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Old 21-06-2010, 22:02   #1
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Your Opinion, Please, on Subcontracting

What do you think of the following situation:

I hired an electrician to do some work on my boat. The inverter/charger was bad. The electrician took it to a Xantrex serviceman who fixed the unit. My electrician gave me a bill for 2.75 hours labor at $100/hr. I called the Xantrex repair man and asked how much he charged for repairs and he said $80/hr.

That really pissed me off. What gives my electrician the right to charge me more than what the Xantrex repair man charged. I kinda knew this before but now I'm convinced that all these marine/boat peeps are in bed with each other and you really have to look out for yourself and ask questions about your invoice/bill. Additionally, my electrician hasn't given me the invoice for the work that was done on the inverter/charger.

I don't know about the legal ramifications of that either. I simply don't think it's very ethical at all.

When I confronted my electrician about the extra charge he said it's standard and that "everyone" does it, especially when he has to get someone else to do some work that he can't or isn't able to do.

I'm not going to pay it! What say you?
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Old 21-06-2010, 22:22   #2
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Guess you want a mechanics lien on your boat. Shame for the boat to sell at auction for the cost of the repair. Courts take a pretty dim view of people stiffing their hired contractors unless you have a really, really good reason, backed up by corroborating evidence.

You contracted with the electrician to do work for you at his rate. It's pretty much standard for businesses to mark up the labor of others. Your electrician has the liability to stand behind any repairs, had to deliver, discuss the inverters problems and pick it up to get it back to you. All time he could have been doing something else to generate income. Pay the bill. Next time, be sure you know what the worker will do and what he will charge for the work, whether he contracts it out or does it himself.
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Old 21-06-2010, 22:25   #3
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Moonlight, I believe there IS a standard markup for any parts or service by marine mechanics/electricians. The idea is that if YOU repair/purchase the part then the YOU are responsible for any time spent in installing and removing it if the part is defective. If the mechanic purchases the part or has the part repaired and it is defective then you should not be charged to pull and reinstall the part. Thus, you get a warranty for labor if the part is defective. If the mechanic is reputable than a markup of twenty percent is not uncommon. If they squeeze you for more than that its just bad business. What needs to be scrutinized when reviewing an invoice is the time they claim to have spent on the job. It is ideal to get a conservative estimate of the amount of time expected to make the repair and write down on the work authorization that if the amount of time exceeds "x", then the mechanic is to contact you for authorization to proceed further. I would say if your electrician did a good job and did not try to fluff his installation time then you should pay. So says me, for what it's worth.
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Old 21-06-2010, 22:46   #4
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Old 21-06-2010, 23:14   #5
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I'm not sure I've got your original post right. You had a bad inverter that was removed, repaired, reinstalled and warrantied, all for $275? Here in California?

Not bad.
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Old 21-06-2010, 23:27   #6
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The grocery store buys grapes for $.50 a pound and sells them for $3.00 a pound. Where's your outrage at that?
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Old 21-06-2010, 23:35   #7
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If the total bill from the electrician is $275.00, then included in that charge is what the Xantrex repair man charged the electrician...what ever that charge was. Also included in the $275.00 is the time incurred for the electrician to remove the inverter/charger, take it to the repair man, pick it up for the repair man and pay him for his work, re-install the inverter/charger, test the installation, and all the time the electrician spent talking to you about your job. You could have saved 'some' money by doing what the electrician did for you, but you contracted with him to do that work for you, so now it's your turn to pay for that service.

I don't think the charge is that horrible for not having to do anything.
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Old 21-06-2010, 23:55   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoonlightSailor View Post

I'm not going to pay it! What say you?
I say shame on you! I don't see anything wrong here. Its very normal to mark up sub-contractor work to cover overhead and as a profit center. If your agreement had been cost plus then maybe you've got an argument but otherwise I think you should pay up.
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Old 22-06-2010, 00:12   #9
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What say you?
I say it SUX!!!

Other thing that SUX big time is marinas charging a mark-up to have some person come and fix your boat while on the hard.

We were looking at a boatyard costs sheet on the net and its so complicated with extra costs that you KNOW you're gunna get stiffed!


Quote:
Conditions
Conditions
All terms and conditions as outlined in the Travel Lift Dockage Agreement apply. Do it yourself allowed, HOWEVER, no outside labour is allowed without prior permission from the Yard Manager. Violaters will be charged $100.00 per day.

