Plumbers invoice doubled

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Plumbers invoice doubled

Plumbers verbal estimate estated ‘X’ amount per foot sewer line was replaced
and that included labor, material and equipment. However their need to bring a
bigger excavator and the repair of a telephone line they broke, increased the
cost.

Shouldnt the cost for that extra labor and equipment be covered by them and not
the client? What can I do if they seem unreasonable to reduce the total?

Asked on August 25, 2016 under Business Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

An oral estimate is not generally binding: it is a "guestimate," or a best guess as to what it will cost, not a contract agreeing to do the work for no more than $X.
If you believe (and believe you can show) that they deliberately lied (i.e. intentionally low-balled) the cost to get you to hire them, that could be fraud, and fraud could give you grounds to not pay more than the estimate (though note: if they won't voluntarily reduce the cost, you'd have to sue, which has its own costs and is never guaranteed--even good cases loses sometimes, after all).
However, if there were any unforeseen circumstances or changes in instructions or conditions (e.g. the sewer line was buried deeper than they'd thought, or the soil was harder to dig through than anticipated, and they needed a larger excavator; or a telephone line was unexpectedly lying close to the sewer line and was damaged, then had to be fixed, etc.), that's not fraud--the change in conditions/circumstances mean they did not knowingly lie. Since in that case, it would not be fraud and the oral estimate ("oral" is the better term than "verbal") is not binding, you will have to pay the cost.


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