Can I Use A Chargeback On A No-Show Electrician?

Penelope and her husband hired a licensed electrician/handyman she had worked with before to replace the breaker in her house. Miscommunication and what looks like laziness on the electrician’s part meant that he missed several scheduled appointments-stopping by but not calling, then just not showing up at all. Now he’s charged their credit card, but is ducking their calls and won’t come out without being paid for another service visit. So Penelope and Mr. Penelope did what any sensible person would do: installed the breaker themselves, and requested a chargeback.

We recently had some electrical issues in our home. We noticed a strange smell near the breaker box when the dishwasher was running. We flipped the breaker for the dishwasher and when we turned it back on, no power was going to the dishwasher.

We called an electrician/handyman that we had recently hired to do some work on our rental property. I thought he did a good job and charged fairly for the work he did at the rental. On March 14th, he came out to our house and determined that the breaker needed to be replaced and he would have to go buy one. He wanted to charge us for his mileage to Lowe’s. We suggested he try a closer, local hardware store. He went to the store we suggested and said they would order the breaker and he would return two days later to install the breaker.

On March 18th, my husband and I were both home. My husband missed the call from the handyman, but returned his call 30 minutes later. The handyman said he was no longer in the area and would come by on March 19th to finish the job. My husband tells him that he will be home all day and that he doesn’t have to call first before coming out.

It should be noted that at this point the handyman has charged our credit card for the entire job: two service calls and the cost of the breaker. On March 19th, my husband left in the morning to grab breakfast from the fast food place nearby. When he returned he found the new breaker sitting in the door with the handyman’s business card. My husband checked his phone and found no missed calls. He tried to call the handyman but there’s no answer.

The next day, March 20th, my husband reaches the handyman by phone. He states he didn’t try to call when he saw no one was home because my husband told him he didn’t need to call. He says he can come out on March 23rd to finish the job. In the meantime, I googled how to replace a breaker and end up doing the job myself. Regardless we still want an electrician to look at it and make sure its done properly and there are no other issues.

March 23rd comes and the handyman doesn’t show up, no calls no nothing. March 24th, my husband calls the handyman. His phone goes to voicemail after a few rings and we believe it was purposely ignoring our call. My husband calls from a different number and when he answers and recognizes my husband’s voice, he hangs up on him.

At this point we are pretty frustrated. We realize that there were poor communication issues on both ends that has caused this to be dragged out. My husband leaves him a message saying we will be pursuing a chargeback with our credit card company if he doesn’t finish the job he already got paid for. The handyman leaves a voicemail stating that he will not be returning without charging for another service call. He makes the statement that he lives in a different city and he can’t keep making the trip out to our house. I feel as if the distance was an issue, he shouldn’t have taken on the job from the beginning.

My husband didn’t return the call from the handyman and instead called the credit card company and requested a chargeback which they granted. I’m torn on the issue. The handyman did make the first appointment, bought the breaker, and made two attempts to return to the do the job. I concede that the first missed appointment was our fault for missing the call, but I disagree that he should have left the property the second time without calling first. Was a chargeback appropriate for this situation?

Update: Penelope wrote in to let us know that the chargeback was for the full amount of both service visits and the breaker.

Comments

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  1. bosozoku says:

    So I asked the electrician what the problem was and he said, “No Charge”.

    This article could have all sorts of fun puns.

  2. SGAC says:

    If the OP hasn’t done it yet, she can also file a complaint for job abandonment with the state agency that licenses electricians for their profession, and/or Consumer Affairs.

  3. scoobydoo says:

    My husband tells him that he will be ***home all day*** and that he doesn’t have to call first before coming out.

    On March 19th, my husband ***left in the morning*** to grab breakfast from the fast food place nearby. When he returned

    Well, there is your problem. Don’t leave when you say you’ll be home.

    • Captain Spock says:

      Indeed.

    • sirwired says:

      I’m also a little fuzzy as to why they told the handyman he didn’t have to call, and then get mad when he doesn’t.

      When he does call and they miss it, they get mad because he didn’t show up anyway. When they tell him not to call and they miss him, they get mad because he doesn’t call.

      Give the poor guy his money back. You’ve put him through the wringer because you can’t get your act together.

    • jimbo831 says:

      Couldn’t agree more. He said he would be home and he wasn’t. If he was leaving to get breakfast, he should have called the electrician to warn him first. The first attempt, they didn’t answer the call and waited a half hour to return it.

      I blame the OP.

      • GMFish says:

        Or left a note on the door, “Went for breakfast, I’ll be back in 10″

        If he knew it’d take more than 10 minutes, he shouldn’t have left without calling him.

    • GMFish says:

      I have to admit I’d be really pissed if a customer/client told me he’d be there all day and I didn’t have to call, and after driving over from a different town, he wasn’t there and couldn’t be bothered to leave me a note.

      But it’s even worse than that, because after screwing over the electrician, you didn’t even call and apologize to him.

      • dru_zod says:

        Same here. I HATE it when people say they will be somewhere at a certain time and they aren’t, and then they show up 20 or 30 minutes late and act like it’s no big deal. I think if I were the electrician, I would have called before I left, though, if only to avoid having to come back a 3rd time, but if I did have to come back, I would definitely charge for the 3rd visit. And if this particular couple called again, I would politely tell them I’m busy.

    • tungstencoil says:

      It’s poor form, but consider:

      Anyone who runs an appointment-based business will always try to salvage an existing appointment rather than re-schedule, UNLESS there is a compelling reason not to. In this case, the electrician had traveled a long way, etc etc. So one wonders: why wouldn’t he have at least tried calling the guy. I mean, wouldn’t you? If you couldn’t, wouldn’t you wait for 15 or 20 minutes? Unless the OP is lying about the amount of time OR the electrician got there a minute after he left, he couldn’t have hung around long.

