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

            @jv: My 82 year old mother got charged over 600 bucks for this same job. I would normally do it but was in meetings that day and couldn't answer the phone. No scruples some of these people

      • +5

        I changed the washer for the mixer tap @ $16 at Bunnings. Took me 30 minutes with YouTube. Plumber wanted $400.

        • +2

          Probably easier to change the entire mixer tap rather than the washer :)

        • Apparently if your house now floods your insurance won't cover you /s

    • +4

      Probably because driving from job to job all day for all these "5 minute fixes" everyone says they do wouldn't cover their travel costs if they were to charge $50 an hour and bill for 5-10mins of their time (like some of the comments above about) let alone put food on the table and pay their bills.
      If you're calling these people it's because you can't do it yourself, there is value in that and I'd expect if you have any skills others in the general public don't then you'd expect to be paid for those skills too.

      • +1

        $230 is taking the piss. Someone said $100 callout + $100/hr with min 1 hr. It should be one or the other. $125 would be fair - keep the call out fee, but scrap the 1 hour minimum.

        They could fit at least 14 of these types of jobs into a standard day if they're localish. That's over $3000/day.

        • +3

          It’s supply and demand. The only way they drop their prices is if they need to compete. You can try to bargain, but someone who is going to fix an immediate problem and is available can charge a premium price.

          If it’s not an emergency, and you have time to spare, say no thanks and shop around.
          But like most things, you get what you pay for - portable workshop, tools, skills and experience even if it’s an assessment.

          Alternatively - make some friends in the building industry to find the right trade at the right price.

          • +3

            @Wibbleman: Sure, but they're still taking the piss, we didn't see supermarkets putting toilet paper up to $20 per roll because of demand. There was enough demand they'd probably have gotten people to buy it.

            Just because you can rip people off, doesn't mean you should. Anyway, I always get a price first and if they were charging me an hour AND a callout fee, they can do an hour of work, even if that means doing my housework. I wouldn't be paying them while they're being paid to do another 3 jobs.

            • @Miss B: That's because it's a distribution issue, not a supply issue. Most people who panic brought toilet paper didn't realize it was all manufactured here.

              But have you noticed lately everything is going up in price? (Inflation)? And this is because there isn't enough supply (As it takes one full business cycle to create more things) and there is too much demand (Because people are getting free easy money and spending more to buy better things).

              • @postform: Interesting point, Why is there a call out fee and a minimum work time. The minimum work time charge is so you dont waste your time in travel for a small job but then if you are charging a call out fee that covers the travel time so then there shouldnt be a minimum work time. I never thought about it till its mentioned here but it actually sounds like double dipping. It should be one or the other.

                • +1

                  @lonewolf: It's called incentive. Honestly, would you go out of your way to fix someone's plumbing if you weren't getting $X amount?

                  If the answer is yes then the $X amount is correct. If no then it is not.

                  This $X amount really depends also on the supply of services provided. If there is a lot of people willing to do the job just for a call-out fee then the supply of services available is high. But if there aren't many plumbers and there are more people who require servicing then you would go for the highest payout.

                  It's really supply and demand.

                • @lonewolf: because the hourly rate doesn't cover the admin and travel time and you would not to jobs that just cover those costs, so basically all the expenses are front loaded but as you can't just magically book more work on 5 mins notice most need to charge for a minimum time in addition to the call out fee.

                  • @gromit: I guess then the issue may be, its better to put the total costs a different way or word it differently? Or perhaps to put it all into the call out fee or increase minimum worktime and not have a call out fee? I wonder if part of the problem in how it comes across is how there is both and so its hard for people to see why there is a need for both?

                  • @gromit: I don't disagree, however no matter how they do it someone will be upset with it, more information just means more details for someone to argue over. Personally as long as a tradie is upfront with me on prices and I accept it I don't care whether it takes them 2 mins or 2 hours as long as they are sticking to the price.

            • -1

              @Miss B:

              we didn't see supermarkets putting toilet paper up to $20

              Supermarkets already make billions.

  • +10

    If you need specific work done, get a quote before you give them the work.

