some professional opinions please.

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by gfors7, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. gfors7

    gfors7 New Member

    Today I got a call from a "friend of a friend". It seems that a couple of weeks ago, the friends friends mother (in her 70's), needed to call a plumber on a sunday morning. She thought that there may be a leak in her crawlspace. Now, I'm a plumber in the Seattle area, so those of you from up here may already know where this is going. The company that she called shall remain nameless, but I'd like an opinion on what happened here. The plumber arrived and inspected the job, telling her that the entire house needed to be repiped, and that they could start immediately, but if they weren't able to start now, they didn't know when they would be able to get back. Now first of all, I know that the entire house didn't need work, because I did the bathroom remodel about 4 or 5 years ago, all copper, and that included the laundry (common wet wall). I inspected this job today, and the work that was done was this:

    1. New 1" pex water service. (about 20') Included excavation, but was VERY easy dig, was told it took about an hour.

    2. New stubs and supplies to kitchen sink. (base of cabinet)

    3. New copper to/from water heater to crawlspace.

    4. Tied in to copper drops to bathroom with pex adapters.

    5. New hose bibb (which wasn't needed, as was already frost free).

    Now, this entire job, I estimate, could have been done by myself and my apprentice, in 10-12 hours. There really wasn't much to it.

    Now I'm pretty sure that some of you local plumbers REALLY know where this is going. I'm still not naming the local plumbing company, but I will say that they charged this little old lady...........wait for it...........$6300.

    I'm putting this out here because I think this kind of stuff gives all of us a bad name. What can we do when we see someone so taken advantage of? Please give me some input.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2007
  2. There is a motto these big companies thrive on, "Get in, get out, hit them as hard as you can because you are never coming back."

    Just like the situation above, they know they are not coming back, no way. Not even if they gave half the money back; the line of trust is broken.

    Here's where some of the core problems lie in these situations:

    When I do work for a customer that was taken advantage of in their opinion without knowing all of the facts, I ask a few simple questions,

    Did you report them to the Better Business Bureau?
    Did you contact legal representation to look over your contract/receipt?
    Did you research and get 3 different estimates of work to be done to gauge what to expect?
    Are you aware of the cause and effect of *impulse* buying?

    98% of those who complain about being taken to the cleaners almost always never do the above to protect themselves.

    It's kinda like shooting a gun into a crowd and ask questions later if anyone got hurt..............DUH!:confused:

    I work for older women that count the minutes they are getting charged.....rubbing two pennies together to make a nickel.

    There is a company in my area that is making a absolute fortune waterproofing basements. Numbers that double what this old lady above was charged and 5 mexicans and 40 hours later, job done. Then I come over to pull a set of dentures out of a toilet and they think $50 is excessive to pull retreive and reset? Pffffffft! I blame that on the waterproofing company.

    Once again, customer got slammed and I know these contractors didn't hold a gun to their head to get the check in hand. All it is was the contractor exploited the vulnerability to take advantage of an open checkbook and make it look

    Customers whether they consider the estimating process exhaustive or have to protect yourself from the evildoers in professions. Anything from your dentist to your gardener....they exist in all professions.....some you just hear more of than others.
  3. gfors7

    gfors7 New Member

    Oh, by the way, for those of you up here in Seattle, if you think you know what company I'm talking about, I'm sure you're right!!!
  4. Cal

    Cal New Member

    Northern Virginia
    This kind of thing is just CRAP ! Charge half that and you are still making really good money.

    First thing ,,,, Report them to the BBB .

    #2 , sadly ,we can't educate people to look up a contractor with the BBB ,thus protecting themselves .

    #3 ,, Sounds like you boys in Seattle know who this is . ? HANDLE YOUR BUSINESS . Do something !

    We are going to see A LOT MORE OF THIS with the slow down in new home buiding . Every swinging wrench out there is soon to be a " Bath,kitchen & Service Spe******t " ,,,,,,,,,,,,, HA !

    Tighten up your ships boys & girls ,,,,,,, folks are going to get stuff cheaper & very BADLY done ,,,,,, we are going to be the ones called in to save the game !
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Sounds like an offshoot of the old Holland Furnace Company that used to do the same thing after they took the furnace apart in the middle of the winter and found a "serious defect that could not be repaired". Because it was so "serious" they also could not put it back together, but just happened to have a new furnace on the truck that they could install so the customers would not freeze.

