That ancient pearl of wisdom known as "Caveat Emptor" (buyer beware) gives the dishonest a resounding pass because it puts the oneness on the customer! Knowledge is power. In the service industry, unless customers are subject matter experts, they clearly don't have either and the opportunities for mischief are wide open. I'm afraid also that this problem is universal and not unique to the US alone.
Stanley (Stan) is our neighbor. Last 4th of July holiday, his Central) Air Conditioning unit broke down. He was quoted somewhere between $2600 to $1200 along with a more ominous verdict that the unit was "fried" and was offered a new one for $3500. Stan shared his dismay with DH, who suggested it could be the capacitor. Stan called again and mentioned aforesaid capacitor. New man initially quoted $350 and then charged an extra $35 ($385 total) to have new capacitor installed same day. AC unit was up and running an hour later. Happy to have problem solved, he regrets not having recorded the other crooks on video so he could report them to the Better Business Bureau.
Fast forward to yesterday to put things in even clearer perspective. Our AC unit just had same issue. New capacitor cost $12 (had to order in Amazon)! Repair was almost as easy as putting in a new light switch and it took DH (he was an electronic engineer in his former life) all of 20 minutes to replace (total cost to us was $12 plus a few screws).
Conversely, Stan's $385 charge must have included (generously) for parts plus labor (~$75). Travel and other expenses ($75) plus let's throw in a 20% profit on top of that. It still only adds up to less than ~$200 at best. How does one account for the additional $185 plus? Perhaps a bonus'holiday' markup of almost 100% or was it the 'same day' service for a 20 minute repair job?
There has to be a distinction between costing honest labor and gouging /robbing customers while keeping a straight face. Consumers should also have protection from predators such as these.
Stan is right to want to record and expose the dishonest among them. He narrowly escaped paying out thousands of dollars for a $12 repair. I'm no Latin scholar, but wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where we could say "Caveat Latronis" (robber beware) instead!?
Disappointed - present rejected
Lost its way - World Book Day
'Do' my feet - dream servant