Lechvod Harav, The following is a communication I had with the repairman this week and I would very much appreciate if possible your response: Dear Mr ..., AMUSH! Thank you for your payment of $344. This seems to be for the cleaning plus $63 toward the amount we are discussing. The balance as of now is $240. I told you, that once we receive some payment from you I’ll answer your question. You asked that how is it that putting a simple bracket that even a child might be able to do justify a price of $303? By itself it is a good question. But, that only recognizes one of the three parts of a service call. The tree parts are as follows; 1. Finding and diagnosing the problem. 2. Choosing an appropriate solution. 3. Applying that solution. Your complaint of high price only addresses item three. Applying that solution. You do not yet acknowledge having received benefit from item one and two. Finding and diagnosing the problem takes knowledge and expertise and is a value service. Choosing an appropriate solution. One thing we try for is to use the simplest and least expensive approach. Had we just applied a $1600 fix to rebuild that section of ductwork you would not have complained. But, because we found you a simpler approach that would cost you less, but work just as well, should inspire thanks from you rather than censure. I anticipate that this will better help you understand the trade of providing such services. Having clarified that, I will add the following: I did review the job and our costs associated with servicing your home. I found that you were billed fairly. Please remit the remaining $240 as soon as possible. My Response Lechvod Reb ..., Regard to part one and two I was the one that told him what the problem is and what the solution is, and I told him what to do. Also lets say it was he that diagnose the problem he should have told me a price and ask me if I agree to have it done. I was just now thinking what you are saying that I should appreciate that you are not a GANEV and telling me that something else has to be done to fix it that would cost me $1600 I just reminded myself that I was at an air conditioner supply place on 39th street a while before you came and he showed me a bracket in fact it was a much better bracket but it would have cost me like a few dollars more I don’t remember the amount the most $15 Also if he would have told me that he wants $300 to put up a bracket I would have bought that bracket and put up myself His Response Thank you for responding. It seems to me that you are not able to see that having someone visit your home is a value service that can be charged for even if they only look and do no work. Any work done is charged after the that charge. Please think this over before just dumping on me all your prior communication. Once you can accept this, I think we can have meaningful dialog. My Response You do not answer my claims. 1)I understand that there is a charge for just coming down but after you you see what you have to do you give a price on the work and I have to agree. 2)In regard to claim 1 and 2 I am the one that said what has to be done so what you right quote "Finding and diagnosing the problem takes knowledge and expertise and is a value service." does not apply here. I would also like to ask another question. Since as far I am concerned I am sure I do not owe the additional money. Am I a Michzik and the repairman would Hamotzie Mechaviro Ulov Hariey until he takes me to Bes Din and they Paskin Otherwise?
From your correspondence it seems that the two of you agree on the $281 payment for the cleaning work. The disagreement between you revolves around the $303 that the repairman demands for the service he provided and the repair he performed. It is not clear from your words whether he came to you in order to do the cleaning work and at the same time he did the repair job or it was a separate service call. In general, a service provider may demand payment for the call even if he did not do the repair job. In addition he can demand payment for the repair itself, if such is the prevalent custom. Also the amount of the payment depends on the local custom unless agreed otherwise. The appropriate thing would have been for the repairman to let you know in advance how much he charges for the service call, for the consultation, and for the repair before performing it. This can certainly depend on variables as well, such as time, nature of work, and payment for parts. Nonetheless, you are also at fault for not asking in advance how much he charges for the service call and for the repair job. In regard to the laws of "Muchzak" (the person who is in possession of the money or object in dispute) and "Hamotzi Mechavero Alav Hare’ayah" (the burden of proof is on the plaintiff), it is clear that you are a Muchzak in the money as you have not yet paid him. Every person is a Muchzak in what is in his possession even if it is not really his according to Jewish law. However, this law and the law of Hamotzi Mechavero Alav Hare’ayah are not relevant here, since both of you agree on the details of the case, which are that the service provider gave a service and you received a service. The main question here is, whether the payment demanded by the repairman is exorbitant or reasonable. Therefore, the right thing is that you should both agree on a rabbinical court or a rabbinical judge to serve as an arbitrator between you. And they will clarify whether the payment is exorbitant or reasonable in your locale. According to this they will rule what is the amount you are required to pay. "But love truth and peace" (Zechariah 8:19).