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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have a bill from an electrical contractor which I am

Customer Question

I have a bill from an electrical contractor which I am disputing as I think I have been overcharged.
Submitted: 19 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 19 days ago.

what makes you think you have been overcharged?

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Hi, I have a longer version of the case as below:It concerns a flat that I rent out, the letting agent put pressure on my wife to agree to an urgent job that was a legal requirement before a tenant could move in, they had a tenant lined up and ready to move in.My wife gave verbal agreement to the agent for the work to be carried out, she can't remember whether she was told the price at the time but after the job was finished we got a bill for £1900.When I found out the price they were charging for the job, I felt is was too high and asked for a breakdown of parts and equipment used and manhours, as I work in the industry and this is the typical way a job like this would be priced.IME said that this wasn't the way they worked so they would not be prepared to send a breakdown.I said I would not be prepared to pay the bill until I had seen a breakdown as I felt the job was overpriced.IME then said that they did not do cost beakdowns as their price was fixed at £1900 no matter how much work was required. They sent a one line invoice saying For electrical services - £1900.I said that although I thought the job was overpriced, I recognised that they had done the work and I was not trying to escape paying them. I transferred £1005 into their account and told them that if there were to be any more payments I would need to see a full breakdown of costs as I had previously requested.IME then came up with another invoice showing a week's work for two men and £361 in materials, adding up to exactly £1900.I queried as to how that invoice could possibly add up to the £1900 which they had previously stated was a fixed price but did not receive a satisfactory explanation.IME then made an offer of a £200 discount to the total of £1900 + VATI made a counter offer of £450, half of the outstanding original balance of £895.The offer was rejected by IME.I subsequently learned from my wife when discussing the matter that because the job was so urgent, it had been done in a day, not the three days work that they had stated on their revised invoice. I also believe (based on my experience) that it was a one man job whereas they charged for two men.
Customer: replied 19 days ago.
For clarification it was 3 days work they quoted for, I think I said a week's work part way through
Expert:  Jo C. replied 19 days ago.

Are you asking whether they would get this sum if you went to court?

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
Basically yes, I suppose I am.I feel that on the basis of their day rate as detailed on the revised invoice they sent and the fact it only took a day, the bill should be under £1000. I have already paid £1005 and was willing to pay a further £450 as a settlement, I felt that this was reasonable.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 18 days ago.

It depends what he is done and what the value of the job is.

If you didn't agree rates in advance then he can produce evidence of the average rate for that type of work.

Actually though, for three days work, £450 is not likely to be accepted. These are qualified specialist tradesmen. Even labourers earn more than that.

To be wholly honest, if they went to court they would probably get the full amount and costs and interest. The sum in question is not a case of obvious overcharging. It might be a little on the expensive side but no more than that.

Sorry if that is bad news.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
I think I might not have put my point across very well.The main basis of my disagreement is that they contrived an invoice with made-up details to match their original quotation, therefore the invoice must be false and the rates quoted cannot be factual.They also invoiced for three days work and only worked one day, I think that is more than just a case of being a little on the expensive side.I offered £450 in addition to the £1005 I have already paid them, amounting to £1455 in total for what was a day's work.But my main disagreement with them is that they have obviously not been able to support their original bill and have manipulated figures and exaggerated man hours in order to try and justify their overcharging, does that not matter if it came to court?I realise the sums involved are relatively small and might be regarded by a court as being not worth arguing about and the easy way would be just to award the decision to the company but there is a point of principal that I don't believe they have acted wholly honestly in their dealings.
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
I got a request to rate your service, I didn't get an answer to the last post I made (after you asked if I needed anything clarified).I don't want to downrate your service but as yet I am not satisfied that you have answered my point and would like an answer before I gave a rating.
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Hi,
I keep getting asked to rate your service but you don't appear to look at what I've written, can you check the above please.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 16 days ago.

I'm not sure what your further question is?

Put simply they are entitled to be paid the value of the job.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
What is the procedure with me speaking to somebody else, I'm sorry but it doesn't look like you are even reading what I've written (other than my initial description of the incident).
Expert:  Jo C. replied 14 days ago.

Ok. Good luck then.

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