How much would you charge....

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by JeffH, Feb 2, 2007.

  1. JeffH

    JeffH New Member

    I replaced all the inside parts to a 1970's Delta single lever shower valve. The cap of course was water welded tight. Being careful not to twist the small copper supply tubes, I sprayed PB Blaster. It wouldn't give. I let it sit overnight. Came back used my pen torch to expand the cap and worked on it gently until the cap came off easily. I charged the Customer $125.00. She called me back latter in the day and just gave me the riot act for the charge and wanted me to justify the cost. I tried to explain (as I did before I started the job) that these valves were notorious for giving plumbers/handymen/owners heartaches by breaking and that my expertise allowed me to do the job with little hitch. I feel terrible now and will likely cut the price down....dang I hate working for family/friends/neighbors!
  2. JeffH

    JeffH New Member

    PS..that included parts :)

  3. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Bothell, Washington
    She got a bargain.

    Repairing it for $125 is a lot less than replacement at $500

    My brother just paid a plumber something like $650 for a replacement.

    And two trips you made, so that you wouldn't have to tear it out and replace it.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2007
  4. TedL

    TedL New Member

    NY Capital District
    Cutting the price will most likely only convince her that you were ripping her off in the first place. If she only saw you in her house for an hour total, she's seeing you charging her $125 an hour.

    Any customer deserves an explanation of how the charge was arrived at. I'd include info on your normal charge, and point out that you've already given her a discount (if you have), and that if you engaged her services, or her husband's, you'd expect to pay a fair price, but not get the work for free.

    Don't act guilty unless you are. But I bet you hear that $125 to fix the old one is outrageous because she could get a new one at the big box for $80, ignoring the issue of how it would get from her kitchen table into the bath.
  5. Joerg

    Joerg New Member

    $125 for coming out twice was deemed too much? Oh man. What might help prevent such disputes: Take a little digital camera along. It's useful anyway, like when you want to document where the lines behind the sheetrock go before you close it up. Now take a photo at the moment when you have the most clutter going at the job. Blowtorch, lots of tools, huge mess. Then pull that photo when something says that "it can't possibly have been that much work".


  6. kordts

    kordts In the Trades

    exurban Chicago
    Tell her to call a flat rate shop and see what they charge. That's about what I would have charged, if it was in town. I charge 90 bucks an hour, BTW. Any driving, and the price would be higher.
  7. Are you a plumber? If you are, don't sweat it. Nothing out of line with that price.

    Let us know how much time you had in the job. Like TedL stated, don't back down or it will definitely make you look guilty in her eyes.

    Don't worry about your reputation though; I guarantee at this point that you could give all the money back, it's already in her head that she wants something cheaper and she's using your sympathy to get it back.

    If you have a signed work order showing she accepted stated work, shouldn't be a matter of negotiation at this point.

    Do like me in the future; don't work for your neighbors; they are expecting better deals.....even though it doesn't warrant that. The travel time usually isn't the reason for the charges to begin with; it's the knowledge and know-how.
  8. TNPlumber

    TNPlumber Plumbing Contractor

    East Tennessee
    Never cut your price.

    I wouldn't feel bad about it. Some people hate to think about a plumber or any other "blue" collar person making a good living. I can't tell you how many times they compare my prices to a physician.

    I worked for a landlord several days a week when he first acquired a good sized apartment complex. Because of the repetitive nature of the work at his complex I basically gave him a flat rate price, which he agreed to. Every time I would give him a bill he would complain. After several times of him complaining about my prices, I told him that it was real simple, he pays for the repairs because he isn't capable of doing them himself. After that he still didn't like it, but he never complained again.
  9. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Working for friends,neighbors, and relatives is about the hardest thing for me to do as far as business goes. It's definitely a good idea to discuss the finances up front. If they want it for nothing then its best to either do the job for free or refer them to someone else. I recently did a job for my neighbor...maybe 3 hours...$200 including a few small parts of about $25. That was hitting hard for what I usually charge. After thinking a little I felt alot better about it. This vacation house is owned by 4 relatives. Two are accountants. I'm very very small one man band. When I have my income taxes done it takes about 45min to an hour... $150 last year... Take your car to any dealer or even just a decent garage...$50 to $87 per hour... I deserve as much as any other skilled profession...if they want it cheap then they can do it themselves and get a great price!
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    I would not have made two trips. On the first one, I heat the cap until it unscrews easily, then I replace all the parts including a new cap. It always costs more than $125.00. And when I have had to repair one of those valves that a plumber or customer has twisted off, usually on a Saturday or Sunday, it is a lot more.
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