      But, he also at least implied that he was rescheduling when it was more convenient to be in the area. Here is the crux: there’s a good chance the electrician had another/more profitable appointment, was running late anyway, or something.

      Does this make the OP right? No. But certainly, in today’s age of cell phones the OP has a viable complaint, especially when taken in the context of the rest of the situation. Even the OP acknowledges they are partially in the wrong, but come on… charging full price + another visit? Seems that the right thing to do would be to charge for the original visit + breaker but refund the install.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        Yeah, I agree. When you’re expecting to see somebody, you make an attempt to connect with them in some manner before you bail. You don’t just slip away, unless you never really wanted to follow through in the first place.
        It was a little unrealistic for the homeowner to say “I’ll be home all day” without providing more detailed instructions, unless he was planning to wait by the door the whole time.

        • jimbo831 says:

          Except the OP specifically told the electrician not to call. That was his huge mistake. If it were me, I would have said, “I should be home all day, but please call when you are on the way just in case I leave briefly.”

          In fact, I did this exact same thing on Sunday when my landlord needed to stop by. He called 10 minutes before he came and I was able to make sure I was still home. Easy way to prevent this.

          • ChuckECheese says:

            And I agree that saying “Don’t call; just walk in and find me naked on the couch” is weird.

          • dks64 says:

            No, he said he didn’t have to call before coming out. Big difference.

      • kobresia says:

        Okay, having done onsite work, I learned pretty quickly to NOT do this. People are either there for their appointment, or they’re not.

        If they’re not, they’re usually the sort who just have no consideration for anyone else, and feel that everyone else should wait on them. If you call them, they’ll generally expect you to wait 15-20 minutes while they get back home, and then you’ll almost always have to call them again at the 15-20 minute mark to find that they’re still fucking around but “will be home in a minute!”. Every time you call someone, you’re giving them what they think is an extension to screw around even longer. And of course, since they confirmed they’re on their way (and will be back sometime today) they get mad if you finally leave after waiting for over 45 minutes, doing nothing and falling behind on all other appointments for the day. If they do manage to show-up that late, then you’re also pretty far behind, because you still have to get started on the work.

        It’s not worth it. My policy became to wait for up to 20 minutes if a customer was a no-show when they said they would be around, then leave a note and leave. That’s how I managed to keep very high customer satisfaction ratings overall, I never kept people waiting in a several hour time window for me like some repair folks do, usually no more than 30 minutes with a call well in advance if I was running even just a few minutes late to confirm. The price of that level of service is that people who fool around & don’t keep their commitments generally just miss the boat.

      • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

        Because this couple already skipped out on a previous appointment, and took away their payment for the initial visit as well as the hardware that the electrician paid for out of pocket?

        I think charging for the missed appointments is a little crappy, but if it was stated as such in the initial contract, then the OP has no leg to stand on. (If there was no such agreement, then a chargeback ON THIS PORTION is probably justified.)

        Also, they basically stole a breaker.

        I really don’t understand how “Yes” is winning in the poll.

    • monkapotamus says:

      They told him he didn’t HAVE to call BEFORE coming out. They didn’t say that if he shows up at a time they said they would be home, and nobody is there, that he MUST NOT CALL them.

      He is running a business, and had (what appears to be) a loose time arrangement with this couple. He should have at least attempted to get in contact with them when he arrived to find nobody home, (he apparently had her husbands cell #) to make sure they were still on. Its just poor business on his end not to. If he had called when he showed up to see where they are, it most likely would have resolved the issue. Now he has to deal with a charge back, probably losing a customer, and likely some bad word of mouth. It was a dumb move on the electricians part and I put the bulk of the responsibility on him.

      • mszabo says:

        Well I’d say they have a loose time arrangement with the handyman, the handyman probably has a tighter time arraignment with all his customers.

        • monkapotamus says:

          Actually a lot of servicemen give really broad time estimates, its not uncommon at all. Its also not uncommon that they miss each other as a result (there have been plenty of stories involving that on here). It doesn’t clearly state if that was the case in the letter, so im just interpreting it that way based the little info provided. Sure there is blame to be put on the OP, but im not going to fault them for missing a phone call on the second attempt. It happens. Maybe the electrician should have given himself more of a time buffer so they would have time to call him back if they weren’t immediately available to answer the phone. Regardless the electrician was already in the area, he didn’t make a special trip on the second attempt. But the fact is, this guys customer feels like they are being taken advantage of. The business (any business) has to go the extra mile to ensure this doesn’t happen. Yes, it is unfair, harder, and takes more work to run a business than be a consumer, but it is also completely standard operating procedure for businesses. Of course there is always the possibility that the OP is totally distorting the facts, and that the electrician sat on their doorstep for 45 min waiting…

    • Scoobatz says:

      You missed the two previous failed attempts.

      First, there’s a good possibility the electrician could have fixed it immediately, but the OP dictated where the electrician needed to purchase the part and the store didn’t have it in stock.

      Second, both parties agreed for the electrician to come back on 3/18, but the OP missed his call by 30 minutes. That’s not the electrician’s problem. I blame the OP for not having a phone handy when he was expecting the electrician to stop by at some point. (Perhaps this is a stretch, but I’m going to assume the OP has a cell phone.)

      Third, it was made clear the OP really didn’t keep up his side of the bargain on 3/20 by ‘being home all day’ like he indicated he would. Instead, he went out and grabbed breakfast.

      That’s three missed opportunities to fix this thing. The electrician has better things to do than hope he’ll connect up with the OP on the fourth go around. I don’t have much sympathy for the OP in this situation.

