What can we do if our plumber's invoice was double the verbal estimate?
Question Details: The plumber's verbal estimate stated "X" amount per foot sewer line replacement and that included labor, material and equipment. However, in their need to bring a bigger excavator they broke the telephone line which increased the cost. Shouldn't the cost for that extra labor and equipment be covered by them and not the client? What can I do if they seem unreasonable to reduce the total?
An oral estimate is not generally binding: it is a "guestimate," or a best guess as to what it will cost, not a contract agreeing to do the work for no more than $X.
If you believe (and believe you can show) that they deliberately lied (i.e. intentionally low-balled) the cost to get you to hire them, that could be fraud, and fraud could give you grounds to not pay more than the estimate (though note: if they won't voluntarily reduce the cost, you'd have to sue, which has its own costs and is never guaranteed--even good cases loses sometimes, after all).
However, if there were any unforeseen circumstances or changes in instructions or conditions (e.g. the sewer line was buried deeper than they'd thought, or the soil was harder to dig through than anticipated, and they needed a larger excavator; or a telephone line was unexpectedly lying close to the sewer line and was damaged, then had to be fixed, etc.), that's not fraud--the change in conditions/circumstances mean they did not knowingly lie. Since in that case, it would not be fraud and the oral estimate ("oral" is the better term than "verbal") is not binding, you will have to pay the cost.