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Roto-Rooter / Rip off Artist

1 Rochester, NY, United States Review updated:

What a joke, I'm still laughing! I called for a clogged drain and could not get a quote over the phone. I was told the service man would quote me at the job site. I was quoated $268.00 to rout a drain pipe, a five minute job! I told the guy to get the hell out of my house! I rented a router from Home Depot for $43.00 and was donw in under 10 minutes. Stay away from these jokers!!!

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  • Vi
      14th of Jun, 2008
    -1 Votes

    Does this person have any idea what it costs to send a fully equipped truck to his door? Liability ins., workman's comp., overhead etc. He should get the hell off the internet and get a job so he could afford a quality plumber.

  • Av
      17th of Jul, 2008
    +1 Votes

    You must work for this scam company. The drain cleaning companies out here charge 85-$125 depending on the hour you call. They give you up front pricing. If your in a big house in the burbs and your line is extremely long I could see a higher bill. On top of that of this company gave UPFRONT estimates based on ZIP CODE/area, since most city homes are the same and most surburan homes are also similar in an area (which they could do) they would SAVE allot of OVERHEAD.

  • Jo
      24th of Jul, 2008
    -1 Votes

    Here is the breakdown for all of you non business oriented customers out there who keep complaining about company's that go above and beiond what's expected of them.
    One- roto rooter is one of the very few companies that does criminal and drug check
    two- does quarterly employee training and evaluation
    three- does quarterly safety training
    four- does employee driving evaluations
    five- does offer 24 hour service
    six- does show up within 2 hours
    seven- that will take care of your plumbing, heating and drain problems. also offer future solutions
    eigth- that will give you a min. of 6 month guarantee and stand behind it 100%
    nine- that is used by fortune 500 companies
    ten- that have fully* stocked vehicles and ready for work

    What do you really think this is all worth to you as a customer?. What do you as a customer think costs to insure all this happens?.

    We are always quick to judge and complaine, because we pick one negative thing and focus on it till satisfied. When you can get more of a satisfaction by focusing on the positive side of thing...

  • An
      25th of Aug, 2008
    +1 Votes

    As a former Roto Rooter employee, I can tell you this is one of their many tricks to rip you off, asnd get as much money from you as they can. Their "free estimates" are anything but, they use all kinds of ploys to rob you blind. Their prices tend to be 20-70% higher than the competition, they do not do a good job of honoring their warranties, do not resolve complaints without going to the top. Do not use Roto Rooter, unless you want to go broke, and continue to have problems. They also rarely use license plumbers, stock boys they train to do things the Roto Rooter way for 6 weeks, and then charge top dollar for their work. NOT A VERY PROFESSIONAL COMPANY!!! Do not use Roto Rooter.

  • Je
      2nd of Sep, 2008
    0 Votes

    I gotta agree with this complaint. I've got a cracked PVC water line in my front yard. The folks at Roto-Rooter want $450 to replace it. $450??? Gimme a break ... I fixed it myself for $10 in parts from Home Depot & 3 hours of my time. Now, at least I know who not to bother calling the next time I've got a plumbing repair!

  • Ro
      28th of Sep, 2008
    -1 Votes

    OK you said that you payed $43.00 to rent the machine but it only took you 10 minutes to do the work. Well in your line of thinking didnt you over pay for the machine? They charged you for using it for the whole day. Did you yell at them for over charging you?
    I own a Plumbing business and many things go into the price of a job. Each one of those sewer machines cost almost $3, 000.00. The truck is another $20, 000.00. The gas to fill one is over $100.00 and because they are fully stocked the gas mileage is poor. The hourly rate for the plumber that just drove to your home. All the state required insurance that we need to carry. The staff that took your call. The staff that dispatched the job. All the staff behind the scene that take care of all the paper work and running of the company. The cost of upkeep on the trucks and equipment. The utility bills to run the shop. The monthly payment to lease the building. The phone bill and computer internet charges. The computers and the $1, 500 program needed to dispatch the trucks. The uniform cost. The cost to print the invoices. advertising costs. Yellow page adds. the $3, 000.00 in truck stock in each truck. Specialty tools for plumbing.
    Now when you take all of this in to consideration you will see that your overhead is very high. Each job priced is done on an average. If cleaning a sewer in your region on average takes an hour and a half that is the set time the company will use for that job. Then they will take in account the average drive time from one job to the next. How much gas on average from one job to the next. After all that they take the amount of jobs on average per year and divide that by all the over head charges per year they pay out to operate. Then they will need to add the 30 percent that all companies do for profit.
    The only one being unfair here is any customer that tries to rip off these hard working companies. Every thing I have explained here is normal business in the United States like it or not. Plumbers work to make money just like you. Our charges are in place to make money and they are very well thought out. There is more work involved then just saying "well hell lets charge this guy $300.00 today"
    For the guy that complained about the $450 price to work 3 hours on his plumbing I feel that was a fair price. Sounds like 3 hours of work but what about the clean up drive, time and every thing else that would have gone into that job?
    Plumbing...the one job that every one thinks they can try to tell you what you should charge for your hard work. We always have to keep a smile on our face when you people are complaining about our prices. I NEVER MET A RICH PLUMBER HAVE YOU???????????????

