General Etiquette > Family and Children

Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?

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Brief background, we had some work done on our place that went a bit pear shaped, and turned out to be more complicated than we thought. I didn't quite trust the original tradesperson we had hired to do the work, so I called my cousin, who is in the same trade, to come and have a look at what needed to be done. He said he could do the work, so I hired him on a verbal contract to complete the job.

He did a wonderful job, even though the work turned out to be more involved than he planned for.

My dilemma is this.  He has sent through an email invoice for the work that is half what we were quoted from the original tradesperson. Please note that this first quote was before the difficult nature of the job became apparent, so I would have expected that quote to, if anything, have increased. I feel that it is not right to pay my cousin half what I would have been prepared to pay the original tradesperson for the same work.

How do I word a reply to his email to the effect that I think he has seriously under charged us? It's not like my cousin is a rookie in the trade looking for work. He is a very experienced in the trade and running his own business (the why I didn't hire him first at the get go is another eHell thread).

I'm glad eveything was fixed.

I'd be inclined to contact him and say more-or-less what you've said here - that you are really pleased with the work and appreciate his having sorted it out, including the unexpected extras, that the invoice is less than half what you were expecting, the original quote was $x,xxx, and is he sure that he is happy with the invoice he's sent? If you think he's given you a low bill because you are family you could explicitly ask whether he charged you market rates, and confirm that you're happy to pay them.

It may be that the original contractor was over charging you, or that your cousin has decided to offer you family rates, but I think if you approach it starting with how happy you are with what he's done I would think he is unlikely to be offended.


I wanted to thank you for the wonderful job you did on (work).  It turned out to be a larger job than we and (original guy) thought and we were glad you made sure it was done right.  We noticed that you invoiced us on based on (original guys) original estimate.  Since this turned out to be more complicated than was originally thought, we understand if the final amount needs to be more. Contact us if you would like to discuss a new amount that reflects the complexity of the work.


This way you are acknowledging the work, suggesting it could be more, but putting the ball in his court.  Maybe he is happy with what he charged as you are family.  Maybe he feels he should honor the first quote. Maybe he thinks you will cause a fuss if he increases the amount and doesn't want to deal with it. 

I wouldn't make any comparison between the original contractor's quote and your cousin's invoice.

If what your cousin charged is significantly lower than what you and your cousin agreed to, then I might mention something: "You originally said $X, but you're only invoicing me $Y.  Are you sure $Y is enough?"

Or you can go ahead and send the full payment of the original quote with a note saying, "Cousin, you did such a fantastic job and this was the original quote I was prepared to pay the other person.  Thank you so much!"


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