That is an excellent question. As most plumbing companies are concerned they are individual companies and have the right to have their own policy. That means some may charge for an estimate, and others may not. Personally I think it is a ridiculous practice to charge the consumer for an estimate.
Being in the plumbing business in the Virginia area for well over a decade. I have seen plumbers come and go. I have asked many of those that do charge for an estimate why they do it and there are two different lines of thinking. The first is mainly because people often call a plumber out just to discover the solution to their current problem. They will then turn around and attempt to do it themselves. This is a blatant abuse of the system. People like that make it bad for everyone.
The second reason I have discovered why most plumbing companies started charging for an estimate stems from the first. They want to avoid wasting their time, going out for no reason. Many of these plumbers will take the cost of the estimate off of your invoice if you do decide to use their services.
Im my personal opinion if a plumbing company attempts to charge you for an estimate, that is a sign that their business is not doing well. In most cases these are what is known as fly-by-night handymen. They do not have any insurance, nor are they licensed. This is up to the consumer to ask the right questions.
Here at our Plumbing compamy HVAC we have never charged a customer for coming out and giving an estimate. Although we have encountered those do-it-yourself types that have no intention on using our service, we go out anyway. Those types are far and few, and all part of doing business.