Sometimes, even a Deal Spotter forgets to do his due diligence. On Monday, June 4, Angie's List sent a "Big Deal" to its subscribers. For $30, subscribers got a service call for plumbing or air conditioning issues. The Minneapolis company indicated that the $30 fee (normally $100) covered only the travel time to the house and the diagnosis. Labor and materials after the diagnosis would be extra.

When the plumber arrived and did his diagnosis, he said that his hourly fee was $240 and that he expected the job to take about 30 minutes. Although the $240 rate astounded me, I agreed to it since $30 was already invested and the expected repair time was short.  

Word to the wise: Ask any service provider for their hourly labor rate before making an appointment. It might not prevent overcharging, but at least you can estimate the cost if the plumber says the job will take X number of hours.

FYI, most plumbers in the Twin Cities charge about $75 to $130 per hour, according to Twin Cities Consumers Checkbook.