We recommend always agreeing in writing on the prices applicable to services (such as renovation or repair work). The agreement may be based on an estimate, a fixed price, an indicative price range or a maximum price. Should a dispute arise as to whether the price mentioned in an agreement is an estimate or an indicative price, the vendor must be able to present proof to support his or her claim.
If no contract is made, the consumer must pay the price demanded by the company, as long as it is not deemed unreasonable. The factors that affect the reasonableness of a price include the content and scope of the work, the financial viability of the way in which the work was completed, and the general prices or price calculation methods applicable at the time of making the agreement.
If a fixed price has been agreed on, the sum to be paid may not change even if the time spent on the work, the cost of materials or other such factors should change. In other words, the company may not bill the consumer for any sum higher than what was agreed. On the other hand, nor is the company obliged to give any discounts if the work turns out to be cheaper than anticipated.
In the case of renovation and repair work, for example, it is common once they have familiarised themselves with the site or device in question for companies not to commit to a fixed price but to give a price or cost estimate. When making an estimate, the company must clearly indicate whether it applies only to the work or also to the materials, spare parts, etc. If this is not clearly indicated, the estimate is assumed to apply to the service as a whole.
Companies have the right to charge for making an estimate, but the consumer must be informed of this charge in advance. The company must abide by the price estimate, or exceed it by a maximum of 15% for a justifiable reason. Any additional work must be agreed separately with the buyer. The company may not charge the buyer for the full sum of the estimate if the final cost of the work turns out to be less.
An indicative price is often given before a company has had a chance to familiarise itself with a work site, the device to be repaired, etc. In this case, the buyer must be prepared for the actual cost of the work being higher than the price indicated.
Should the cost of the work significantly exceed the indicative price, however, the company must immediately inform the buyer and, if necessary, interrupt the work.
A maximum price is a price cap on conducted work. The company may not charge any sum higher than the maximum, even if the work turns out to be more expensive. The price may be lower, however, if the work or the materials turn out to be cheaper than anticipated.