Call out Fees for Plumber (Melb)

Been having issues with the hot water system at my parents house.
They called a plumber who had a look at it (nil changing of parts).
They weren't there for more than 15 min yet their call out/labour fee was $230?

Seems pretty expensive to me?
What would you have done in this situation? My parents including myself are pretty naive when it comes to home maintenance etc.


  • -1

    They have to make an income somehow i guess.
    $230 would be in the ball park imho for call out and labour

    • +56

      Our GP charges less for a call out and labour…

      • +3

        Lets not forget GP's are subsidized, plumbers aren't

        • +72

          Not by that much…

          $230 should be half a days work for a plumber, not 15 mins…

          • +136

            @jv: Those big flash LandCruiser utes with the custom tool bodies mounted to them are not going to pay for themselves…

          • +17

            @jv: $50 an hour for a plumber? Not likely. Op would have been charged from the time it they left the business premises, to ops house, do the work, and back to the business premises. Travel isn't free.

            • +2


              $50 an hour for a plumber?

              Yes, LMAO at that figure.
              You are guaranteed to have lawyers and plumbers charge as much as they can get away with.

              My parents got charged $175 by a shady plumber for just changing the pressure and temperature (PTR) valve, which was a 5-min job.
              The replacement PTR valve doesn't look to be new either.

              • +2

                @DoctorCalculon: Good thing we have legal aid and free legal advice from community legal centres I guess.

                Time to start 'plumbing aid' maybe.

                • +6

                  @ripesashimi: Legal aid funding has been gutted for years and good luck getting through to anyone for proper legal advice. They give basic info you can find online yourself.

            • @brendanm: But but but.. others don't get paid to go to work every day, only for the 8 hrs in the work site!

              So if the plumber was not paid for travel, he will work for his neighbours only?!

              Don't forget that the plumber is also claiming travel expenses during tax time, along with the "company" vehicle!

          • +2

            @jv: lol are you serious?

            • +14


              lol are you serious?

              lol, yes.

              Plumbers aren't brain surgeons…

              • +12

                @jv: but they charge brain surgeon prices for dropping out of high school. got quoted $2.6k to replace a leaky roof tile which took a different Plummer 30mins to fix @$600.

          • +3

            @jv: Clearly the market disagrees with your opinion. Why hasn't Plumber B come along and undercut Plumber A's $230 quote if they, by your maths, are worth ~$60/h?

            Maybe because when there's X number of plumbers in Australia, and Y number of people demanding their service, the plumbers can charge accordingly.

            Not happy? You can always try learning to fix it yourself, or encourage future generations to take up plumbing as a career to oversupply the workforce and bring the price down.

            • +7

              @TheGiantTomato: Thats exactly what my cousin did, He is a robotic Engineer and was making good money on that then as a weekend thing (he is a hardworking guy) he decided to become a certified electrician and also a Air conditioner installer, He is now looking at doing this full time and quitting his robotic engineer job. Just goes to show no point spending so much time in education and masters etc (which is what he did) when you can do better being a tradie.

              • +16

                @lonewolf: Its sad that as a country we don't favour future-looking skills like robotic engineering. All our highly skilled STEM non-mining professionals (tech, finance, IT) move to USA/UK or Asia to work and contribute to the dynamism of those foreign economies.

                We seem proud to compensate enormously well trades that a only high school grad can easily excel in. No wonder we can only rely on digging dirt to sustain the economy and Centrelink.

              • @lonewolf: Not here in Australia not. Australia is all about building building building houses and apartments.

            • @TheGiantTomato: It is called asymmetric information. The buyer doesn't know the complexity of the job and how much the job costs. So they are at the mercy of Plumber A.

              Google reviews and ozbargain will help.

            • +1


              You can always try learning to fix it yourself

              That's actually illegal, even for the small jobs that are safe to do yourself with a bit of care and a youtube video.

              And just like many other trades, you can't become licensed to fix it yourself without an existing plumber apprenticing you for a certain number of months.

              Learning to do plumbing work safely and to a high standard is something you could learn in about 10 hours of TAFE; it's doing it safely and to a high standard QUICKLY that takes an apprenticeship and months of experience.

              But no such 10-hour TAFE course exists without the work experience requirement, because tradies like dishonest anti-competitive tricks like artificial scarcity and fake barriers to entry as much as the worst big corporations do. Fewer plumbers means they can charge more than other trades and professions that need ten times as much skill and study to master.

              It's a kind of corruption, essentially, and the reason some trades charge so much for skills that don't take that much time/effort/talent to acquire.

