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Century Man
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A member of my communty Yahoo group posted a comment about a local handyman. I think it will make for some great fodder in this forum. The title is not accurate as it's the HO's friend making the complaint. Give me another 90 seconds to finish popping my popcorn.

Hi, all.

I just wanted to share a short story with all of you. Recently, some friends of mine contacted a handyman who advertises in the All xxxxxxxx Bulletin, (name withheld), about a small job they had: the shower stall in the basement of their unit had a water leak in the area near the wall and needed to be caulked. They thought it would be best handled by someone with experience who knew which caulking material would be most reliable and long-lasting.

They also asked that the basement toilet, which often 'runs,' be fixed. This was to involve merely replacing the tank ball.

Mr. xxxxxx left that day without providing an estimate, but my friends figured that the work is not complex, should be completed quickly, and thus how much could it be?

Surprise! The total bill turned out to be $310.

Here's the breakdown: the charge for the caulking job, which took 45 minutes, was $175. Mr. xxxxxxx then left to procure a tank ball, which he had not brought with him. He returned an hour and 15 minutes later and took 1/2 hour to replace the tank ball. My friends were charged $45 for the part (which they later priced at $11.49 on the internet) and $90 for procuring the part and installing it.

BTW, the toilet still runs.
 

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You don't need to be a licensed plumber to change a ball in the tank and nothing is wrong with that price :thumbsup:
If he didn't fix the problem,there's no way he should have been paid for it.
It's like going to a car dealer to have your brakes redone and they put in a new transmission.

If he can't figure out why the toilet kept running,and bills them for parts they didn't need,he doesn't deserve the amount he charged!
It ain't brain surgery!


Tell me that if you brought a car to a dealer for repairs,and they kept fixing everything but the problem,charging you their labor rates,you wouldn't be upset?
 

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Administrator
Maker of Fine Sawdust
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I don't see what the big stink is about. The caulking part took 45 minutes. He had to know where to caulk and how to apply it neatly. Both of those tasks require experience. This is what you are paying for, the experience to get the job done correctly and neatly.

For the second task it sounds like the customer ask for him to replace the ball assy for the toilet. They didn't have it there so he had to get it. It takes time and gasoline and then the expertise on how to get the old one out and the new one in. So the HO sees it on the internet for $10. So they should have ordered it and paid the shipping and handling and waited the week for it to come in and remove the old one and install the new one. Simple, right?

For a guy to come out to your home, have the expertise to do what you ask, go to a store to get parts using his vehicle (and time) return to the residence and continue the work is worth the $300.

Really, they got out of it cheap. More than likely the shower surround should have been replaced and that would have run in the neighborhood of a grand plus parts.
 

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I don't see what the big stink is about. The caulking part took 45 minutes. He had to know where to caulk and how to apply it neatly. Both of those tasks require experience. This is what you are paying for, the experience to get the job done correctly and neatly.

For a guy to come out to your home, have the expertise to do what you ask, go to a store to get parts using his vehicle (and time) return to the residence and continue the work is worth the $300.


I was under the impression that he was asked to fix the toilet,and he made the call to replace the ball.If that was the case his" expertise" is questionable.
 

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Maker of Fine Sawdust
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Surprise! The total bill turned out to be $310.

Here's the breakdown: the charge for the caulking job, which took 45 minutes, was $175. Mr. xxxxxxx then left to procure a tank ball, which he had not brought with him. He returned an hour and 15 minutes later and took 1/2 hour to replace the tank ball. My friends were charged $45 for the part (which they later priced at $11.49 on the internet) and $90 for procuring the part and installing it.

BTW, the toilet still runs.

You are missing a few things here.

First was the initial call where he drove out to the clients house to look at the problem. Second was the caulk, before he got to the clients home he needed to go to the store to get the caulk that was required for the job. Both of these have to be paid for.

30 minutes to install and 75 minutes to obtain. He probably paid about $18 for the part. I know my truck uses 4 gallons per hour of driving. I assume it took him about 15 minutes in the store, so that means he was on the road for an hour. So $20 for the part, $10 gas, an hour 15 of his time, lets say $40 (cheap) and half hour to install it ($20). That's $90 of direct costs right there. $45 for profit on the job, which includes the time for the initial call.