    I once did a repipe job for a similar customer. They had called a company similar to the one you referenced and got a price and signed the contract. But before the other company could start the job she called me and my price was a third of the other one's. She asked what she could do and I told her to call the other company and cancel the contract. When she called, they told her, "We have already cut all the pipe for the job." I told her to tell them to send the pipe and she would pay for it, because if they were good enough plumbers to precut all the piping, they were better than I was, and I would use their piping. They never called her back.
  6. a funny thing about some people

    I once helped an elderley old lady out of a jam....

    their builder came to the home while the younger in-laws
    were not around and got this old lady to hand them
    the final 25k draw on the home addition...

    they promptly went to the bank and cashed the check then
    wrote her a letter stateing she needed to find someone
    else to finish the job.....they did not want to come back.

    I did the plumbing to finish the house and helped her as
    best I could......and I gave her some suggestions on how
    to get even with these fellows....

    I told her to go on a local TV complaint show and tell the world
    that she was cheated and taken advantage of....

    Its the the kind of show where the reporters goes right
    out to the theives homes and chases them down the street like the
    crapppy dogs that they are...then puts them on TV LIVE....
    very confrontatioinal

    This 78 year old lady was too embarrassed and ashamed of herself
    to tell everyone that she had been screwed by those fellows...

    so she just took a good stiff screwing and never said a word
    to anyone....

    Most theives already KNOW this secret and can smell it
    on people a mile away.....they know when the victim hasnt got the
    balls to stand up for themselves.

    If this little old lady is not ashamed to admit to the world that she was taken advantage of,,

    you can make a very big stink for that company if you so choose, just call a local
    TV action hot line...
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2007
  7. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Also, have her make a report to Angie's List...
    Have her be honest in it, telling it all.
  8. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Bothell, Washington
    My son looked at a friends home that had been repiped by a Seattle "full page" ad plumber.

    They had done the copper risers down to the crawlspace, but hadn't replaced any of the galvanized horizontal runs in the crawl.

    I guess they don't expect homeowners to look down there.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2007
  9. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    New Hampshire
    If they told her they were going to repipe the entire house, and they gave her something less, then they should be prosecuted for fraud.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2007
  10. srdenny

    srdenny Plumbing Contractor

    SF Peninsula
    Everyone should have a trustworthy plumber in their rolodex file. Next best thing is to network with friends, asking for a recommendation. These simple proccedures apply to plumbing just as they do to many other areas of commercial (and medical) activity.
  11. finding a good plumber

    Its easy to find a good doctor, dentist and
    all sorts of professional problem at all...

    but finding a good plumber is like trying to find a
    needle in a haystack.....

    I think that running a plumbing business is actually harder than a doctors office,

    the reason is because the "plumber -businessman" has to deal with the "public" on one hand and the
    "office help" on the other and then throw in some rather unsavory employees that simply wont show up for work ....
    this becomes a large strain on their health....

    but if you find one ,

    NEVER , EVER ..... screw them over...

    send them a X-mas card every year...

    maybe even a gift certificate to a nice restraunt too!!!

    bribes are good.
  12. Cal

    Cal New Member

    Northern Virginia
    I AM WITH THAT MARK !!! If people find a good one of us ,,,,,,, they should treat us right ! I can't stand being treated like some slave bitch just because they think they own me for a lousy few bucks !! Then they go and KISS ASS on a lawyer /Acct /Doc ??? !!!!

    Let them come to your stinking filthy house and clean up YOUR mess !!!

    GOD , that pisses me off !

  13. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Bothell, Washington
    Let me just say that my customers treat me and the guys real well.
    It's always a pleasure working with them.

    I think all the grumpy people are put off with the LOVE, and the heart logo.
    The ones that are calling are very nice.
  14. the grumpy ones

    I hate to admit it...

    but the sweet little old ladies I have known for years
    sometimes have had the work done for free

    but the grumpy.. sour ...old bastards
    that I have to deal with on occasion usually
    have to ---------pay through the nose---------

    to get serivice from me.....

    and anyone who has threatend me with thier
    "legal rights" ...wanting something for nothing ect....

    I have given them back their money
    and told their face ....
    to never call me back again...
  15. kordts

    kordts In the Trades

    exurban Chicago
    I am glad you got some payback. I don't think the guys were bitchin' about your case. I think they were gripin' about schmoes who want something for nothing.
  16. gfors7

    gfors7 New Member


    Terry, I know you know which company I'm referring to. I've met you before at the supply house. Was a few years ago, my boss introduced me to you. I won't use his name, but don't drink the Kool-Aid.....
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