              I don't want to knock plumbers, I've met decent blokes who are plumbers, and they deal with some vile stuff. But that's why they charge several times what you'd expect (based on similar skilled work).

              • +1

                @ItsMeAgro: Basic plumbing work is illegal?

                I understand DIY electrical being illegal (since if you stuff up you die); but plumbing? What sort of work are we talking? Changing a tap? Replacing a valve??

          • @jv: Half a days work?!
            230/4 - $57.5/hr
            Less GST $52.27
            Less overheads $25/hour
            Leaves $27.27/hr
            If he’s making a profit (which at those prices he wouldn’t
            Less 25% company tax

            He might as well get a job at Maccas without the stress of running a business

            • +1

              @gregglesspiked: Where did you get $25/hr overheads?

              He didn't fix anything so he ripped off OP!

            • +1


              Less overheads $25/hour


            • @gregglesspiked:

              Less GST $52.27

              Many of them don't pay GST or income tax…

              • @jv: Do you pay income tax on your earnings from all the comments?

      • +21

        I got some movers.

        1 bedroom apartment, with furniture and lots of stuff. 2 guys came with a medium van, took them 20 min to come, moved all my stuff into van and then to next suburb 20 min away. Unloaded and placed it nicely inside.

        Total time was 2 hours

        They charged me $500.

        Thats honest work. They even had content insurance.

        And this plumber guy comes, doesn't even diagnose issue and charges $230? At least have the decency to just charge $80 to $120 if you cant even diagnose or fix the issue.

        The plumber might as well give OP a box of condoms costing $10 and tell him to go f*** themselves cause that's what they essentially did. Still would make $220.

        Hope the plumber gets a nice mechanic who 'changes' his oil for $230. And adds a bit of spit for extra horsepower.

        • +5

          The plumber might as well give OP a box of condoms costing $10 and tell him to go f*** themselves cause that's what they essentially did.

          He did that by giving them the $230 bill and he didn't even have to waste money on dingers.

        • -4

          Just random movers? they trained at moving school? Certified movers?
          Nah they're just people who can lift things, very little skill required.
          That's why the price changes.

          • +4

            @91rs: They did have experience and all their equipment and blankets and covers. Insurance and came from a reputed company. Even got the job done which is more than I can say for our dear Mario.

            Mind blowing yea

        • And this plumber guy comes, doesn't even diagnose issue and charges $230?

          Where'd he say that? OP just said the guy didn't need any parts to fix the issue. Could've just been an adjustment needed to the heater.

          • @Agret: 'They didn't change any parts. It still isn't fixed.'

            'Essentially said it could be an issue with the valve. They wanted to trial a change of the valve which they quoted >280 bucks including a 'labor cost'.'

            'No, they said they could try change a valve around for 280 bucks but it might not fix the issue.'

        • +1

          I know your point is still made but thats even expensive for movers? I had exactly the same (1 bedroom appt, next suburb, 2 hours, also 4 flights of stairs) and paid $380.

      • -1

        @Jv There you go then, you’ve learned something.

        If you ever need plumbing work done, get your GP to come out and do it.

        • +4

          They will and get paid 50 to do it. And if there is an easy quid to be made, a pharmacist will send out a pharmacy assistant with a tube of Silastic, a bread and butter knife and a packet of blutac to give anything a crack

          The gp will arrive in their busted ass Mazda 3 because they can't fully claim their vehicle on tax because of psi income rules ( not many GPs require fully decked out ford rangers at the taxpayers expense, funny that plumbers didn't need these 20 years ago either )

          No dodgy cash in hand jobs for the gp either etc.

          230 for 15 mins is taking the piss.

          GP bashing is not warranted here. "Specialist" bashing for some of their practises, now that is another story!

      • Our GP charges less for a call out and labour…

        Can they fix a water heater though?

    • +19

      They have to make an income somehow i guess.

      Oh get real.. $230 fee for a call out, no work done, gone in 15 minutes. Yes, how could they ever survive.

      I don't dispute that this fairly standard for plumbers - but they're certainly ripping people off, and probably getting a decent amount in cash too.

      There's an argument to be made that they'll charge what people pay, do your own research etc, sure, but let's not pretend "they have to make an income somehow" as if they're barely getting by.

      • +10

        Gotta pay fuel cost for the wife's boyfriends visits while plumbing hard at work somehow…

        Life is tough in the Super Mario World.

    • -1

      Plumbers are specially trained professionals. I'm sure they have a complex business model and a complex series of costs to cover.

