I just had my first plumber come on Saturday (here in NJ) to reduce a gas pipe so I can push my new gas range all the way back against the wall. He charged $45 for a site visit. After he assessed it, he charged $319, and he fixed the pipe in about 20-30 minutes. My total with tax came out to almost $400.

How do plumbers decide on how much to charge? I don't want to say I was gouged, but it was pretty expensive. Next time I call for a plumber, is it possible to get an estimate over the phone, or some rate? I didn't ask, figuring they wouldn't tell me. Do plumbers who belong to Better Business Bureau cost more?