Roto Rooter / Fraud and cheating

5672 Collections Center Drive, Antioch, TN, United States Review updated:
Contact information:
Phone: 800-438-7686

On the morning of January 21, 2009 my wife and I noticed water backing up in the bathtub and shower. The washing machine was running at the time. We tried flushing the toilet and that overflowed. This indicated a main drainage blockage.

Thinking that this would be a simple unclogging of the main drain from the cleanout plug with a snake, I called Roto-Rooter and placed a service call. I told them my wife would be home and to call me if there were any problems.

About 10:00 AM I received a call from my wife telling me to come back home because the plumber couldn't find the clean out opening for the sewer drainage. My wife told me the service technician said that if he had to clean out the line by removing the toilet it would cost $2500. I thought he was just joking. I should have thrown him out of the house when I came home.

Instead I took him down to the crawl space beneath the house and showed him the main drainage pipe and back cleanout. The outside cleanout is located outside on the lawn against the house all you have to do is follow the pipe. Granted some dirt covered it but 30 seconds and a shovel would have unearthed it. I live in a new subdivision in a $160, 000 house so PVC pipes and cleanouts are standard plumbing equipment in these types of homes. Any plumber or service technician with a job of cleaning drainage pipes should know this.

I went back to work thinking that everything would be cleared when I returned home. That evening I was taking a shower and water started to backup. I asked my wife didn't the Roto-Rooter service technician cleanout the main drain. She told me that his plumbing snake got caught on something and could not get pass a certain point. He was at my house for over two hours and never completed the job but took the $225 check. I should have stopped payment.

Later that evening I called Roto-Rooter and placed another service call. The second technician arrived within an hour of my call. He came into my house looked around the bathroom and explained there may have been some air left in the system as a reason for the backup. He never once looked at or attempted to clean out the main drain. He left after 15 minutes and said, “It appears that Bob (the previous technician) has done what he was supposed to do".

I read him the receipt that was given to my wife, which mentioned a blockage, and he said he doesn't have a camera to see what is in there. He said someone would return with a camera tomorrow and that the service technicians with the cameras only work during the day.

I had to call Roto-Rooter back myself and place another service call for a camera technician. I specifically told them to have the technician call me when he arrived. I received a call about 1:00 PM from Bob stating that they had videoed my line and discovered a fence pole stuck in my drainage pipe. By they way, Bob had somehow gotten access to my fenced property, I thought I had locked the gate? He gave me a $2368 estimate to replace the drainage pipe.

I immediately asked for something in writing to keep on record for this ridiculous claim. He supplied it. He also wanted an additional $275 to make a videotape if the company that installed the fence wanted proof.

I called the fence company and the owner explained to me that in the company's entire history of putting in fences they have never hit a drainage pipe. He said all gas and water lines are clearly marked before any digging is done. All the holes dug are inspected before any cement is poured and post are placed in them. He also said he would pay for any damages occurred if this did happen. He would just need a copy of the videotape for his insurance company.

Now back to Roto-Rooter. I called them the next morning and demanded that they send out another technician since they didn't have a tape to show me what they were talking about. They agreed.

The next day at 11:30 AM I received a call from another Roto-Rooter technician who said he had arrived to inspect my drainage line with a camera. We went into my crawl space where I discovered that Bob the first technician had spilled sewage in my crawl space. Anyway the technician inspected my drainage line and absolutely assured me that there was not a fence post in my drainage line. I asked him this three times and he assured me that the only thing blocking the drain was tree roots and toilet paper. I asked him, if he could clear out the drain and he told me that he only had a camera. I had to call back Roto-Rooter to have another technician with a snake come back out to unclog the line.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. I called the 800-GET-ROTO and was told that my warranty had been voided because of the fence pole in my drainage pipe. I told the person taking the call that you cannot warranty something that was never fixed and my money should have not been taken if the technician was unable to fix the problem. I also mentioned that the second camera technician told me he was 100% sure there was no pole in my drainage pipe. There was thirty seconds of silence. I was then told that they could not send another technician without me paying for it. I asked to speak to a manager.

After several calls I reached the Branch Manager Mr. Charles Bentley. All he did during our conversation was support everything that Bob and the first camera technician said. When I told him about the findings of the second camera technician the Branch Manager Mr. Charles Bentley said, “he was using a larger diameter camera and was not able to go back far enough to see the post". I then told him what my fence contractor had told me and he just kept on insisting that a pole was in my drain. He wanted to charge me $275 to have a technician come out to use a camera on the line. Now I was 100% sure I was being scammed. I said no and hung up.

Later that day on Saturday January 31, 2009 I called Wright's Plumbing in La Vergne, Tennessee. They arrived at my house about 3:00PM. They dug up the outside cleanout in about 1 minute. Ran the snake into the drain for about thirty minutes and only encountered guess what, tree roots and toilet tissue. I ran all the sinks, tub, and shower and flushed the toilets several times. Since the cleanout was off they showed me water running into the sewer from the main drain. It flowed like a swift stream. I paid them $250. They screwed the cleanout cap back on and were gone. The whole process took less than an hour.