    If you do not know the problem, and wants plumber to identify and fix the issue, ask their call out fee and hourly rate before you give them the work.

    My experience my plumber is same as you, so i would not have them in without a quote.

    • That's right, and applies to pretty much every situation in Australia (in other countries people are generally much more honest and won't do this).
      Also be aware that there are cases where the tradie/handyman provides relatively low fees, but would then be extremely slow and charge for additional time. That seems to be quite common on airtasker for example, but at least you can check the reviews.

  • +5

    Sounds about right. Usually it would be a call out fee & one hour labour. While they didn't do any work, they may have traveled 30 minutes each way.

  • +12

    You have your honest plumbers, who will come past and give you a free quote on the work done, and you will have the rest who will charge a call out fee for scratching there ass..

    My toilet was blocked yesterday….and guess who fixed it for me? YouTube. Not saying you need to rely on YouTube but if I called out a plumber he would have charged me $300 to pour some boiling water down the hole.

    • +4

      But if the plumber is offering free quotes, he would be consistently getting calls for quotes.

      Therefore they are galavanting across the countryside for possibly no gain. Wasting fuel and car wear and tear on a "maybe".

      Then to get the job he would have to underquote and then "increase" the job on the fly

      • +2

        So why not offer an affordable service rather than charge exorbitant call out fees of $230 for 15 minutes?

        • +3

          Well callout fees and offering quotes are two separate issues.

          Honestly, if i called a plumber in for one issue and it took him 5 mins to sort out and I was still paying for the time, i'd be finding him something else to do, change and check washers, and a number of other things.

          And affordable service is in the eye of the beholder. A pensioner would want the cheapest, however a Dr would probably pay more.

          • +5

            @Zeph101: That's a fair point, I would even take them next door to look at the neighbours stuff 🤣

            • +1

              @iNeed2Pee: Then you have the plumbers that clear the blocked drains.. i ain't going near a drain that has 20m of crap clogging it up cos of a tree root!

              • @Zeph101: Agreed that getting yourself covered head to toe in someone else's poop is not my idea of a pleasant days work.

        • +1

          Have you ever run a business?

          This is a reasonable fee.

          Plumber has to:
          -Reserve a half hour spot
          -Travel to you
          -Bill you
          -Ensure you pay the bill

          If they have even just a 15 minute travel to and from you, the plumbers probably wasted an hour of his time. This time is reserved, it doesn't matter if it takes him 15 minutes or 1 hour if he's had to take an hour out of his bookings for the day.

          He has specialist equipment, a van / ute / some sort of expensive commercial vehicle , relevant training, registrations, insurances, general business processes and expenses.

          I'm about the same (IT) and a call out + first hour comes to $225ex GST and I probably have way lower expenses than he does (management services / online bits and pieces aren't cheap either)

          It's simply not worth be going out for any less than that. That said, an effort should be made to see if you can actually help the client before you go out / waste their money. Sometimes however that's not possible, and you just need to go and take a look for your self.

          • +1

            @knk: Absolute rip off merchant charging that much.

            Yes billing someone and making sure they pay the bill is worth $225. Give me a break. A reasonable price would be half that.

    • +1

      Which hole did you pour the boiling water down to fix the blockage😜

      • The toilet hole!

    • +9

      So you went on You Tube to fix your U-tube?

      • +2

        😂My username is really making sense now isn't it?

        • Probably a revision to iNeed2sh*t? Second time I believe on OzB I'm recommending this to you based on your posts 😁

  • +5

    Did you/they ask what the cost would be when they called?
    This should be the first thing asked to see if they are duping you or not

  • Which day and what time ?

  • +3

    They weren't there for more than 15 min yet their call out/labour fee was $230?

    15 mins plus travel time etc.

    Did you not ask the call out fee price BEFORE engaging them?

  • +5

    And , kids still want to go to Uni and when they have a degree ,dress up in a suit and try and get a job ,while their mates do an apprenticeship , get a trade, and are set for life.

    • +18

      The issue is that in this country we pay tradies like executives and execs like tradies. They also get all the perks - a large portion of their income is cash in hand so no taxes paid and they can claim everything on tax for what they do claim. Office workers get to claim squat and all their income is taxed.