    • Jawaka says:

      I agree. The husband said that he’s be home and wasn’t. The electrician obviously came out and wasted a trip. The electrician should complete the job but he should also be paid for another trip.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    If I went to Walmart to pick up the latest Cabbage Patch doll that everyone was trying to get their hands on during Christmas because marketing people and gullible parents made it so, and they said we had one left in the back, let me ring you up while someone goes to get it for you.
    If they came back and said sorry, we can’t find it, but we are still going to charge you; What Would You Do?

    • MutantMonkey says:

      First, I would try to compare the scenario to something similar. Your scenario is definitely not what happened here, not even close.

      The guy came out for the visits and even dropped off the hardware when the homeowner wasn’t there, when he said he would be.

  5. deathbecomesme says:

    First mistake was paying before the job was done. Partial payment before and the rest when the job is done. Second mistake was telling him you would be home all day and he didn’t have to call before coming on site. You left the premises and he had a long drive and was justifiably upset about making that long drive for no reason. I’d want to charge you gas as well.

  6. Lyn Torden says:

    Chargeback, yes. Pay him for the breaker, the visit he did make, and the delivery of the breaker.

    The electricians I use keep the common breakers for the 4 major panel types on their trucks, and even more for the 2 top brands.

    • mrvw says:

      I’m with you. leave the chargeback and then pay him for the breaker and visit. He really sounds a little like a douche, but they still need to pay him.

      • Eyeheartpie says:

        HE sounds like a douche? What about the people who told him to come over, and that they’d be home all day, and that a call wasn’t necessary, who then proceeded to NOT BE THERE when he tried to come over? What about the people who didn’t want to pay the miniscule amount of money for mileage to drive to a Lowes store that would have their part in stock, and instead forced the electrician to deal with a local hardware store that required a second visit out?

    • libgeek says:

      Agreed. Send a check for what you think is appropriate. Let him follow up if he disagrees. But leaving the electrician in the lurch for a) diagnosing the problem and b) going out and purchasing the breaker seems unfair.

      • Robert Nagel says:

        They also owe fro the charge-back fee the credit card company is going to charge the electrician. I would suggest they do this before he takes them to small claims court and they have to pay the court fees.

    • mszabo says:

      So a chargeback but pay him for the breaker and the two service calls he made (the original and the 2nd one with the correct breaker). So what exactly is the chargeback for then? From the handyman’s perspective he accompished 99.9% of the work and just didn’t get a chance to spend the 3 minutes required to pop in a breaker. True from the customer’s perspective he didn’t do anything useful but this doesn’t seem to be from a lack of trying.

    • mszabo says:

      So a chargeback but pay him for the breaker and the two service calls he made (the original and the 2nd one with the correct breaker). So what exactly is the chargeback for then? From the handyman’s perspective he accompished 99.9% of the work and just didn’t get a chance to spend the 3 minutes required to pop in a breaker. True from the customer’s perspective he didn’t do anything useful but this doesn’t seem to be from a lack of trying.

      Also I think there is a key difference here in that they stated they hired a handyman not an electrician. I would tend to agree there is no real excuse for an electrician not having a circuit breaker in his truck. On the other hand I would not expect a handyman to have parts for all the different trades he works with in his truck, then again the rates are probably lower for a handyman than an electrician.

  7. Costner says:

    A full chargeback isn’t really the ideal solution, but I doubt they would let you do a partial chargeback. What you should do now that the chargeback has been granted is mail him a check for one service visit plus the cost of the breaker. That is probably anywhere from 60 to 70% of your total bill. I’d say that would be a fair compromise and you can go on your way guilt free.

    All of this being said, I hope this “handyman” was in fact a licensed electrician, because in most areas the only people allowed to work on electrical in a home are licensed electricians and in some cases the homeowner. An unlicensed handyman might not even be legal. For a breaker this isn’t a big deal because you just snap it in and hook up the hot wire, but for larger projects you may want to check to see if they are licensed before making assumptions based upon them claiming they are an electrician. A true pro would have had the breakers in stock and wouldn’t have had to make two service calls for a minor issue. They would have asked you what model number your breaker panel is before showing up, and likely had what they needed the first time.

    • JohnDeere says:

      anyone can change a breaker. you dont need a license for that.

      • PSUSkier says:

        True, but coming in nobody knew it was the breaker for sure. I mean, a burning electrical smell (didn’t say it outright, but there are few other electrical smells in normal operation) could be indicative of some pretty serious issues aside from the breaker. The point being, better safe than sorry with such things.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        You generally don’t need a license but in many areas, a permit is required. It’s just that 99% of homeowner’s and electricians don’t bother pulling a permit unless it’s part of a major renovation.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          and if you don’t get a permit and your house burns down due to anything electrical that you touched, your insurance doesn’t have to pay. it’s worth it to get the permit

      • Costner says:

        Incorrect. In many areas you are not legally allowed to open a breaker panel (required to change a breaker) unless you are a licensed electrician. In fact some cities put seals on the panels after the initial inspection, and these seals can only be replaced by licensed electricians in that specific city – each of which would have his or her own license number listed on the new seal.

        In some areas a homeowner can work on their own electrical, but it is often not legal to allow someone else to do so on the homeowner’s behalf. For instance in my city I can work on my own electrical or I can hire a licensed electrical contractor, but I cannot ask my relative who is an electrician in another city to come do work for me, nor can I ask a friend who used to be an electrician since neither of them are licensed in my city.

        When it doubt it is always best to inquire with the local inspectors to know what is legal and allowed, but it would be rare that “anyone” would be allowed to change a breaker, a receptacle, a switch, or any other electrical device. In fact, my city won’t even allow someone other than an electrician or the homeowner to change a light fixture.

      • shepd says:

        Completely wrong. I know for certain across Canada that is illegal without a permit if it is just anyone (and in that case the anyone may need to be licensed and be working under a master electrician). For the homeowner, at least in Ontario, you still need the permit, and while you may be unlicensed, you must do the work yourself with NO help at all, by law–but you may do any and all the work you wish , right up to the meter (and you can request that be pulled, too).

