Scams abound in all professions including plumbing, and a conniving plumber can rob an unsuspecting customer of several thousands of dollars.
Although it’s unlikely you come across a really shady plumber, it’s a good idea to get yourself as informed as possible about common plumbing scams beforehand. That way, you can know what red flags to look for, and you won’t get taken advantage of.
Make yourself aware of these common plumbing scams to ensure your plumber does not pull a fast one over you.
Plumbing Company Scams & How to Avoid Them
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This is one of the most popular plumbing scams. High-quality plumbing tubes can often be quite expensive. However, you wouldn’t mind paying that additional amount because that will ensure your pipes last much longer.
Some plumbers will, however, will bill you for high-quality material and then switch them for inferior-quality tubings when they are finally doing the installation. This old bait-and-switch technique can run you for quite a lot of money.
The only way to safeguard yourself from these scams is to get a list of the parts that your plumber wants to use and then take that list to a hardware store and check out the prices of those parts by yourself. Then you’ll be able to know if the plumber is cheating you. Also if the plumber brings the parts himself, examine the parts before he installs them to see if they match the description.
Too Many Guys
Sometimes plumbers will subcontract their work to other apprentices who may be friends or family. They will all work on your plumbing, and when it is finally done, your plumber, whom you talked to initially will claim that he has no control over somebody else’s hourly wages.
Thus you have to pay for each of their services and different rates. You don’t know what the other plumbers/ apprentices might charge you as you never talked to them nor did your plumber tell you beforehand that he was going to bring more people in.
In order to avoid this, it’s best to get a total quote beforehand. Ask your plumber by when will the job be finished and how many men will he need to do it. Also clarify, that you will be paying a flat fee for the entire job, not every individual person. If you’ve already missed your opportunity to do that though, find out what each individual person is doing, so you can know exactly what’s happening.
If you live in an upscale neighborhood or you have an expensive car in the driveway or if there is a huge flat-screen TV in your house, some plumbers might charge you more than what they would other people. Although it’s hard to call this a scam, this is a widespread practice with most plumbers whenever they go into affluent neighborhoods. After all, plumbers aren’t bound by law to have fixed hourly rates, and they might jack up your price by 50 to 100% if they want to.
The way to get around this is to ask not one but two or three plumbers for quotes, and then you’ll find out who’s charging you extra. Then you can make an informed decision on who to entrust the job to. You can even find out an approximate quote online for the kind of job you need your plumber to do.
Constantly Changing Estimates
This one is quite a common scam that you very likely have faced before. Your plumber is halfway into the project, and suddenly he comes up with a new estimate, as “It’s more serious than he thought.” He will come up with new jobs midway that have to be performed otherwise, apparently, your whole plumbing might get compromised. He will make it seem like it’s a matter of life and death.
If this sounds a lot like your plumber, then it means one of two things – either the plumber is scamming you or worse, he has no idea what he is doing. Either way, it’s bound to cost you extra money. If he has no idea, what he is doing, he might make a mistake, and those mistakes might cost even more to get repaired.
Unfortunately, the only way you get around this problem is to hire a competent, reputable plumber. Be sure to check up on reviews online and ask your peers. You can even check online if the plumbing company is licensed in your state. If you live in Texas, be sure to check out our plumbing company.
Sometimes when the project is a little complicated, your plumber might give you a quote, ask for about 50% of the money upfront, and also ask for money for all the new equipment they will tell you that you need to buy.
Remember that in most states, a plumber can only ask for 10% of the total quote beforehand. Thus if a plumber asks for any more than that, know that he will just take the money and run. The credentials he gave you were probably false. Also if he’s demanding all that money upfront, in all probability he isn’t paying his taxes.
Just remember that no reputable plumber will ever ask you for a large amount of money beforehand (20% or more) and also be sure to check their credentials as thoroughly as possible.
Some plumbers will seem very eager to get to work as soon as possible. No matter what you tell them, they will say it’s not a problem. If you ask them for an estimate, they will give you a highly detailed, itemized list of all the jobs but it will all be done over the phone. They will never put anything down on paper.
This process will keep going on for days as they slowly hike up the total estimate by putting in new jobs and tasks every time. They will overload you with details so that it totally seems genuine and you will see them very eager and hard at work. So you will let it go.
At the end of it, however, they will give you a final bill that is double or triple what they had initially quoted. At that time, all you have is the final bill and no record of what came before, so you don’t have any choice but to pay.
You can’t even fight them in court as you will simply not have the paperwork to back it up. It’s best to get your plumber to sign a contract before they start working so they can’t pull off scams like these.
Generalized Shady Behavior
A good rule to remember is that if they seem shady, they probably are. Here are three scenarios where you should definitely consider hiring someone else to do your job.
– There is no way a plumber can give you a quote without a house inspection. The quote can never be accurate without a long and detailed visual examination. Never settle for estimated quotes over the phone. If they’re giving you quotes over the phone, they’re probably really desperate for a customer.
– Never trust a plumber who takes cash-only payments and doesn’t provide receipts. Chances are they don’t have insurance, and that will be a big problem for you if something goes severely wrong with your plumbing.
– If the plumber quotes an insanely low charge that’s too good to be true, it probably is. Like we already said, if it seems suspicious, it probably is.
So now that you know what kind of scams some plumbers usually try, let’s give you an idea of what an ideal plumber should be like so that you have something to compare your experience against.
An Ideal Plumbing Consultation
No matter what the scale of your project, ideally it should begin with a simple plumbing consultation. You call up the plumbing company, and then they send someone over. Nothing is discussed on the phone beforehand.
The plumber will come over and talk about what you want and how feasible that is. After that, the plumber will examine the state of your current plumbing to determine precisely how much work it is going to take. Following this, you will get an itemized list of all the jobs that need to be done and how much each of them will cost.
The plumber should be able to explain to you why all these jobs are necessary and should also talk to you about payment options. The best of plumbers will always answer all your questions and be transparent in all aspects.
How Much Should It Cost?
Plumbers rates totally depend on the job to be done and also differ from one state to another. Your best option would be to ask your neighbors and friends to find out what the typical hourly rate is like for practicing plumbers in your location.
The average hourly rate should be in the vicinity of $50, but there is no way you can guess the cost of replacement parts before you know what needs to be replaced. Some plumbing companies even have special emergency rates in case of household floods,etc or specialized services.
Bad seeds don’t come by all that often, but if they do, they can cost you a lot of money, and your plumbing problem might still not get fixed.
Remember to do your research and if you’re still unsure that you’re not getting a good deal, contact several plumbing companies to get a better idea of what needs to be fixed and how much it will cost.