Some contractors and plumbers will charge you a fee for coming out to your home even if they do little to no work. When living in a city that has so many different options for plumbing, it is important that you don't spend more than you should. Some plumbers will try and get as much money from you as they can, and other plumbers will give you a fair price that is affordable. Part of what constitutes a fair price is a free estimate of potential work.
There is a trend amongst contractors and plumbers in NYC, New York. It is an unspoken bond between companies and clients. The trend encourages potential workers to give homeowners and renters a full break down of cost, both for work and materials. Some companies, the ones who charge for estimates, will argue that their time is valuable, and it is, but that doesn't mean your hard earned money isn't valuable too. Knowing who is working on your home and that you aren't over paying is important, and so that is why plumbers and contractors should be eager to compete for your potential business. This is how the local and federal government hire contractors.
Companies will send bids to the government to work on roads, buildings, and more, and the company who will be hired is the one who offers the best services at the best price. You may be spending a lot of money on a plumbing or contracting project, and so you have the right to be in control of what you pay and to whom: without the penalty of having to pay for people to bid. Those costs could end up adding up. If you want to get three quotes, and each quote is $75 dollars, then you've already spent $225 dollars before any work has begun. Giving your business to a company will cover their initial cost of coming to your home.
You must understand that if you are new to the city that prices for a drain unclogging might be more expensive. The cost of living is higher in NYC than most other places in the country, and as such prices for goods and services are higher. This doesn't mean you should hire the first plumber to give you an estimate, but instead means you should look for the best work and the best deal.