To repair a plug outlet or demount a chandelier costs only 200-500 hryvnias. Oh, it is not a miscalculation, such prices do exist, and those who had to call an electrician at home know about it firsthand.  

In fact, today it is very difficult to find a master of domestic services taking small orders, and if you find one, his service will cost you a pretty penny. Otherwise, you are an unprofitable deal. ForUm has decided to check into the matter to learn the problems of the domestic services market and ways to fix them.

Budget issues

Despite the difficulties regular citizens might come across, specialists note that the market of domestic services is rather developed. "Another matter is that trustworthy companies are a few," Oleksandr Yatsula, chief master of the Consumer Services Centre, says. Indeed, in several seconds internet will give you hundreds of numbers, including private masters and large companies, but there is no guarantee that behind every number there is a professional. Internet users create black lists of pseudo-professionals for a reason.

As for affordability of these services for common Ukrainians, businessmen themselves admit the sector has certain problems. It is economically sounder for companies to take large orders, than to send a master cross-town to fix one plug outlet. For this, companies set up a minimal order, and as a result master's services come at a price.

"High minimal order is one of the problems of this sector. Many companies take minimal orders for a total amount of 500-1000 hryvnias, which does not suit a person, who needs to fix one plug outlet or replace a switch," Oleksandr Yatsula says.

The prices are not always that high, and you can find a company with lower minimal orders, but the conditions are not always acceptable for clients anyway. "To fix one plug outlet, for example, is unprofitable. It costs 40 hryvnias. Our company sets the minimal order at 100 hryvnias, plus service call charge, which is another 50 hryvnias, thus 150 hryvnias in total," director of a domestic services bureau Petro says. The price seems not very high, but should a client break a couple more plugs to make it worth paying? 

However, the price is not the only obstacle. Small companies or private masters often work in a specific district only and refuse to go cross-town.

It turns out, options are not so many: either to pay the market price or to search for a local handyman. Just mind the quality...

Quality control

According to the norms and standard, the share of poor service delivery should not exceed 3-5%, but as of today, this level is higher for a variety of reasons. Moreover, sometimes it happens that the contract does not provide for any guaranty or compensation for poor performance.

"A company representative may claim to provide guaranties, but when a guarantee event comes the company starts playing cat and mouse or directly refuses to cover the guaranties," Oleksandr Yatsula says.

In turn, director of a domestic services bureau Petro says that companies of the sector do not keep bad masters - it is unprofitable. He assures that even if his bureau issues only a receipt, it includes all contact information, and in case of poor service provision a client may contact the office and the master will fix the problem free of charge.   

"You know, there is no point to keep bad masters, as it is a waste of time and money. A master can earn up to 500 hryvnias per hour, but if he has to go cross-town to fix his mistake, he may waste 3 hours of his working time, which is a loss of profit," the specialist says.

Well, it is not quite correct to say someone is good and someone is bad. This business is calculated to earn money, and it is clients' job to be careful and take deals seriously. It is not a secret that some clients do not even read contracts they sign. Of course, you may trust the company, services of which you have been using for years, but have you ever thought about legal proves in case of poor performance?

Better safe than sorry

Lawyers recommend always read carefully the text of documents or contacts for signing. And do not worry to look odd if you sit to read four or five pages of tiny text, when everybody around you tries to finish formalities as fast as possible. Believe me, you will feel even odder, if wallpapers put on yesterday, fall off the next morning, and then it will turn out your contract does not provide for any service quality guarantee.  

Moreover, lawyer Tetyana Yablonska also recommends to pay attention to the company providing services itself. In fact, the expert recommends to visit its office a day before and make sure the company is indeed registered there and is not a day-fly. There are so many scammers around, and if they manage to falsify sales of shops in the center of the capital, let alone smaller deals.
Besides, when it comes to the contract clauses, keep your eyes open, as even insignificant details may turn into a big problem. "I know a woman, who has never received her kitchen furniture she ordered in one of the furniture manufacturing companies. The company still exists, but its owner has run off. The woman has all kinds of contracts and subcontracts, but they do not impede the company to avoid the client's claims. Her mistake was to ignore the paragraph, in which the company demanded for full payment in advance, not regular down payment of some percentage," the lawyer tells. According to her, a small down payment proves that a company has floating assets to purchase materials, thus can be considered serious. "Such details are very important and must be regarded," Yablonska notes.

At the same time, she recommends to use services of trustworthy companies, if possible. Ask among friends and relatives if they know some. And if you still cannot find a suitable variant, use services of local masters from the municipal housing committee office. The question is whether any of them will come...

As for the legal response to relations between companies, rendering domestic services, and common Ukrainians, the expert notes that this legal norm cannot be worked out through-and-through. In fact, relations are regulated by the contract only. Thus, before making a deal, even the smallest one, pay attention not only to high prices and poor quality, but also to documentation.

Tetyana Matsur


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