Plumber quotes 100-150€ to change tap, Rechnung is 263,92€

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Last week I contacted a local plumbing company because I had a bathroom tap had a very minor leak. Over the phone they quoted me the cost to be about 50€ per hour for the plumber and the price of the tap. I also sent them photos of the sink so they could save time by bringing the correct  tap etc and install in one visit. 2 hrs later 2 plumbers arrived with the tap. I thought it was strange that they needed to send two plumbers but one guy looked about 15 years old, so I'm guessing he was an apprentice (which they should charge me for?). I recorded the time when they arrived with my phone. I heard them having problems for about 10 mins because the old tap had been on for so long that they had to cut it off below at the bolt. The main plumber knew my German was limited and spoke perfect English.When the work was completed before I signed the Auftrag, I asked him how much he estimated the total cost to be. He said the tap would be about 50€ and including work between 100€ to 150€ in total. When they left the apt I stopped the timer on my phone at 58 mins. The bill arrived in the post today. The bill comes to 263,92 € to change 1 bathroom tap! Does that seem like a fair price considering the plumber's verbal quote was 150€ max? I asked a German friend and he suggested I pay 150,00€ as that was the verbal quote which I have sent today.

 

It seems unreasonable to send two plumbers for such a simple job. The problem is I signed the Auftrag which says they were there for 1.3 hrs and they count that as 4 hrs. But they played around with the Rechnung so they only charged me 2 hrs but then added a 40€ call out charge and 85€ for the tap. They also added 22€ for changing it so the hot water is on the left because they installed it the wrong way around the first time. My bathroom is about 20 years old and needs renovation, which they can see from the photos I sent, so it seems exploitative to use such an expensive tap, charge me for 2hrs AND then to charge me for fixing their own mistake. Do I have a legal recourse to argue I've been overcharged?

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Hi,

Bit weird that you timed them! When I used to do house calls I would have added money to the bill because you were standing there timing me :)

 HOWEVER I would not have ripped you off, which is what they seemed to have done. They definitely added VAT to the hours which would have brought the total up, and you have no idea what they had to do to get the tap off. In an older bathroom it really isn't always a straighforward job, try getting a plumber under 50 in the UK to change bath taps on a cast iron bath. You are paying for their experience and their know-how if something goes wrong. You are not just paying them to swop out a tap. But it was still excessive.

 

- If they said they were there to fix the tap then DONT pay the 22 for swopping the hot tap back to the left (that was not in the original auftrag). If your bathroom is old and needs renovation, 85 seems excessive for a tap (maybe you live in the Adlon?), you could question that too. Registered plumbers here buy material for half-nothing in special stores (that we mortals can't enter).

 

Was it a Meister? If so report the case to their innung or the relevant authority, put them in cc. They probably won't do anything about it and if they do they won't tell you (data protection) but the scammers in cc will get royally peeved and might listen to you about the bill. 

 

But, you did sign it, I preusme that means you nullified the verbal agreement (I don't know if that has any standing here, I am not a lawyer)

 

Pay them 1.5 hours, the tap, call out charge and not a cent more.

 

D

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Hi D.

I appreciate the feedback, feels good to get some support. Firstly when 2 guys came to my flat to fix 1 tap it sent off a red flag, I wouldn't normally record the time that way. Plus, the "bathroom" is about 2m2 so I couldn't possibly have stood there watching them if I tried!

I'm not sure if Meister means like a qualified guy but yes, it was with a large local plumbing company (one of the top on Yelp!). About the Auftrag, when the guys came in the door my first words were: "Entschuldigung, mein Deutsch ist schlecht" to which he replied, "[That's OK we are young, I speak English]" or words to that affect. So he knew I couldn't possibly have signed the Auftrag full of handwritten German and legally comprehended what was signing. That's why I asked him for a rough estimate before signing; to save him and I time. He did explain that the tap had been on for a long time and it was stuck but that was why it took longer, 58mins door to door.

 

You're correct in that I can't know what exact methods they used to try to remove the stuck on tap. My educated guess based on the sounds was that they applied an anti rusting/fusing agent and then when that didn't work they used a hack blade. I could hear them hacking for about 3mins accompanied by grunting etc. I admit it was probably an unpleasant experience but that's why they get 50€ + 19% per hour and I get much less (I worked 4hrs last night and I got 35€ before insurance, equipment expenses and tax deductions). 

 

When I sent the office the photos its clear to see that tap is like the 2nd cheapest at Bauhaus and the sink looks like it's been there 30 years with scratches etc. Seems exploitative that they choose the most expensive tap they could get away with then only tell me the price of it after the fact. I could remove the tap and hand it back to them and buy my own. That way they still get money for the hours worked.

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Just to throw the cat amongst the pigeons I would like to point out that some taps you buy in Germany cost 500 Euros. 85 Euros for a tap seems quite modest to me. When you sign a contract they have got you by the short and curlies. Totally irrelevant whether you understand it or not. Your dad told you never to sign something you do not understand, but in real life if you want the guy to do the job you have no choice... sometimes. I would not pay for their left-right cock-up. Otherwise I think you are onto a loser fighting them. Just my opinion.

