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View Full Version : We're in the wrong business



Ken Fenner
12-27-2008, 09:12 PM
Let me wrap a quick story of the past week or so with my mother-in-law. Her daughter Colleen owns a house paid for and maintained by the M-I-L.

One day her microwave shorts out. Out comes a master electrician. He reports that there needs to be some major rewiring. How major? Well he talks my M-I-L into purchasing a new water heater, washer, dryer and new microwave. He replaces the panel downstairs and runs a new line to the subpanel behind the microwave. $16,000. Three days work.

Colleen decides she wants new ceiling fans. New lines have to be run from that sub panel. $2000. Says he will only be there a couple of hours.

When he and his helper get there they find some faulty wiring (extension cord wire in the ceiling). The house is old. I get involved when he says he now needs an additional $3200 to run a few more lines and circuits or he has to walk away from the job. My M.I.L hung up on him but the walls are already open and wires are hanging.

I go talk to this guy and his partner. He tells me they have been in business 22 years (which they have been). Clean bill of health with the BBB.. legitimate accreditation, member of all electrician associations, thousands of customers and references, 7 trucks in the field etc etc. So he finishes the job. I inspect. Top notch work of course but the bottom line is..


This guy and his partner billed $21,200 for 35 hours on the jobsite. materials on the high end could not have been more than $2000 including appliances, panel, 12/3, etc.

The funniest part was that he was ADAMANT that we got a great deal. We worry about selling $1,200 deckjobs? Will the Fireman can't sleep at night charging more than $250 for a house wash? Like I mentioned, we are in the worng business. No, actually the funniest part of the story is that this guy says the entire house needs to be rewired and that he would do it for a good customer discount of another $15,000!

Jim Chesmore
12-27-2008, 11:04 PM
whats his name ken? I'd like to hire him :biggrin: wait, its not DJ is it, LOL

Jeff LeCours
12-28-2008, 12:04 AM
Tell her to move to the south can get it done for $2K

Terry Miller
12-28-2008, 10:54 AM
Ken,
Good story. I would like to ad some thoughts on this. First the guy is legitimate? OK. He has 22 yrs experience and belongs to a reputable organization, good. However did anyone ask for multiple bids? Or was he a friend and who recommended him? We also feel pretty good when we have a guarenteed job. This means we can charge a decent price without any bickering. Personally we have never over charged anyone no matter what the circumstances. Unless there were red flags all over and we did not want the work. I believe your MIL fell into a trap. She felt everything was the way it should have been. She may have had a great recommendation from someone she trusted. All well and good. What we need to look at is she may not have gotten mulitple bids or had any idea of the actual cost for things? In any business, there are good and bad contractors. Some are plain bad. We all know of them. Some are all good. We hope to fit in here. Some are Good and Bad. They are highly qualified, highly recommended and fit the bill exactly. Their downside is they take advantage of people. Their profit margins are huge. They charge as much as a lawyer. They have only one goal in life. Get paid as much as they can get. This may not be wrong? We all deserve to make a profit. Folks like this though will stand looking in your eyes and charge you $1,000 for a $500. Oven. They feel they deserve it and they believe they deserve it. We have PWers on all BBS that feel the same way. They will do whatever it takes to make a buck.
My answer here is a lesson learned. Use the word of mouth to let others know this guy is excellent, but very expensive. That is the advertisement he needs to adjust his thought process? It's too late to do anything, except hire another contractor to finish if needed. I would advise your MIL next time to get various bids and she may have a better chance of comparing prices? Thank you.

Ken Fenner
12-28-2008, 11:06 AM
Terry, I think she got completely ripped off. You know me, I am all about a contractor making the right money, but this was excessive, imo. She called him from an ad in the paper. My MIL is a magnet for bad contractors. If they aren't overcharging her, they are doing shoddy work. Yet, for the 5th time I have begged her to call me when she needs a contractor and she just won't listen. She opens the paper and follows the big ads.

I won't name the company here because its bad decorum and I don't want to get into a battle but I have talked with a few electricians from ContractorTalk and they all said the rate was exorbitant even for a master electrician. If all the pieces come together and I find out she was out and out ripped off, I am unsure how to handle it.

Jeff LeCours
12-28-2008, 11:39 AM
Terry, I think she got completely ripped off. You know me, I am all about a contractor making the right money, but this was excessive, imo. She called him from an ad in the paper. My MIL is a magnet for bad contractors. If they aren't overcharging her, they are doing shoddy work. Yet, for the 5th time I have begged her to call me when she needs a contractor and she just won't listen. She opens the paper and follows the big ads.

I won't name the company here because its bad decorum and I don't want to get into a battle but I have talked with a few electricians from ContractorTalk and they all said the rate was exorbitant even for a master electrician. If all the pieces come together and I find out she was out and out ripped off, I am unsure how to handle it.

Ken if it i a rip off. see if the AG can do anything. Also didnt you say he was a member of BBB call them

Ken Fenner
12-28-2008, 11:49 AM
The problem facing us, Jeff is that the work was all done and it was done correctly. I personally witnessed the holes in the ceiling and walls (with new wire sticking out of them) and he left four trash bags full of bad wiring. There is no law against charging exorbitant rates unfortunately. The guys I have spoken to said a good electrician would have charged approximately $6000 for the work and a master electrician could have gotten $9K-$10K. But nearly $22K? The house is worth maybe $70K total.

topcoat
12-28-2008, 11:56 AM
The problem facing us, Jeff is that the work was all done and it was done correctly. I personally witnessed the holes in the ceiling and walls (with new wire sticking out of them) and he left four trash bags full of bad wiring. There is no law against charging exorbitant rates unfortunately. The guys I have spoken to said a good electrician would have charged approximately $6000 for the work and a master electrician could have gotten $9K-$10K. But nearly $22K? The house is worth maybe $70K total.


Ken

At that price, hauling away the debris wasnt part of the package? haha

Those guys are something. We work with electricians in new construction all the time, and I have a master electrician/friend who has rewired my whole entire 120 year old home. I think there is some sort of sense of entitlement that goes along with the technical training and licensing that they go through. Honestly, on new construction, the majority of the labor is in drilling holes and pulling wire. One of my better contractor customers made the comment to me this year that even he couldnt understand how the plumbers and electricians are able to charge what they do when the overwhelming majority of what they do requires very little in terms of craft or skill. There is alot of knowledge and technical involved in those systems, but in general they definitely have a very inflated perception of their value. The two biggest reasons I see are that those trades are not diy friendly, and they are necessary services in all structures, unlike deck washes and paint jobs. So, their demand will be constant, in fact growing, in the current housing market as peoples homes continue to age.

$600/hr?? Wow. I am with you as far as contractors deserving to be paid what they are worth but that is off the charts.

Terry Miller
12-28-2008, 11:18 PM
I'd repeat myself and say, #1 she agreed to the cost. #2 her word to others is her only salvation? Thank you.

John Orr
12-29-2008, 08:27 AM
Sorry about the obvious (at least, to all of us) rip-off. If you have it in your area, I'd suggest Angie's List as a way to "report" this company. More and more (we should ALL keep this in mind) the internet is the place where people are going to look for contractors like this one - or like us. The BBB will never tell you the bad stuff about a company, only whether there is anything - and some will charge you for the "privilege" of sharing this information.

The electronic dissemination of contractor information is one of the most valuable assets that an organization like UAMCC can offer it's members. Those of us with websites are aware of the value of being "searchable". Good or bad, information about all of us is "out there" in cyberspace. Eventually, as fewer people rely on print media, those that depend on it will suffer. Let's hope that the contractor she hired is one of them.