Durban - One of Durban’s popular snake catchers was left frustrated at the weekend, after rushing to a call-out, when the homeowner and renters tried to swindle him out of his R350 fee.
Jason Arnold voiced his frustration on the Facebook page of Universal Reptiles, the company he owns.
Arnold said that the price snake catchers charged was usually just a call-out fee, which was determined by the distance they had to travel, and it was up to the customer whether they accepted or declined.
Arnold said the fee ranged between R250 and R400.
“Occasionally we’ll add to this when we can hear it’s going to be a time-consuming job or one that requires a lot of physical labour. This will also be decided on over the phone, when we’ve been given some idea of the situation. A snake sitting quietly up on your curtain rail is going to cost you less than having to come out and search your ceiling for a snake that plumbers saw while working,” he said.
Arnold said Phoenix was notorious for wanting “your best price”.
He said he waived or lowered his fee when he could see that the customer was battling financially.
“But nothing annoys me more than someone who requests a better price and, when you arrive at their home, they’re living way better than me,” Arnold said.
“It makes me feel very belittled and unappreciated when people who can afford the small fee that we charge want discounts, or don’t want to pay at all.”
He said snake catchers offered a professional service in a very specialised and dangerous field and needed to pay bills like everyone else.
“One single bite from a venomous snake can end our career in a split second,” he said, adding that they helped without charge in poor communities, like informal settlements, if the description sounded like a venomous snake.
Snake catcher Byron Zimmerman, owner of Snakes for Africa, said he also charged a call-out fee of R350, which was discussed over the phone. Zimmerman said it was up to the customer to agree to the fee, but he was willing to negotiate.
“I charge a call-out fee because I need to keep my vehicle on the road,” Zimmerman said.
He said paying clients enabled him to remove snakes in rural areas and for those who were destitute.
“I remove snakes for both those who pay and those who do not or cannot,” he said.
Nick Evans said he did not charge for snake removals, but asked for a donation towards petrol.
“Sometimes callers give me something, or people can donate online,” Evans said, adding that people in low-income households were sometimes extremely generous.