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Paying call-out charges for building work and other repairs

Some builders and other traders such as plumbers and electricians make a call-out charge when they come to your home to do repairs or assess what work needs to be done.

Often, it's not clear that a call-out charge is being made or what it's for. If you're charged a call-out fee when you haven't been told about it, this could be unfair consumer practice. The price of a call-out charge you haven't been told about must be reasonable. Read this page to find out more.

What are call-out charges?

A call-out charge is a charge for coming out to you which is on top of the cost of any work or repairs.

So, for example, a plumber might charge you £100 for coming out to look at your faulty boiler and working out what the problem is. Then they might say it will cost you a further £300 if you want them to fix the problem.

It would be good practice for the plumber to make it clear they are charging you for the visit and that this is separate from any work they may or may not do. Ideally, they should tell you this before they come out to you, and tell you how much the call-out charge will be. If they don’t tell you about a call out charge and then charge one, they may be committing a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. You can get advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service about this.

Sometimes, a trader won't charge you a call-out fee, but may say they needed extra time to work out what the problem is and charge you for this extra time. Again, it would be good practice for the trader to have made it clear that you would be charged for any extra time and how long they could spend at your property before charging you. If they don't tell you about charges for extra time and then charge for that, they may be committing a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. You can get advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service about this.

What if the trader hasn't been clear about a call-out charge?

If a trader hasn't been clear about a call-out charge, they may have deliberately tried to mislead you, which is against the law. They may be committing a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. You can get advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service about this.

If the trader didn't tell you there would be a call-out charge, or didn't tell you how much it would be, they can charge you a reasonable amount, but there would still be a potential criminal offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. You can get advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service about this.

The law doesn't say how much a reasonable amount should be. If you're not sure what a reasonable charge would be, you could try asking another trader or a trade association. If you don't think what the trader is charging is reasonable, you could try and negotiate a lower charge.

If the trader still insists on you paying a charge which you feel is unreasonable, you could consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This is where an independent person looks at your problem and tries to help you and the trader reach an agreement.

If this doesn't work or it's not possible to get ADR, your only other option may be to go to court. You  should get advice  before you do this to help you decide whether it's worthwhile.

  • For details of trade associations and other organisations which can give advice about building or repair work, see Building organisations.

Next steps

Citizens Advice

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