Complaint Category: None of the Above - Service Complaint Issue
Complaint: My fiance' and I had a semi serious electrical issue with our power meter socket. The local power co. took our meter until this was fixed, leaving us with only half the power to the house. No heat, Oven, clothes dryer nothing that ran on 220. I went to the BBB site to find a qualified and honest electrician to help us with this problem. In my 'quest for estimates' the first one I called was **** ****** and Sons Electric Inc. The person I spoke with on the phone told me it's $95 an hr per person install/labor rates and he (****) could probably do it in a couple hours. So I am guessing around 250 to 400 bucks for **** to get the job done. **** came out to assess the damage. Once he go the cover off the meter box he got on the phone to his installers and started rattling off parts needed to fix the broken socket. I was just looking for estimates so I asked, "Is this going to be much more than $250?"
In which I replied, "how much?"
He said, "It's 95 bucks an hour."
I told him, "We really hurting financially and am not sure if we can afford this."
**** tried to reassure me by saying, "Well I take payments. I have a guy who owes me $8,000 and he is only paying me $100 bucks a month. I'll be dead before that gets paid off."
His installers were already on their way and I was feeling rather uncomfortable due to the fact I got no estimate, no work order to approve the work on the building and in a bind because I needed power. So I blindly moved forward.
The two installers got here and in approx. 3 hrs, 6 total for the combination of the two installers, I had power back. They informed me that there was just a copper jumper in there, so call the power co. and have the meter put back asap. Thats when I asked them to come around the front of the house and I could give you partial payment and discuss the bill. They told me the bill would be in the mail and left.
3/25/13 I got an invoice. for 5 hrs. labor each installer, total 10 hrs and work that was never done on this house. Such as 'reconnecting grounding rods in the earth','covering all junction boxes' and 'installing open splices in the junction boxes'. I called the co. immediately. **** told me it was 10 hrs not 6 because of travel time. I am expected to pay $370 for two guys to come down to Seattle from Lynnwood and back home. FULL LABOR/INSTALLATION RATE FOR TRAVEL TIME. In that same conversation I told him it needs to be permitted and inspected before I can get my meter put back on. He said He would get that going and inspected tomorrow and informed me that would run around $167. Once again feeling in a bind I wasn't going to say anything about the bill until my meter was returned. The inspection was the next day and shortly after my meter was put back on the house.
In the days between the fixing of the socket and the meter being put back on, I did some research. I have a few buddies in the trades with their own operations. NONE of them charge full labor/installation rates for travel time. One will charge one way if he has to go 50 miles or more, which still isn't $370. None of my buddies trades are electrician. So I called a shop in Ballard. Was told by him he charges $120 to get him out there and that covers a half hour of labor.
the bill i got was a total of $1,115.81 and with the $167 permit 1,282.81. This is unacceptable.
Business' Initial Response
Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
Mr.** called my office, explained his situation and asked what it would cost to make the needed repairs. He was told anywhere between $200 - $2,000 and then was informed about our service call rates. Mr.** said, "Well it has to be done." During this conversation and all subsequent conversations Mr.** never identified himself as a renter. I was not provided this information until I received a copy of the BBB complaint. Had he identified himself as a renter I would have discussed the situation with the property owner and this whole matter could have been avoided.
A firm bid was not given to Mr.**, firstly, because he did not make it clear he was requesting a written estimate. I did explain to him our rates when I met with him at his residence. He was concerned about the cost so, trying to ease his mind, I told him that he could make payments. He did not tell me that this was not satisfactory. I was given a verbal okay to proceed with the repairs.
Secondly, I didn't really know if we would be able to repair the meter socket or have to replace it. The metal can that holds the meter socket in place is sunk into the wall and therefore not removable without a huge cost in removal and wall repair. We were able to find other meter socket parts and make them fit this particular unit which saved a lot of money. The job could have been done quicker had we gotten cooperation from Seattle City Light to shut down the power to this meter. Since Seattle City Light didn't show up my men elected to make the repairs while hot with 240 volts. This was very, very dangerous and in the rain on top of everything else. Mr.** would have had great difficulty finding anyone to make the repairs without having Seattle City Light shut down the power first. This would have taken much more time and at greater expense.
It just so happened I had two electricians I could pull off of another situation which was at 12:00pm. It took them 45 minutes to travel from Lynnwood to Magnolia. They arrived at Mr. ******'s residence at 12:45pm. They completed the work there at 4:25pm and arrived at our Lynnwood office at 5:00pm. The law says we must pay travel time to the job and then back to the office. So this adds up to 10 hours for 2 men. The time it took for me to look at the situation, make calls and arrangements for the workers, fetch materials to make the repairs, obtain a permit were all done free of charge.
Regarding the statement Mr.** made about the invoice and work that was not done. There was a clerical error on that invoice. The word "reconnecting" should have been "recommending". There are not any charges on that invoice for this work and we do apologize for that error which has caused some confusion. However, I did warn Mr.** that if the electrical inspector went inside of the basement and saw all of the dangerous open splices, open junction boxes, the main plumbing grounding and bonding missing and no exterior ground rods visible, it would really be expensive to fix. As it turned out the electrical inspector did not look around and did approve our repair.
I'm not hard to deal with. It's just when I provide an emergency service for someone I expect to be paid for our capability and knowledge of the industry.
My charges stand at this point. My records and employee time sheets prove my case.
******* D. ******
Consumer's Final Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
I allotted 95.00 for travel time thats 47.50 ea installer. Should be right around if not more than journeyman's wage. I am not paying for them to drive back to the shop.
With all ****'s clerical, communication and possible L%I (due to putting his men in such a dangerous situation)errors. My offer is fair and stands as is 901.75. He's not budging so neither am I.
I thank you for your help on this, but I would just assume letting it go to litigation.
Complaint Resolution: BBB determined the company provided proper verification that indicated there was no obligation to resolve the issues of the complaint.