Thursday, October 23, 2014

Drive Time

Drive time.  Just about everyone does it.

We spend time in our cars getting from one place to another-- To a job and back home again-- To school, shopping or the movies--  To doctors, the post office or the bank--  To really, everywhere we want or need to go.  And if you happen to live in the Los Angeles area like I do, you probably spend way too much time in your car suiting in traffic.  But that's life in paradise-- or your car as the case may be-- in this part of the world.

I've learned to live with the traffic in LA and the time I spend getting to and from.  But today that drive time gave me pause-- to the tune of $125 extra big bucks that my electrician wanted.

I started what was supposed to be a simple installation of a couple of sconces in our dining room.  The price was set and the work began. 

Once the wall was opened up and it was obviously going to be a far more difficult job than anticipated, Mr. Electrician and I renegotiated the price.  His time went from a 3 hour job to an overall 8 hour job.  I understood that and the adjusted price was more than fair.

At the end of the work day, my bill was presented and my check was written with the understanding Mr. Electrician would return next Thursday to do the final hour of work-- Actually attaching the sconces after the painter has patched, sanded and prepared the finished wall.

I have absolutely no doubt that Mr. Electrician would return because of our "connections" so he was paid in full.

Probably my first mistake.  But really, I knew he would come back to finish the job...

Paying him in full is not my problem.

At the end of the much longer than expected work day at my house, Mr. Electrician sent nearly two hours inching along in LA's famous rush hour traffic to get home.

That night I received a call saying that he would return on Thursday as planned however, there would be an extra $125 charge because it takes so long to get to my house!


If his drive had been the anticipated 40 minutes home there would have been no extra charge.  But he spent so much time driving from my house to his-- blah, blah, blah, whine, blah, whine-- that he wanted to charge me for his drive time.

That is absolutely not going to happen.  Period.  He's going to come back on Thursday and install my sconces as contracted with no extra cost.

But what I want to know is--  When did it become acceptable to expect a customer to pay for a contractor/company's drive time?  He's an electrician, not a moving company or a taxi cab.

Am I missing something?

I never got paid to drive to work.  Teachers don't get paid to drive to school.  Police don't get paid to drive to work.  Waitresses don't get drive pay.  My painters don't get drive time pay, neither does my plumber.  

Who the heck thinks they should get paid to actually GET to their job?

Am I missing something?  I want to know.

Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins
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  1. I wouldn't pay it. It's just not right, as you say nobody ELSE gets paid for their transit time. Is he just trying to rile you in case it might work? Bummer! I hope it all turns out okay without you paying that awful extortion fee.

  2. Oh my word! That is just crazy. If he thought he needed more that should have been set up in the initial cost, now is too late. I hope it works out!

  3. i would not pay it...
    i drive 50 minutes each way to get to school...its a choice...he did not have to take the was his choice...

  4. He knew where your house was located when he presented you with the bill and was paid in, no, you certainly don't owe him any more money (or any of your future work).

  5. Welcome to my world! Over here, we live in a town of less than 10000 population, and when we have something custom made and installed from a furniture shop, they CHARGE us for the trip to our home!! It infuriates me every time. It´s like a two minute drive and costs them about two cents in gas, but they charge us 10 times as much. All they say, when we protest is "everyone does it". Hope you can settle with your electrician!

  6. So basically what you're saying is that your electrician was recently lowered from a Martian helicopter and was unfamiliar (unlike everyone else on the planet) with the legendary Los Angeles traffic.

  7. When he first figured his price, he absolutely should have figured in his travel time. That's how long it takes him to do the job. But as Marty Damon suggests (and you too!), he should tell you up front, not try to change his price in the middle of the job. If he made a mistake, and misjudged the driving time, then that's on him.

  8. Good luck with this, let us know how it turns out.

  9. My old house really needs some work. The kitchen is in sad need of new counters and cabinets but I am too afraid to have a contractor come into my house. Your story and so many others fuel my fear. I just know three years later I will still be cooking on a hibachi in my backyard if I try to get the work done. I will just continue on my merry way with my old counters. Good luck with your electrician, people like that are just ridiculous. Or maybe I should have him negotiate my contract with my employer, I would love to get paid for my time in traffic.

  10. OK -- I understand drive time, but that should have been accounted for in the initial job. I'll see ads for companies that say "serving a certain area; inquire outside of this zone" and you know you will probably be paying more. So, no, he knew where you lived, he came and it's not your fault he left at a traffic time. You do NOT change the price in the middle of the job. Well, depending on the job, but certainly not for that!

    Good luck.

  11. When we hire service or repair-people, they definitely figure the drive time from their business home-base into their estimate. Then we agree to hire them based on their estimate. He admittedly miscalculated the time it would take him to do the work. And because he miscalculated the work time, then he got stuck in heavy traffic during rush hour. He loses, he needs to take responsibility.

  12. Crazy! If he didn't like your location he should have turned down the job. Now it just sounds like he is trying to corner you into paying more which is a) terrible customer service and b) a foolish move if he is interested in being hired by you again!


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