DEFENDING THE ‘CALL OUT’ FEE
By Lucas Bowles, Regional Director, ECA(SA) East/South Cape
When a member of the public has an electrical problem, they want it resolved immediately even if it is after normal business hours or over a weekend. They contact an electrical contractor who responds to the call and fixes the problem.
But that isn’t the end of the story … It often happens that, when presented with the account, customers ask why they have been charged a call out fee as they believe that the contractor actually did ‘very little’ to rectify the fault on their electrical installation.
This is a valid question from the paying public’s perspective but let us consider this from the electrical contractor’s viewpoint.
Often, electrical contractors have to write off small amounts charged for call out fees simply because customers don’t (or won’t) pay the fee and the legal process to recover such small amounts is just not worth the effort.
Contractors would not have to do this if clients considered the following:
- When they desperately needed help, the electrical contractor was available to diagnose and rectify the problem.
- The reason the electrical contractor is able to do this is because he/she has studied and trained for many years – and this has come at a huge cost. The contractor also has accumulated the necessary tools, instruments, equipment and material to rectify electrical faults – and these specialist tools are costly.
- The electrical contractor is registered and licensed to test and inspect installations and issue valid Certificates of Compliance, which verify that the electrical installations comply with the legislation that governs the electrical industry in South Africa.
- Electrical contractors who are members of the ECA(SA) are covered by the association’s Workmanship Guarantee Scheme, which guarantees members’ workmanship to a maximum of R20 000 per contract subject to the conditions of the scheme – and the client has recourse in the unlikely event of defective workmanship.
- In South Africa, labour legislation makes it difficult and expensive to operate a business in the electrical industry. The electrical contractor has expenses and overheads and, like any other business, contractors charge a fee for services they have rendered.
- To run a successful business, the electrical contractor has to employ reliable and competent labour at competitive rates, which include benefits as prescribed by the National Bargaining Council for the Electrical Industry.
- In South Africa today, there are many electricians who are operating outside of the law and who are not registered with the Department of Labour and the public has no recourse should their work prove to be non-compliant.
When an electrical contractor carries out work, afford him the courtesy of making a payment immediately on receipt of his invoice. It’s the right thing to do.