I am a former ARS Rescue Rooter employee. I answered an ad in the want ads looking for a plumber position. I'm a licensed plumber and needed a job so i applied. Got an interview and got hired. This company doesn't pay by the hour here in Las Vegas, NV. They pay on a commission based system called "Comission Units" aka "CU".
For example: If I replaced a toilet and charged the client $850 (yes this is an actual cost they charge) then I would make 1.5 CU's. When you first start with the company, you start out at @ $20 per CU. So in the case of the toilet i would get paid $30 plus the ten dollars for going to the call. Regardless of how long it took me to do the work, I would make $40 in this case.
Some people might not think that's too bad. After all this rate is $20 per hour right? WRONG! We (the plumbers) are dispatched to calls that are primarily "cold" calls. Meaning someone ( a telemarketer) from our office called the client without warning to schedule a "free health and safety inspection".
When people hear "free" they usually say yes. Everybody wants free stuff right? The objective of the "free Health and safety inspection" is to get a plumber in the house to find stuff to fix. Even if it doesn't need fixing.
The position I applied for was a plumber position, not a salesman position. But the problem with this is if I didn't sell anything then I didnt get paid anything. Again, they pay for sales not by the hour.
Another example: Let's say your water bill is through the roof and you notice a wet spot in the yard. Call Rescue Rooter and a couple guys show up ( a plumber and "supervisor"). They go through the process of isolating the source of the problem and tell you that your main water line is leaking. First thing people ask is "ok, How much?" This is when the "supervisor" and his plumber retreat to their vehicles to "work on the numbers".
Now when I first started with this company, I had responded to lots of main line leak calls. When it comes to being paid to do the work, I would be asked by my "supervisor" how much I wanted to make. Looking at the yard it would take me a day to dig the new line and install it. Then half a day to come back and backfill the yard after the inspection was done. So I would say "$600". So that number would be placed into the bid process and a number would would be generated. The general going rate was between $4000 and $6500 depending on the size and difficulty of the job. Usually the client would say ok and sign the work order. Obviuosly we dont tell the client how much the plumber gets paid.
Now jump forward to a few months before I quit working for these rip off artists. Remember when I explained the pay structure? The CU system and how I would get compensated? Now I find myself on a main line replacement. The total bill we charge the client is still between $4000 and $6500. The work is still just as time consuming and difficult. However one thing has changed dramatically. Instead of getting a lump sum of $600 to do the work (which normally took 2 1/2 days total), now Im getting 14 Cu's and nothing more. And if I wanted help from another plumber to get it done faster then we have to SPLIT the CUs! 7 CUs each! So I would get paid approx. $140 to do 2 1/2 days worth of work!
That's not just the only thing. They raised the cost of almost everything to the client and cut in half what they pay the plumber to do the same work.
When a plumbing company pays comission, the going rate is 20-30% of the ticket total. At ARS Rescue Rooter the average is just over 7%. Once again they can make you work as many hours as they want because the law in Nevada states that only hourly employees get overtime. My weekly average was between 50 and 60 hrs per week. My weekly gross in my check was @ $450! After taxes and insurance my check was approx. $200.
An average day worked at ARS here in las vegas starts at 7 am (morning meeting) and ends some time @ 8 pm. Again they don't pay by the hour. They do this to avoid paying overtime. They are overworking the staff and placing unnecessary stress on the employees because they can. Because there is no law that says they can't. I am interested in joining a class action suit against ARS of Nevada. There is already one currently in California.
They are taking advantage of the current economy and lack of jobs to exploit the employees by threatening their jobs if they dont work the hours expected.