I needed some repairs done in my home in France, and the workers I wanted to hire were not available until September.
Good help is hard to find
So I studied the estimate again. It was for €300. After a couple of days, I called the company back.
I explained how genuinely urgent this job was and added,
Madame, can I pay you a surcharge for a rush job, and then can you send someone here within two weeks?
She was A P P A L L E D .
« On ne fonctionne pas comme ça ! »
That is not how we operate!
Paying a rush surcharge seemed perfectly normal to me
As a translator, I have occasionally given two different quotes for the same project: Price A for delivery on Tuesday and Price B for delivery on Friday.
So while the surcharge was natural to me, it seemed to have caused offence.
A French thing or a home repair thing?
In Canada and probably in the States, you can sometimes pay extra for government services when you have a special request. In North America, we can get personalized license plates for an extra fee, whereas in France, that would never work.
In Ontario, you can pay a 30 CAD surcharge to get your birth certificate in 2 days instead of 2 weeks. France would certainly turn up its nose at that.
Imagine someone butting in line just because they’re willing to pay a bit extra.
Do you think the woman in home repairs was in shock because
- she has never heard of charging a rush rate before?
- rush rates are undemocratic, unfair, elitist?
- she thought I was trying to bribe her into doing something unethical/corrupt/fraudulent?
- this is France?
- this is home repairs?
And for a more practical post on rush rates, try Some thoughts on rush charges.