  • +5

    Yupe, that would be around the right price. I had a plumber coming in to change the washers for the shower & was charged $225. This is in Sydney tho.

    • +6

      They didn't change any parts. It still isn't fixed.

      • What did they tell you when they finished looking at the hot water system?

        • +2

          "Ah, see… here's your problem"
          *taps on faulty unit
          "here's your bill, see ya"

          • +3

            @Kangal: I would be looking for free quotes/no call-out fee.

            Imagine paying hundreds for 3 businesses to inspect just for the comparison stage.

        • +1

          Essentially said it could be an issue with the valve. They wanted to trial a change of the valve which they quoted >280 bucks including a 'labor cost'.

    • +7

      You paid $225 for 5 minutes work and about a dollar in parts?

      • +6

        Yupe. What I am lacking is the tool and the skill that they have.

        I can replace the shower head.

        The washers inside the hot & cold taps I cannot.

        I usually went with Waterfix (from Sydney Water) to get this leaky taps fixed but with lockdown, they stopped this program, hence I had to call my local plumber.

        • Thanks for letting me know about WaterFix. Do you know they charge again on parts?

        • What I am lacking is the tool and the skill that they have.

          Ah, is that all your lacking? looks like you have to pay a professional then.

        • +16

          You can watch a 5 minute video and buy a set of tap spanners or shifter and washer for $20 at Bunnings.

          I'm not all that handy but tap washers is an incredibly easy job.

          • @Gumster: Yes.I am a DIY disaster kind of guy and i changed the washers successfully.

        • is there a reputable company in vic/SE suburbs who has a reasonable call out?
          need to get a cartridge replace in my bath mixer - dont have the tools

          • +1

            @spoonmugen: It only needs a special mixing tap spanner gadget but Bunnings sells those, and cartridges for the most popular brands, too. A Youtube video or two, a click 'n collect order at Bunnings and bob's yer uncle. Failing Bunnings, any plumbing supply store.

            If it's a cheap n cheerful no-name mixer from the Laughing Dragon Plumbing and Noodle Factory Shenzhen, though, it's just as cheap and even easier to replace the whole thing.

        • its literally a tube with a hexagon at the end and a little hole in the other end to put a screwdriver through to leverage the tube around. you can get them at the store in the same section as the washers. it'd take you maybe an hour the first time just to learn everything and maybe another half hour to disasemble and fix any mistakes you made and every other time maybe 30 minutes if you remember and only do it every year or so.

          EDIT: idk about mixers, I've only changed washers on taps that are like the 90's two taps with the little dish and pole washers??

        • I'm so hopeless in the manual arts that in school I once drilled a hole in my shirt, confirming a white collar profession would be in my future. And even I can and have done change a tap washer.

    • +2

      I have no plumbing experience but managed to change my separate hot/cold shower taps to a mixer. The only extra tool I needed other than the shower mixer was a $10 tap spanner kit from Bunnings. And YouTube videos.

      • I need to do it but if something is wrong behind the wall such as leaking (it happened at next door) it will be totally different story. The cost is not hundreds dollars. That's why we call plumber. I bought all tools and a shower head but scared unluck.

        • There's almost never an issue "behind the wall" and if there is changing the tap washer etc won't matter anyway, so you only have 20 bucks and some time to lose

  • -3

    did they fix it?

    sounds completely reasonable.

    • +4

      They didn't change any parts. It is the same as before, it isn't fixed.

      • +2

        Did they diagnose the issue though?

        • +2

          No, they said they could try change a valve around for 280 bucks but it might not fix the issue.

          • +1

            @kakarot123: Out of curiosity, what problem do you have with it and is it Gas, Electric, Heat pump or Solar?

  • +18

    In general its like $100 callout and $100 and hour with a minimum charge of 1 hour.

    • +1

      I think if people have a minimum charge time then they need to spend something close to that amount of time on the job. Maybe that is just me?

      • +9

        You are paying the 1hr fee for their knowledge and expertise, tools and time. Or would you rather they pro-rata all their training, tools, vehicle expenses and licensing fees/renewals over 40 years/hour and accept that charge?

        • Yes, we are paying for their time. You proved my point exactly.

          • @dogboy: No, you misunderstood my point. You are paying for their acquired knowledge and plant/equipment in the charge. Simple people can't understand pro rata rates, so to dumb it down the charge 'an hours fee' to inspect. Same with mechanics when you go in with no knowledge and ask an experts opinion.

      • +2

        So they fix it or diagnose it in 5 minutes, then just stand around looking at it for the next 55 minutes?

