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Simon Read: Readers think I should cough up and pay for a tradesman's travelling time

  • @simonnread

I've been taken to task by readers for my article last week that suggested some tradespeople seem to enjoy ripping us off.

To remind you. I bemoaned the fact that a roofer – who came round to repair a couple of tiles ripped off in October's storm – invoiced us for an hour and a half when he was only at my home for 45 minutes.

"Presumably he thought we would simply pay it," I wrote. "Not a chance. Negotiations continue but there's no way we'll pay over the odds."

David Smith, who describes himself as "an honest builder from North Northumberland", thinks I'm being unreasonable, and his comment is typical of those I received.

"Unless the roofer is a neighbour and his ladders and roof ladder reside in your backyard, would you not reasonably expect to incur the cost of picking up and putting his tools back into his stores plus travel time?"

To be honest, I wouldn't expect to pay for his travel time and tool collection unless we had previously agreed it.

Is there any other type of worker who expects to be paid for travelling to the job (apart from expense-hungry MPs, of course)?

Frankly, even if we had agreed that I would pay him while he travelled to my house, I would not expect to be charged £75 plus VAT for every hour that it took him, which is what he was asking for.

I don't begrudge paying the going rate for expert work, but it doesn't sound fair to be charged around £90 an hour while he's sitting in his van. I do believe tradespeople deserve to be paid a fair rate, but only when they use their specialist skills.

Am I being unreasonable? I would welcome other views.

In any event, the emails sent me back to the invoice to check exactly what we'd been charged for.

There was no mention of travel time, or tool pick-up time – just a charge for an hour and a half of work "on site". We know that he was only "on site" for 45 minutes. That's why we're questioning the invoice.