Process for getting a quote or estimate
- Shop around and choose at least three businesses. Give them the same information and ask for a written quote. Check if the business is charging a fee to prepare a quote.
- Compare quotes – look at the total price and whether GST is inclusive or exclusive, hourly rate, quality and cost of materials, start and finish dates and how long the job will take.
- You can always negotiate with the successful business on price.
- Try not to pay a deposit; if you have to, pay only up to 10% of the total cost as a deposit, and don’t pay the whole amount before the job is finished.
- Keep all the paperwork – quotes, invoices, receipts.
Use the same process for an estimate but remember that the actual price may be more or less. Under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), the seller should use their skill and experience when estimating the cost. The actual cost should not be too much more than the amount estimated.
Agree in writing beforehand that the seller will contact you if the final price is going to be higher than the estimate. Then you can choose to stop the work before it gets too expensive. Read Forming contracts and agreements to find out more.
A quote is a contract
A quote is a contract between you and the tradesperson or professional. Both of you must do what you have agreed to do in the contract.
That’s why it’s best to have it in writing and get a detailed breakdown of the work and materials.
It is best to get a written quote so there is no dispute about price later.
You don’t have to pay more than the quoted amount, even if the tradesperson or professional asks for more. You can pay just the amount quoted, with a note to explain why. You may want to add ‘Banking this payment will be considered full and final settlement of the bill’.
You can get a refund and compensation under the Fair Trading Act if a service provider misleads you by claiming:
- work needs to be done when it is unnecessary
- they belong to a trade association or have some industry approval and this is untrue.
Read False and misleading advertising or trading to find out more.
Repairs and extra work
If you can’t agree on a fair price, it might be best to pay the full amount to get your items back. You can go to the Disputes Tribunal to try to get the extra money back later.
You must agree to extra work before a tradesperson or service provider carries it out. Find out how much the extra work will cost before you agree. Contact others in the same industry to find out if the price is fair. This will be need to be agreed as a variation to the quote and put in writing.
Price not agreed beforehand
Under the CGA guarantees for services, the tradesperson or professional must complete the work:
- with reasonable care and skill
- within a reasonable time
- at a reasonable price.
You can find out what is reasonable by asking other tradespeople or professionals how much the work should cost, and how long it should take.