        The US has even more stringent requirements in many places, and in others, less stringent requirements, as always seems to be the case.

        The only thing you may do yourself everywhere across North America is change the plates on the outlets, and then ONLY if you have the special new ones that are designed to let homeowners change them without exposing the internals of the box. A breaker is absolutely going to be listed as licensed repair work in most all areas and come under whatever jurisdiction is necessary for that work.

        Of course, since the breaker does not end up looking like a net new install, chances are you’ll get away with it even if the house burns down (work like this without a permit means that if that work goes wrong your house insurance is cancelled).

        Some random places where you’ll need permits even as a homeowner:

        Canada (or at least Ontario):
        http://www.esasafe.com/

        Colorado:
        http://www.dora.state.co.us/electrical/permits.htm

        Too lazy to look up other states, do that yourself. :P

  8. RxDude says:

    I’m not sure what kind of breaker box the OP has, but if they’d let the guy go to Lowes at the start, it probably would have been done that day. I prefer to begin at the local hardware store, too, but Lowes and Home Depot often have a wider selection.

    Then the OP and her husband don’t answer the handyman’s call and expect him to push his whole day back because they weren’t paying attention. After that, the handyman follows instructions (don’t call, just come by), and there’s nobody home.

    The guy has put in more time than the job required because the OP/husband are flakey. Now they want him to sign off on their installation of the breaker. I don’t blame him for not wanting to even look at their work and risk any liability.

    Bad consumer.

  9. NickJames says:

    I blame the consumer. NEXT TIME BE HOME!

    • ChuckECheese says:

      BE HOME ALL THE TIME!
      WAIT BY THE DOOR!
      DON’T USE THE BATHROOM!

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        Using the bathroom != popping away for an Egg McMuffin.

        I too have been tempted by the breakfast burrito siren when waiting for appointments. I too have been burned. These days I don’t see “taking a day off to let some repairman in” as an excuse.

        • ChuckECheese says:

          Eat that burrito and you’ll be waiting on the bathroom siren.
          I agree there was dopey behavior – on both parts.
          You don’t say “I’ll be home all day.” You say, “I expect to be home all day, and I’ll be close to home if I’m not. If you show up and I’m not there, give me a call and I’ll be right over.”
          What if you were in the backyard or something and didn’t hear the doorbell?

  10. JohnDeere says:

    he came twice to do a job that takes 5 minutes. he went above and beyond, you want him to come a third time???? gas is expensive when your driving from city to city. now hes not getting paid at all. you are a lousy customer.

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I don’t see how this can be a contention point for the OP. The electrician didn’t do the job they paid him to do, apparently at all.

    And as she said, “I feel as if the distance was an issue, he shouldn’t have taken on the job from the beginning.” This statement is paramount; it’s not the customer’s problem if a business has issues on the back end. The customer pays for a service, and the business figures out how to make it happen. That is their purpose. If they fail at that, they shouldn’t be paid, bottom line.

    • JohnDeere says:

      it would have been done first day if they let him go to lowes. distance wasnt a problem until they lied to him.

      • deathbecomesme says:

        Exactly! They changed the plan, not him. They didn’t allow him to go to a store that would have more than likely stocked the part he needed. They also told him they would be home on a specific date and not to call, he did so and they weren’t home. Their fault both times, not his.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Hmm, I re-read the OP’s complaint and some of the comments. I changed my mind slightly. I believe fault lies with both parties in this case. Definitely pay for the breaker, and probably partial payment for his time.

      • homehome says:

        How is it his fault? They are the ones that made the mistake both times. So should he just walk away emptied because of them. You don’t tell someone you’ll be there and then not be there, then not want to pay, what kind of BS is that?

      • Eyeheartpie says:

        They told him not to go to Lowes where he likely could have gotten the part the same day and had it installed the same day, and instead he had to order a part that wouldn’t be in until the next day because the homeowners didn’t want to pay mileage. He then picked up the part from the smaller local store and went to install it, but the owner was not home when he had expressly stated that he would be home, and that a phone call wasn’t necessary. The electrician took 2 trips to do a job that he likely had planned only 1 trip for, and had scheduled other jobs around. He had even delivered the part he had ordered to their front door.

        What exactly did the electrician do that warrants a partial refund? He didn’t install the part? He still came out to the house twice, and delivered the item he was supposed to. The lack of installation was 100% the homeowners’ fault since they were not home when they said they would be.

        • kobresia says:

          The funny thing is, it probably would’ve been cheaper and easier for everyone if they just let the pro do his job and get the parts where he likely knew they were going to be in stock (even if it cost mileage) rather than paying for multiple service calls and a lot of screwing around because they insisted that he had to order the breaker from the local store that didn’t stock it.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      I’d hate to be a renter from this couple. They won’t pay for the guy to even drive to Lowes to get the breaker, and makes him drive to some other place to buy it, not home when they said they’d be and then stiff him in the end. Sound like ideal landlords… and this is their own house. I imagine this contractor is one of the lowest priced ones in the area, surviving on a small margin and doesn’t have time for this s#!t. This is the kind of customer you refer to your competition.

      • Jane_Gage says:

        Penelope knows you used the salt cellar last night. This time she’ll let it slide, but there will be a surcharge on next month’s rent if it happens again.

  12. The_IT_Crone says:

    Sounds like a nightmare customer, and a lazy repairguy. Mostly the former, though. I think the worst the repairguy is on the hook for is not nailing the OP down and saying “this day, this time, and if you flake out once more we’re done.”

