So how much did I get taken for?

I just had an electrician in to diagnose and correct a no power problem with two electrical outlets.

He traced the problem to a defective GFI and replaced it.

He was in and out in 1/2 hour. The bill including the replacement GFI and installation was $200. The normal call out fee is $125.

Was the bill reasonable?

Your question calls for an opinion, so this thread belongs in IMHO.

There really is no single, factual answer to your question. This thread is probably better suited to IMHO.

That said, a $200 bill is reasonable on pure numbers if you subtract $125 for the call out fee. That leaves $75 for the hardware replacement and 30 minutes of the electrician’s time. Assuming he replaced one of these ($13.00) that leaves $62.00 for 30 minutes worth of effort to diagnose and repair your electrical service. If his hourly rate is, say $60/hour (making the call out fee a standard double his hourly rate) go ahead and make a case he gouged. Since you don’t state if this was a scheduled appointment (days in advance), after hours or even last minute, it’s really hard to honestly judge.

All I’ll offer is how much is your life worth to you? Your home? A failed GFIC can burn down your house, or just kill you. Or both. Your call.

It’s high.

There’s the old story about the technician who is called in to fix a complicated machine, so he spends ten minutes looking at it, turns one screw, and it works again. Then he sends them a bill for $1000. And the guys who own the machine demand that he itemize the bill. So he writes:

Turning the screw:               1.00
Knowing which screw to turn:   999.00

You could have probably easily replaced a busted GFCI yourself, but would you have diagnosed the problem and obtained a replacement and wired it correctly in half an hour? Probably not. And that’s why the electrician’s services are worth $200.

Also, some electricians will charge say, $60 per hour, with a one hour minimum.

Depending on where you live it could be quite reasonable. Most tradesman bill to the hour if less than one hour. $ 75 for two outlets installed is about par for the course. Per hour rates for electrician in urban and many suburban areas is around $65 - $85 per hour. Less in smaller towns.

See Electrical Price Estimates

Thanks for the correction on post location. I was looking for feedback on typical rates, so I figured that’s closer to “factual”.

I ask about this because I was a dispatched tech for many years and if your problem fit within my first hour, we didn’t bill any additional labor. And even 10 years ago, my time was billed out at $125/hour. The parts were marked up of course. I also worked with a lot of outside vendors that provided electrical and plumbing services with similar policies.

A few years back we (at work) got a quote on having a new furnace put in. It’s just a standard home type furnace. Included in the quote was $200 for the electrician. I looked at the furnace installer and asked him if he was kidding, $200 to connect 3 wires? He said regardless of what the job is, as long as it isn’t something overly complicated, that’s just the standard charge for reconnecting a furnace.

Also, assuming you used a real electrician and not just a handyman, part of the $200 covers you in the event that something goes wrong. If your house burns down tonight and the fire inspector decides it was because of that outlet, his insurance will pay out on it. Sure, I probably could have diagnosed and replaced that outlet in a half hour, but if your house burnt down, you’re going to have a hell of a time collecting that money from me (since I don’t have it). Some random handyman…you might not even be able to find him again.

So anyways, without knowing the details or the market you live in $200 sounds high, but reasonable.

You also have to realize that no one person just pocketed $200 and laughed at you when they drove off. It costs real money to run a small business and to have people on hand that you can just call to come over and fix the problem with little notice plus take responsibility for it.

I don’t want to itemize the list because I would leave out things but you can imagine them on your own. Subtract all forms of business and employee taxes, liability insurance, work vehicle costs, gas, parts, training etc. and it adds up really quickly.

I don’t know if you got overcharged but you weren’t completely ripped off as long as the work was done well and on time.

Thank you.. I wish more people realized that “he charged me more than I expected” is not equivalent to “he’s ripping me off.”


Look folks, I’ve worked in and around the trades for quite a long time on both sides. I’ve got friends that run their own technical service businesses. I know what it takes to get those services delivered on site.

In my experience, with your first visit to a new customer, you fix the problem and if you have time left in that first hour, you educate them on company services or use the time to advise them on preventative procedures. You make sure they feel like they got good value so they’ll use you again.

$200 for replacing a retail $12 part and a half hour of your time, part of which was quoting me on a new power drop seems significantly high to me. (10 minutes while I walked him through the outlets that failed and what I had plugged into them, 5 minutes while he and his trainee/assistant/whatever conferred about the GFI and 5 to show me the problem and replace the GFI, and 10 minutes while he explained why he couldn’t take credit cards temporarily and then why I had to void and write another check because I had mistakenly written it to his business and not him personally.)

I never delivered less than a full hour of service on a call. There are always preventative maintenance issues you can cover with a customer. (In fact, with this GFI fault the electrician warned that that kind of thing could cause a fire, so I asked him if we should go ahead and replace the other GFIs, especially when he mentioned they no longer make the kind of GFI that failed. His response was “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”)

I’m not making a statement about the general value of tradespeople in the field. I’ve managed service people and fielded the calls of customers that think 8 hours of diagnostics and 1/2 hour of fix should be billed for only the fix time. I’ve also been the tech that had his billables dinged because a service manager trade off that battle for the long term business from the account.

It sounds like he’s in the ballpark on the high side. And I’m probably just used to B2B rates and responsiveness.

Well, anybody can replace a GFCI, as long as you can read and physically work a screwdriver. So I guess that’s $200 for determining the problem. I mean, I think you were had, but other people don’t seem to think so - I rarely call electricians (my dad handles that for me when needed) but my plumber wouldn’t have charged you that for, say, a clogged pipe. More like $75.

A clogged pipe won’t burn your house down during the night while you’re sleeping. :smiley:

For $200
-some guy drove to your house
-knew exactly how to diagnose your electrical problem
-Had the hardware needed to fix the problem
-had the tools needed to fix the problem
-had the skills needed to fix the problem
-had the knowledge base to understand that the problem was fixed
-had the knowledge base to be able to convince you that the repair is functional and safe

Look on that list and see how many of those items you are capable of handling alone. If you can do most of them then you overpaid. If not, then you got a decent return on your expenditure.

In either case the question is really whether you overpaid. The electrician did not overcharge.

I saw what you did there, Sparky.


I once had a breaker go bad and need replaced. Wanting to save money, I read about how to do the job, hunted down the parts, and did the job myself. Throughout the job I was sweating and hyperventilating, worried that I would make a mistake and get killed.

All went well. After the fact, I asked an electrician what he would have charged for the job. In retrospect, it would have been worth it.

I can say the exact same thing about my plumber who came to help me get my steam boiler up and running.

My plumber charged $80, and likely spent more time diagnosing the problem than this electrician.

$200 for 30 minutes of on-site time is very high. You charge $125 for the call, fine, but at least have the decency to credit that money towards the total labor cost of the job.