Unclogging Chimney

In addition to needing a new furnace ( the fifty year old heat exchanger is cracked and repair seems unfeasable) I also had to have the chimney unclogged. I called one company ( I`m in New Jersey) and they were backed up in business so I called another listed as being in my town and they came out that night. (Turns out they actually are based far away from my area) The gas to the furnace and hot water heater had been cut off by the gas company and I had already been without hot water for a day so there was some concern with time. This is a one family house with the chimney on the low side of the house , the chimney is only two feet high off the top off the roof and is ceramic lined. I was amazed to get an estimate of $625 to unclog a big squirrel`s nest that was three feet long and some broken flues that had fallen into the chimney. Stupidly I signed the contract and later the owner of the business had to be called to come over as his helpers could not get their brushes out of the chimney. The owner tried to convince me to have the chimney broken and have him put a sleeve in ( at high cost ) I declined and later the owner offered to accept $500 cash for the job instead of $625. The next day I called another chimney company to see what other people might charge and was able to talk to the owner. After I explained the set up of the house and chimney and the nature of the problem (big obstruction, broken flues) I asked what he would charge as a max. Although he had origionally said that $625 seemed high he eventually stated that with a big obstruction and broken masonary he would probably charge $450 - $550. Is this the norm? Companies seem to quote the charge for clearing obstructions as $225 up. There was a plus to this. I would not have thought to offer cash and so I later also offered cah to the heating contractor for the installation of a furnace and he has agreed to accept $300 less.
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Based on the input I`ve uncovered the answer seems to be yes. Beats robbing banks. SD
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