    • Eyeheartpie says:

      That’s not his job, IMO. He shouldn’t have to nail down the homeowners. He made an initial appointment and showed up on time (assumption, since if he showed up late to the initial appointment, I’d imagine that complaint would be in this story too) to do a job that he thought would take 1 trip. Homeowners decided they didn’t want to pay him the tiny amount of money for mileage to let him go to Lowes and pick up the part same day, and instead made him deal with a local hardware shop that had to special order the item, requiring him to come back later.

  13. duskglow says:

    Enough blame to go around, but the electrician compounded his problems by refusing even to explain what his beef was. Just hanging up on someone is a definite way of saying “I don’t want to talk to you anymore” and didn’t leave the OP many options.

    On the other hand, he should be paid for the breaker and whatever he *did* do. Since he won’t talk to them, negotiating for a fair price won’t be possible. I’d almost suggest lawyering up, because it could get sticky if he decides to pursue the breaker (I would imagine that using that breaker without paying could be considered theft if you get the wrong cop involved)

    • kobresia says:

      I believe details are missing or glossed-over. Self-employed tradesmen generally don’t refuse calls, much less hang-up on clients (especially ones with open cases), unless they’re written them off as being excessively demanding, rude, or flaky and likely to try to cheat them out of their services and parts– which is exactly what the OP’s husband has done.

      • Eyeheartpie says:

        I agree with you here. The OP is obviously glossing over something, since no tradesman just stops taking calls like that for no discernible reason. I’d put my hat on the situation that husband was excessively rude and/or demanding to him during one of the calls.

  14. DJ Charlie says:

    A hardware store that has to ORDER a breaker? That sounds extremely unlikely. Methinks the handyman just wanted to pad the bill. You did the right thing.

    • deathbecomesme says:

      That store was the customers idea, not the repair mans. he wanted to go to lowes, they told him otherwise.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      I’m thinking it was a tiny family-owned store, like an Ace Hardware.

      • RandomLetters says:

        Even small family owned stores carry breakers. Its just one of those things you stock. I would think they were out rather than didn’t carry them.

        • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

          I am not an electrician, but I’d reckon there are many many types and configurations and form factors of breakers, and that some combinations of the above are hard to find at anything but the megastores.

        • shepd says:

          They don’t carry breakers except for very major brands (my local places only keep stock for Cutler Hammer, Stab-Lok, and Siemens, anything else [especially older discontinued panels, eg: Sylvania, Zinsco, etc] and you’re SOL), and, even then if the breaker is unusual in some way, it can be difficult.

          I needed a quad half-height tandem Siemens breaker so I could squeeze in a split receptacle along with two other 15A circuits. Rona didn’t carry it (large hardware store in Canada), and neither did Home Depot–and neither could even order it. Ended up at a proper electrical supply who had it. Also had the same issue with just plain dual half-height breakers at Home Depot. Yes, the guy probably keeps some on his truck, but there’s limits to what is reasonable, and cost effective (He isn’t going to keep more than one AFCI breaker per panel on the truck unless he’s doing a job needing one, for example).

          And yes, for this panel, being a small sub-panel, the entire thing was legal for HH breakers.

    • Hoss says:

      If you got 8 breakers in stock and the last customer buys 8, you order more.

    • dpeters11 says:

      Personally, I’d think an electrician would keep at least a few of the commonly used fuses and breakers in his kit that they bring to jobs.

  15. PHRoG says:

    I can’t believe 71% of folks, at the time of the post, are OK with charging back in the electrician on this? What the hell is wrong with you? They were flakes, he fired them as customers, they need to move on, pay the man, and leave him alone.

    Notice how the entire report goes…”We told him to do this…but, because of this other thing, which the electrician wasn’t responsible for, we couldn’t comply with what we told him to do.”

    • ovalseven says:

      I voted “yes” only because the electrician failed to return on the 23rd after stating that he would.

      The chargeback is justified. However, they should still reimburse him for the mileage. Send him a check or something.

      • ovalseven says:

        They should also pay for the breaker too.

      • Not Given says:

        Money order for the 1st service call and the part plus some markup.

        DH used to charge mileage if he had to drive more than a set distance. If it was a job that only took a few minutes he wouldn’t even charge for coming out again. If the diagnosis and the repair took 30 minutes or less, total, one service call covered it. This sounds like that small of a job, except for the travel. Even if he had to come out a second time he only charged an hourly rate in 15 minute increments for the time longer than 30 minutes, total.

        DH did have to order a breaker once in a while. He kept the most common ones in stock but sometimes one had to be ordered if it was a certain brand.

    • nishioka says:

      > I can’t believe 71% of folks, at the time of the post, are OK with charging back in the electrician on this? What the hell is wrong with you?

      Gut reaction for some folks. Do a chargeback! Also EECB somebody, because that’ll fix that electrician up real good.

    • pythonspam says:

      “…he fired them as customers…”
      You don’t charge somebody for the full amount of a job you did not complete.
      You send them a revised bill for the work that was actually completed (and any service calls where no service was performed if this is specified in the contract) and say, “Continued work will require additional payment.

      • PHRoG says:

        When a customer does it to me, damn straight I fire them, nor offer a refund unless it is warranted. In the specific case above, it’s clear they had no respect for the mans time. That’s no way to treat someone they describe as, “…did a good job and charged fairly for the work he did.” You treat folks like that well, and they will treat you well in return. We don’t have time to babysit customers. Go find someone off craigslist if that’s what you want.

        In the scenario above, I wouldn’t refund either. I’d fight it, then sue if I had to. Guy told him he did it himself, I wouldn’t touch it after that either.

  16. Bluth_Cornballer says:

    These people are obvious nightmare customers and the repairman probably got sick of dealing with them, but if he’s charging them for the repair, then he should finish the job or refund their money.

    Sounds like someone wanted cheap labor but expected top dollar service. You can have one or the other, not both.

