Plumber Issue (need advice)

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by artsitme, Jun 19, 2007.

  1. artsitme

    artsitme New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    DFW
    In March, we hired a plumber to install a new valve for our tub/shower. Old tiles, and drywall were removed in preparation for new tile installation. The tile man was going to be doing a mortar bed for tub/shower surround. The plumber installed the valve (cut copper pipes and installed PEX tubing), and left a copper stub for tub spout (non-threaded on a swivel joint). I was a bit put-off, because that meant we wouldn't be able to just screw on the new fixtures, and would have to call him to come out to do the spout. In the meantime, our tile guy did his thing, and the valve was in the correct place in proportion to the mortar wall and tile installation. It took us two months to get to a point where we could do the finish details. I had decided to hire a different plumber who I met through a neighbor. He was really down-to-earth, and fair in his pricing. I wanted him to install our new Toto Drake, and since he was here, put on our new fixtures. It turned out that our valve was installed upside down! Fortunately, I had access to the valve from a wall behind the valve which didn't require removing the mortar wall. I took pictures with my camera to show that the valve was upside down. It said "tub" on the top, and "shower" on the bottom. The pictures are hard to read, because of the raised letters on the valve. They blend in with the metal. However, you can barely see the outline of the letters. After paying the newest plumber to make corrections to the valve, I contacted my old plumber to explain about the upside down valve installation. I asked him if he would be open to refunding my $170 labor charges, since I had to pay another plumber to correct the problem. I told him I wouldn't worry about the parts charges. He told me "absolutely". He would refund the money if the job wasn't done correctly. I told him I had pictures if he needed proof. He told me that hasn't happened before. He took down my address, and had my phone number. It's been one month since I last spoke to him, and no refund has arrived.

    I am thinking about writing a letter to him, and re-stating our conversation. In the letter, I would like to let him know that if I don't receive a refund within ten days that I'll be contacting the state plumbing board.

    Does this sound like a good plan? I'm not sure where to turn, or how long I should pursue this matter. I really don't want to do small claims, because it takes so long to get results (6-7 months). After a letter to the plumbing board, I'm willing to chalk it up to a "hard lesson learned".

    Does anyone have any advice they'd be willing to share?

    Thanks,
    Wendy
  2. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Are you sure he was a licensed plumber? Most plumbers won't install a garden hose for $170.00 :rolleyes:
  3. artsitme

    artsitme New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    DFW
    Yes, he's a Plumbing Contractor. His license number is on the receipt (I'm assuming it's his license number M-***XX. The state plumbing board contact information is on the bottom of the receipt.

    I was charged $85 per hour, for a total of two hours, plus parts.
  4. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    The first plumber charged you a fair and reasonable price in my NSHO.

    I would call him back and remind him and see what he says but you made a mistake and he has no obligation to return your money.

    In all fairness to the first plumber you should have called him as soon as you found the problem and allowed him a chance to correct his work.

    If I had done the job and you had called me asking for $$$ I'm not sure if I would have returned your $$$ if you didn't give me a chance to correct the problem first.

    Good plumbers guarantee their work, it doesn't seem that you gave him that chance.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2007
  5. artsitme

    artsitme New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    DFW
    Thanks for the advice, Cass.

    You're right, I should have given him an opportunity to correct the problem. Unfortunately, we were on a tight timeline to get the bathroom finished, due to out-of-town guests within one week. I had a plumber in my presence at that time. I didn't want to wait for 3-4 days for corrective measures. Not only would I have waited for him, but it still required the amount of time it was going to take me to repair the wall, retexturize, prime, and paint.

    I'll try a non-threatening letter, and if that doesn't work, I'll chalk it up to "lesson learned". If he had no intent on refunding my money, he should have said so in the initial conversation. Instead, he said he would refund my money for the labor costs, because it wasn't done correctly. I believe it's an integrity issue, now.

  6. What Cass just mentioned has a name to it.....it's called the "Reasonable man Theory" that is used in court proceedings that protects the defendant and the plaintiff.

    What is considered reasonable can be determined by a jury or just the judge's take on the matter. You'd be hard pressed for a win in small claims since you didn't afford him the ability to correct the mistake.

    Now if you did and he refused...that's a whole different story.


    I've never installed a shower valve upside down before but I've definitely been the one to fix a screwup like that. Almost always a non-plumber...homeowners are allowed to screw up like that, not those for hire. Reversed hot/colds is not a big deal though; the cartridges will reverse out to take care of having the cold to start, wean into hot on the delta scald valves.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2007
  7. artsitme

    artsitme New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    DFW
    Thanks Rugged. I understand the theory. I have no intent to take him to small claims. As I admitted earlier, and as it was pointed out, I should have given him the opportunity to correct the error. I'll just write my letter, and hope for the best.
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