1st Access Ltd / COWBOY TACTICS
On Wednesday 24th Feb I had a knock on my door by my downstairs neighbours son at 7am telling me I got a leak and it was dripping down to his 90 year old mothers light fitting in her bathroom and down the walls. I went down and saw the damage, and then phoned 1st access Ltd. I got the number from Thompsons having seen the FMB logo on their advertisement. The receptionist told me that it would be £55 every half and hour and did I except, which I did, (I was told of no call out fees), and that their plumber would be with me between 9.30-10.00. The plumber phoned me to say he had lost his way and could I direct him, so I know he wasn’t local because he didn’t know any of the main road names and in a white van with no mention of 1st access ltd.
Alarm bells should have rang, (A large plumbing company who don’t advertise on their vans …what is this company hiding….!!!) bad reputation.
In the Thomsons directories its advent is big and bold, and in your face but the companies name is in very small letters… you ready wouldn’t notice it….sign of bad reputation ….why didn’t I pick up on that!!!
He arrived and stayed from 10.15 - 11.30; very overly friendly he discussed the problem in per longed detail but did nothing to fix the leak. All he did was go up and down both flats looking at the damage. He asked me to sign an agreement at the end and to pay him £250 deposit by direct debit; he refused to take a cheque. This amount was just for the call out, which I wasn’t told about when I booked him to come out, and he also didn’t explain it too me, I thought it would part of the cost of repairing the leak, in my haste (I was going 2 an interview later that day so my mind being on that) I signed the agreement which he then took both copies telling me it had to be signed the next day as well. I was a bit shocked when he said he wasn’t going 2 fix it the same day ever though it was an emergency.( I felt very uncomfortable when he was phoning my card details thought he made a point to me that they would never take the 3 digit security number on the back of my cards signature strip which he then repeated the 3 digit number out load to me while on the phone to his office, he also did this the next day on the final payment, I have since phoned my bank so they can cancel the card, ) He told me I had to take the flooring off for him that was why it was to be tomorrow, telling me not to use the bath or shower. He arrived the next day 10 minutes before the agreed time and basically barged his way in when I answered the door (10mins £55) his mannerisms was totally different from the previous day he was cocky and loud. He proceeded to work on the area he said was the fault, but he said to me at one point he was 90% certain he had the right leak but he wasn't sure as he thought the leak could be another issue with a lead pipe under the baths floor boards saying that would be a long and hard job but that it was only a 10% possibility this after I became concern about a puddle which kept forming between the toilet and the side of the bath. He went on to fix what I now believe he knowingly knew wasn’t the source of the leak. (Shouldn’t someone with 30 years plumbing experience be 100% sure where a leak is coming from in a small bathroom). He then went out to buy parts as he said he didn't have them in his van (benders to joint two pipes together this took over 1/2 hour, his rate being £55 for every half hour. If he made his mind up the day before what the so called problem was, why didn’t he have the parts on his second visit??????? (I’m now told by the freshwater plumber that all professional plumbers carry these items in their vans as it’s always in use). He came back and proceed in doing something that didn’t need mending he than sealed all the pipe joints with sealant which he say will take 20min to dry before he could check for leaks in his work, this I’m later told by the freshwater plumber didn’t need to be done as the bender joints already have rubber washer inside and that if you need to take it apart because of a blockage you wouldn’t be able too unscrew the joints as its sealed shut…. now I know (20MINS £55).
He ran the bath checked for leaks on his work, (which after he left started to leak) he then asked for payment
again I asked to pay by cheque as I had to top up my account within the 3 days it takes the cheque to clear but he was adamant I pay by direct debit (reason for is this he knew that after he left I would realise I’ve been conned by a cowboy and I would cancel the cheque) When he left I started to mop up the water that was still forming on the concrete flooring under the floor boards only to realise that the leak was still there and that the plastic waste pipe he attached was also now leaking when I was using the shower head to clean the bath., dripping from the bender joints which also had silicone sealant around it (he told me not to mop up and to let it dry with the window open and to put a heater next to it …..(Oh sure this would have taken me longer to find out I’ve been conned). Altogether he has charged me £877.73 for a job that didn't need doing and still I have the same leak I called him out for, and also resulting in another leak on his unnecessary work. Had the original leak been fixed and he did all the other cowboy cons I would not have been this angry but just not used them again. The water by this time started leaking into the electric cupboard down stair…which could have ending in tragedy had the old lady and her son been in. I went online to discover more about 1st access ltd and 2 my horror other customers had complaints about similar experiences .The freshwaters plumber looked at the work that 1st access has done, after it falling apart in his hands, telling me it was in no way worth the money I have paid, and too still have a leak I felt truly conned. The leak was coming from an old lead pipe under the baths floor boards which I had concerns about while he was working on the bath waste pipe but he brushed it aside with its only a 10% possibility. The main reason I called them in a hurry was because my neighbour is 90 and I felt that I couldn't wait to check out a company online it was the FMB logo that threw me. I only wish now that I didn’t panic, and that I took a little bit more time in looking for a good professional plumber on the line, . I called the next day but was unable to speak from rage. I than phoned on Sunday and was advised to phone on Monday by one of the receptionist as the Managers would be in. On Monday I phone in the morning and again spoke to one of the receptionist, she took my phone number and said she’ll past it to her manager when he is free, I then phoned back after 2pm as I had no manager contact me, again the receptionist said the same thing, when I told her that I was waiting for a complaint form from FMB and that I will be going to the trading standards office before hanging up I have a phone call from the office manager within 2 minutes- Robbie Walker, I told him about the bad service I received from his company and all he could offered me was to send the same plumber back to check his work!!! I refused telling him I didn’t want him in my apartment, I asked him to come over in person to inspect the plumbers work for himself, his answer being I’m only the Office Manger ….Then who manages the plumbers????
I only want a full refund no more on less.
I have read many complaints online about 1st access ltd, about taking up the offer of the plumber coming back to finishing a dodge job after which their would charge the customer again as they have your card details on file. I do not feel comfortable to let them back in as the feedback from other customers are so bad. I have since thrown yellow pages and Thompsons in the bin; they don’t seem to check if it’s a cowboy firm or not. I will be telling more people to do the same.
I’m told to look at ratedpeople.com or at the trading standards website 4 good tradesmen.
I have the pipe he had replaced for references, also photos and a short video of the soaked floor and towels around the pipes between the bath and toilet.
The cowboy plumbers name is Paul –initials PL told me he has been a plumber for 30 years since he was 16 while drinking coffee I made him……he so played with my good nature never again will I let anyone do that to me again.
Looking now at the agreement I was made to sign on his first visit I can see that its very much open to abuse by these so called plumbers …firstly saying they have to good and buy parts even if its in the van secondly taking time trying to finding the fault.
The faulty has since been fixed by the freshwater plumber.
I have also been off work to sort out this problem.
I will be taking this to the trading standards office and the small claims court.