Surprise at the Pump – Are Contractors Charging You More to Fill up Their Trucks?

By Angie’s List, Special for US Daily Review.

High gasoline prices are hurting 71 percent of the service companies and contractors responding to a March Angie’s List nationwide survey. But only 22 percent are passing those costs along to customers.

Instead, the majority are planning routes better, shrinking service territories and using more fuel-efficient vehicles to get the job done when they can.

“High gas prices affect everyone, but companies that have to use big, less fuel-efficient vehicles to carry materials to job sites really do feel it worse,” says Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “Fortunately for those who are passing on the costs, 85 percent tell us their customers understand.”

Angie’s List, which provides consumer reviews on home improvement specialists in plumbing, contracting and landscaping, surveyed nearly 1,500 companies across the U.S.

“This year, the creativity for gas costs savings is increasing as companies try harder to keep prices down,” Hicks said. “It’s great to see this effort, and that most companies that are increasing costs are telling their customers about it ahead of time.”

More than half the survey respondents said they have seen as much as 20 percent jump in their fuel costs this year. Seven percent said they’re paying 30 percent or more to fuel up.

Angie’s List has been following contractor behavior as gas prices have fluctuated for the last few years. In 2008, for example, 85 percent of companies surveyed said prices were affecting them and 60 percent of them passed the increases along to customers. In 2009, 30 percent of the companies that had raised prices said they cut them when gas prices fell. Last year, 60 percent of surveyed companies were affected by gas spikes and 27 percent passed them along.

Among the steps companies are taking to deal with the higher prices:

  • 38 percent are planning routes better or shrinking their service territory;
  • 22 percent are increasing prices overall or adding a separate trip or fuel surcharge;
  • 21 percent are absorbing the additional costs;
  • 11 percent are cutting back in other areas of the company, including employee bonuses;
  • 5 percent are buying/using fuel efficient cars; and
  • 3 percent are partnering with competitors to offer cross referrals into other territories.

Angie’s List collects consumer reviews on local contractors and doctors in more than 550 service categories. Currently, more than 1 million subscribers across the U.S. rely on Angie’s List to help them make the best hiring decisions. Members get unlimited access to local ratings via Internet or phone, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List magazine, helpful online articles about home improvement projects, and help from the Angie’s List complaint resolution service. Take a quick tour of Angie’s List and view the latest Angie’s List news.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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