      • +8

        Office workers get to claim squat and all their income is taxed.

        They also don't have to play in clogged pipes. Everything has pros and cons.

        • +3

          The crap is not only in the pipes, plumber's aren't special

          • @reactor-au: Newsflash, no one is special. Price is set by supply and demand.

        • They also don't have to play in clogged pipes.

          I guess nurses would disagree lol

      • +3

        I love a good cash job, but I havn't seen a tradie willing to do one in years. Most give you a funny look if you ask. They have huge loans and fees and most income needs to be by the book.

        • My plumber will do any job, regardless of size, for cash no problem. He drives a (1977ish) HX Holden ute and needs so little advertising his number has faded off the side. His work isn't the prettiest, but he gets the job done pronto. He's at the pub by 3pm every arvo. As an accountant, whose salaried hours are like a real estate price guide, I feel like a schmuck in comparison.

      • +2

        That's why Australia is falling behind in real developed economy terms, and we can only rely on digging dirt to sustain the economy and Centrelink.

        All our highly skilled STEM non-mining professionals (tech, finance, IT) move to US/UK or Asia to work and contribute to the dynamism of those foreign economies.

    • +5

      I'd rather have my kids go to uni than unclog shit from toilets. They deserve the money they get… their bodies aren't going to last forever.

      • +1

        Then they should charge high only for unclogging shit, no one died changing a washer or tap :-)

    • +4

      Trades didn't always pay this well - it's going to correct when the resource boom dries up, which is likely to be sooner rather than later.

    • On the plus side, at least we can write English.

  • I always ask for the fees beforehand doesn’t matter what trade it is, otherwise they just charge like a wounded bull !!

  • +2

    Seems right to me. You could call it a "minimum fee" to attend.

  • Was the call out fee on weekend/outside hours? If yes, then it is probably reasonable. If not, then it seems on the higher side?
    I had a plumber in melb who inspected, supplied and replaced kitchen taps on a weekend for the same amount you were charged for a call out fee. I guess the amount charged makes up for lost business which could've been provided at another job?

    If you have paid them for their minimum time/labour, you could look to see whether there's some small job to do whilst they are there?
    As others have said, best to enquire about their call out fee first.

    • +2

      Yeah learning from experience. Don't believe my dad asked for a quote prior. They came around 10am so it was not outside business hours. Feels like a bit of a rip off. Will know better for next time.

      • +1

        Honestly mate, take a step back and have a think about the expense and liability these guys are under.

        Fixing or even inspecting your plumbing issues comes with a heap of liability, tools, expenses and all that shit.

        You really can't compare it to a normal job.

        • +4

          Stop trying to justify that $225 for 15 minutes or the equivalent of $1000 an hour is worth it.

          They already there tools, there cars are not ferrari so dont tell me travelling to a worksite that is probably 30 mins is depreciating there cars.

          Plus these companies are the ones that list every suburb they work in. $150 would have been a reasonable price where they still would have made money off 15 bloody minutes.

          • +2

            @iNeed2Pee: $150 doesn't cover shit, come back to me when you've run a business.

            You don't know what you're talking about

            • +2

              @knk: I called 3 plumbers to ask for quotes or call out fees in the last year or so.

              Every plumber has said the fee is capped at $150 plus whatever work needs to be done on top of that. Don't assume I have never run a business. The only difference is that I didn't rip people off when I did.

              • +1

                @iNeed2Pee: Doesn't sound like an overly profitable business then.

                If you're servicing your immediate area, $150 might be barely enough.

                If you're travelling more than a couple minutes down the road, it's not. At least in Melbourne with our COL.

                I imagine that you'd see higher prices in areas with a higher COL, ie Sydney aswell.

                I have to charge more than that ($225 first hour) in IT and I require significantly less tools / resources than these guys.

                • +1

                  @knk: Maybe your right. I just had a look online and I might be mistaken or I might be lucky the way I haggle with others with plumbers.