This issue has not yet been resolved because I now plain to take civil action unless Roto-Rooter gives me back my $225. I will find out what their corporate headquarters has to say.

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  • Co
      Feb 12, 2009

    Upon reading this complaint it staggers me how impersonal and underhanded that Roto-Rooter corporate can be. I have worked for Roto-Rooter (a franchise) for 9 years and have never encounted a situation of this magnitude. What happend to customer service!!! My husband has worked for that Roto-Rooter in Nashville, TN for a few months and we have personally encounted how they rip people off. He had to leave because they basically went against every moral code of ethics. They are all about the money and I hate that they are giving Roto-Rooter a bad name. Please don't put a mark against Roto-Rooter in general. They aren't all like that! I would love to hear what the Roto-Rooter headquarters had to say.

    0 Votes
  • Pi
      Oct 31, 2009

    Hello my name is "Mike "I am a former service tech for rotorooter.First I would like to say I am truly sorrry for the bad service that rotorooter provided .I worked for the company for 10yrs.When I first started I really enjoyed my job.I made good money and I went home everyday knowing I helped people.Well that wasnt good enough.They took me into the office and told me, we need you to step it up.Being 20 at the time I really didnt understand, so they put a senior tech in my van.His job was to show me how to be a salesman.He showed me how to upsale basicly rip people off.Most people know nothing about plumbing so you can tell them anything and they will belive you thats what they program in our heads.They send there good tech to training for a week on how to sell the name an products.They raise prices every year and the salesmen continue to make the company money the bad ones starve. They have a system called close rate, the person with the best close rate gets the "good jobs".See were im going?To make a long story short I could no longer work for a company thats pats you on the back for ripping people off."sell sell sell" In the words ok Danny Kutcha General Mananger.How can you sell a name you dont trust?My advice to you keep calling call Dannny house call Charles's house.Come up there to the shop.They hate media call Wkrn, tell them your promblem dont stop.They most stop there ways of service. Roto-Rooter gives real plumbers a bad name. "Mike"

    0 Votes
  • Ib
      Nov 19, 2009

    I would like to share with you the experience I had with Roto rooters in Grand Rapids MI. On September the eight, 2009, I called the company because my sewer was backing up. A technician came over and clean it, in a very professional, friendly and (in what I thought)efficient way. He charged me 189.95$ and gave me a 30 days guarantee. (Invoice NO 68060). On October the nineteenth 2009, the sewer was backing up again. I called the company and a different technician came to my house. This time he brought a camera and a pressure hose. The price was more expensive, but according to him, it would take care of any root in the line.
    After two hours, the technician told me that he had finished, and handled me a bill of 605$.I asked him to run the camera one more time, which was already picked up along with the hose in his truck. When he did it, he pulled the camera rally fast, so that I couldn't see anything.I asked him to run it again, this time slowly. I could see not only roots in the line, but also a huge ball, kind of a sponge, that was obstructing the whole pipe. When I asked him to clean it, he said that he had to charge me for it…? I refused, and told him that I was willing to pay only for the first hour. He didn’t accept. Only when I asked him to put his boss on the phone he accepted my offer. He had no water left on his truck, so he used my water to clean it. After another hour, he left, leaving a mess behind for me to clean. He gave me a 30 days guarantee. When I contacted the company, the person I talked to told me that the technician was having a “bad day”…? That person offered me to refund me the total amount of the bill, and a 6 months guarantee. I received a simple check on the mail, without any apologie, explanation or prove of my “new” guarantee. (Invoice NO 68541).The technician’s name was Mathew 242, (no last name)
    I don’t know if this is a common practice in the industry, but it seems to me like a scam. I can’t stop thinking on how many families have been set up with one of those sponges in their lines.

    Jose Recio

    0 Votes
  • Ma
      Jan 25, 2012

    They are indeed a terrible rip off company. I had a drain cleaned Nov. 2011 for $318 and it plugged up again Dec 2011. So, a fast talking salesman came out and had the nerve to tell me I needed a new 2 way clean-out and it would cost $2600. They have you over a barrel so I let them do it (my local plumber told me later he would have charged $980 for the same work!). Then, Mr Fast Talker told me my main drained needed to be totally dug up for $40, 000 under the slab of my house. I bulked at that, then they said relining the whole thing for $9800. I bulked at that, then he said $7782. They showed up on a Saturday and I had a chance to think about it and turned them away. I called my plumber friend who came out with a 3" cutter and removed GREASE where Mr. Fast Talker told me it was a collapsed main drain! He charged me an additional $300 but told me he could come out every year and will charge me $95 to clean my drain and it should last 20 years. Seriously-they are bad news. i am planning on sending the CEO, President, VP and anyone else that will listen, a scathing letter.

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