  • Ja
      30th of Sep, 2008
    +1 Votes


    The original poster here is SPOT ON. Please read my story:

    I recently had an employee of this company "fix" a broken shower handle. He claimed to install a new cartridge but said that it would continue to "drip" until we purchased a whole new system for which he quoted us $400 (for parts alone). He charged $265.

    Well, my father in law came out (an engineer who knows plumbing), removed the cartridge and started laughing from shock. It was a corroded piece of junk, NOT new at all.

    We went to Lowe's and purchased a new one ourselves, he installed it and the leak is now GONE.

    I took pictures of the corroded cartridge, copied the bogus invoice and my Lowe's receipt and reported them to the Attorney General, the BBB and Roto Rooter's corporate office.

    Stay FAR away from these scam artists!

  • Lo
      4th of Oct, 2008
    0 Votes

    I think the important thing here is to get pricing up front, make sure you completely understand and make your decision. If you think the price is too high, by all means call around! Its a free country! Also, before even calling a plumber, assess the situation yourself. You would be suprised at how many people want a service technician to come to their home to repair a flush handle on a toilet. Use some common sense people! I have been a customer service rep for a plumbing a heating company for 5 years now and I'm always dumbfounded by the people who are clearly quoted pricing on the phone, then sign a work order with a total on it in front of the technician, then call the office screaming saying we ripped them off!
    Companies have a right to make a profit and you have the right to fix it yourself or call many different companies unitl you find one whos pricing you agree with.

  • Da
      20th of Oct, 2008
    +1 Votes

    I also had Roto-Rooter in the other day to investigate a non-functioning shower handle. I was quoted $265.00 and $100.00 for a new part. A total of $365.00. Well, thanks but no thanks. I went to Home Depot. Bought a new assembly for less than $30.00 and was done in about 10 minutes.

    If I was quoted maybe half the price I probably would have just let the guy take care of it and spend my Saturday relaxing. That is how you ensure business and keep the cash flowing to offset your fixed costs.

    There is a big difference between taking advantage of people and covering your business expenses/overhead. So...please give a break. A doctors visit costs ~$95.00. I can almost guarantee his/her expenses are much higher. i.e. secretary, mal-practice insurance, billing specialists, inventory, managed care/medicare/medicaid cutting back on reimbursements etc...

  • De
      3rd of Nov, 2008
    0 Votes

    Perhaps not all Roto Rooter companies operate the same way.

    I am currently dealing with this rip off company, I'm presuming, is out of Tacoma, WA. They charged me just shy of $400 to rout a main line in our manufactured house. We knew what the problem was and asked for a quote over the phone as our regular plumbing company could not get to us that day. We were denied but told a tech could be there by noon - he arrived after 1. We have this issue every two years or so, so we know what it needs.

    The tech arrived, wandered all about, I showed him where the line was and that we just wanted it routed. He did not have to uncover anything or do any heavy lifting or take out any toilets. Nor did he have to go under the house, but he proceded to go under the house to "look at the pipes". He then tells me it is going to cost $400. This was easily $200 more than what I usually pay with a competitor. He then convinces me that this cannot wait and has to be done right bow if we want any use of a bathroom and that routing the pipe may not do the trick and he may have to pull a toilet or two. Not feeling good about this at all, and feeling extremely pressured, I initialed under duress.

    Once he got my initials, he took off the cap to the outlet that leads directly to the baffles. When I explained to him that it wasn't going to work the way he was doing it, he said he needed to rout it. It did not need routing - it was clear to the baffles, we were able to do that on our own before he got there.

    He then put the cap back on and went back under the house to "look". He wasted so much time screwing around for an hour or so. I was furious.

