The "lab" your tech guys sent it to sounds of very limited expertise. BUT, as others have said, the firms that really can recover data from damaged drives can be VERY expensive because it takes lots of expertise, time, and equipment to do it.
You are right - without a report on WHY the data are "unrecoverable" you can't know chances of success. IF the entire drive had been re-written (for example, a zero-fill operation), chances of recovery are VERY poor and maybe impossible, although there MIGHT be some very expensive places capable. If the problem is damaged hardware like heads, head positioners, or disk surface damage, at least part of the data might be recovered, but it still could be very expensive if fixing it requires complete disassembly, replacement of parts and reassembly. If the problem is simply bad or missing data in the areas used to track and control allocation of sectors to files, software tools and a lot of time and patience can recover quite a bit. You do need a thorough explanation of what is wrong from a competent pro.