Almost every carpet outlet and carpet installation contractor will offer a free estimate for removing and replacing carpets as a promotional tool. Once the invoice is generated and the job is signed the breakdown of all costs does not include a line item cost for the estimate. So it would appear the customer received the bargain as advertised in the form of a free estimate.
However any business that employs and estimator or otherwise provides an estimating service will incur costs such as travel time, fuel and of course the administration of the formal estimate. Add to this the fact that businesses must realize a profit in order to remain in business and one would be prompted to question whether such an estimate is actually possible at no cost.
The answer is certainly no. There may not be a line item entry for an estimate however the costs associated with it are certainly covered by some means. Add to this the reality that not every potential customer that receives and estimate signs a work order agreement and it would be foolish to think any visit by an estimator is free. The customer is going to assume some portion of the estimating cost whether agreed on openly or not.
The only practical way to determine how much one is contributing to the estimating process is by shopping the individual services and materials separately. The costs of carpeting can vary from one locale to the next and it’s possible a contractor makes materials purchases by employing cost comparisons. This would certainly be a prudent business practice. In addition the cost of labor and a portion of equipment depreciation must be accounted for to some degree in a customer’s invoice.
There is one school of thought that is contrary to reasonable business practices and that is the law of accumulative numbers. A contractor who offers to supply and install carpet may expect a certain amount of lost time associated with estimating. In order to generate customers it may be necessary for a contractor or carpet outlet to sacrifice a percentage of profits by offering free estimates. So the question of whether a free estimate for carpets is actually free may indeed remain unanswered.