We have a TV show running here called "Rogue Traders." The crew wire a house with secret cameras and microphones, set-up some plausible fault with something in the house and call in about half a dozen different traders about whom they've previously received complaints. When one came up about electricians I had to watch!
Well, these are the sort of guys who get genuine workmen a bad name. For the sting, the crew opened up the main panel, and swapped over a 16A C/B for a water heater with a 32A C/B feeding the kitchen ring circuit. Then they had the "housewife" call in the supposed-pros with the report that the "switch thing" kept tripping when she tried to use several appliances at once.
1. One group decided they wanted to completely rewire the kitchen circuit, at a quoted price of somewhere around £1200 (about $1800). I forget the baloney they handed her, but obviously it was a blind-'em-with science ploy. (Either that, or the guy genuinely had no idea what he was talking about.)
2. Another guy came up with a great way to scare people. He opened up the panel, and while he thought nobody was looking, took a cigarette lighter to the bottom of the C/B and busbar (which normally run horizontally along the bottom in our panels). Not satisfied with that, he did the same trick under the busbar lugs of the main switch.
Naturally the girl looked suitably worried when he explained that the equipment had been overheating and he showed her the burnt and melted plastic housings. He charged over £200 in materials for a new main switch and 32A C/B (actual cost would be about £30 at the most). He didn't even mention the water heater circuit incorrectly fed on a 32A C/B.
3. Another guy properly informed the lady that the kitchen C/B was 16A and should be 32A. Ah, but he didn't have a spare in the van so he'd have to go get one; that's after he told her that it would cost about £40 (real cost -- about £5 to £6).
The company this man worked for was charging £95 per hour or part thereof. Naturally two members of the crew followed him incognito on a motorcycle and filmed him. He didn't go anywhere near a supply house, but drove instead to a supermarket and came out with what looked like his weekly groceries. That took nearly an hour. Then he went to a local park and spent another half hour eating his sandwiches and reading a newspaper.
Net result was that the lady got charged for 3 hours. And yes, when he came back he just swapped the two C/Bs around after spinning a yarn about having to go miles to find the right part. When asked for the old C/B to "show her boyfriend", of course he had to come up with an excuse. He even made a great show of going out to the van to "look for it," then came back with the story that he must have tossed it in the bin at the supply house.
Doesn't this sort of thing make you mad?