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Electrician's labour time

psychopomp1

Well-known Member
Had a sparky over last week from a local company to supply & fit a replacement smoke alarm in my home. She came to my home, spent 2 mins looking and said she would nip out and buy a suitable smoke alarm from the local hardware store and come back. She came back around 1 hour later and spent around 20 mins fitting the new one, no issues there. However I've just received an invoice today from the company, and they charged me 2 hours labour + parts. Surely they should have charged me 1 hour + parts? I was always under the impression that labour time meant actual time spent carrying out the work, not travel time etc? I mean what if the sparky decided to go for a coffee or have a quick bite to eat whilst out shopping for the parts? I've already queried the charge with the company so waiting to hear from them but I suspect they're just going to say that time taken to buy the parts falls under labour time.
Cheers
 

hippo99

Distinguished Member
Considering (presumably) they knew you’d hired them to replace the smoke alarm, why did they turn up empty handed?
As you say, I don’t think you should have to pay for their trip to the hardware store. That’s on them to bring a replacement smoke alarm with them in the first place.
 

Woodsie

Well-known Member
How would they know what type of fitting the smoke alarm has ?
if you had got the smoke alarm for them to fit, they woud have just fitted it and charged you just for that
If not, they would have to attend site, see what’s required then go and get it, so yes I would expect to pay them for that
 

hippo99

Distinguished Member
If you need to get your door locks replaced, doesn’t the locksmith usually come with a selection of different locks in their van for different doors? 🤷‍♂️
 

alphaomega16

Distinguished Member
Smells like something a bull dropped.

They would be getting 1 hour thats it, don't take no hour to go and get a smoke alarm. Supply and fit a new unit they should have brought with them unless they wanted to specifically get one to fit a previous mount.
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
My view.

If a tradesperson unexpectedly finds they need something then I’m okay for them charging the time to go and get it provided the time taken seems reasonable.

But if you have already advised that a thing needs fitting or replacing then I expect them to turn up with the thing - unless they need to visit first to determine the exact thing needed.

Cheers,

Nigel
 

ufo550

Distinguished Member
For simple jobs like these, a company would charge a call out fee, then an hourly fee, typically on a half hour basis.

Companies have overheads, and are not a charity. I’ve read numerous threads of people unable to get trades carrying out small works, because it’s not financially viable. When I did this sort of work, I would go and look FOC, and come back at a later date to install. I would of charged a minimum of one hours work, and provided certification after the work. At my place of work, it is typical for contractors to invoice us, just to come and look and quote.

How much were you actually invoiced, if you don’t mind sharing?
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Agreed, it depends on the hourly rate. If they charge a higher rate, then travel to and from site and fetching parts not on the van should reasonably be included and not charged, but if it's a straight labour rate - £25 per hour or so then that will be for any time they are engaged in your service.

I think some people have an unrealistically low expectation of the costs of hiring a tradesman, but equally some companies and sole traders take the p!55 and bump up the invoice. We had to get a couple of loose ridge tiles fixed and accepted a quote from a local guy to fix them. It was a 10 minute job plus fetching materials and putting his ladder up, so we agreed £150. Once up there he offered to mortar in some others he felt were loose - for another £300!! This would have taken him another 20 minutes and no more materials were required. Funnily enough we declined his offer...
 

psychopomp1

Well-known Member
Thanks everyone. First of all, the company is a large technical company (locally based) and electrical works is just 1 of their divisions along with plumbing, heating, mechanical works etc. I've been using them for many years as I've always had good service from them and they charge fairly reasonable labour rates (£45/h) compared to other electricians in the area - many charge £80+/h !! But anyway I wasn't expecting them to have the smoke alarm in stock, I was expecting them to have a quick look in my property first and come at a later date, as they have previously done for other work - they have no call out charges. Or at the very least, They could have asked me to email them a photo of my existing failed smoke alarm so that they could buy a suitable one in advance of the visit.

They charged me £45/h labour (ex vat) + £42 for parts (ex vat) so £158 in total incl vat. However I've paid them £104 to their bank account (ie just 1 hours labour) and said I'm not paying them for 2 hours. If they kick up a fuss, I'll politely remind them of the time their plumber messed up the install of the immersion heater on my hot water cylinder causiing me huge inconvenience - the [email protected] flooded the utility cupboard with water seaping downstairs into the kitchen through the ceiling. They paid for the decorating and repairs but I won't be forgetting that experience...
 
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ufo550

Distinguished Member
To put into some sort of context, I recall looking at some luminaries in John Lewis a few years back. I used to charge £30 to put up a light for customers. I spotted a leaflet of theirs, on getting one of their contractors to install the lights for their customers. £79 for the first hour, £45 for consecutive hours.

I never carried things like smoke alarms in my van, they don’t carry that well, and they have a limited life. Not fair on installing a smoke alarm, that’s been sat in the van for a year.

If the two hour labour charge is come to have a look at the issue, drive to wholesalers, obtain a replacement, then instal, test & certificate. I wouldn’t say that’s obsessive?