People really just don't have a clue on how much it costs to do a legal business. They look at how much it costs if they did it themselves and then charge $0/hr because there time is free. No thoughts about vehicle maintenance, insurance, overhead, profit, advertising and everything else that goes into operating just a small business. Every job needs to have all those costs in it or the business will be no longer in a short time.

Sound like they wanted the guy to work for free. So lets see, $5 for a tube of caulk, $11 for the part (off the internet) 105 minutes of his time at $8/hr so the bill should have been in the range of $30. Right? Is that what they think would have been a fair price?:shutup:
 

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Maker of Fine Sawdust
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.............They also asked that the basement toilet, which often 'runs,' be fixed. This was to involve merely replacing the tank ball....................
I was under the impression that he was asked to fix the toilet,and he made the call to replace the ball. If that was the case his" expertise" is questionable.
This is the statement that the OP made. I don't see how you can take on opinion either way. It is vague at best.

If the toilet runs there is only two problems it could be. The seat/valve is leaking or the shutoff float isn't shutting off and the water is flowing into the tube and into the toilet. Well of course, it could have a crack in the china but that would be a toilet replacement.
 

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It's Not a Toomaa!!
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On top of that, it seems they expected him to have the part on hand and resented him leaving the job to obtain what is needed for their toilet. What they fail to realize is because they hired a handyman and not a plumber, he will not stock that sort of thing, or much of anything really. If they wanted someone who would have that sort of thing on their truck, they should have called a plumber who would have charged them far more for the services rendered and may or may not have taken care of the caulking.

Many times when I'm called in to re-caulk, it is a matter of getting ALL the old caulking scraped out, spraying w/ bleach water to eliminate the inevitable mildew, drying the area completely w/ heat gun and then caulking. The price is fair, I doubt they even called the guy to let him know the toilet is still running.

Personally I never just change out a ball. I change the whole assembly w/ a universal kit that has never given me any problems and costs all of $25. I then suggest for them to pay me to change out the wax ring and the bowl to tank washers while I'm at it. May as well go over everything while I'm at it and they are looking at less than 1/2 hour extra to make it happen.
 

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Every tradesman should have their van/truck stocked with certain parts. I am not a plumber, but I would bet most plumbers would say they should already have caulk, generic toilet parts, and fittings stocked. As a heater guy, we should always have refrigerant, motors, and capacitors stocked.

Things happen, and if you forget a certain part, the client should not be charged for your absentmindedness. When you charge $50.00 + for a service call, you are expected to come prepared with certain parts. Unless this was a special color of Caulking, the trip charge is unwarranted.
 

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Maker of Fine Sawdust
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If the toilet still runs the Handy Man should return to fix it. Agreed.
 

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Maker of Fine Sawdust
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Every tradesman should have their van/truck stocked with certain parts. I am not a plumber, but I would bet most plumbers would say they should already have caulk, generic toilet parts, and fittings stocked. As a heater guy, we should always have refrigerant, motors, and capacitors stocked.

Things happen, and if you forget a certain part, the client should not be charged for your absentmindedness. When you charge $50.00 + for a service call, you are expected to come prepared with certain parts. Unless this was a special color of Caulking, the trip charge is unwarranted.
Obtaining your materials whether during the job or before hand as a bulk process should always be charge for. It is part of doing business. You need to spend time doing it and need to get that time paid for.
 

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Capra Aegagrus
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25,302 Posts
Obtaining your materials whether during the job or before hand as a bulk process should always be charge for. It is part of doing business. You need to spend time doing it and need to get that time paid for.
Yep. But case in point, just yesterday [Edit: oops, that was Friday. Lost track.] I swapped out a water heater, and to my dismay I was short a couple of fittings that I always carry. :censored:

There's no way I could in good conscience charge for the hour's round trip to fetch what I should have had with me in the first place. And IF... IF the guy knew in advance that he would be doing caulking and toilet repair, he should have had those supplies with him.

I usually stock up on more [generic] supplies than I really expect to need for such a job. If they all get used, fine. If not, I'm better prepared for the next job.
 
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