Sooner or later, if you own a home, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to contract the services of a plumber. This is one area of home ownership where the learning curve is steep and one hiccup in a do it yourself project can cost thousands of dollars in damage. In the same breath, contracting with a dishonest plumber can also cost you unnecessary funds. Here are ways a plumber can target an unsuspecting homeowner.
Sending Too Many People to a Job: As with all types of work, the more people dedicated to a project, the higher the invoice. Common plumbing household problems that typically only require one person are: installing new plumbing fixtures, fixing a leaky faucet or unclogging a drain. Larger projects such as plumbing for new construction and remodels oftentimes require more than one plumber. It’s not out of line to confirm the number of people that are needed to complete a job so there are no surprises at the time of your appointment.
Bait & Switch: There are a few ways this can happen. One is when a plumber runs an unbelievably low offer for a basic service such as drain cleaning. This tactic gets them into your home. Once they get in, more often than not, they’ll identify a catastrophic issue that must be addressed right away or will cost you thousands of dollars. Don’t fall for this. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. Another bait & switch tactic is quoting homeowners for top of the line fixtures and then installing cheaper ones to pad their bottom line. Avoid being a victim of this scam by getting a quote that specifies the brand of product they are installing and comparing it against those at home improvement stores. While a mark-up is expected, know that anything exorbitant is cause for concern.
Lowball Quotes: In order to get you to sign with them, a plumber can provide a super low quote. Once they have commenced work, they will claim that the issue is much larger than they anticipated and tack on additional charges to get pricing to where it should have been originally. If you’re not in an emergency situation, get multiple quotes with itemized costs to ensure that you are comparing apples to apples and that the bid you are going with addresses all work that needs to be performed. Multiple quotes allow you to make sure that you’re not being charged additional simply for living in an upscale neighborhood, another practice of shady plumbers.
Bottom Line: Go with your gut. If you don’t trust what you’re being told, investigate it. You need to be an advocate for yourself and a reliable plumber will be forthcoming with the information you request. Consumer watchdog sites, like the BBB and Angie’s List, can be invaluable tools in learning from the experiences of others.