Plumbing economics in Barcelona

Two ways of screwing up a boiler installation and still making a profit.

Re yesterday’s House of the Exploding Boiler, someone has sent in the story of the recent replacement of their electric hot water tank, which was also leaking rust, being a vertical unit installed horizontally. Apparently they submitted a quote for €380 inc IVA from a local electrician to the estate agent who acts on behalf of the owner, and were mildly surprised when the agent said she’d found someone with a cheaper fixed price. This comedy of errors followed:

item

# plumbers

# hours

plumber-hours
boss comes to inspect old fitting

1

0.5

0.5
two poppy-lovers (appearances!) bring new boiler for fitting, only to discover that it doesn’t fit in cabinet

2

0.5

1
return and fit smaller boiler

2

2

4
return to turn back on cold water supply to the boiler

2

0.5

1
total hours

6.5

My friend asks, none of this seemed to alarm them or their boss, so at 6.5 * €40 = €260 with the boiler on top how on earth do they quote cheaper than €380 and survive?

If their quote was < €380, then I guess they belong to Spain’s not actually so terribly unemployed and received €40pp cash in hand. Another not incompatible possibility is that the quote may have been substantially more than €380, but that unlike the decent local electrician these guys observe normal industry practice and pay kickbacks to estate administrators, and the hell with the owner.

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Comments

  1. The “return and fit smaller boiler” scheme, aka “forgot a tool” or “forgot a cable/tube/screw”, is widespread and usually costs you 1-2 more man-hours. The “apprentice earns the same” trick costs you another 1 or 2 man-hours. Your victims were within the commonly accepted average of “getting fucked a bit but not too much, so we can do it to you again another time”; which I think has neared perfection so much that it could be regarded as a form of art.

    I do well reckon that both the scheme and the trick are international. Got to celebrate that, too.

  2. I think installations are always fixed price, so the plumbers were screwing themselves or possibly their boss.

    On a brighter note, Mohergas installed a new gas boiler for me yesterday in Barcelona for about 400€ less than the nearest competing quote and the whole process was absolutely flawless, although I believe the plumbers did pop back after I’d left to pick up something they may or may not have forgotten from the rather attractive girls in residence.

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