Agreements on final prices can differ when we take on a tradesperson to do work for us. Some companies may offer an estimate at the beginning of the job, whilst others may have agreed on a set price with you based on the requirements of the job. A set price is often referred to as a ‘quote’ or ‘quotation’.
If you have been given an estimate and no fixed agreed cost, then the final price can vary from the initial estimate – and it would be perfectly legal for them to charge a different final price if this was the case. This is because an estimate is only a rough guide.
Was the estimate misleading?
Any estimate should not be totally misleading, and you may be able to seek recourse if this was the case. In these circumstances, double the initial price may be deemed ‘unreasonable’ or ‘misleading’.
If you agreed on a fixed price before the work began, this would represent a legally binding agreement between you and the trader. In this instance, you should pay no more than was agreed.
It would be beneficial to have proof of such an agreement as evidence on paper, signed by both parties, however, email or other electronic correspondence may suffice.
How was the quote provided?
If the tradesperson did not provide you with any paperwork and your agreement was made at your home or by telephone, this could indicate an unfair business practice.
If no price for work has been agreed, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that the final price invoiced should be reasonable.
Gather estimates from other traders
If you feel the price the trader is charging is not reasonable, you could use estimates from other traders as evidence of other interpretations of the cost for the same work and request a reduction of the final bill taking the difference into consideration.
It is usually best to obtain estimates from two or three similar traders which you can use as a starting point in your negotiations.
Reaching a resolution
If you have not already done so, then you should begin by raising your concerns with the tradesperson to see if you can come to an agreement.
If this does not work and you are unable to resolve the matter, or to make things more formal, then you can consider a formal letter of complaint. This should outline your concerns; what you believe the price should be; and what you would like the trader to do to resolve the issue. You should also state whether they offered you a quote for a fixed price prior to starting the work in this correspondence. It is important that any additional work that has been completed in addition to your existing request, or any additional costs that have been incurred are taken into consideration. Any additional costs should have been agreed with you before they went ahead.
For more information, you can contact the team on 0808 164 6000 (Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm), or by visiting www.consumeradvice.scot.