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What is a service call and how much does it cost?

In the electrical business, and most trades, we have a term referred to as a “service call.” A service call or a diagnostic service, as it’s sometimes called, is probably one of the most common terms in the electrical service industry.

But what is it exactly? And what about the fee associated with it? I’m glad you asked!

What is it?

In a nutshell, a service call happens when a homeowner or business has malfunction in the electrical system that needs to be diagnosed.

Let’s look at an example. A homeowner notices that the outlet in the kitchen island has stopped working and it’s creating an inconvenience to the meal preparation process. This homeowner would call an electrical company to come diagnose the problem and present a solution.

What does it cost?

This fee has many names, diagnostic fee, dispatch charge, service fee, troubleshooting fee, etc. But whatever the name, the concept is the same. This fee covers common expenses with sending stocked vans with licensed, insured, and knowledgeable electricians to the location. Average service call pricing can range from $100 to $300 or more per trip. Be sure to ask ahead of time to avoid any sticker shock.

A service call fee is charged for the electrician(s) to come out and diagnose the issue. This is important, so we will say it again, a service or diagnostic fee generally covers the diagnosis only. Labor and materials for any repair are usually billed separately. Some companies will include minor repairs such as replacing a standard or GFCI receptacle, switches, or standard breakers so be sure to ask the company first!

Solution costs can vary with differing levels of repair options. In our example above, a faulty receptacle is diagnosed. A basic repair could involve replacing the receptacle with a standard, duplex receptacle and ranging as high as installing a USB receptacle based on the homeowner’s needs. A basic receptacle will be less of an investment than the USB receptacle, which is a higher option.

Sometimes, the fee will be broken down to reflect dispatch and service, and sometimes is all wrapped up into one. For example, many service call fees are two fees combined: the trip charge fee and the service fee. The trip charge fee covers the time, gas/mileage, and typical vehicle expense items. The service fee covers the actual service and labor performed on site.

Each electrical company has their own fee schedule. This fee will usually vary depending on many factors. Some companies will charge a flat fee based on distance while others may charge a fee based on the issue being presented.

How do I know if I need a service call?

Sometimes, the answer is you don’t! It really depends on whether there is a safety concern present or the desire to have the issue resolved immediate.

In our example above, the homeowner could call to receive a quote to replace the inoperable island receptacle and contract to have the work done at a later date and thus, avoiding the service charge. However, if the homeowner wants or needs it fixed within 24-48 hours, a service call is likely the best option as most contracted work is scheduled several weeks out. We hope you have found this information helpful and would love to hear your service call stories. Comment below to share!

CK Electric LLC is an electrical company located in Sykesville, MD. If you need help with any of your electrical systems, please give us a call 443.920.3078.