        • Get them to tighten and reseat all the taps?
          I agree it's ridiculous. Most minimum charges only cover 15 or 30 minutes. For myself it's $100 for the first 30mins than $25 for every 15 mins after. That's not a set rule either and will give discounts where it's a pensioner or a super simple fix. Still generally $50 minimum. Otherwise why would I wast time even coming out.

      • +5

        There are many variants of this story, this is just one:

        You have heard the story of the skilled mechanic who was called into a factory because a certain machine had stopped and wouldn’t run. When the job was completed the mechanic sent in a bill for $200.00 for only a few minutes’ work. This charge impressed the president as being excessive, so he ordered the bill sent back to be itemized. Upon its return it read this way—“Turning one bolt, $1.00; knowing which bolt to turn, $199.00.”

        • +8

          Good one. Fortunately plumbing is not rocket science, and you can do everything yourself with a few dozen youtube videos, and $50 worth of tools.

          Since buying a house I've taken great pride in fixing and replacing shit myself. But its always a question of time versus money, and the risk your going to make things worse, or waste your time.

          • -1

            @Brumby92: Except you can't do everything yourself. Legislation says you need licences and inspections for most types of work and works over certain values.

            • +4

              @Yawhae: If you don't go and tell the government and if you didn't screw it up, no one will know.

    • +8

      Should have gotten them to do the dishes or something. If they want to be paid for an hour, they can do an hour of work.

      • I would love to try this on a few people

  • Use youtube to learn home maintenance otherwise get a plumber.

    The cost is because their work is ad hoc and issue based. Ie your issue could take a whack of hammer or 4 hours.

    • +4

      or get a handy man to do it, most can do it if not tricky

      • +2

        This, if you aren't going to be handy, find a good handy man, ithey will charge a lot less, less chance of rgetting ripped off, and probably every bit as good for all common jobs. Further you will be likely to use them more than for just plumbing, so you can build rapport and repeat custom which is respected

  • Did the plumber provide any advice? Eg did his visit achieve anything at all?

  • +16

    yeah in my opinion, call out fees are a bit of daylight robbery to be honest.

    1. You're probably calling a "local" plumber already i'm guessing
    2. They generally book you in close to other jobs they have anyway
    3. Unless it was some emergency where you need them at your place at 2am because something's flooding…..

    i don't understand why the high charge. I get they need to earn a living, but so does everyone else….

    I prefer paying by the job. If you're good at what you do, you get rewarded because it takes you less time to do the job than others. If you're bad at what you do, then you spend longer on the job, but that's not my problem.

    • +26

      I prefer paying by the job.

      I plumber recently quoted me around $350 to replace a mixer tap.

      I found exactly the same tap at Reece for $70 and took 10 mins to replace it myself…

      • +24

        The police will be around to arrest you shortly.

      • -7

        Did you follow regulation, and fit two stop taps underneath the sink?

        • +22

          I swapped over an existing mixer tap. The stop taps were already there.
          Just needed to connect the hoses. Plumbers aren’t any better than scammers.

          • +19

            @jv: It's the people that made simple things like this illegal to do that are the scammers. It's legal to change the brakes on your car yourself, something that could potentially kill people, but you aren't allowed to change your own mixer. Mental.

            • @brendanm:

              but you aren't allowed to change your own mixer.

              Why not? It's just two hoses than screw into the taps. Takes less than 10 min.

              • @jv: If your house floods now because of your handiwork, your home insurance will be void.

                • @iCandy: does anybody else turn the water off at the street when doing anything like this? or am I overly paranoid?

              • @jv: Like iCandy said, your home insurance will be void if that tap connection causes flooding along with the taps warranty being void as well.

                • +2

                  @Cadian Munkey: Lol, I think you better read up a bit.

                  All I did was disconnect and connect 2 screw in hoses. Saved almost $300 in 10 mins.

              • +1

                @jv: I don't know, it's ridiculous, ask the politicians who are dealing with the unions I guess? I understand how simple it is, I do all my own stuff as well.

            • -2

              @brendanm: It's a bit more complicated than just giving people open slather to do their own plumbing.

              Sure, in most cases they'll just flap up their own house and maybe we all have the right to do that. But it is also possible to end up with sewerage in water mains, or leaking joints dripping onto electrical wiring, or toxic mould growing everywhere, and stuff like that.

              • +3

                @derrida derider: That's fine, but not being able to do simple things is just stupid, and as I said, it's fine to let people play with their brakes on cars and trucks with no qualifications whatsoever. No big unions in the mechanical space to cry about it though.

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