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flat rate pricing is for the birds

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  • #31
    plumb crazy, this is pretty much how a competive bid is done. what we are really discussing is the service and repair end. typically the customer who calls one of these companies from the phone book is desperate. most customers are easy prey and are desperate. the customer might not know the going price of a water heater or stoppage or some other emergency repair. of course the customer can say no. the problem is they trust the professional. i see it all the time in sewer inspections. 90% of the time the customer who is sold a sewer repair was pressured into it by a slick talking commissioned "tech". i have yet to see a video left for the owner. less than 5% of the jobs i camera actually need to be replaced. most just need a proper cleaning. some a real cleanout installed. i always leave a video tape for the owner. there is never a pressure sales pitch. i ask plenty of questions on a new job location. with my regular clients, i am able to track all of the past jobs on my laptop in the truck.



    like i said earlier, when you have a construction site contract. you have to be competative to get the bid. when you have a service and repair situation, the customer is not as informed as a builder or developer. they are very desperate when they have to look up in the yellow pages to get a plumber. the plumbing co should not be out there to rip off the customer. all we are saying is don't try to charge $7.50 for a bottle of coke. i don't care how good the service is.

    25 plus years in this industry has shown me who the thiefs are and who the honest, hard working plumbers are. i see it every week at the supply house and from new customers horror stories

    read my thread on underqualified plumbers and inspectors.

    there is not a flat rate co. that can compete with me in price or quality. i don't advertise, and i don't sit at home.

    the sad part is that most don't learn that lesson until they were ripped off by the flat rate co. first.

    sound like we are on the same page with this, plumb crazy.

    rick.
    phoebe it is

    Comment


    • #32
      ECS,

      I’m with Rick and believe plumber is more than qualified to offer his opinion here. With all due respect we know nothing about your qualifications as you have yet to add anything of value to the Forum. You may or may not be a qualified and talented plumber. I guess we will have to wait and see what you are made of but to call plumber a criminal for voicing his opinion is way out of line. Besides that, libel has nothing to do with a criminal offense so get your fact straight.

      As for charging $1,100.00 to install a water heater and expansion tank I guess it depends on what heater you are installing. To suggest just because you offer a price to a lay person and they accept your price makes it Okay is ridiculous. Without more information only you know whether you are gouging that customer or not.

      Mark
      "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

      I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

      Comment


      • #33
        ecs i to do not like flat rate , the company i work for does a lot of bid work but the service dpt does repairs t&m and starts there time from when they leave there last job to the time there done . if they need parts they do not have on the truck you cant have every thing , that time to get the parts the costumer pays for this . but if the part comes off the truck they pay for the cost of that part and a small mark up ,not a storage fee . there should be certain things on your truck for every day repairs ,and you should not charge that storage fee .now with special parts you cant have every thing. but today with back flow preventer's on the water main you need a expansion tank and this should normal truck stock . this is Wye some of us are called professionals ,and home owners expect us to have the things we need to do the job with out rental fees .

        now this is my opinion , take it the way you want with out the threat of a lawyer ,thats what this forum is about is to ask other trades men there opinion.take it or leave it
        Charlie

        My seek the peek fundraiser page
        http://observatory.mountwashington.o...nal&fr_id=1040


        http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/conditions.php

        new work pictures 12/09
        http://public.fotki.com/hvachawk/

        Comment


        • #34
          I'm not in the business, but my father was and over the years, he worked for several companies; so I have a fair understanding of the business and the need to make a fair buck or two.

          But I am a consumer and as such, I have no problem at all with Plumber's point of view and would much prefer to do business with anyone in the business that fairly approaches jobs in that manner. Regarding ECS, I'm under the impression that you feel "gifted" or something. Personally I find it rather bizarre thinking that because you had purchased a part and then carried it around in the back of your truck for a length of time ("wasting" or "using" extra gas), and think that it all justifies charging a much higher price to the customer. And Yes, I suppose that if you gave your customer a price up front, and they, faced with NOT accepting it and then having to try to find someone else, are willing to pay you.... well, how can you be accused of ripping them off?

