CHOICE membership

Call out fee and then the sting!

Last week I had a company come out as my ducted air conditioning system had broken down. I was told of the $49 call out fee and was fine with that. When the technician arrived, I was told that it would cost a further $200 odd to look at the problem and diagnose it!
In the end I paid $270 all up for his visit and am now waiting, 5 days later, for a quote from the company for the cost of the part and repair. I did politely mention that I expected that the call out fee had included diagnosis as I wasn’t inviting him out for a cup of tea! He did say that other companies charge more for their call outs but to me this is not right. I should also add that we had had the company out before and had gone for some one year deal which gave us 15% off on further work. So my $270 was after the discount!
Is this usual practise these days in this increasingly outrageous world? I cannot guarantee that I was not alerted to this by phone when making the appointment but if so, it certainly didn’t ring any bells and I think I would have remembered that.
What do others think?

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Did you ask what the call out fee included? The last time we used a call out tradie (was a plumber for a blocked sewer), we checked when calling to determine what the call out fee included. We found in our case that the call out fee also included the first 15 minutes in relation to looking at/resolving the problem.

It may be worth asking in the future rather than assuming that the call out fee includes more than the tradie rocking up to your house.

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No, I didn’t but I will from now on! This is the first time such a thing has happened to me.

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My experiences reflect @phb where each company I have engaged quoted upfront clearly stating the $125-175 call out fee included the call out and first XX minutes of work, plus cost of parts (suburban Melbourne). After the included minutes the hourly rates have been charged in 15 or 30 minute intervals at $100-150 per hour where the call out and additional costs have usually been in reverse ratios (high call-out, lower additional; lower call-out, higher additional).

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Hi @uptightoutasight, I’d welcome you to post a link to the company in question’s website for further scrutiny, but only if you’re comfortable doing so. In past, we’ve been able to work with some businesses to improve their practices or the advice they are offering to consumers.

Generally speaking, it’s companies that play on ambiguities that can leave consumers feeling ripped off or paying too much. Based on your account of the situation above, I can see that (at the least) things weren’t made very clear. As a general rule of thumb, when it comes to trades and services, it’s best to get three written quotes for any work. It might seem a little cumbersome in the moment, but you’re the paying customer and good businesses will accommodate this request. You’ll also want to get any other commitments to work in writing too, including cost (additional repairs and so on).

You might find this advice useful, if you’re thinking about taking the matter further:

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Thanks for this. Do you mean a link to this thread?

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Yeah, if the company has a website just put a link on this thread - we can have a look at the claims they are making there :thumbsup:

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You may be able to claim the repair on insurance if it is a motor burnout. One New Year’s Day, we found one of our aircons didn’t work and called out the only aircon tradie we could find who was working (he came out next day) and he suggested it could be covered by insurance which it was.

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What @BrendanMays was suggesting is reply to his post and either just type the company’s website address in, or if it’s easier cut the companies website address from your browser and paste it here.

Then the gurus at Choice and here in the Community can look at the business and possibly assist you further.

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Thanks, I was reluctant to name the company while I am still dealing with them. However as I still have not received a quote for the repairs despite all this occurring a week and a half ago, it is https://www.fallonsolutions.com.au/

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They claim to give upfront pricing, so no hidden surprises!

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I had a look, but I couldn’t find anything about quotes on their website. Certainly there is nothing about a call out fee, or about quotes costing $.

I have been charge for quotes, but the business was completely up front about it, and told me exactly how much it would cost to get the quote containing all the necessary work etc. (The cost of the quote was to be deducted for the cost of the work if they did it, so then it would not cost anything.)

It seems strange to me to be charged a call out, and a quotation fee. Normally if a business charges for quotes, it encompasses the callout cost. If they charge a call-out, that usually includes a certain amount of ‘labour’ time.

What did they think the chap was going to do once he got there if not give a quote or perhaps undertake a repair. They should have told you about additional costs at the time you first phoned them.

I think you should write to the business owner/manager and say that not only are they not adhering to their claims on the website, ‘component pricing’ is against the Aust. Consumer Law (see Advertising and selling guide relevant quote below:)
Component pricing
When you present prices to your consumers, you should state the total price. This applies to advertising across all mediums. If you promote a price that is only part of the total price of goods or services, you must also include the total price (as a single figure) at least as prominently as the part price. It is also illegal to represent to consumers that the price of a component or components is the total price.

It is clear that they did not disclose the full price of having someone come out to give a quote. Therefore, they should immediately refund you the additional $221 charged by the technician. Tell them you are in contact with Choice, and if you do not receive a suitable response, you will be taking the matter further.

I would also suggest you find some more ethical tradespeople to do the work rather than these ones.

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Thanks for your advice.

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We used to own an Air con business. Our call out fee always included the first 15minutes, which was usually adequate time to diagnose the problem. The call out fee you were quoted seems very cheap, but now I know why. You should have been told the full cost up front. I would have told him not to bother diagnosing and sent him packing.

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Here’s the ‘upfront pricing’ page. If it was truly upfront, then surely the cost of completing the diagnosis would have been made clear to you @uptightoutasight. It’s possible that the company will claim that you were under no obligation to continue the work, but you can always dispute the validity of this behaviour.

To be fair to Fallon Solutions, it seems like they have a fair number of reviews on productreview.com.au and it seems their customer service is quite active on their Google reviews page page. This is a good sign as it least you should be able to get in touch with the right people to hopefully resolve the dispute.

Good luck with it all, let us know how you go.

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UPDATE.
Hi, for anyone interested, I ended up going ahead with the company just because it was easier in the end. We have had a very hot summer/autumn here in Queensland and there was a big demand for parts which meant a few weeks wait. I didn’t want to delay it any further. It had taken over a week just to get the quote after the initial inspection!

However, the plot thickens, well kind of, and I won’t use them again. Apart from my original complaint in my first post there were 2 additional issues.

  1. At the time of quoting for air con repair, the technician also suggested that we get surge protection on our metre box which would be done by one of their electricians for around $800. I took this advice but used my usual electrician who charged me $370.

  2. When he turned up the technician complained that the company had given him the wrong parts for the fans that he was replacing. He discovered that they had never been ordered and proceeded to tell me that he had thought my $1200 odd quote was cheap and that was why. However, they were listed on the quote. I don’t really know what he did but was able to take the old fans apart to replace something so we didn’t need the new fans anyway. It doesn’t matter exactly what it was anyway, but does show that we could have had this option all along. He then told me that if they had had to order the correct things the company was going to charge me, meaning I was lucky in the end. Of course, even I know that a signed quote is a signed quote and they could not have charged more.

Al in all, the entire experience was less than satisfactory and I will look into other companies for future issues.

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Do you know if the ‘replace something’ is as good as the original quote of the fan replacement?

Do you know if he was doing a swifty on you?

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Pretty sure he wasn’t. He was frustrated about the mix up and it was obviously more difficult to do what he did. I was there for that bit. I think it was just much easier to replace the whole thing.
Anyway, all behind me now!

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Thanks for the update @uptightoutasight - seems like a cautionary tale to me!

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I just searched for Fallon Solutions on Product Review.

I was amazed to see that they actually have rated so highly with a 4.4 star rating from some 1,069 reviews.

It would appear that when things go wrong with them, they really go wrong for some customers.

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