Did they replace like for like with the same manufacturer and model etc?
 

psychopomp1

Well-known Member
No complaints about the work carried out, they replaced a like for like high quality smoke detector - it was a mains powered one with a built-in (non replaceable) battery. My beef with them is the excessive labour charges.
 

rousetafarian

Moderator
Why didn‘t you and the tradesman properly qualify this job beforehand? Surely you knew which type of device you wanted replacing and could have advised beforehand? I had a spark come over to verify what type of replacement dimmer switches he needed before he went of to CEF to buy them and 25 bulbs. I happily paid him for his travel time there and back.

The bulbs didn‘t sit flush so he did another 1 hour round trip whI had he didnt want to charge for. As for bringing in a poor previous job into the equation thats just being churlish and a poor show iMO
 

LCR_Dave

Active Member
Two hours is reasonable, I charge two hours for the first hour of time I’m at a job to cover myself travelling between jobs. No point doing them if not.
 

psychopomp1

Well-known Member
Why didn‘t you and the tradesman properly qualify this job beforehand? Surely you knew which type of device you wanted replacing and could have advised beforehand?
I did!!! When i first called them, i told them that I wanted my mains powered smoke alarm replaced and that I would be willing to email them a photo of it since not all smoke alarms have the same fitting plate/size etc. so they could save time "No sir, that won't be necessary" was the reply from the receptionist or adminstrator - they don't allow customers to speak with the tradeperson prior to the job.
So not sure what more I could I have done...
 

shahedz

Distinguished Member
To be honest I don’t see why you agree to a per hour job. You can use loads of websites like mybuilder etc , post a pic of the existing smoke alarm - you’d get instant quotes , tradesman would know what to get. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of above expect to pay the premium you have for the luxury of a tradesman coming to see it and it and then source the item for you.
 

leo79

Well-known Member
And this is a good example why I don't do domestic work anymore.
My vans well stocked but you can't have one of each of every make and model of every single electrical item known to man sitting in the back of your van.
For the record, if the job is as you described and a local wholesaler held the smoke alarm in stock then I would have charged 1 hour plus materials.
 

dmpzsn

Distinguished Member
I'd be gutted if I thought I had to shell out 158 quid for two smoke alarms.
So would I, we called the Fire Brigade, they came and did a safety survey and fitted two long life smoke alarms and told us when they needed replacing to give them a call and they'll come around and replace.

Total cost £00.00 and quite fun to see a fully equipped fire engine outside. Great service. :clap:
 

ufo550

Distinguished Member
So would I, we called the Fire Brigade, they came and did a safety survey and fitted two long life smoke alarms and told us when they needed replacing to give them a call and they'll come around and replace.

Total cost £00.00 and quite fun to see a fully equipped fire engine outside. Great service. :clap:

Mains wired and interlinked fire alarms, have to be installed in new builds and in any major alteration, loft conversions, habitable rooms above ground level, and habitable rooms on the ground floor without an escape to the outside, etc. Guess thats not the case for you?
 

dmpzsn

Distinguished Member
Mains wired and interlinked fire alarms, have to be installed in new builds and in any major alteration, loft conversions, habitable rooms above ground level, and habitable rooms on the ground floor without an escape to the outside, etc. Guess thats not the case for you?
No, mines a 1970s house, until around 15 years or so we didn't have a smoke alarm.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
If they kick up a fuss, I'll politely remind them of the time their plumber messed up the install of the immersion heater on my hot water cylinder causiing me huge inconvenience - the [email protected] flooded the utility cupboard with water seaping downstairs into the kitchen through the ceiling. They paid for the decorating and repairs but I won't be forgetting that experience...

They made it right. Just leave it! As for this bill, talk to them not us.
 

Miss Mandy

Moderator
I can see why they bill this way, that hour spent going to the store and buying the replacements is an hour they're not working for anyone else. In cases like this though it does seem quite excessive as it's a relatively small and quick fitting item.
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
We've had people do this at work as it just amazes me.
They are booked to do a bit of copper pipe plumbing, then go out down the shops to buy the copper pipe and joints.
Now call me daft but if you do such plumbing work the most basic stuff you'd expect to need on your typical job should be in your van.
If it's something weird/custom them fine. Perhaps even have to come back another day if its got to be ordered, but don't lack even the basics when you are aware of the job.
Not like the electrician come over and see's I want him to paint the ceiling!
 

Wahreo

Distinguished Member
From my perspective as a tradesman (but not a Sparks) - The big question for me would depend how far away I was from the customers house. If I have to travel somewhere that’s half an hour away, burn my fuel to get there, wear down my tyres and van, do a job for 20 minutes and then spend another half an hour to get back to where I was in the first instance then £45 labour isn’t anywhere near enough. This is why the first hour should be far more.

if it’s fairly local then I’ll pop in beforehand FOC to check things out or if further away then a few photos can be pinged over to identify the part.
 

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