Flat-rate pricing vs. hourly pricing

A plumber in Philadelphia at our branch office recently brought up the topic of how local plumbing jobs are priced. Some local plumbing companies charge an hourly rate for any plumbing repair. That's great for customers whose plumbing problems are minor and take only an hour or so to complete. But what if your plumber gives you an estimate for a 2-hour repair but then finds more serious plumbing problems once he gets into the job? You could quickly find yourself paying for a high-priced six hour job that you never saw coming.

At Roto-Rooter we use a well-researched flat-rate pricing system that charges a single rate for a specific type of plumbing job no matter if the plumbing repair is finished in twenty minutes or eight hours. The service technician will always provide a written estimate up-front so there are no hidden charges or surprises at the end. If he tells you that the price to replace the heating element on your electric water heater is going to cost $225 then that is the price you will pay for that job no matter how long it takes.

Occasionally, we hear from flustered customers who say something like "sure, he fixed the sump pump perfectly, but it only took him 20 minutes and he charged me $200! I think this is way too much for the time it took him to make the plumbing repair." That is the downside to flat-rate pricing. If our guys are too good or too fast, the customer comes away feeling he was taken. But we maintain that flat-rate pricing is much fairer to the customer than hourly pricing. After all, how can you be sure that an hourly plumber isn't stalling in an effort to pad his bill?

 
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