Friday, 6 July, 2007 9:12 PM
Paying at the Pump and Where
List looks at steps contractors are taking in the midst of rising
gas prices, offers consumer advice
Now that paying $3 or
more per gallon for gasoline has become commonplace, consumers are
making tough choices about where to make cuts in their budget to
accommodate transportation needs. Service companies are struggling
too, caught by questions of whether to eat the rising fuel costs,
pass them along to their customers or invest in energy saving methods
to actually cut costs.
According to an exclusive
Angie’s List poll of service companies in major markets across
- 83 percent have seen
an increase in the prices of their supplies
- 52 percent have made
changes to become more gas efficient.
- 91 percent have already
raised prices or are thinking about raising prices to cover the
the only steadily rising expense some companies are facing. Roofers
and asphalt paving contractors are getting hit a second time because
the products they sell are petroleum based. The price of aluminum
products and lumber has also increased. For consumers, this means
higher delivery and products costs, as well.
Larger operations may
have room in their budgets to account for the increased expenses,
but the price spike can be crippling for smaller ones. And while
a few extra bucks for a pizza or flower delivery seem reasonable,
consumers might not be expecting to feel the pinch in other areas.
with handymen and plumbers, electricians and appliance repairmen,
and they’re all struggling with how to deal with the rising
cost of gas,” says Angie Hicks, founder of the consumer group
Angie’s List. “Some are trying to ride it out in hopes
that gas prices will go back down, but others have to make the tough
decision to increase their prices or add additional fees.”
Hicks points out that
many service companies are trying creative ways to help reduce the
strain. An electrician in Indianapolis, Ind., bought a motorcycle
to drive to service calls to save gas money. In Columbus, Ohio,
a heating and air conditioning company switched to diesel vans to
An electrician in Philadelphia,
Pa., plans trips so homes are grouped together by location to cut
down on mileage. In Charlotte, N.C., a home repairs & improvement
company also tries to group jobs in the same area. Currently, it
doesn’t have a travel charge, but it is in the process of
increasing rates to deal with gas prices.
A Seattle, Wash., plumber
told us he now has a travel fee. His cost went up $2.50 for jobs
within the area and $5.00 more outside the area. An appliance company
in Los Angeles, Calif., now charges $10 more to cover fuel expenses
and plumbers in Chicago, Ill., have added a truck charge of $5.00
to cover costs.
Hicks says many contractors
struggle with the question of raising rates to cover gas expenses.
“Companies are hesitant to raise their prices because their
customers are also struggling. A few more dollars added to the price
may be more than some customers are willing to pay for the service,”
As fuel surcharges, trip
fees and other price increases continue to hit consumers, Angie
offers a few piece of advice:
if you are getting ready to hire a new service to be sure you’re
getting the best price.
- Ask contractors
to itemize any charges/surcharges related to fuel costs
so you know exactly what you are paying for.
- If a contractor charges
a trip fee or for an estimate, find out if that cost
will be taken off your final bill if you choose him/her for the
- Be flexible
and willing to coordinate.
If your contractor – lawn service, dog walker, errand service,
housekeeper, tutor, etc. – has more than one customer in
your neighborhood, see if you can coordinate with those other
customers. This can cut down on your contractor’s fuel costs,
and keep him/her from passing them on to you.
your own expenses. Even
if a contractor increases his/her costs, it could be that it’s
a service you need. As you are looking to find room in your own
budget, don’t cut out an essential service now, only to
end up paying more for it later.
*90 service companies rated on Angie’s List were polled
in these cities; Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas,
Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Seattle.
is where consumers turn to get the real scoop on local contractors
and companies in more than 280 different categories. Currently,
more than 500,000 consumers across the U.S. rely on Angie’s
List to help them find the right contractor or company for the job
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Source: Angie's List