Complaint letter for repair overcharge

May 4, 2010

Last month I remodeled my bathroom with a little help from some experts. A local plumbing company replaced the bathtub fixtures, which were probably at least 50 years old and couldn’t be repaired. As a result of the plumbing repair, we had to have three ceramic tiles replaced. The plumbing company recommended a construction company for the tilework. I was happy with the quality of the work but upset to discover that I was being expected to pay for “drive time” to and from my house. Here’s the letter I sent to the plumbing company today, with a copy to the construction company.

The Faucet Shop
6016 Maple Street
Omaha, NE 68104

Re: T. Hurt Construction

The tub fixtures in our bathroom were replaced by The Faucet Shop on April 1. You recommended a company called T. Hurt Construction for the tile repair work necessitated by the plumbing repair, so I called the company to set an appointment. A salesperson, Darin Anderson, came out a few days later to look at the hole in the wall. Darin told me the tile repair work would cost $55 per hour. He suggested that I purchase the ceramic tiles to save money, and he said the charge for materials would probably be “no more than $10.” Darin gave me the impression that he would be performing the repair work, and he told me that he had done about 30 jobs just like this one.

Darin wasn’t the person who actually performed the work, but I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with the amount I was charged for labor and materials: a total of $305.50. As described below, I believe the bill from T. Hurt was inflated. Since you are referring people to this company, I thought you should know about my reaction.

Ray Hurt came to my house on April 13 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m., and he finished the tile repair work around 11:45. When I received the invoice a couple of days later, I was surprised to see that it included five hours of labor. I sent an email to Terry Hurt asking about the labor charge, and he told me that the bill included “drive time.” The distance between T. Hurt Construction (8529 Wirt Street) and my house (2038 N. 64th St.) is about two and a half miles. The trip should have taken no more than 10 minutes each way, not an hour and a half or more.

The charge for materials was $30, which was three times the amount Darin had told me to expect. I was charged for a full piece of cement board, 8 feet of 2×4, an entire tube of adhesive, a pound of grout, and a pound of screws. A tiny fraction of each of these items was used for the job, and the repairman took all of the leftovers with him. There’s no way the job required $30 worth of materials.

The tile work was done well, but my experience with T. Hurt Construction has left a bad taste in my mouth.

Sincerely,

Janet Tilden

Followup:

Less than 24 hours after making this post, I received a somewhat incoherent phone call from Terry Hurt, the guy whose company charges for “drive time.” Here’s the gist of the one-sided conversation:
 
1. His salesman is going to drop off the materials that I paid for but never received, because he wants “to keep the customer happy.”
 
2. He believes that nothing he could do would make me happy. I suggested that this was a bit of an overreaction, since I was satisfied with the workmanship but not happy at being asked to pay for “drive time.” 
 
3. The drive time charge was reasonable, according to him, because the service person had to “match the grout color.” I pointed out that the grout in my bathroom is white.
 
4. No one has ever complained about his company to the Better Business Bureau. (Maybe he’s afraid that I will?)
 
5. His company loses money on small jobs like mine, and they just do it as a service to customers. Since this job “went bad” (presumably because I spoke up), from now on he’s going to establish a minimum job cost of $500.
 
6. By speaking up about the “drive time” thing, I’m doing a disservice to fellow homeowners by preventing them from getting tile work done by T. Hurt Construction for less than $500.
 
I was calm and reasonable, and he was very defensive. At the end of the “conversation,” I said, “Oh, so what you’re saying is that you don’t care about the little guys like me, right?” I think he was so flustered that he agreed. That’s when I said, “Goodbye, and have a nice day.” Then I hung up.
 
Update:
Not only was I overcharged for the tile repair, but the guy from T. Hurt Construction replaced the faucet the wrong way after fixing the tile. My brand-new faucet was dripping, and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I finally called the guy who had installed the faucet in the first place, and he told me the knob was backwards.He took it off and put it on the RIGHT way, and he installed a new cartridge. I should have called him a few days after I noticed the drip instead of waiting almost a year!
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4 Responses to “Complaint letter for repair overcharge”

  1. Claris Says:

    I like the specificity of the letter and direct explanation of the problem.

    I think it’s important that people speak up when they are dissatisfied. But, unfortunately, receivers of criticism often get very defensive and don’t seem to know how to handle complaints. His response was poor and it sounds as if he was, unfortunately, clueless as to what to do. It’s hard to tell if his ineptness was genuine or if he was just blowing smoke.

    Repair people in Sweden always charge for drive time. If I’m doing a project at an hourly rate and have to visit the customer, I’ve started doing it too. I don’t want to, but it seems to be standard practice. (I’d rather that drive time be factored into the hourly rate unless I live very far away.) But I charge less than my hourly rate for drive time and only the actual time it takes.

  2. Nebraska attorney Says:

    I am investigating Terry Hurt and T-Hurt Construction for a lawsuit against them, and would be interested to hear more of your experience with this individual.

  3. Deanne Says:

    Wow. I live in California and there are so many greedy incompetent repairmen like yours that this story is no surprise to me. Haven’t found an honest company yet in 25 years!!!! Just greedy, self-serving pigs!!


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