          However, look at it from a customer's point of view. They call you, they're NOT plumbers and they call you because they have no level of expertise. All they know is that you're in the book and you're supposed to be a professional and at the moment they place that call, they need YOU and afterall, these guys are all pretty competive, arn't they?

          So, they pay your $950 for a couple of reasons. #1, you're the professional and #2, they think you're honest and will give them a fair cost on what it takes to do this job. Then, down the road, they find out that maybe a "fair cost", a "competitive" cost would have been $500. Obviously, they didn't know this when they accepted your charge; so who's going to feel ripped off and who's the victim here and who was the victimizer?

          You remind me of an Uncle I once had, who felt it was perfectly justified to take advantage of anyone who was, as he often put it, "too stupid to keep thier money".

          Personally, I really hate plumbing. It's dirty, filthy work and I'll avoid doing it whenever and wherever possible. It takes more skill and patience than I can muster. But, I'm also a bit skepticle about someone's idea of what a job costs to do. I recently had one of the leading companies in my area quote me $2300 to replace a toilet and a set of faucets. I buy the toilet and I pay for the faucets separately... that's $2300 to to unbolt the old toilet, shutoff and loosen the supply line, clean up the flange and then add a new seal, position the new toilet, bolt the thing to the flange and reconnect the supply line. Faucets, can be a bear, but still, how much is it all worth. Maybe he was charging "book rate", beats the heck out of me. I ended up asking my carpenter if he knew anyone who would do it. He had it done in like two hours or so. He charged me $300! I gave him an extra $100! Guess who I thought was trying to rip me off?

          Generally, as a consumer I don't do "book" nothing. I learned that years ago when I got 5 hours of "bookrate" charges on a automotive repair. Okay, but I stood there in the shop and the guy didn't spend two hours! At $50 shop rate, I wasn't about to get overcharged.... where's the manager?

          Don't get me wrong, I will pay every fair dime and then some when the charges are real, but I won't stand for being overcharged and the determining factor there is what's the competition and how much of an emergency do I have on my hands. But even then, how much are some guys willing to take advantage of a situation?

          Just a consumer opinion,

          CWS

          Comment


          • #35
            cws
            i see your into ham radio I'm not into it to a lot but had my license for 12yrs N3WGV.

            I'm glad you responded to this as a customer

            i just wonder if ECS ever needs to hire a trade,s men to come into his house to fix some thing that he knows nothing about and will trust them to give him an honest price ?

            i wonder if he ever walked away from a job and thought to himself boy they have no idea what is a good price is ,i need more like this and i will be able to retire early.

            but i know that in my area you can only screw so many costumers before your traveling further away to get work and not as a lot of repeat business
            Charlie

            My seek the peek fundraiser page
            http://observatory.mountwashington.o...nal&fr_id=1040


            http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/conditions.php

            new work pictures 12/09
            http://public.fotki.com/hvachawk/

            Comment


            • #36
              Many years ago I met one of the original flat-rate plumbers at a National PHCC Convention in San Francisco. He came right out and told me his techs give coupons out to all of their customers after the bill is paid and if the customer is dumb enough to call them again they will gouge them again.

              Mark
              "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

              I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

              Comment


              • #37
                A thief in time should do nine.

                Originally posted by ECS
                Webster's dictionary defines libel, among other things as "a: a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys and unjustly unfavorable impression. b: a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt."

