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Have i ripped off my customer??

I'm an emergency plumber and have been for 18 years.

A few weeks ago, a got a lead through a website. The customer turned out to be living in Preston. I live in Manchester, an hour away. He had a dripping tap as well as a leaking overflow.

I advised that I could fit him a tap reviver kit to his tap and also a new ball valve rather than repairing the existing one. I quoted him (over the phone) £96, which he said was too expensive. He asked if I could do it for £50 and I agreed to meet him in the middle (ish) at £75. He was happy with this and said it was reasonable as I promised I'd be with him within 90 minutes and I'd guarantee the work etc.

When I arrived, the customer and his wife were friendly, very chatty and with a load of model trains hung in cabinets on his walls, we found a mutual interest, which we chatted about. I replaced the ball valve and fitted his tap reviver kit, checked everything was ok and they were over the moon. Happy to the point the customer's wife kissed me as a left. I then got a text a day later saying how happy they were with the work, how friendly I was and what a nice guy I was etc, and would there be any way of them leaving me a review online. I sent over a link for them to leave the review and received a 4 and half star rating from them. In the comments section, they put how good I was, how friendly I was, how efficient etc etc, and the last line said (words to the effect of) 'the company is good if a little expensive'

Fair enough I thought. All my other reviews are 5 stars across the board and with really great comments that I'm extremely proud of - I see a good review as a reward for the effort we have to put in to make customers happy. I stupidly (really stupidly!) decided I'd comment back to the review, and publicly explained why I'd charged £75 for the job. I explained that by the time I'd bought a new ball valve, a tap reviver kit, spent £25 on fuel and spent an hour each way travelling, that I'd only actually made £30 on the job. I was on site for nearly 2 hours, but most of that was chatting about trains and diabetes (something we both have in common!). It felt like I was visiting a friend and doing them a favour at the same time.

After my response to the review, I heard nothing until today, when I received a review from the same customer on another website giving me one star and saying how although I'm an average plumber, I represent 'rip off britain' in person and by charging £25 for fuel I'm a con man and will never be asked back to their house. I called the customer to sort it out and he told me I am a rip off merchant, he felt I'd taken advantage of him and when I offered him his money back he said it was an admission of guilt and then hung up on me, refusing the refund.

I'm wondering if I'm looking at it all wrong?

Is £75 for a ball valve and a tap reviver kit too much? Is it me who's in the wrong or the customer?

Your thoughts and comments would be greatly appreciated!

15 Answers from MyBuilder Plumbers

Best Answer

You supply an emergency service, therefore it is the privilege of potential customers to get immediate attention.
Many, if not all, professional tradespeople are not available immediately as they are well booked up in advance. This leaves those who don't have work, through poor reputation and skills, and skilled people like you who SPECIALISE in emergency attendance....
For that you (the customer) expect to pay a premium for the Specialist!
Familiarity breeds contempt, and in this instance your customer adopted you as their chummy friend and psychologically expected chummy rates on an after thought.
Emergency services are fast, in and out...
Shows demand and professionalism.
Never apologise or reduce your rates... you know your trade and what it costs to be profitable - if you do, you are already indicating you were charging too much and 'ripping them off' in the first place.
Be careful not to be too familiar with your customer, be professional and keep all your personal stuff to yourself.... Most certainly for a short liaison of only a couple of hours. (A three month project may be the exception tho, as you become 'part of the family' LOL).
After 35 years in the Trade, I have learnt that you can be the best thing since sliced bread, but still have a 'hard backside' to have full respect for being professional.
These people got under your skin, and its the familiarity that did it.
In my opinion, for what you provided, I would have charged them more, and felt good that they got the best.


Answered 11th Dec 2014

You should not be questioning yourself if you have ripped off a customer at a price like that. You are a tradesman and deserve to get paid like everyone else for your work. I wonder what they would of said if their boss approached them and asked if he could lower their wages. I wouldn't of traveled 20 miles for that price. The sad thing is that their is always nasty people out there who can spoil and attempt to tarnish someones livelihood which as you know is a very easy thing to do on the internet. Keep your chin up as most norm

"I stupidly (really stupidly!) decided I'd comment back to the review"

Lesson learnt


Answered 1st Dec 2014

I think you should have stuck to your original price, my van costs 30p a mile JUST in diesel and I hope to earn £15 per working hour which is only minimum wage once i've paid the taxes.
He's had a friend from the golf course say his son would do the whole house central heating for £25 and nothing less would satisfy him.
I'd expect a bill for £75 for tap and ball valve if you lived within 10 miles.
Set your rates and stick to them.


Answered 1st Dec 2014

Sorry to hear your a victim to a growing attitude towards us, so called rip off cowboy builders etc.
I charge £60 for the first hour and £40 there after obviously a day rate is completely different. And materials on top. The extra on my first hour is to cover fuel also. This is also stated on my website so there is no confusion.
I think they actually got off lightly as that was a 4 hour call plus collecting materials.
Go with the saying " you can please some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time"
Chalk this up to a tight client, and see if you can contest the review on the other site


Answered 1st Dec 2014

That price is totally fair!


Answered 2nd Dec 2014

You were cheaper than I would have charged.


Answered 1st Dec 2014

you charged what you thought was the right price,lots of programmes on tv about rip of tradesmen if they made one about bad customers who think you have to make a poorer living than themselves, and think you should be at their beck and call for a pittance there would be no room for anything else on tv.


Answered 15th Jan 2019

It would happen to anyone, i think you was very cheap you lost 2 hours of your life


Answered 18th Feb 2019

His comment about you being a bit expensive should have told you can bend down and pick up nothing all day long.....but that doesn't pay your overheads..


Answered 27th Jan 2018

I would have charged more because of the hours travel mate. You have to take into account your time, fuel, insurance etc!
Some people expect something for nothing, don't do it! If u do it cheap and it goes wrong you'll be out of pocket!
Your a qualified plumber don't under cut yourself! Your price is your price, you learned a hard lesson that day, u can do everything for a customer but still they won't acknowledge it.


Answered 4th Jan 2021

No you have not ripped you customer off. You charged the agreed price, if they thought you were a little expensive they should not have given you the job.


Answered 26th Apr 2021

You were cheap at that price 2 hours drive parts and doing it plus chat 5 hours total = almost half a day £25 x 5 = £125 + £35 parts £160 Thats what your time is least They were the cheap ones who knew nothing of how much things cost or how much it costs to feed a family today. Never drop your price unless its a regular and you can claw it back over next few jobs


Answered 26th Apr 2021

I would have thought that 18 years in the business would have taught you one thing.....PRICE THE JOBS PROPERLY!!!!


Answered 19th Jan 2022

Hope they never visit a vet..or a lawyer...or a mechanic...should have billed that for 150 for future reference...feul prices are through the roof the now...


Answered 17th Dec 2021

Mate you did them a massive favour at the £96 let alone the £75. As previously stated once you give a price stick to it.

The materials pick up, round trip plus the two hours on site would have been £140 all day long.


Answered 30th Apr 2022

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