I had previously contracted Robertson Electric in Charlottesville VA to install a new HVAC system, and because they did a good job, I selected it to install a new sump pump with back-up system. An electrician came to the house, looked at what needed to be done, and submitted an estimate of $871 for four hours of work for two workers. I had bought the equipment myself. I agreed to the estimate, which figured to be about $100/hour plus supplies -- higher than competing electricians, but my satisfaction with their previous work led me to select Robertson. Within a week, the two workers arrived and did an excellent job installing the system and moving an outlet in two hours time. I assumed that the estimate contract would be revised to half, but it wasn't. I called to ask why I was being charged the full price of the estimate when it took only half the time. The lady said they would reduce the bill from $871 to $610, which brought the hourly charge from $200/hour per person to $150/hour per person, much more than the hourly charge of $174/hour for TWO workers. According to Robertson's fee schedule, two hours of labor for two people should have been $348. When I asked about the extra $262 charge, she said that they charge extra for driving to the site (21 miles). The estimate contract had nothing in it about a charge of $262 to drive 21 miles, and her explanation was that the nature of a contract job is that it isn't broken down into hourly charges. The hourly wage is just part of it. Had that extra charge of $262 been spelled out, I would not have contracted with Robertson, which I never will again. The estimate simply listed four hours of work for two people plus any materials. My previous experiences with reputable companies hadn't prepared me for dealing with such deception. It's a shame that the employees do excellent work that is sullied by the billing process. An expensive lesson learned.
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