When contracting with a trader to provide a service, the agreements on a final price can differ.
Some tradesmen may offer an estimate at the beginning of the job, whilst others may have agreed a set price with you based on the specifications the work.
Quotes vs Estimates
A set price is often referred to as a ‘quote’ or ‘quotation’. If you have been given an estimate and no fixed agreed cost, it is important to note that the price of your contract can vary from the initial estimate, and it would be perfectly legal for them to charge a different final price if this was the case.
This is because an estimation is only a rough guide. However, any estimate should not be totally misleading, and you may be able to seek recourse if this was the case.
In your circumstances, double the initial price may be deemed ‘unreasonable’ or ‘misleading’.
Agreed on a fixed price?
If you agreed on a fixed price before the work began, this would represent a legally binding agreement between you and the trader. In this instance, you should pay no more than was agreed.
It would be beneficial to have proof of such an agreement as evidence on paper, signed by both parties, however, email or other electronic correspondence may suffice. If the tradesperson did not provide you with any paperwork and your agreement was made at your home or by telephone, this could indicate an unfair business practice.
No fixed price agreed?
If no price for work has been agreed, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that the final price invoiced should be reasonable.
If you feel the price the trader is charging is not reasonable, you could use estimates from other traders as evidence of other interpretations of the cost for the same work and ask your contractor to reduce the final bill considering the difference. It is usually best to obtain estimates from two or three similar traders which you can use as a starting point in your negotiations.
If you have not already done so, then you should begin by raising your concerns with the landscape gardener to see if you can come to an agreement.
If this does not work and you are unable to resolve the matter, or to make things more formal, then you can consider a formal letter of complaint. This should outline your concerns; what you believe the price should be; and what you would like the trader to do to resolve the issue.
You should also state whether they offered you a quote for a fixed price at the start in this correspondence.
It is important that any additional work that has been completed in addition to your existing request, or any additional costs that have been incurred are taken into consideration. Any additional costs should have been agreed with you before they went ahead.
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