CHOICE membership

Call out to receive the cost of service

I phoned a service company Adelaide to see if my reverse cycle air conditioner required any servicing. They advised me of the cost of the call out. My understanding was that the service person would look at it, listen to it and open the unit up to inspect inside.
The guy came out for what should have been a 15 min call out time but wasn’t, to look at my air con. All he did was turn it on and go outside and looked at it. Came back to me to show me on his tablet the cost of 2 types of services: a General Service $479.00 and a Duct clean $730.00, or both.
Therefore I paid $89.00 for someone to tell me how much these items cost.
My complaint is that this could have been explained at the initial phone call, instead of having to pay someone to come out, turn on my air con look at it and then show me on a tablet the costs.
Is this the new norm in Australia? I know that there are a lot of “shonky” tradespeople around but this is a new low!

14 Likes

Absolutely disgraceful.

Probably should give them some feedback on Product Review.

6 Likes

How did that (reasonable) understanding come about? If the company rep said or implied that you may be able to seek a refund. If it was an assumption it would have to be filed as a lesson learnt.

Step 1 - Read the ACL regarding services and you can assess the merits of a case for refund. That will advise what any Step 2 may be.

Would you name the company so we can have a look at their advertising, and so others may be forewarned? Call outs are normally understood to include attendance and minimally 15 or 30 minutes of investigative work.

Since you rang to ask about ‘routine service’ there should have been none required, but the tradie should have checked for gas charge, unusual noises, visible drain leaks, and general maintenance such as leaves and so on. If there was a problem then a quote to continue would have been in order.

At least in Melbourne $89 for any trade callout would be a red flag. No cost callout means they will attend and provide a typically high quote to make the repair. They are there and ready so many people will agree. It covers the few times their quote is knocked back.

A $120-180 callout usually includes as a minimum superficial investigative work. In each case I have required a tradie they came, had a look, and told me what was wrong, sometimes fixed it if it was easy, and when not so easy or required parts they quoted.

Since your call was only for ‘does it need routine servicing’ they should have advised the costs for a normal routine service on the phone or minimally enumerated what would be done for a callout.

5 Likes

Yes, I phoned them and explained exactly what I have outlined in my review. The Company spokesperson didn’t see it the way I did.
We may have to get used to this new way of doing business? Pay for a “call out” just to get a quote from a Tablet, mobile phone or a sheet of paper!
I have also just put a review up on Product Review.

6 Likes

Sorry this happened to you.

While I can understand that they would want to come and look at the system(s) so they are quoting correctly, personally I wouldn’t have paid if they hadn’t advised you before hand there was a cost. And no, it is NOT the norm. Some businesses will want to charge others won’t. My experience has been that the larger the firm, the more likely they are to want to charge to come and quote.

The moral of the story is that buyer should always beware. It is necessary to ask questions such as 1/ is the quote free or is there a cost? 2/ what do you do during the visit? 3/ what is covered by the quote? 4/ How long do you give warranty on the work undertaken? etc.

7 Likes

I will definitely be asking more questions at the first point of contact. You always learn from mistakes. Too bad we just cannot trust our tradies and suppliers.

5 Likes

and the company name is?

1 Like

Service Today

5 Likes

Their web site presentation leaves much to be desired. Having a look was educational regarding the many potentially red flags as a service provider.

They ‘operate’ in multiple capitals across the entire gamut of trades, indicating they are most likely an appointment maker for contract suppliers in each area. They may make their money by referral fees, eg your $89 call out, or as a flat fee or percentage if the tradie gets the job, or both. They are lots of hype with few details, and their main message is ‘emergency service, today’ that is virtually always at a premium price. Not a good source for routine servicing, and sometimes not for emergencies when reasonable prices are expected.

9 Likes

Thank you for that confirmation as I believed this method of trading is not ethical.

3 Likes

Is that what you hoped would happen…or what you were told on the phone when you arranged the call out?

When arranging any call out of a tradesperson, it is important to ask what the call out fee includes and whether, for example, comes off the total cost of any subsequent works resulting from the inspection/service. If they indicate that the call out has no benefit, I would be suspicious of why it is being paid (unless one lives in a remote location well away from the base for the tradeperson).

