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Old 06-12-2013, 11:08 PM   #1
polaris26
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Default Batteries in my well - question for the pro's?

Hello all,

This is my first post here - I will try to make a very long and complex story as short as I can...

I have a well that is inside my basement. Because of an accident of mine, the well supply pipe and and the electrical wires that power the well pump fell into the well (I will spare you the details for now).

I called a well service to help get the pipe and the wires back up to where I could work with them again. I was quoted an hourly rate for the main tech and a lower rate for the helper, *OR* it was offered to me that I could be the helper. I said that I could be the helper (to get a lower labor rate).

When the tech arrived, I saw that he brought a helper with him. I did not question this at the time.

It took the two of them about 2 hours to fish the pipe and the wires back up and make the necessary connections to my pressure tank and electric. They did a very nice job.

When I was getting the bill, the tech explained that he was charging me his overtime rate but his helper was getting straight time. This was a Wednesday afternoon about 2 to 4 pm.

I paid $776 for the whole job.

Here is the kicker - when the guys first got on the scene, they put a flashlight to look down into the well and the cap of the flashlight was loose. The guts of the flashlight dropped into the well. We are talking about batteries, a light bulb, and some lens, down my water well.

I asked the tech, would this be a problem and he said it should not be a problem due to the cold water down there.

I bought the explanation for the time being but I am having a bit of a problem with the whole thing in retrospect.

#1 - there was no mention of overtime when I was quoted on the labor charge.

#2 - I am concerned that decaying batteries in my water system will be a problem in time.

#3 - I did offer to be the helper and was told on the phone this would be ok. I understand that the tech might have been more comfortable with someone he normally works with as a helper but we are talking hundreds of dollars here.


Should I talk to the owner of the buisiness to see what should be done about any of this?


thanks,
Dave



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Old 06-12-2013, 11:30 PM   #2
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If you were quoted one rate then charged another you have a right to complain. Unless they quoted the higher price before they started. I don't understand the overtime rate during regular hours.



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Old 06-13-2013, 03:54 AM   #3
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I agree with John. Overtime at 2 pm sounds crazy, unless you're starting work at 6 am. Plus if it was scheduled you shouldn't have to pay overtime. It's one thing if you called him out at 2pm and he arrived at 4 then maybe overtime. If they told you one rate and charged a higher rate that's not right.

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Old 06-13-2013, 03:56 AM   #4
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And 776 sounds pretty steep for 2 hours of work for two guys but it depends on where you live. You may want to call a few different companies and get quotes next time to ensure you pay a fair price

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Old 06-13-2013, 04:27 AM   #5
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I would be more pissed about the batteries in my drinking water. This is definitely not right.

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Old 06-13-2013, 04:56 AM   #6
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Depends on the well how deep it is, I would have stopped the work as soon as they arrived, I understand getting water back on is important, but not at any cost. As to the flashlight I use a mirror instead, better for shining down deep wells.

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Old 06-13-2013, 11:43 AM   #7
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The bill has itemized costs in dollars (390 for the tech and 236 for the helper) but does not mention start or stop times nor the total time, so I am a little unsure if they are billing me from the time they left their location (which is about an hour from me) to the time they arrived back at their location, or just for the two hours they were here at my house.

The tech mentioned that he was going to 'give me a break' by not charging for fuel / mileage, but at this rate they are still making out quite nicely. Is it customary to 'start the labor clock' from the times to and from the work site, or just while you are at the work site?

thanks again,
Dave

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Old 06-13-2013, 03:53 PM   #8
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Usually 1/2 travel one way is customary. Maybe if your far from town a bit more but usually it's travel one way. Some companies do charge two ways though

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Old 06-14-2013, 03:13 PM   #9
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I'm still trying to figure out what kind of well that you can drop a pump into. Is this a "Dug" well? If so, it shouldn't be a big deal to fish things out. Dug wells are normally no more than 30' deep.

I have never worked by the hour. It's always a quoted price plus extra materials since we can't see down the well. I think these guys are a bit high and I would complain to the boss.

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Old 06-14-2013, 04:31 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone for chiming in.

Here is a follow-up...

I have been in contact with one of the principals of the well company.

Basically there was a lack of communication on their part when they failed to tell me that everything after 2:30pm is overtime.

If I had known that, I actually do have a place I could have stayed to use the water since I am house-sitting, and so I could have just waited until the following morning to have them come, or I could have called someone else.

They also failed to communicate that there would be a helper coming along, even after I was informed that I could be the 'helper'.

It was decided by the tech that he wanted his own helper along for the service call, which I understand due to safety issues, etc.

The problem is that he never told me the change of plan even though he did call me before leaving from his location to ask me directions. I had no idea a helper was along for the service call until I saw the two of them pull up in the service truck. Perhaps I should have said something at the time but I was anxious to get this thing resolved.

One small thing I did get accomplished is that I noticed that I got charged 4 hours of (overtime) for the tech even though they only got to my house a little past 2:30 (when overtime starts, apparently), and they had about an hour drive, so I reasoned that they must have left around 1:30 which should have been charged as straight time. They conceded to this point and I got back an hour of the differential between the straight and overtime rates for that (about $32).

In any case they never budged on the other points of the labor bill even though I think I have a case for wanting a partial refund on that based on the lack of communication about the overtime and bringing the helper into the situation without my consent to the change of plan.

As for the battery and other flashlight parts that fell into the well, the well company are going to send someone by either next week or the following week and send down a camera and a magnet on a rope to see if they can retrieve as much of the stuff as possible.

I was told that if they could not retrieve any of that stuff (especially the batteries) that they would install an in-line carbon filter for free since that should trap any heavy metals or whatever else might leach out of a battery over time.

I am not 100% sure this is true but that is what they are offering to do for me if they can't get the batteries up from the well.

I did have a chemical analysis performed about 4 years ago when I bought the house so I do have some idea of what was in the water at least at that time.

To answer one poster's question this well has (to my knowledge) been a part of the house since it was new, about 1961. It has a rusty casing so I am assuming it is made of (non-stainless) steel and I have no idea how deep it is but they never hit bottom with the 'fishing hook' and rope when they were trying to get the pump back up, so I am assuming it is at least 30 feet deep or more but I really don't know for sure. I don't know much about wells (dug vs non-dug) but since the position of the well casing is so close to the foundation that they just made it part of the basement, maybe it was dug when they were digging the foundation?

The casing is about 8 inches in diameter and sticks up maybe 6 or 8 inches from my basement floor in a little alcove area that is essentially part of my foundation.

thanks again,
Dave



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