Overcharging by plumber - where to go with this one

About two weeks ago I got a plumbing service to replace a safety mixing valve in a hot water system. I would estimate the trade cost to be about $40 because you can buy them online for about between roughly $55-$80. They charged me $220 for the part, plus labour and call-out fee. Sent two emails requesting an explanation of the charges - they are not replying.

If you accept and paid the plumber when services were completed, there is little you can do. Any questioning of costs should have occurred at that time. The only thing to do is not to use the plumber again if you believed it was expensive. I personally wouldn’t use them if they don’t have the decency to reply to your query about the part cost. The price may be justifiable, not replying is poor service.

Also, while one might find a similar product online, they might not be exactly the same product. A plumber might chose to use higher quality parts at greater cost as they are responsible for any faults with the parts post installation. A plumber might also know reliability of cheaper parts. If it was a tempering valve, these can cost up into the several hundreds.

We have looked at replacing our thermocouple tempering valve as shower water is just hot enough in winter, but have baulked due to prices of alternatives.


Unfortunately, the only way I know of to beat this situation is to get a few quotes before proceeding. I had a leak in the roof for years (in the outside eaves so no internal leak) and finally got a highly recommended roofing company out to quote on fixing it last week. They charged $99 to inspect and quote, and followed up with a detailed written quote for $3702 with copious photos showing how much work was needed. I nearly proceeded, given that my roof is now over 30 years old. However, a second quote seemed advisable, so out came another company. He took a look, said the roof’s in pretty good shape, just 4 tiles needed replacing (not the 20+ of the other quote) and the flashing needed reshaping to fix the leak (not completely replacing) - $250 and he could do it on the spot since I already had the tiles. I never expected to save over $3400 by getting a second quote, and some recent heavy rain suggests the leak is fixed.


Getting quotes for a few things over the years had one constant - the more photos the higher their quote. The psychology behind it is that lends an air of competence, rigour, and implies a higher level of service and care they take advantage of.

Not many years ago a highly regarded service company quoted $5800 for ‘X’ including paragraphs and paragraphs of what they would do as well as photos. The winner was $2450 who did a very fine job and ticked every box the high quote implied was uniquely from them.