But for your bill look at this:

Quote:
All materials used are for the customers' account including sandpaper, tape, coveralls, rollers and paint ect. at cost price plus 30%.

So they do 'all do it' but he should have told you about that before the job started.... or you should have asked... But how does one know to ask??????????

There are reasons why a prudent business person must put a percentage on top but when not explained it does look crook.

I think you will need to pay the account, but next time see if you can just get an electrician in for 1 hour advice and you pull the part off, get it fixed, and put it back on.

I always tell the 'lil mungrals: 1 hour is all the money I have, whats your hourly rate, OK start now. No smile, no pay!

Mark
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Old 22-06-2010, 00:31   #10
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Quote:
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I always tell the 'lil mungrals: 1 hour is all the money I have, whats your hourly rate, OK start now. No smile, no pay!

Mark
Mark, You didn't attend diplomacy school with Les Patterson by any chance?

JOHN
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Old 22-06-2010, 00:55   #11
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Mark, You didn't attend diplomacy school with Les Patterson by any chance?

JOHN
Sir Les Patterson!

He is quite a remarkable man whom, I do honour myself to say, to emulate will set a young gentleman on the right road of life!
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Old 22-06-2010, 02:34   #12
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Mark, You didn't attend diplomacy school with Les Patterson by any chance?

JOHN
I suspect that Mark *is* Sir Les Patterson, just taking a well deserved break...

As to the OP, you need to look at this the right way. Assume that the repair man took 2.75 hours to do the repair, then you are arguing over (100 - 80) * 2.75 = $55. If he took 2 hours to do it then you arguing over $115. You would not have saved a lot by going direct

You are paying the electrician for his skills, his daignosis and his knowledge of who would do a good repair plus his time to remove, takewaya, repair, return and fit. Left to your own devices you might have used a worse repair shop and spent more in the long run. I think you got a good deal.

If the electrician told you his rates BEFORE he commenced work and then you told him to go ahead with it then you have formed a contract with him, particularly if he gave you a written quotation.

We have a customer who owes us 600 and who will not pay. He is about to have another 280 added to his bill for court costs and debt collection and if he doesn't pay that we will send it to Sherriff's court and apply for a lien against his property and possessions. That will add bailiff's fees to his debt. In short it will cost him thousands.

Pay up and put it down to "experience"
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Old 22-06-2010, 05:23   #13
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Old 22-06-2010, 06:31   #14
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What say you?
I am sure on your part a genuine feeling that you are being cheated - but I only see confusion caused by a lack of understanding of how the work you have contracted for will be billed to you........and I don't mean that in a bad way, part of the fault for the confusion is down to the Contracter - if he had a Contract or at least T & C's available you would know what to expect (if you'd read it!).........but of course if a Contractor goes that formal it increases his costs which will be reflected in his bills somehow.

If I was the Contractor I would offer to reduce the re-charged rate to $80 cost per hour. And then bill you for my delivery of the item and also waiting time. at $100 an hour

But with a small Contractor you have to accept that the billing side of things will not be run as if they are Microsoft - with all the back office support that would offer.

The "trick" is to assess what the overall job is worth to you, get an estimate that is in that ball park (from a trusted Contractor), give the go ahead...........and then not get too hung up on exactly how the total figure was arrived at - accounting practices won't be his forte .

With a small business a squilion things that need to be done (apart from hitting the nail with a hammer), some the punter gets for free even if he doesn't know about (a smear of Glue? recharge at cost? 1 cent? - uneconomic to track and recharge, but still needs to be paid for at some point) and some things the punter will get charged for that might not seem "fair" (he used the last of the glue - you got charged for a whole new tub But still not for a couple of nails etc etc)..............it might not all be to International Accounting standards - but to get that the Contractor would need a full time office clerk...........and that gets on the bill, somewhere.

I wouldn't refuse to pay (if the end result was satisfactory) - if the total cost was ball park to estimate / your assessment of it's value..........your sanction is no repeat business. and possibly expressing your dissatisfaction to potential customers.


Of course if you are in fact simply a "Customer from hell " he is entitled under rule 72 (a) of the International Small Businessman Union to..........shoot you
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Old 22-06-2010, 07:18   #15
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How would the electrician be able to eat if he removed equipment from boats, waited on it to be fixed, and re-installed the equipment without charge?
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