ARE YOU SEEING AN UPSWING IN OVER-CHARGING BY SERVICE PEOPLE?...I Am and I Don't Like It!!!

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Real Estate Agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate 30HA0800896

ARE YOU SEEING AN UP SWING IN OVER-CHARGING BY SERVICE PEOPLE?....I am and I don't like it one bit!!!

In the past week, I have had the following happen with my regular service people:

  1. My lawn, which has been totally neglected by the landscaper since May, has suddenly become a place for him to make more money--he mowed twice last week without me telling him to.
  2. My landscaper went and bought 12 flats of white impatiens for my house when I asked him to plant a few flowers for my July/August tenants--normally he would buy 4-5 flats.
  3. My pool company was at my house for 4 hours on 2 occasions last week and I saw for the first time, huge filters pulled out and put right on my patio to clean--never saw that before!!..Nor the bill which was double what it was last year at this time.
  4. My house keeper has asked for more money to do what she has always done---telling me that she does not have enough time to finish cleaning in 4 hours.

Now, I know I live in a resort area and it may be very different from where you live--but I dread calling the plumber for work I need to have done because I know his charges are going to be prohibitive!

What is going on??? Is it inflation or just plain over-charging??? What are you finding right now? Are your costs going up too? Your lawn care? Your plumber? Please comment here and let me know what you are finding....I am ready to take a class in plumbing and electrical work and any other training I can do to avoid the huge increase in service and maintainance costs.....

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Rainmaker
846,120
Marco Giancola
Beachfront Realty - Miami Beach, FL
Realtor (305)608-1922, Miami Beach Florida

Gee Paula that sounds like a big problem but I don't live in South Hampton, have a maid, gardener or pool boy.

Jul 04, 2011 01:20 AM #1
Ambassador
1,615,410
Harry F. D'Elia III
RentVest - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

Service people are finding more ways to go to the same well by providing more services. good point

Jul 04, 2011 01:25 AM #2
Ambassador
1,042,881
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Paula, interesting indeed. Perhaps you should learn a few plumbing basics... yikes!

Jul 04, 2011 01:39 AM #3
Rainmaker
3,401,424
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hi Paula, I keep trying to give my guy 10% more for doing a good job, oh wait, THAT IS ME!  Have a great 4th of July.

Jul 04, 2011 02:26 AM #4
Rainmaker
500,819
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...A Local Expert in all The Hamptons

Marco: I know; "Poor little rich girl"---well I am not rich; I live in this area because I love it--I do not "Visit" here as do the wealthy from the City. I am here as a year round resident and it is a struggle--but I love it here!...just looking to see if others are finding the same thing, that's all.

Harry: I guess you have seen the same thing? I can't tell where you live but I guess it doesn't matter, does it?

Andrea: I just may do that--I don't need to get Master Plumber or Electrician  creds..just need a brea that's all. 

Will: Very funny :) I think I may join you soon in the category of the homeowner who does it all. It is pretty hard to  keep it all up though and sell real estate too...I thought that I would get more of an evaluation of costs in other areas--but no, I see the other members here are all hard working real estate/mtg/inspection people who are also landscapers/pool guys/electricians/plumbers....ah well, so much for asking for a little input....  

Jul 04, 2011 02:53 AM #5
Rainmaker
2,727,249
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Paula - I have not been seeing that, but in all fairness, I don't have "service" people.  But, I am a contractor.  I actually feel that we are undercharging for our services, esp when "extras" come up.  I usually charge at a lower rate since I feel badly.

But, I think part of what is going on is the extra cost of gas...it's hurting all of us.  It costs more to get to your house and it costs us more to go to the grocery store and it costs us more to buy food.  Hence, so many are struggling to make ends meet.  So, what this may mean for some of your items is "it needs to be worth their while to go there."  Said anohter way, while we are very reasonably priced, we do have a job minimum...afterall, it takes time and gas to get there + you've given up the opportunity to do a larger job.  Hence, we pay our guys a minimum (and always have) so it's worth it.  Most of my customers understand this...and sometimes it means I'm priced too high on the tiny jobs but I do feel it's at a good pt to be fair to everyone.

So, now translating this to you...it's costing us more to get to you, so the minimum is even more justified..and sometimes maybe your guys are adding in more things to make it worth their while, or trying to avoid charging you a lot more for a tiny job.  I'm always up front, so therre are no surprises...it sounds like this did not happen in your case and you are just being billed afterwards which is plain wrong, so I would discuss that...and that everything needs to be approved before proceeding.

With your housekeeper, I'm sure it's not that she can't do the work in 4hrs.  I'm sure it's the extra gas/expanses and she is having challenges making ends meet.  But, rembmer, if she drives 30 mins there, it's really 5 hrs.  you may want to compensate her a bit more for the gas. (or ask if she needs more work/hrs at the same rate...so that way she gets some more and you get some more value.

Jul 04, 2011 03:16 AM #6
Rainmaker
925,111
Joy Daniels
Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd. - Harrisburg, PA

I am not a contractor and I don't have the "vendors" that you have, but I do have a cleaning lady and she told me she needed more money too.  I think Debbie right, the price of gas is going up, etc. and it all adds up!

Jul 04, 2011 03:24 AM #7
Rainmaker
500,819
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...A Local Expert in all The Hamptons

Debbie: Thank you for your careful analysis---I agree with yo; it is much more costly to do things in the service area now thatn it used to be---but I have always prided myself on being fair to my people and this is a big shock when they just up-charge instead of asking me, especially my pool person. I told her today that she needs to get my approval before she does anthing els eto my pool--she came up with all kinds of extra work that I have never had to have done before and i am not a happy camper--but thanks to you, I have a better felling as to  why this is happenng.