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12 hours ago, dontmentionthewall said:

Hi,

Bit weird that you timed them! When I used to do house calls I would have added money to the bill because you were standing there timing me :)

 

 

 

Experience has taught me the painful lesson that one must always time how long a tradesman takes to do a job. When they are charging per hour rates, to do otherwise is naive. As unpleasant as it sometimes is, you must be ready to check and if necessary question the 'time on the job'  (+travel time don't forget) before siging off on it.

 

As for the rest, lots of sensible advice already posted.

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I have to reluctantly admit to doing the same... what you can't argue about is that one where they take far longer than everyone expected because the job turns out to be "complicated".

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They also rarely add the MWST in a quote. If it is a written quote, then they will or should state that it is without, generally. But a quote over the phone will almost always be without MWST. To the Handwerker the 'total cost' is without MWST. Just the way they calculate things. (to their advantage).

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Hello everyone, They dropped the rate by about half. Thank you all for your good advice! I wrote them an e mail explaining I had evidence from CCTV at the front door (the Spati has a security camera which has a time stamp. It would show that they were not there for the time they quoted on the Auftrag. They responded that the time included 30 mins driving out, on top of the 40€ for the call out fee. I found the exact same model Grohe tap they wanted to charge 112€ on Amazon.de for 59.50€ including tax an delivery. I found the 20€ fee I thought was for changing the hot/cold direction was actually a charge for the tap HANDLE on top of the tap body.. They said they don't have time to check online prices. Normally though, the places where only traders can get materials do not charge a 90% excess, normally its cheaper... When I said I would contact the plumbing trade authorities with evidence of the real time they were at my address, they agreed to reduce the price by 113.92 € (I already paid them 150,00 € when I received the Rechnung). I will buy the Spati owner a beer tonight wish I could do the same for all those who helped me

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On 09/03/2018, 15:16:39, BFranklin said:

2 hrs later 2 plumbers arrived with the tap. I thought it was strange that they needed to send two plumbers but one guy looked about 15 years old, so I'm guessing he was an apprentice (which they should charge me for?). 

 

Is it acceptable to refuse to pay for an apprentice / second worker if they show up for work that one person could reasonably do? Or is this the accepted way in Germany, you pay in effect a premium for the 'Meister' who has the apprentice in tow?

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If an apprentice is assigned to a Meister, she/he must work all day with the Meister. That is how they learn. They don't get paid much. The Meister can't just leave them somewhere to come to your place.

 

Think about all of the people who complain about not being able to find a Handwerker. These apprentices are the future.

 

Former apprentice

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Are apprentices paid a fixed rate? 

Are Meisters prohibited from paying them more directly?

Final question: is there an upper age limit to be an apprentice?

 

Not picking a fight here, genuinely wanting to inform myself.

 

21 minutes ago, fraufruit said:

If an apprentice is assigned to a Meister, she/he must work all day with the Meister. That is how they learn. They don't get paid much. The Meister can't just leave them somewhere to come to your place.

 

Think about all of the people who complain about not being able to find a Handwerker. These apprentices are the future.

 

Former apprentice

21 minutes ago, fraufruit said:

 

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I can't answer those questions. I was an apprentice for 4 yrs. in the U.S. We made a lot less than the journeymen until we topped out after the 4 yrs.

 

I do have a young friend here who was an electrician apprentice for a few years. It was a company and he got paid very little until he got his qualification.

 

I don't know how it works when a Meister is self-employed.

 

I do know that I'd rather see an apprentice running out to the truck to fetch parts/tools instead of paying the Meister an extra 30 min. or so for doing it.

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afaik apprentices get a flat payment, between 900 and 1500 depending on the trade.

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8 minutes ago, arunadasi said:

afaik apprentices get a flat payment, between 900 and 1500 depending on the trade.

 

The average is 832€ (source) – and while bricklayers have 1057 Euro (West) / 861 Euro (Ost), hairdressers get 494 Euro (West) / 269 Euro (Ost). Brutto, of course. 

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2 hours ago, pmd said:

Are apprentices paid a fixed rate? 

Are Meisters prohibited from paying them more directly?

Final question: is there an upper age limit to be an apprentice?

 

 

 

Yes, no and no.  The oldest apprentice I've seen in Germany was 43. 

 

When I began my leather business, I did consider (at 49) to do an apprenticeship with a Saddler.  I spoke with one here in the Allgäu and although the pay was really low  - 900€ - the saddler knew of my plan and the direction I wanted to go with my business.  He had no issue with my age, but I had issue with the pay.

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35 minutes ago, BayrischDude said:

 

Yes, no and no.  The oldest apprentice I've seen in Germany was 43. 

 

When I began my leather business, I did consider (at 49) to do an apprenticeship with a Saddler.  I spoke with one here in the Allgäu and although the pay was really low  - 900€ - the saddler knew of my plan and the direction I wanted to go with my business.  He had no issue with my age, but I had issue with the pay.

 

Thanks for the informative post. 

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To be fair, apprentices tend to take classes at least a few days out of every month, so they aren't available to work full-time. The employer also covers the costs of said classes.

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3 minutes ago, El Jeffo said:

apprentices tend to take classes at least a few days out of every month

 

We had after work classes 2 evenings a week but, again, that wasn't here. They were free except for those of us who had to pay babysitters. Me, I was the only one. The rest were men. Very worthwhile, though. Learned a lot.

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