Author Topic: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?  (Read 4203 times)

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aion

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Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« on: April 26, 2013, 07:53:45 AM »
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).

Margo

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2013, 08:51:34 AM »
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.

bopper

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2013, 08:51:55 AM »
'Cousin:

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.

-OP"

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. 

MrTango

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2013, 08:57:42 AM »
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?"


Zilla

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2013, 09:12:36 AM »
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!"

cicero

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2013, 10:25:03 AM »
Are you *sure* he undercharged you? Maybe first guy, that you say you don't trust, was * overcharging * you?

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Lynnv

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2013, 10:38:53 AM »
My response would depend on how close we were.  If it was someone I was pretty close to, I would probably go with "Dude-did you *mess up* our bill?  We expected to pay a lot more than that for you to fix what *mean name for bad contractor* did PLUS you doing it the right way."  Insert less eHell friendly language where appropriate.

Someone less close would get a response similar to the wording Bopper suggested.
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alice

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2013, 10:42:53 AM »
I had the same thing happen, but it was with a friend.  He did work, and it was way under what my husband and I had planned.  He even did some extra work for us.  So we sent him the amount we had planned to spend.  He said we over paid him, but I told him that the work was great, and that we would need his help the following year with something similar and that we thought he undervalued his work.  He accepted.

gramma dishes

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2013, 10:55:45 AM »
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!"

I like Zilla's wording and this is what I would do.

Actually we have had our "Handyman" request XX amount for a given job, and we've just paid him more.  He always accepts.   ;D

LadyJaneinMD

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2013, 11:03:04 AM »
You could always just give him more.  I have a friend who does this to me.  I do sewing for her, and tell her that it costs $20.  She says, 'Well, I'm going to give you $40.'  And that's that. 

How about a gift card to his favorite restaurant?  Or tickets to a sport that he likes? 

TootsNYC

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2013, 12:20:43 PM »
I have said to people--tradesmen that I have an existing and hopefully future relationship with, and friends/family who are serving as tradesmen--"please don't undercharge me. This seems low. Of course I don't want to get ripped off, but I also don't want to be taking advantage of or trading on our relationship. The last thing I would want is for you to end up feeling taken advantage of."

I've also said, "I want to be able to call you back to fix something if it turns out it's needed, without you feeling that I'm overstepping. So charge me a fair price. Fair to you, and fair to me."

And I've said, "If you feel you want to 'cut me a break' because I'm family or a long-term customer, the thing I'd want you to give me is your very best attention and diligence. I'd want you to so an extra good or extra careful or extra thorough job. THAT is the thing I'd hope for in terms of favored status. But I want to pay you an appropriate amount of money."

I also said to the florist for my wedding, when the bill was something like $350, "Are you sure this is right?" in an incredulous tone. The lady got all defensive about how they were "name" roses, and working on the weekend. I had to interrupt her to say, "No, no, I mean, shouldn't it be MORE? Because you made two extras of this, and ran around doing special stuff with that..." I hadn't actually negotiated price beforehand, so I didn't know--I was expecting $1,000.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2013, 10:12:26 PM »
It sounds like your cousin is trying to give you a real bargain.  Since he invoiced you half of what the other person quoted, I'd split the difference and send him 75% of the original quote.

I'd send back payment and an email saying

"Cousin, thanks so much for the work. We are thrilled with the results. We received your invoice and realized you've signficantly reduced the going rate for the work, especially given the complexity of the job. While we truly appreciate the discount you've offered, we feel it is much too generous. I'm sending a check for X amount which I think truly reflects the quality of the work you provided."

Thanks again. 
Aion

sammycat

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2013, 06:09:33 AM »
Are you *sure* he undercharged you? Maybe first guy, that you say you don't trust, was * overcharging * you?

I wondered this too.

However, if you want to pay more, or the same amount you were going to pay the original guy, I'd just go ahead and do it.  Other posters have provided some good wording.

Oh Joy

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2013, 07:34:28 AM »
Cousin, this is far less than we were planning to pay you.  Were we being overcharged by OtherGuy, or did you give us a family discount?  If it was discounted, we'd be glad to pay your full rate - knowing we're working with someone we can trust is the only benefit we need.

Thanks!

TootsNYC

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Re: Is there a polite way to say "You have under charged us"?
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2013, 02:46:30 PM »
Cousin, this is far less than we were planning to pay you.  Were we being overcharged by OtherGuy, or did you give us a family discount?  If it was discounted, we'd be glad to pay your full rate - knowing we're working with someone we can trust is the only benefit we need.

Thanks!

Nice! Love this.