                What this means is, Plumber, you are the only criminal here, and if I had a lawyer and knew who you were, you can be certain that you would be hearing from him on Monday morning. How dare you accuse me of robbing little old ladies! You don't know me. You don't know anything about me, except that I use a pricing system that you don't like. How is it that you have so much time to go around "investigating" everybody else's business anyway, or did you even bother to investigate? Are their crooks who use flat rate? Absolutely! Are there crooks that charge $65.00 an hour? Absolutely! I've never told someone they needed something that they didn't, and when it's marginal I tell them so, and when it's perfectly fine I tell them so. If I tell someone beforehand that my price to install their water heater is $950.00 and they say go ahead and when I get done I hand them a bill for $950.00, tell me how I've stolen from them. You can't because I haven't but you are perfectly willing to condemn me simply because I charge more than you THINK I should. As for the expansion tank, yes it's $200.00 more and it absolutely should be and here's why: 1. I paid $50 for that tank and the associated copper fittings necessary to install it. It rode around on my truck, taking up space and burning gas for some period of time not making any return on my investment until someone requested I install it. It rode on my truck so that I would have it when they needed it and not have to charge them 30min or an hour drive time to go get it, but they absolutely do and should pay "rent" for my truck space. 2. It's not part of the water heater! Maybe you think I should do it for free "since I'm already there". It's a seperate charge! 3. You value your time at $65.00 an hour and I value mine at $150.00 (just for your education, every flat rate system is based ultimately on t&m, how could you possibly know what your flat rate should be unless you first know what your costs and labor will be). I can't help it that you think so little of your skills, or perhaps you don't have many, I don't know, but as for me, I am a state certified master plumber and I got that way from ojt not somebody's 60 day school! The knowledge and skill I possess came to me through considerable blood, sweat, and years. My family made sacrifices while I learned my trade. I AM NOT GIVING IT AWAY TO ANYBODY, unless I choose to. If they knew how to do it themselves they would have, unless they just didn't feel like it. In either case if they call me, the professional, THEY HAVE TO PAY and I don't need any more reason than that to charge them $200.00 or $2000.00 if I think I should. If you need a heart surgeon (or a brain surgeon) you pay the man or your insurance does, either way he gets paid or he doesn't operate and you die. The surgeon doesn't owe you anything except that if you ask him to operate and promise to pay him then he owes you the very finest operation his knowledge and skill will allow. Now I'm no surgeon but no one is entitled to my plumbing services! If they want it, I can provide it. Now as a matter of personal practice, when I'm doing repair work, if there are multiple repairs I will usually, depending on what it is, give discounts on all but the most expensive repair (I am not a slave to the flat rate price guide) but I don't do this for replacement or new installations and I'm not obligated to do it at all. Plumber, the next time you go into your favorite fast food place, after you eat your $2 cheese burger, I want you to go back to the counter and ask for another for $1 and when they tell you no I want you to stand there and fume and foam and tell them what theives they are!

                The next time you want to paint an entire group of people with the same wicked brush, you ought to think about it twice. I am not a thief and I don't use a lot of high pressure sales tactics and I don't give my clients half truths or misleading advice and you, Mr. Plumber owe me a very contrite and very public apology!
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                ECS
                I see you are refuse to answer the questions posed to you by reasonable people here on the board who were kind enough to reply to your post. If you add a 200 dollar charge to install an expansion tank on a 950 dollar water heater while you were standing right there you are indeed a dishonest fellow at best. These posts are monitored more frequently now and it will preclude me from writing what needs to be written here regarding your business practices and your "price system". Everythings a system now isn't it? Even a stapler is now called a "paper joining system", sheesh.

                I am glad you have demonstrated the ability to use a dictonary here are a few more for you:
                Shyster:A person who is unscrupulous in the practice of a profession.
                Theft: the act of stealing something
                Overcharge: to charge to high a price, an excessive charge


                These are there are two hundred more that apply here. If you will charge two hundred dollars to install a 50 dollar expansion tank ( you need to find a better supplier) Then you will probably charge 70 or 100 dollars to chnage a 2 dollar flapper and a 10 dollar ballcock when you are standing right there for something else. There is another word from the dictionary that describes this it is: nausea; a feeling of sickness with a desire to vomit, or, strong disgust.

                Here is a word that all of your teachers in school forgot to tell you about, please read this word carefully and look it up again. You need to know this word. Your vocabulary word for this week is; ETHICS: a system of ethics, dealing with ethics, relating to morality of behavior, moral philosophy/moral behavior.

                Please research this word and you may experience an epiphany.

