Roto Rooter / Fraud and cheating
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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