Joy: I have a great apprectiation for those of you who do your own lawns, plumbing and other service work--how do you have time to work? It is a full time job to keep up my small home on a small lot in the village here, so it makes me wonder if you are able to keep up and work as well?  

Jul 04, 2011 06:05 AM #8
Rainer
240,427
Peggy Hughes/pha logistix, inc.
pha logistix inc - San Francisco, CA
SF NYC LA

I, like Debbie, am a service provider.  Everything is costing me more... my supplies, gasoline, wages for my crew, more hours not billable to client (i.e. drive time, marketing costs and time, billing and collections, etc.), bridge tolls, parking... the list goes on and on.  Where I think your vendors have slipped up... they never talked with you about it beforehand. I do hope that when you do have a conversation with them about the upcharges - they give you a courtesy discount for being a long-term client.

Jul 04, 2011 06:23 AM #9
Rainmaker
500,819
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...A Local Expert in all The Hamptons

Peggy: My pool girl did--and I really appreciate it. I noticed the fact that her guys were in my back yard for hours! ..I complained about that and she thought I was complaining about the extra charges--well, I was but just as importantly to me, I felt intruded upon! I am sure that it was preferrable to them to be in one spot--not driving and using up gas--but in one spot making more money than in the past--I appreciate the extra costs to do business today but I would rather be asked if I minded first....and I certaily woould have told her to not spend so much time in my back yard--they were literally hiding in the bushes spending their time so they did not have to drive!!!

Jul 04, 2011 06:30 AM #10
Rainer
226,762
Tricia Hoffmann
Your Home Free - Highland Village, TX

Paula,

I haven't seen an increase in fees but I have seen a decrease in customer service!!

I could make a handyman rich if he would just show up when he says he is showing up, do the work he promises and do a good job.  I would be out of business if I did my job the way some of these people do work!!! 

That is one of the reasons I don't use the big companies but my little networking group and clients.  Good help is so hard to find!

Jul 04, 2011 08:44 AM #11
Rainmaker
500,819
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...A Local Expert in all The Hamptons

Tricia: You know, I have noticed that too..just a lack of drive to get things done well and in a timely manner. I do think it is because they are having a hard time making ends meet too. I use people who I have used for years so it is sad to see the struggle now that I know what it is.

Jul 04, 2011 09:28 AM #12
Rainmaker
365,405
Stephen Proski
RE/MAX Scottsdale, AZ Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale Homes For Sale

Paula I live in a destination location of Scottsdale, Arizona and yes I see service people starting to over charge for services like, tile and carpet installers, landscapers, painters, etc.  In years past when those people had a steady stream of business if they took on more clients, they would inflate their prices.  This could be a good sign that our economy is starting to climb back or is it that the service industry is hurting because of lack of business and they are trying to make up the difference. 

Time will tell, hope that our economy is getting better versus worse.

Jul 05, 2011 04:15 AM #13
Ambassador
1,705,310
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

My husband plants the flowers, mows the lawn, cleans the house and, if we had a pool, would care for it. His rates are pretty good and I'm always pleased with the results.

Jul 09, 2011 03:46 PM #14
Rainmaker
500,819
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...A Local Expert in all The Hamptons

Tammie: Therefore you can never be "ripped off"...too bad I don't have a husband like that!! I don't have a husband at all so I am really jealous...If I did have one, he would be just like yours! Congratulations on that!

Jul 09, 2011 05:09 PM #15
Rainmaker
669,781
Martha Brown
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Annapolis MD 21403 - Annapolis, MD
Your Homes Around Annapolis Agent

paula- I have noticed it as well. What is really interesting to me is that I have also noticed that service costs vary from zip code to zip code. The zip code I am in now has become known for its McMansions and big incomes even though there are still many small farmettes like mine dotting the landscape. In otherwords it was farm country long before McMansion country. Yet having the same work performed here costs me hundreds if not thousand of $$ more than I hear in some other zip codes. I have come to the conclusion that it is because of the perception of the people here being more well off. Yes I am sure gas prices and inflation of food has something to do with it but...... just saying.

 Sounds to me like you need to renegotiate with the servicers (I have) and put a limit to what can be done. :0) Good luck. Its tough out there.   

Jul 10, 2011 05:29 AM #16
Rainmaker
160,406
Ana Hitzel
AccentPositives Home Staging - Corona, CA
Professional Home Stager Inland Empire

Hi Paula, I am the maid, pool boy, gardner and plumber around my house!  As for servicers pricing, Cali is always expensive unless you hire illegals which many do for these type services you are talking of.  I think with the way the economy is some are trying to make do the same with less business.  I have raised my rates some due to cost, gas etc and just plain needing to for the work I do. Sometimes businesses think a certain area or neighborhood can take the highter prices, that irritates me to no end.  I have heard plumbers especially do this around here. Their idea of well off and mine are definitely different LOL. Those charging too much and delivering less will sooner or later not make it, ebb and flow.

Jul 10, 2011 07:04 AM #17
Rainmaker
500,819
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...A Local Expert in all The Hamptons

Martha: you are so right--it is tough out there..and yes, I have renegotiated the prices but it definitly means less work done...

Ana: The perception here is that everybody is wealthy--not so! That's why you can see bungalows on the same street as huge new houses, with grass up around the windows and weeds taking over. It is really sad to me that the few locals who are left here can not afford it anymore!

Jul 10, 2011 07:25 AM #18
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...A Local Expert in all The Hamptons
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