                  I stand corrected. I guess you as a customer have to do the due diligence and actually ask for the call out fee cost. You can unneg me now 🤣

                  • +1

                    @iNeed2Pee: Hahha that wasn't even me!

                    I do understand though. There are so many unknowns in these industries, and I can tell you that I've just been taken for a ride by being overly trusting with a plumber at my investment property as they are a client (IT business).

                    I get similar shit in IT, people assume I make GREAT money at $150 an hour / 0.5 hour callouts.

                    However, it's very rare that I'm going to knock out 8 hours of labor in a day and make fat stacks in a single day.

                    Also need to consider client acquisition costs, which can be huge. Factor in time without work, as these people built up their businesses and client bases etc.

                    Running a business is good and bad, and a lot of the bad isn't that obvious initially.

                    • +1

                      @knk: Yeah I understand. I mean the usually plumber I have is a family friend now, but he has back to back jobs and makes a fortune.

                      In your situation I totally understand that you are not working every hour of the day unless you do get many many calls.

                      The other problem is that plumbers fees sometimes are on a large scale which may differ between them. Might throw people off, which is why I assumed.

                      Thanks for correcting me, I do like a good convo:)

                      • +1

                        @iNeed2Pee: No worries, do like a good chat too :)

  • +2

    Thats reasonable especially if it was a gas plumber 😷

  • +7

    Where have you been living… at home on playstation/xbox/pc or on a remote cattle station… welcome to Australia… everything and everyone is over priced and over hyped.

    Haven't you figured it out yet.. everyone here either inherits a house / minimum $100k deposit or is either on centrelink level wages or $50-$100 an hour here… apart from the suckers that still believe in " if you work hard, think positive, right attitude… you too can own a (second) / (investment) property.

    Everyone rips everyone off here over any service. Welcome to free markets, democracy, freedom and equality in the 22nd century.

    Sorry for the reality check. Welcome to the sh*t show.

    • +2

      Feel free to get the next flight out

      • +5

        We can't….the government won't let us leave…

        • +3


        • +1

          Yes they will. If you are leaving to go live somewhere else there is no issue.

        • if leaving permanently yes they will. It is one of the exemption classes.

      • +1

        You don't like it? You can geeet out

    • -2

      So go.

      We have more than enough whiners to tide us over in your absence.

  • I know its an extra cost per year but my home insurance gives me 3 emergency tradie callouts per year for free (not really coz you pay but you know what i mean)

  • +1

    Here’s a tip. If you need to call a plumber, don’t call the number of one of those guys who hand out fridge magnets.
    Try and find a local independent

  • OP what's the problem with the water system?

  • Airtasker next time. I did it, fixed same day and was much cheaper

    • +1

      except airtasker is also riddled with dodge tradees.

      • +1

        thats why they have rating system,

  • +2

    Wow $15.33 per minute.

    • Was the getting to and from ops house free?

    • Vaseline ain't cheap (please tell me it was included).

  • Sounds about right, even though its not. $100 call out plus $100 an hour. Might as well get him to replace the whole unit in one go.

  • +5

    It's Australia, people get paid more for low skilled manual labour than most professional work that requires years of education.

    • +3

      low skilled

      Yet people can't do it themselves? Pretty sure hot water in your house is more important than a lot of "professional" work.

      • +4

        They probably could. But isn't plumbing regulated now? Am I legally allow to change my own hot water system?

        • You haven't met many people if you think most people can do this sort of stuff. They should be free to try if they wish though, regulating who can fit a hot water system is ridiculous. Some bon qualified people are more than capable, and some would do a better job than the qualified person, as they aren't constrained by time/cost.

          In saying that, people need to learn the value of someone else doing something that you can't/don't want to do. I do most of my own stuff, but I can't do small soldering. I give that to a local phone repair guy. Probably takes him 5 minutes to do silly little jobs I have, for this I will pay him $30. This works out at $360 an hour. However if I were to do it, I would have to buy the gear to do it, figure out how to make my hand steady, stuff it up many times etc. You pay someone for their knowledge, skill, and equipment.

          Ops biggest lesson - ask a price before getting someone to do something.

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