  17. CalicoGal says:

    I feel a sense of entitlement on the part of the OP.
    The electrician hung up on him because he had had enough of their nonsense and did not have the time nor patience to deal with them.

    I agree with the previous commenter— send him a check for the breaker and the visits he actually made. Don’t be an entitled dick anymore.

  18. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    This guy spent money on the breaker, gas driving around, made 3 trips, and delivered the part. The only thing he didn’t do was spend 5 minutes installing the part, because you weren’t available when you said you would be. He was probably working you in and didn’t have time to wait.

    I would not do a chargeback, in most states a repairman can put a lien on your house.

    • Hoss says:

      The larger costs was that he could have been working on a paying job instead of driving around trusting that this customer would respect his schedule.

  19. Beef Supreme says:

    No way they should have given these people a chargeback. They are prime examples of the type of entitlement culture that is ruining America. YOU WEREN’T HOME! It is customary that skilled repair people, such as electricians, charge a flat rate up front plus additional time as needed to complete the job.

    Kudos to the electrician for hanging up on the husband too!

  20. Pagan wants a +1 button says:

    Where I live, you need a permit to do anything, up to and including changing a breaker. If the OP wanted her work inspected, why not just call the city?

    I also blame the OP; they told the electrician not to call, told him the husband would be home all day, then left to go get breakfast and got indignant when the electrician didn’t call before coming by. They refused to pay mileage for a trip to Lowe’s, instead making him go to a smaller hardware store so they could save a few pennies and caused all this.

    The article doesn’t say, but did the OP tell the electrician that she went ahead and installed the breaker herself? If she did, I don’t blame him for not wanting to make another run to her house – especially given that they keep flaking out on him – just to look over her work.

    • dks64 says:

      They didn’t tell him not to call, they said he didn’t need to call before coming. While I still blame the OP for their part, why the heck didn’t he call when he got to the house and no one was there? If my friend told me she’d be home all day and I stopped by her house and she didn’t answer the door, I wouldn’t just turn back and go home. I’d call her. He didn’t even attempt to get in touch. Why the husband left…. he’s an idiot. You don’t tell someone you’ll be home all day if you’re not going to be home all day. I hope that breakfast was worth losing your money over.

  21. Bsamm09 says:

    Construction/Contractor’s/Mechanics Lien, depending on local definition for the electrician for three visits, breaker and mileage. OP sounds like a terrible customer.

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      No indication a permit was pulled. No confirmation in the story that the “electrician/handyman” is in fact a licensed electrician. No lien is going to be placed on this one.

  22. Southern says:

    I wanna know how much the bill was to replace a $10 breaker before I vote.

  23. boardboy330 says:

    So you told the electrician you would be home and weren’t…he followed your instructions…and now you are upset because he doesn’t want to keep wasting his time?

    Stop complaining and pay the man.

  24. bhr says:

    Be prepared to be sued for the amount of the chargeback. (or at least the justified part of it). You essentially just “stole” the breaker from his perspective (yes, he left it at your house, but it was ordered and paid for with your understanding/permission), and he is within his rights to file a civil claim on it.

    I would immediately get a money order for the amount of the first service call and breaker and send it to him, just to cover your ass.

  25. Hoss says:

    The guy came out to finish the job twice and these knuckleheads weren’t there. He could have been working on paying customers instead of driving around two days. If they thought they had a legitimate claim, they wouldn’t be writing a website asking for assurances

    • Bsamm09 says:

      Good summary.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      My read is that the husband thinks he has legitimate claim but that the wife doesn’t – that’s why she’s asking for feedback, and perhaps support, from Consumerist. Pay the man for the breaker and at least one of the trips.

  26. jessjj347 says:

    Honestly, I think this OP needs to talk to people about what it’s like to do contract / freelance / etc work. The handyman already spent so much time on the OP, that by the time he’s done he’s probably going to be making a very small amount of money. Consider X amount of time communicating with OP, X amount of time driving to OPs, X amount of time driving / buying parts / etc. No offense OP, but I suggest you stop only thinking of the situation from your perspective. I imagine that you already paid him the amount of $ based on the amount of time he’s spent.

  27. shepd says:

    Fully bad customer, with a *little* bad electrician. You said you’d be there, you weren’t. He should have charged only for the visits as they were completed unless you agree with him upfront for the entire job to be paid for ahead of time (I assume this wasn’t done). You did a chargeback on the full amount, not on just the unused service call. He didn’t bill you a basic amount for the no-show on the 19th (then again, that’s probably because he already billed you up front).

    And, want to bet he KNEW your local hardware store didn’t stock the breakers and that he KNEW Lowes had them in stock? Changing out a breaker is a 5 minute job, he’d probably have only billed you for the one service call, the breaker, and $10 in gas and it’d have been done on day one. Instead, you made him go to a crap store that keeps nothing in stock and wasted his time on the 19th as well.

    I’m betting he’s happy not to have you as a customer because you sound like a pain in the ass to deal with.

    How’s the Stab-Lok panel working out, though?

  28. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    The homeowner has turned a 1 trip job into a 4 trip job.

    1) Initial visit – contractor wanted to go to Lowes but homeowner said got to a smaller local hardware store that didn’t have the breaker in stock
    2) March 18 – OP misses the contractor’s call and the contractor is no longer in the area when the OP calls back
    3) Mar 20 – OP says I’ll be home all day, no need to call, but then goes out and misses the contractor
    4) future date – contractor must come out a 4th time to install or inspect

  29. GrandizerGo says:

    This is all on the OP.
    If the contractor wants to charge you for a trip to pick up the parts, what makes you think they will not charge for driving to your location MULTIPLE times and not being able to do the job?
    Has he lost other business because he is scheduled to do yours? And you not answer the phone or are NOT THERE when you said you would be?
    And told the contractor NOT to call???
    Your fault, PAY UP and don’t use him in the future for his sake.

