Friday, May 28, 2010

Electrical Shock: Trip Charges, Drive Time, Hourly Rates and Other Ways Electricians Pad the Bill

I had two Nashville-area electricians at my house most of the day on Tuesday and again for 1/2 hour on Friday, going over my electrical system. I had electric problems in 3 parts of the house, some as a result of the Nashville flood. I showed them the three specific areas where I was having issues with the power, but after they left, I discovered I still could not turn on the lights/ceiling fan in one of the rooms. I had to reschedule an appointment for Thursday, and after waiting all day, they called and said it would be "sometime" Friday before they could get there. They finally came back around 5:00 PM on Friday.

The electric company originally charged me a $25 trip charge on Tuesday to drive 1 mile from a business in Bellevue to my house, and then added the drive time which somehow ended up being around 15 minutes for a 3-minute drive. Today I called to discuss an adjustment with the owner due to the fact his guys never looked at a room I walked them to and specifically said I was not able to use the outlets/fixtures in. That's why I had to call them back to finish the job yesterday. They charged me for another full hour even though they were only there for 1/2 hour.

When I called about the adjustment, Joe the owner started telling me I not only had power in the room when his guys got there, but that I had his guys look at an "extra fan." No, I had already tested the outlets and flipped the switches again and tested the ceiling fan/light fixture yesterday before the electricians arrived, and the fan was the same fixture that didn't work on Tuesday in the same room where I told his guys I wasn't able to get lights/fixtures to work -- and none of it worked on Friday morning.

Needless to say, I didn't get an adjustment, because they HAVE to charge a FULL hour, even if they are only there 1/2 hour and even if it is the 2nd time you asked them out to look at the same room. Then the owner told me that they had already given me a discount of $5 off their regular rate which he now claims is $80 an hour, so they really "did me a favor" by saving me $15. So obviously, I am the ungrateful one for not recognizing their beneficence.

The issue with the electric power "working" when the guys got here yesterday bothers me, because it sure wasn't working yesterday morning. I am concerned there is still a problem in the wiring somewhere which they did not find.

I cannot tell you how many times I have had repairmen, attorneys, mechanics, etc. either not do what they promised, or charge more and do less than they said they would. Do people not do what they say they are going to do anymore? Is a person's word no longer their bond? What is the deal with not following up, not following through and not following the golden rule? Why do electricians, contractors, painters, repairmen and mechanics feel justified in doing shoddy and/or incomplete work and then adding extra charges? I have to wonder, is this something only single women face?

While I understand Matt 5:37 "Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No." refers to oaths, I always took it to mean saying you are going to do something means -- well -- that you are going to actually DO it. And by DO it, I mean do it correctly, for the price you originally stated, at the time you stated, with no extra charges. But heaven forbid I try to follow up by asking someone to live up to their promise or by asking for an adjustment if the work wasn't done correctly or if extra charges were added. We all know what a woman like that is called, and it isn't nice!

I am sure the average person, male or female, married or single, has experienced some of the frustration I am feeling, but it is a known fact many - I'll go so far as to say MOST contractors scope out a client, and if it is a single woman, she might as well wear a big "SUCKER" sign around her neck. While I am outrageously happy being a single woman most of the time, whenever I deal with contractors or certain other professionals, it would be nice to be able to borrow a man.

In lieu of that I will just say, if you ever want to know which locksmith, handyman, mechanic, and electric company NOT to use, I will be happy to pass along my non-recommendations. And I can also tell you a few good ones.

Also see:

Top Ten Tips for Dealing with a Flood in Your Home 
Top Ten Tips for Dealing with a Cleanup Company After a Flood 

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