How long - Battery and cable replacement on 2004 Honda element

O.K. Long story as short as possible.
Wife is out driving and car dies. Electric sort of fades away. We got it towed to the dealership. (First bad idea.)
They tell me it needs a bunch of stuff done and I say no, we just want enough done to get it up and running and I’ll do the rest from there. (He seemed like he was trying to play the ‘I can’t let you drive it like this’ card but I was firm about it.
Now, I’m told that we need to replace the battery and one of the cables. Fine.
He starts it about 10am. I call at 3 in the afternoon because I’ve had no call to say the car is ready. Apparently the cable is a really long one, they are not done yet and he’s not sure he’ll be done today but he’ll call be at 4 to let me know. No specifics about what cable he was replacing but it was something to do with the battery/ the car not starting. (Updated - apparently it’s just the positive battery cable but there’s not a lot of space in there so they had to take a bunch of other stuff out. They won’t be done until 8.30 or 9.00 tomorrow so that’s up to 9 hours of work to replace a battery and cable?)

To my question - what cable could this possibly be and how long should it reasonably take to do? I don’t relish disputing hours of service work that I shouldn’t have to pay for but we’re broke and need the car for something this weekend. we’re supposed to leave tomorrow night and I need to warn my friends if I can’t go.

Battery cables are often built into a portion of the wiring harness that go to the starter, alternattor, fuse box and a few other components. Replacement can take from 1/2 an hour to 3 hours or more.

I’ll speculate that your car is in the parking lot and they will get to it in the morning. Service writers aren’t always honest when there is a delay.

Where is the battery in an Element? I have an '04 Ford T’bird and the battery is located in the trunk. That means a very long positive battery cable to reach from the rear of the car all the way up front to the motor. The negative terminal is much shorter, just enough to make a good ground so no need to run that cable all the way up front.

Find the location of the battery and you’ll have a good idea how long the + battery cable needs to be to reach the motor.

Some cables are a royal pain in the neck to change on modern cars and can be quite involved.

Labor rates are fairly high per flat rate hour everywhere and Honda OEM parts prices can be also. I would hope there was some kind of estimate given so you don’t suffer sticker shock over a bill.