  30. kranky says:

    Wow, I’m surprised the OP even tries to defend a chargeback. I know that electrician is thinking, “I should have bailed on this job as soon as they told me where to buy a breaker, because I could have finished the job the first visit.”

    OP, take heart in the fact that the electrician has definitely lost money on your job already, even without the chargeback, given the amount of time he has invested. You are not respecting the fact the electrician’s product is time, and you wasted a good amount of it. You feel that if distance was an issue he should not have taken the job. He could have finished it the first time except for you, and it wouldn’t have been an issue. It only became an issue due to your continually wasting his time. He has fired you as a customer and rightfully so. It’s not even a borderline situation.

  31. IGetsAnOpinion says:

    If the husband was supposed to be home all day, then decided to grab a breakfast sandwich down the street, he should have left a note on the door that stated that he would be right back, and to call him if they showed up. Then he could have offered to grab the guy a coffee while he was out and the guy probably would have waited another few minutes for him.

    I think he”s due partial payment since he did come out and diagnose the problem and what needed to be done to fix it, plus got the part.

  32. rookie says:

    I have been in this position. Same type job, home repair, plumbing, electrical work, and been stiffed in much the same way.

    I can hardly believe the percentage of people on this website who would agree to stiff this guy his money.

    I predict there will be a dwindling supply of servicemen willing to attend your buttheadedness in the future.

  33. einstein1486 says:

    I agree that you shouldn’t have to pay for a service call that never happened, or where nothing was accomplished.

    But you should pay for the cost of the breaker box, which was actually delivered.

  34. Blackadar says:

    Everyone is wrong in this story.

    There’s no way the handyman should have said he was going to charge them mileage to run to Lowes to get a breaker. Uh, no, that’s part of the service call. He still hasn’t done the job he was paid for. And he shouldn’t be whining about travel. Nor should he have multiple missed appointments. Bad form. The guy sounds like a total jerk.

    The OP’s hubby should have been there when he said he’d be there. Bad form.

    Then there’s the whole permit issue (maybe).

    Considering that the OP owes the guy for the breaker and one service call, if the amount in question isn’t a lot, just be done with it and let the charge stand. It’s not worth fighting about a small sum of money.

    If it is a large amount, factor in the cost of one service call and the breaker and agree to pay him that amount only. If he doesn’t agree, then you’ve attempted to deal with this in good faith and the handyman isn’t, so then pursue the charge back.

  35. dush says:

    So he explicitly stated he would be home all day on the 19th and then he left in the morning?

  36. kobresia says:

    The electrician stopped by twice and did purchase the breaker.

    The charge for the first call and parts were most definitely justified.

    Then the OP missed the call to schedule when he was going to be back in the area. That failure in communication is completely the OP’s fault.

    Then the electrician stopped by again, OP’s husband was a was a no-call, no-show when he left after saying he’d be there. Doesn’t matter why, he committed to being there and he decided to be an ass and just wander off. That’s a justified call charge, too, and the electrician delivered the part.

    Sorry, this is largely a one-sided problem with communication & meeting commitments, the guy probably decided OP & hubby are flakes and he has better things to do with his time. He’s probably right, depending on how demanding and blame-shifting the hubby was when trying to reschedule. Maybe that’s why he stopped taking the calls and hung-up on the hubby.

    Being quick on the chargeback also is also a possible indicator of a rude, demanding customer. The husband is just a raging asshole for charging-back the full amount when all of it was actually justified. That is also known as theft.

    I suspect parts of the story are missing or glossed-over. But the long and short of it is, the electrician did what he charged for, and probably correctly realized these folks were flakes and just going to continue wasting his time and then would likely try to refuse to pay for one or more of his trips by trying to pin the blame on him.

  37. KyBash says:

    I say the handyman/electrician got off easy — some mileage and the price of a breaker is a cheap way to find out what those people are like, saving him a fortune in calls and parts down the road as well as avoiding a lot of headaches.

    1) They didn’t allow him to finish the job the first day.
    2) They didn’t keep an appointment.
    3) They nagged him.
    4) They stiffed him.

    How much do you want to bet they had to use an out-of-town guy because the locals won’t put up with their crap anymore?

  38. Kestris says:

    I don’t think the charge back should have been for the full amount. I mean, he did buy the breaker that they then used themselves. They could have at least paid him for that purchase.

    I also feel they were at fault for the first missed service day, so should be on the hook for that fee as well. But not the second fee as the electrician did not do the sensible thing in calling, despite being told he didn’t have to, especially when he saw no one was at home. It wouldn’t have cost him but maybe 2-3 minutes to make a simple phone call and find out that someone would be there promptly after all.

    As a result, he’s lost himself a potentially good customer who was satisfied with previous service and might have rec’d him to their friends. And now the OP has to find another electrician and hope they’re reputable.

    Fiasco all around.

  39. NorthAlabama says:

    1. Get a prepaid cell phone and call forwarding, and figure out the loudest ringtone for the phone so you don’t miss the call or the message/missed call indicator. Make sure all numbers are forwarded to this phone, so no matter where you go, you’ll get the call (if you have coverage). If there is no cell phone coverage, see #2.

    2. Never leave the home when a service person is expected on site.

    3. Never, ever tell the service person not to call berfore arrival.

    4. There’s nothing stopping the service person from calling anyway, which is what should have happened, no matter what the customer said. If this service person waits for every customer to direct the level of service, there won’t be any customers to service before long.

    5. The chargeback was appropriate, because the work was not completed, and the service person is willingly avoiding completion and speaking to the customer. If there is another charge for a third trip, so be it.