    He then decides to use a 1 inch blade for a 2 inch blade job and states as much. Then he tells me that usually the company does not guarantee a main line rout, but he will. (this is against company policy) So now, at this point, I have initialled for work to be done and the tech was going to use inadequate tools and told me as much.

    The issue with the pipe was never fixed and I have filed complaints on this companies practices.
    I even put a stop payment on the check and offered to pay just the service call fee because the tech told me he was using inappropriate tools for the job - therefore, the problem was going to persist.

  • No
      28th of Apr, 2009
    +1 Votes

    The Techs usually pay for the van, tools, gas... Prices go up and the Techs get paid the same %.

  • He
      29th of Jun, 2009
    0 Votes

    I've owned a plumbing company for 4 years. I agree with the first comment, the problem is people have no idea what it costs to operate a business, and on top of that, in our type of business, they don't value service.

    They don't care how much experience you have or how much sweet and energy you waste, or how well you train your tech's or the drug testing, or that your company works 24 hours a day 7 day's a week or can be at a job site in 1 minute or your warranty coverage or the fact that your bonded or inssured or licensed or have many vans and have pretty logos on them or that your advertising is the biggest in the yellow pages, or your customer comments. The pretty slogans you used in your advertising or the fact that you state that you are the best of the best or that you're plumbers smell realy nice or that your dressed all pretty-n-pink. People only care about price. How much will I be charged. If you can't see or touch your professional service how can you put a value on it.

    Unfortunately people want quotes over the phone because they are looking for the lowest price, they think they are shopping at somekind of PlumbMart, they are the ones who say "psss...that's like a 5 minute job, why are you charging this much" or if you are good enough to give a rough quote over the phone, " much will you charge me to repair a water heater, it's leaking from under? Sr. you have a damaged tank, it needs to be replaced, I will charge you $400 for the water heater and $400 labor. What? that much? It's only going to take you 5 minutes to get the old heater out and 5 minutes to put the new heater in, why are you charging me that much?"

    Like the person who put this post, I 've dealt with customers like this, this person is short on money and needs to fix the problem but doesn't want to pay. Then there's the other professional actor type, the one who agrees with your so called quote, waits for you to make the hole into his nice and shiny wall, waites for you to fix that nasty gushing leak inside, then gets mad at you for doing the work, argues, asks to speak to your "superviser, manager". Most of these nasty customers are men, you can't argue with these people and are to be avoided. Woman seem to understand much better, which is kinda funny.

    For a small company, I tend to charge between $142 to $200 for common small jobs. I would have charged $200 minimum to do the above posters job. Lets see, $25 gas round trip more or less. Employee $25 more or less, business liability insurance, office costs, automotive insurance, cell phone costs, tire wear, oil change, adversting costs, book keeper charges, rooter maintanance snake wear-and-tear, suppliers costs, I don't know maybe $50. So that's $100 profit, sounds like a good profit for a small company. I imagine a company like roto-rooter or Mr. Rooter would have higher costs. If the above poster would have have genev me only $100 for the job which I doubt he would, I would be doing jobs for free.

    We really need to educate these people. Either that or we need to get better jobs. Beacuase we are not earing a cent.

  • Kj
      10th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    I have not been in Plumbing before, but I have been in other construction/service businesses for many years. The problem with so many who call and say they KNOW what the problem is and are upset that the technician insists on looking at other areas is because we as service providers have been burned so many times before by the person who initially says 'this is the problem and I know this is it' is that more than half the time, there are many other problems that are unseen, and if we fail to fix them and only do the insisted upon work, then we are blamed for missing the other issues.

    It never fails. So, we have had to initiate requirements that we look at the entire area to see if there are other issues that can be documented and then give the customer the choice as to what they want repaired.

    As for the customers/posters who felt 'pressured' into signing, well, sorry, you are a fool. Just say no and get someone else if you don't like what you see. To ### about it afterward and say someone ripped you off when you knew you didn't like it is just pitiful.

    As for those who complain about the pricing, get over it. Businesses charge what they can to make money. They are a for-profit company. Again, if you don't like it, get someone else. I can't count how many times I've had to have my techs come in behind someone who didn't like the price quoted, and tried to do-it-themselves, and then botched it so bad that we had to come in and fix if for 2-3 times the price that it originally would have cost to fix it.

    Finally, I don't blame them for not quoting prices over the phone. Again, so many times, when I tech gets there and actually is able to see what the problem is, it often requires much more work than what the customer said the problem was over the phone. Then the customer complains and insists on the original price that was for much less work. I really don't blame the consumers for trying to get work done fr as little as possible, but jeez, come on. These guys exist to earn a living and make money.

