I put a new vinyl floor down in my bathroom [DIY], and in the process of hooking up my toilet, I broke the water supply line. Because my condo is 30 years old, I couldn't just replace the hose. The valve and all had to be replaced. I felt it was beyond what I could handle myself, so I called several plumbing companies to see if any of them could send someone over. This was on Sunday morning. My second attempt was with Mr Rooter, who said they could have someone over right away. Very few plumbing companies will give you an estimate over the phone. They all want to send someone over ["free of charge"] before they'll give you a price. I made the assumption [yes, I shouldn't have] that most companies, especially big-name companies, are similarly-priced.
Because I'm a bit of a do-it-yourselfer, I'm fairly familiar with materials prices. I estimated very generously at $30 for parts [just a valve and a hose]. I was, however, in a bit of a panic, being without my toilet and haven broken a line I didn't think I could fix. When the technician quoted the price, he quoted me $234. I was in shock, but I agreed anyways, because at this point, I was a bit beside myself with stress. When he gave me the paper to sign, the price was $254, as there was a "fuel charge" of $20 he forgot to point out. I agreed, because I needed to get it fixed immediately, and it didn't occur to me to call someone else.
To make a long story short, it took him 30 minutes to swap out the valve and replace the hose. I have since had the opportunity to call and talk to a number of plumbers, and have had 2 reputable plumbers tell me the job shouldn't have been more than $125. The invoice I was given has a lump-sum amount, so I have no idea how they arrived at the quoted $254.
I called Mr Rooter, and spoke to the general manager. He explained that I agreed to the price before hand, and that was what he had to charge to keep his business running. I asked him why he felt he had to charge more than twice what other plumbers would charge, and he just repeated himself. Although I said a number of times I believe I was severely overcharged, there was no offer to charge me a more reasonable amount. I also asked three different times for an invoice that broke out the charges, and the request was sidestepped each time.
I have no problem paying a fair amount for work well done, but anyone can see that $254 for 30 minutes of work is just plain unreasonable.