    6. As bad as the customer may have been, that’s no excuse for the service person to behave even worse, charging for work not completed and avoid responsibility, while receiving full payment. Two wrongs don’t make a right…

  40. sparc says:

    Unjustified on the part of the homeowner.

    Largely because they missed the visits and ended up getting the breaker free. Even locally, gas would be an issue with that many trips for one simple breaker job that should have been taken care of the same day.

    At best, maybe chargeback the second service visit. Even then he did drive out a number of additional times when all this could have been taken care of the first day at Lowes.

  41. SmokeyBacon says:

    For the most part I think the electrician is not to blame – my only question is why he said he would be there on the 23rd but then was a no-show. If he had talked to the homeowner and was aware she had done the work herself, did he agree to come out and check her work – because I can’t see him doing that. When we are required to go out and certify someone else’s work (especially when we don’t know who the installer is) we really are not comfortable because then the liability falls on us (we being my company – we do battery installs) and we have to trust that everything was done correctly, even things we might not be able to see easily. We are a big company and we aren’t comfortable doing it so why would a handyman want to take the risk of saying it was ok, and then having something happen because he couldn’t see it. These people sound like the types who would sue because he said it was ok when it wasn’t – and it is possible the only way to truly know it was done right is to take the whole thing apart again.

    Now if he didn’t know that she had taken care of it herself, and he still thought he had to do the install, and just blew them off, that makes him a jerk but he still isn’t as bad as these homeowners. And oh yeah, did he really not show up or did they just miss him again – that part of the story has very little detail to go on.

  42. GoJints says:

    The only part I object to is having the chargeback be for the full amount. He did pick up the breaker and she admits the first missed appointment was their fault. They should pay for at least that.

    The electrician, on the other hand, needs to learn how to make a phone call to ensure the client is there, or at least set a timeframe of when he’ll be there so the client will make sure they are home.

    • NorthAlabama says:

      chargebacks are all or nothing, which is why it is always in the best interest of the provider of the service to work with the customer, instead of “no-shows” and “avoiding phone calls”.

      if the service provider had actually provide some customer service, this could have all been avoided, even with a difficult customer.

  43. nishioka says:

    > I feel as if the distance was an issue, he shouldn’t have taken on the job from the beginning.

    Yeah, and he probably thought the job was going to be as easy as driving out to your house to diagnose the problem, buying a part from Lowe’s to fix the problem, and calling it a job well done all in the span of a couple hours. Instead you told him how to do his job and then missed several appointments to finish up.

    Distance wasn’t an issue until you made a mess of things.

    Maybe instead of writing in to a website for affirmation that you and your raging asshole of a husband did the right thing, you should be apologizing to the electrician you screwed over. Time is everything to a contractor and you just wasted a whole bunch of his.

  44. Cosmo_Kramer says:

    Awful, awful consumer. You basically stole money from the handyman. It’s unbelievable that you should even need to ask if your actions were appropriate.

  45. Qolotlh says:

    People should be careful when they say “you don’t have to call before you come” as most people only hear the part that alleviates responsibility. However if you will “be home all day” and then leave you can’t complain that you missed the service call; the electrician provided a service as evidenced by the part being left. The OP just got the credit card company to commit theft of services for them.

  46. bebette says:

    Calling a no-show customer is the worst thing you can do.

    I’ll echo an earlier story: After years of meeting people on-site for a prior job, I learned to wait 20 minutes and leave a note. If you call, the first thing they usually say is, “Oh my gosh! .I’ll be right there in 10 minutes! Don’t leave!” (Why is it always “10 minutes?)

    Now you’ve wasted 20 minutes of a 30-minute scheduled visit. If you only wait 10 more to even start work, you’re already late for the next one. But the odds of them even returning in 10? Pretty low. I’ve had them take another 45 to show. Either way, sticking around means being late to all the rest of my appointments, skipping lunch to catch up, and rescheduling with clients who WERE ready for me.

    Why would I do that? Calling just gives them a chance to make excuses, beg someone to stay, and take up even more of a workday.

    As for that chargeback, I have to wonder if your state allows workman’s liens? Ours does, and the OP does owe this man for work. You may not see it as work to drive to your home, but it is. It’s someone else’s gas and time that you used without compensation.

  47. waicool says:

    a chargeback action would be considered “friendly fraud” in this case. quality of service is the pertinent issue. the OP’s actions were all directives and proactive. the serviceman’s actions were all reactive and fulfilling to the servicemen’s ability.. Cause for diminished quality rests on the OP’s influence. pretty much slam dunk stuff here.

  48. soxfantoo says:

    Sounds to me like you hired a handy man that said he could do electrical work.
    A licensed electrician doesn’t buy breakers at Lowes..

    Having an unlicensed person working on your electrical panel could have voided your home insurance coverage if you had a fire.

    • shepd says:

      Depends on the time of day. I live in the 10th largest city in Canada and virtually all electrician shops are closed by 4 pm (I believe there’s one that’s open until 5 pm, but it is a long drive if you’re not on the right side of town). If he was doing an afternoon call, chances are he’d just have to wait until the next day. Or he could go to the hardware store and get it done now.

  49. soxfantoo says:

    Sounds to me like you hired a handy man that said he could do electrical work.
    A licensed electrician doesn’t buy breakers at Lowes..

    Having an unlicensed person working on your electrical panel could have voided your home insurance coverage if you had a fire.

  50. soxfantoo says:

    Sounds to me like you hired a handy man that said he could do electrical work.
    A licensed electrician doesn’t buy breakers at Lowes..

    Having an unlicensed person working on your electrical panel could have voided your home insurance coverage if you had a fire.

  51. wobiii says:

    No, not justified. You should have let him drive to lowes and pick up the breaker and came back to change it. Same day or next day done. 1 service charge plus mileage. Easy enough. Sounds like you were trying to save with telling him to go down to Ace or wherever to get it and then come back.