  • Si
      29th of Aug, 2009
    -1 Votes

    I am the owner of a larger plumbing company. Overhead is high. We must make a profit. Quoting over the phone is outrageous, because if the customer could actually properly assess the issue, he or she would be able to fix it. It is the same thing as calling an autobody shop and saying, "I just got into a car accident, how much to fix my car"? I mean, what kind of car, what extent of damage, parts still made for the car ETC... How can someone quote you over the phone? Only scam artists do that, but they always change the price once they arrive. I say to my customers, " No legitimate company will quote you over the phone, and beware of those who will."

  • P9
      6th of Sep, 2009
    +1 Votes

    beware of andre from the mcdonough offtce in atlanta ga they are crooks and should shut down - they tried to tell me that my line was brooken when i knew it was not and they could fix it for $3, 000 - 350 to unglog a drain - stay away they cannot survive without customers - pass the word around - I've filled a coumplaint with the state of GA Licensing Board - lets put them out

  • Rj
      6th of Mar, 2010
    -1 Votes

    roto rooter has been in business since 1935 and is the number 1 plumbing / drain cleaning company in the world... its dumbfounding how people can say they are a rip off, you dont get where they are ripping people off. not too mention i am a licensed plumber who works in sales now for an advertising company, and customers always think they know everything. usually ends up costing more because some "do it yourselfer" tried to fix it themselves and made the problem worse. plumbing is a service provided just like anything else, you get what you pay for. you cant judge a company who employees 3000+ employees based one a sigle occurance. and just like stated earlier, you quote a price for a problem that you dont know the extent of. what you people dont realize is that roto rooter doesnt charge a service charge just to come out like 90% of the others do. here i am defending them and never even worked for them! i just know how "customers" are, thining they know it all. some people you cant please period. and sounds like we have a group of them complaining here. furthermore, if you could have fixed the problem yourself to begin with, why did you even call a plumber? roto rooter is a great company, have a nice day!

  • Ja
      8th of Apr, 2010
    -1 Votes

    I had clogged drains in my house today.
    I called roto-rooter ... they had someone at my house within the hour.

    the tech., told me the price up-front $400.
    he did the work .. unclogging the laundryroom washer drain and the upstairs bathroom shower drain.

    I thought the price was a little steep ... but this is my first experience with a plummer.

    but, , these days you get what you pay for.
    the tech finished in 2-3 hours, , cleaned up nicely ..gave me a 6 month warrenty 100%.
    I know roto-rooter, , will still be there in 6 months, if there is a problem.

    So .. maybe I spent a few dollars more, , but piece-of-mind and the sound of drainging water, , is worth the extra ??( I guess maybe $80-$100) I could've saved with a fly-by-night plummer. So, I don't get to go to a restaurant this month ... it's worth it.

    All things considered ... I am a happy customer with roto-rooter.

    Maybe I overspent ...maybe I was taken .. like I said, my first plummer experience.
    but the job was done right.

    Jack / Philadelphia

  • Sw
      15th of Jul, 2010
    +1 Votes

    They are crooks, ripoff artists. They have tried, and succeeded in many cases to close the doors of their local competition. You show that you can do a better job, cheaper price, and more professional, they will come at you and your company with all they have. They can, and will, outspend most companies in court to put them out of business. They force people to lie, or pay them to do so, under oath. Very bad business practices, management and untrained employees. Hire stock boys off the street, make them buy their own truck, train them for several weeks and send them out to charge top dollar, like they were professionals, unreal. Crooks, thieves, liars, unfair business practices, etc. They suck, call a local small plumbing company for all your needs, you will be better off in the end.

  • Lo
      16th of Aug, 2010
    0 Votes

    it happened to me toilet is clogged so i called them and says i can get online quote online and since its sunday sending somebody will cost me $40..but if i do it next day, the $40 is gone..then when the guy came, did the job for 5 mins using a snake, and charge me $180..what the hell?? i can buy the snake at walmart for much more less than the labor..i just cant drive..and the 40 is not even there..

  • Fr
      19th of Sep, 2010
    0 Votes

    Love Walmart...

    You say you can buy a snake at Walmart for much less than the labor then you say you can't even drive... hmm. So truly you can't even make it to WalMart, yet alone fix your toilet.

    Ignorant Americans you annoy me!

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