It also pays to shop around to see what other service providers offer and their range of costs to different, but standard, services (e.g. clean, service, testing etc).

2 Likes

Some more less than favourable reviews for Service Today including from former employees.

https://au.trustpilot.com/review/www.servicetoday.com.au#:~:text=Do%20not%20use%20Service%20Today%2C%20they%20will%20rip%20you%20off,mechanism%20or%20replace%20the%20toilet.

https://au.indeed.com/cmp/Service-Today/reviews

https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Service-Today,-Heating,-Air-Conditioning,-Plumbing-and-Electrical/reviews

5 Likes

You are absolutely right. We all need to be made more aware of our rights and to be educated in asking questions about what exactly is involved in the service and expectations in the delivery of a product. Thank you.

6 Likes

Sorry to hear about your experience @irakip

I also used this company a few years ago. It was a Sunday and when I called a local plumber, it diverted to them. They came to look at my blocked shower, charging me the call out fee. They also provided a quote on site - $500ish to pour some chemicals down the drain with an optional extra of $200ish to put a camera down there. The service person suggested that the chemicals would probably be sufficient, so I went with that. Two days later, blocked drain again. A different (local) plumber came and had a look, figured out it was tree roots (which chemicals won’t resolve), pulled the pipe apart and pulled the roots out. Charged $100ish total and I didn’t have a problem again.

I would never use Service Today again. They do provide same day service which may be convenient, but you pay for it.

9 Likes

They also obviously also provided a defective service.

image

6 Likes

I am now cautious about any of these National companies, after all they are only after business, not necessarily providing quality service. Problem is we never investigate them unless their is an issue.

4 Likes

It could be that with larger conglomerate type businesses, there will be the odd employee/contractor which doesn’t consider customer service to be important. … and to them it doesn’t matter as they will stilll have a job the next day. With smaller independent businesses, reputation often means far more as a poor reputation may result in not having a job tomorrow.

6 Likes

Why speculate?

A nationally promoted service finder brand vs a small local business.

One off opportunities at scale vs repeat business.

The business model appears well proven. Despite all of the gripes when we seek information, Google wins. It has built a massive enterprise by redefining the rules we live by (in the eyes of some).

It’s no different with any other consumer need, is my viewpoint. There are so many areas where building a web centric future entails displacing our more traditional strategies and values. What odds Google will return the 2 person mechanic next door for car servicing. Even when I ask Google or Yellow Pages etc for a particular service in ur town the first hits are rarely local. Although the first hits seem to offer services locally, but far from their business location.

I’m not convinced that the high cost and variable service outcomes are due to a lack of concern for the customer. The race to get to the greater customer base first as a success strategy is well demonstrated by the dominance of Amazon, Google, FacePlant etc in their respective markets. Yellow, Uber, True Local, Finder, Expedia, Bookings Holdings, and lesser are on similar paths. Some customer focus is necessary to stay ahead where there is competition.

As a fall back I’d refer to my local motoring organisation (RACQ) which offers the ability to connect to a variety of trade services. Not because they may be any less expensive, or have better contractors. But because with them I’d expect more power to enforce the ACL without the need to shout too loudly.

3 Likes

This “Call our fee” is growing Across many services. My Recent experience has been with: Electricians, Pool maintenance, plumbers and arborist. Most said call out fee included first 15 minutes - or - call out fee deducted if accepted quote!! For example $92 to have pool ‘technician’ come out - but included first 15 minutes of service - $65 per half hour after!
Outrageous! I always say l am looking for a free quote as l want to compare before choosing.

2 Likes

I’d call my local plumber instead. He’s cheaper than your pool technician, and likely to be more reliable. Knowledge of pools? With what plumbers charge these days he probably has a large one. Next to the shed where he keeps the Ram and 30’ power boat.

Many pool techs work as subcontractors or employees of larger pool businesses that have the overheads of store fronts and management. The local plumber is a team of two as needed, overheads limited to the size of shed in his backyard.

For those of us trapped in a world with only large local businesses providing services. It’s a Royal PITA. Our extended family across several states and locations have similar experiences. Finding a reliable independent service can be difficult. Google is the friend of the business that provides the greatest return, per my prior post. Where we can we also ask around word of mouth and look in the local rag. We still have one on line or in print.

1 Like