                T&M plus travel time is the fairest and most equitable way to price for services rendered. Your flat rate system is a rip off of the customer. You are in business to earn money by providing a service with tangible value. That does not entitle you to the bank accounts of your customers. If you want to sue me for anything I have said written e mail me and i will happily provide you with the contact infornmation you need. there is nothing I have written here to be ashamed of.

                Another question, would you charge your very own mother the same way you charge your customers? Would you want a flat rate ripoff outfit to come in and charge your grandmother the same way you charge others?

                One last tidbit, if your training cost you a considerable amount of blood then you have not learned to do your job correctly. You are not the only plumber in the country who had to learn his trade and our trade is demanding and hard but its not rocket science and you are not a rocket scientist.
                Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.

                Comment


                • #38
                  keep this thread alive

                  Josh,

                  Please allow this thread to continue. This is an extremely important issue to the plumbing trade. If left unchecked flat rate pricing could lead to the destruction of the trade as we know it and these differences need to be aired out. It might be contentious and probably will be but it could be good for your hit count.
                  Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    you went too soft.

                    plumber, i was hoping for at least a full bag of popcorn. you were a little too soft on ecs. my wife was glued to the screen. "it was only a pg-13. hoping for at least a r rating".

                    i can't see ecs responding to our few simple questions. he has something to hide. what i see here locally is the merging of these flat rate shops. this way when the uninformed look up a plumber in the yellow pages, they get basically the same shop as they swore they would never use again.

                    best word of advice to all homeowners. don't use the yellow pages for any referral. always ask your friends, family and long time neighbors for a referral. it's worked for me for 25+ years. not to mention i've never been sued, never sued anyone for non-payment. and have only received a couple of rubber checks. these were made good sooner than later. lets hear what ecs says about that

                    rick.

                    ps. where is dog when you need him
                    phoebe it is

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Rick.

                      There are several other things to write. ECS has a lot to answer for, he is ripping off his customers and seems to be quite proud of it. He arrogantly rambles onto the site and acts like everyone should just kiss his pajama bottoms. Well I know you don't take any guff from anyone and neither do any of the other plumbers here. His hamburger argument was one of the most ridiculous rationalizations of flat rate plumbing I have yet to read. Had to leave that one alone for awhile cause I didn't want the moderator to close the thread.. I think he is probably a one man shop who paid too much money for a franchise name and flat rate book, so in order to look at himself in the mirror perhaps he must defend his position regardless how silly he becomes. But it still doesnt make his rates fair and honest. And adding 200 dollars to a 950 dollar water tank charge for an expansion tank is highway robbery. 1150 for a water heater? Its that kind of malicious pricing that gives the entire industry a bad name.

                      Some day when ECS is older and more feeble I sincerly hope some soda jockey charges him 15 bucks for a can of coke and tells him, Well I carried it in the trunk of my car for two years so you have to pay me for storing it for you. LOL it kills me.
                      Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        The difference between us.

