electricians bill came in - seems too high

I called an electrician (from the yellow pages) to come to my home (florida) and wire up an RV power outlet that I had bought online ,the electricians bill just came in and it seems high ($378).
They came out and said yes we can do it, and started work, I asked what it would run/cost, the guy said I dont know. All I think that they needed for supplies was a circuit (60amp), 4 #6 wires for about 30 ft, and pvc pipe to go around the wires, I had already bought the rv power outlet. This week the bill came in for $378. 2 guys came out and spent 1 to 1 1/2 hrs working. One fiddled about mostly, and installing a new doorbell (probably charging me time while he did this!).
I did not sign anything, didnt get an estimate, but asked for the estimated amount, he couldnt tell me about what it would be. What can I do? Do I have to pay this bill? I only figured it would only be around $200, since I already had the rv pwer outlet. -MrJ
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I'm not an electrician, but based on electrical work I've had done at my home, it seems reasonable. I've paid more for less than your electricians did for you. Yes, they should have provided a written estimate beforehand. Yes, you probably have to pay.
Bob

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mrj wrote:

What you think doesn't count. You need to get an estimate before the work starts.
That said, I think $378 is reasonable. The wire alone is fairly expensive. You listed 3 man-hours of work and they usually charge something for travel. So, let's say a half man-day. Tradesmen are charging about $800 per day, so you got an OK charge.
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If you don't get an estimate, you have two choices: let them do the work and pay what they ask, or, tell them not to do the job.

Agreed. The materials cost is probably $100-$150 (wire, conduit and fittings). $200-250 for 3 manhours including taxes etc is rather good for most areas.
Chances are that it would have been more if you had based it on a formal estimate (their CYA for unforeseens. Like finding a steel beam in the way of the conduit).
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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thanks for the feedback..much appreciated
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doesn't seem high to me. cost of copper and PVC is out of this world at the moment. someone had to go to their supplier and pick up the materials. they also had to drive there from somewhere...electricians in my parts charge for the drive, too. someone had to figure up the bill. small jobs are unprofitable, so they have charge a premium to make it worth showing up for an hours worth of work.
i am no lawyer, but you asked them to do the work with the understanding that they would be paid when it was done. that is an oral contract. no signature is necessary. when you asked them what it would cost and they didn't know, did you tell them to stop?
.
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Maybe a little high, but not by a whole lot. Three man hours plus travel time is $250 to $300 around here. Material is about the other $78. I don't understand the comment about hte doorbell though. Was it ours? If not, you paid too much.
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mrj wrote:

Others have answered your question about the price. I have a question about your comment re: the doorbell.
Were you expecting someone, a hired hand, to install the doorbell for free? If so, your view of how these things work is seriously flawed and you should never have work done without a written estimate. If you need to have things spelled out for you, have them spelled out.
R
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did they get a permit for the work?
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I assume they were licensed...otherview you've got some good negotiating strength.
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If they did, you can add that to the price of materials they used.
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I believe it's been said before but I'll reiterate. You should have demanded a written estimate. Settling for "I don't know" is not acceptable and quite frankly, you're pretty much obliged to pay the price they give you since there was no pre-agreed price. Additionally, get yourself 3 seperate estimates (written!) in the future particularly if you think it'll cost a bit. If someone refuses to give a written estimate, say "thank you" and call another person. Pay it and chalk it up to inexperience. Cheers, cc
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Only a moron would let someone work on something without a written estimate. Pay the man idiot.
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mrj wrote:

MrJ,
As an electrician myself, the price they are charging sounds very reasonable to me. I understand that you thought that it might cost up to $200, however, based on the materials that you mentioned were neeeded, and knowing that the price of copper wire has almost doubled in the last several weeks, I believe that the amount they charged for their services was extremely reasonable. As an electrician, I know that in my area, the cost of the wire and breaker is a little more than 1/2 the amount you were charged for the installation.
As for the issue of estimates prior to having the work done, that is my preference. However, realize that there are many excellent tradespeople out there who have started their own business and haven't yet learned the skills to estimate projects well, in advance of the job. This doesn't mean that the work or service provided is lacking, they just prefer to do the work and charge a fair price for the services provided once they have completed the job. In this way they are certain of the time involved and the cost of materials and they know that they aren't overcharging or undercharging based on the possibility of an unforeen issue.
My recommendation is to always get 3 estimates up front (especially for larger projects), but as was mentioned, when you have a contractor provide the estimate up front, they have to try to allow for the unforseen and things like the cost to travel out to your home to provide an estimate for work that they will only have a 1 in 3 chance of winning, and then the time to travel to the supplier to pick up materials and then travel to the jobsite to perform the installation and allow for the possibility they might have to return to the supplier for something; so chances are quite good that the price you would be paying would be much higher.
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