Naturally the term “Free Estimate” can be used in many context’s, it could just be a verbal agreement between two people, or a fully written specification itemized and priced to customers requirements.
There is a broad difference in the customer service you may receive. If you accept a free estimate usually verbal or via a text message format, which is woefully cheap I do not imagine much customer service will be given.
From experience these are usually people who price things well below the minimum wage as often its a supplementary form of income, either from their primary job, or more than likely the benefit system. Their expectations in this scenario is usually limited to turning up and applying whatever materials you have spent your spare time sourcing. Sadly more often than not because this is operating within the grey areas, once they have money in their hands they will disappear and if faults occur you’ll have very little comeback.
I am not suggesting that legitimate businesses wont offer estimates via text or messages, but more often than not its backed up with some form of paperwork. The important factor here is to explain why there is a price difference between the two.
Even a lone owner operator trades-person will command a living wage, enough to cover the cost of living, insurances, taxes and minor business expenses. Although that is only half the story, any half decent trades person will advise on best products for the specific job. Most will source the products on your behalf and ensure they are delivered to your job on time.
Admittedly this is viewed as trades persons buying cheaper “trade” products and placing a huge mark up, which once again I can refute as predominately “trade” products are made to a superior quality than retail ones, https://www.trade1st.co.uk/blog/trade-vs-retail-paint-whats-the-difference/ . What I will say is the added value of customer service that is gained from employing a professional trades person far outweighs the minor mark up the trades person would gain on material costs, considering all the work of actually sourcing materials and getting them to your property would eat into your valuable free time it makes sense.
If choosing a trades-person to work in you Home, or premises first point of call is word of mouth or personal recommendation, if a business has built a good reputation over a few years it will wish to maintain it, so repeat customers are a good starting point.
Also do a little research, if your trades-person is visible in your local area, they may have social media presence or a website. Another good research tool is “TrustMark” one of the government endorsed schemes https://www.trustmark.org.uk/find-a-tradesman .
There are various other schemes around where tradesmen have to “bid” to provide quotes, while these schemes still offer a customer voice in terms of feed back, still be wary choosing the cheapest quote via this route and I would always recommend never just choosing solely from that route, without knowing exactly who your getting.
I hope this has enlightened readers that entrusting your home to the cheapest option isn’t always the best as customer service doesn’t usually come as standard at bargain basement prices.