                        I just finished repairing a leak in a 1/2" galvanized water line that was less than 1' deep and had already been mostly uncovered by the homeowner before I got there. I told the man, whom I believe to be in his 80's, beforehand that the repair would cost $199.00 to which he agreed without hesitation. This was a retired WWII vet living in a small ranch style house that he had built after the war. When I priced the job I did not know precisely where the leak was located or even where the line was exactly but because I believed it was very close I quoted $199.00 thinking I could surely be done in under 1.5 hours. From the time I pulled into his driveway to the time I left his driveway was exactly 1 hour to the minute. When I saw that the repair would not take quite as long as I anticipated I did not adjust his price. I had given the man a price beforehand which he approved before the work began. I know for a fact that this man did not feel as if he was being ripped off since this is not the first time I have done work for him. Nor would he have been refered to me by his son, a local attorney, had I not made a favorable impression on him when I did work at his house on numerous occasions. Nor would he have actually paid me $200 instead of $199 had he felt he was being overcharged. Now I know that he did this simply for his own convenience in his check book register but I also know that he would not have done it had he had any notion that he was being "stolen from". By the way, when you call me a thief, you are expressing your ill formed and ignorant OPINION based on how you THINK I ought to run my company. You are commiting libel which is unjustly injurious to me and although you are correct when you (you being all of you who are taking shots at me) point out that libel is not an offense to be pursued in criminal court it is certainly one to be pursued in a civil court and more importantly it is a violation of the Moral Law which you so sanctimoniously set yourselves up as the protectors of. On the contrary the man was very appreciative of the fact that my company was able to respond to his need so quickly. He also was appreciative of the courtesy and respect that I showed him, it had value to him. I showed him this courtesy and respect because I am a professional and because he deserved it as do all of my customers. I did not atempt to sell this man a new water service even though in all probability he will need it before too much longer. Instead I advised him that he should moniter it closely because the water piping was galvinized and was buried and will only get worse with time. How many of you would have sold him a new water service at $75 per hour? Maybe none of you would, I don't know, but don't delude yourselves into thinking that a man is a thief because he uses flat rate and not if he uses t&m! If you are a thief then you are a thief, it matters not what pricing system you use. Conversely if you are not a thief then you are not a thief, it matters not what pricing system you use! How many of you t&mers talk on your cell phones while working? If the call is unrelated to the work you are doing do you subtract that time from their bill? If you don't, then according to your own system, you are charging them for something they are not receiving. I am a one man shop and I take my calls when they come in or else risk losing them. Under my system it doesn't matter if I stand there for an hour talking on the phone because my price has already been set. It makes no difference to the price if I finish in 30 minutes or 3 days! But you, if you so much as pick up your phone to see who's calling without even answering, you are obligated by that same Moral Law that you claim to love, to subtract every second that you spend not directly and specifically in the service of that client, from their bill! Are you hypocrites!? Are you liars!? How many "smoke breaks" are you charging them for? I know that you do not live up to the standard to which you would like to hold me. I know this because I know that there has only been one man who ever upheld this Moral Law perfectly and it's not you and it certainly isn't me and I'm perfectly content to let Him judge between us. Flat rate is an easy target for you and that's largely because there is so much abuse going on in association with various flat rate systems but what you've done to me on this forum is wrong and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves (but notice that I haven't run anywhere) and although I'm not holding my breath I ought to be receiving very public apologies from everyone of you who has attacked me. Flat rate does not automatically mean thief. What you really don't like is that I believe my time is worth $150 per hour, (and why shouldn't I, since when do you have the right to tell me or anyone else what their time is worth) and you are still stuck believing yours is only worth $75. Well, if that's what you think, then that's what it is. My company's time is worth an average of $150 per hour whereas yours is worth exactly $75 per hour no more no less. I must be doing some things you are not doing to justify the difference to the customer and I can't be stealing from them or none of them would ever call me again, which just isn't the case. I know I probably didn't answer all of your questions (more like interrogations) but I don't seem to have as much time as some of you do to sit in front of the computer. But see if this covers what you want to know.

                        I am a one man plumbing shop in central Alabama
                        I started in plumbing in Jan. 1999 (no I haven't been at it for 25 years)
                        My first 3 1/2 years was nothing but residential new construction - this is where I learned to understand, design, and build plumbing systems without engineered drawings
                        From there I went to commercial new construction - I didn't spend long there but stayed on one fair sized project from almost the start all the way through to the end. During that time I also worked on a number of smaller commercial refits including some very old buildings.
                        From there I went back to residential new construction and started doing service work as well. I also began, with my employers knowledge and approval, to seek out side work. Legally formed my business in Feb. '03 and went full time in Jan '04.
                        Now I am nearly exclusively residential service with some remodeling as well.

                        If that doesn't cover what you want to know then too bad, I wasn't obligated to tell you anything about me!

                        "The measure of choosing well is whether a man likes and finds good in what he has chosen." Charles Lamb

                        My clients have chosen well.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Your Silence Speaks Ill Of You

                          Rick, whom we all know,has great experiance, opened his information to
                          you in a trusting manner. i believe His questions were fair. why are you afraid to answer them? what are you ashamed of? SEE YA
                          I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Some good discussion here guys but its just turned into argument now. Time to move on.

                            Thanks,

                            Josh

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