking small drains. Soldering. The works. You miss a trick if you let them just get on with it. Next time you can give it a go yourself, particularly the small jobs, and take pride in your new skill.

    Again, none of this is about saving money. It's about taking pride in your own craftsmanship. Buying the materials you want, and not just the ones they have stocked at their supply house. And taking the time to get everything perfect, cosmetically as well to code. Copper pipe perfectly cut to length and plumb with a spirit level. Solder joints perfectly formed. No excess solder messing up the pipe. Polished brass fittings, without a scratch or else thrown away. Angle stops made in the USA. Metal cable instead of Romex. Square D instead of GE. And toilets by American Standard. Time you can afford to take and materials you can save to buy as a DIY.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
  6. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    988
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    Thing is you just proved HJ's point precisely.
  7. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    988
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    There are many jobs I will not even give a price on. T&M is the only way I will do it. This is safest and most fair to both of us.
    Thing is, some people HAVE to have a FIRM price in advance. Folks like this are paranoid that a contractor is going to rip them off. That or they have to have the firm price to create or meet a budget. Typically it is the former, not the latter.

    The idea of charging for an estimate is an old one, and a valid one. May times a contractor has to travel a distance to get to he bid. Then spend time on the site and writing it up for the customer. Is this time not worth anything?
    Like has been said, sometimes the bid is going to be used for unscrupulous reasons. Such as using it to undercut someone else or use it as leverage to get the guy they really want to do the job to lower his price. Or to get clues as to the right way to do a job so it can be done by a non-professional.
    I don't charge for bids becuse I rarely have to travel very far to bid something I might not get. Most of my "bids" are just prices wanted in advance for jobs I am definitely going to do, so I can build some time intot he price for any extra travel to trouble.
  8. dx

    dx General Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Michigan
    In my area, all trades charge a service fee to come to your location, for any purpose. Whether work is done on that trip or not. That charge is typically $75 and covers the service person's travel time and expense.

    As a GC I don't get charged travel because my jobs are typically larger, a minimum of half day. So the tech doesn't need to travel for an hour to do an hour's worth of work. Plus I never waste their time and I give them lots of work.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,233
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I usually go to the customer's home to do the job. I am almost NEVER asked a price beforehand, therefore it is not even something I have to worry about. But if the customer does want a price ahead of time, I make sure it is well above what the T&M cost could have been, because if there are problems, I cannot adjust the quotation afterwards.
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