Gillece Services — Overcharged Gouging Obscene Pricing
Richard F. Hawthorne
5590 River Oaks Drive
Titusville, FL 32780
February 19, 2010
To: Office of the Attorney General
Bureau of Consumer Protection
14th Floor, Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120
PA Attorney General – 888.520.6680
Pittsburgh Bureau of Consumer Protection
Office of Attorney General
Manor Building, 6th Floor
564 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: 412.565.5135 or 800.441.2555
Subject: GILLECE Plumbing Services: Request for Investigation for Unethical Pricing/Alleged Fraudulent, Unreasonable and Unfair Business Practices
Business of Subject Investigation Request:
Thomas J. Gillece, President
Jan Thiele, Corporate Controller
Joe Benz, General Manager
3347 Industrial Blvd.
Bethel Park, PA 15102
I am writing you concerning the highly questionable business pricing practices endorsed and performed by GILLECE Services at the above listed address. Whether they are committing FRAUD will be a question that you as the attorney general and your counsel will have to determine, however, I wish to alert you to an entire string of bad, dishonorable, questionable, unfair and unreasonable pricing practices being committed by GILLECE Services.
The bill for less than 2-hours of work totaled: $1, 307.87 for a routine plumbing service call which would normally cost $400.00 at the most and usually much, much less, even if the plumber were to charge $90.00 per hour, plus parts!* “Jerry” the GILLECE serviceman left the box that the part(s) he replaced came in. It was a “PROPLUS Waste & Overflow” (Model # BD1522), which is commonly sold at better supplies stores everywhere. At “ABLE’S TruValue Hardware” this same item is sold ‘retail’ for: $23.99 plus 7% tax = $25.67 -- which is the total cost of parts!!
I believe GILLECE is cheating not just my 90-year old Mom, whom has congestive heart failure and was taken gross advantage of, but the entire city of Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania, where GILLECE is offering and performing services, and I believe must be immediately investigated for possible fraudulent business pricing practices.
On February 12th, 2010, my 90-year old mother along with my sister whom quit her job in order to care for Mom contracted with GILLECE services to, “replace bathtub waste & overflow trap, drain & reconnect drain, ” which work was performed by Gillece.
Instead of charging ‘by the book’ and ‘by the hour’ as a car mechanic would do, as “Jerry” the GILLECE serviceman indicated to my sister, when he showed her ‘the book’, GILLECE charges ‘by the task’. (Except with Jerry's argument, they do NOT charge by the hour as do car mechanics!) In other words, GILLECE is taking the most mundane and routine of plumbing services and charging outrageous prices and taking advantage of unknowing and unsuspecting customers through designed and planned deception and in short deceiving the people of Pittsburgh as they did my mother.
On Monday, 15 February 2010, I contacted GILLECE to attempt to get my mother’s bill reduced, speaking to the ‘Customer Relations Manager’, Ms. Susan Cavill, whom quickly passed this responsibility off to ‘Celest’ whom when I called told me she would have to, “…pull the bill and check with the service rep” and that she may know something by, “…the end of the week.” When I further inquired why she, “…just can’t go across the hall and get it”, she told me that the crews do not come into the office every day… (The work was performed the week prior.) She said she would speak to the “CFO” about in the morning. I told her I would call back in the morning. That afternoon when I did call, I left a message with her and since then, have not been contacted. It’s Friday, February 19th 2010, and clearly GILLECE has no intention of contacting me back. And Here’ why!
I checked with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), first thing Monday morning. I inadvertently called a relative of Thomas GILLECE, Mr. Mark GILLECE who has a separate plumbing business, after checking Mark’s record with the BBB. His record showed one (1) complaint over the past 36-months for a BBB rating of “A+”, which any reasonable person would agree is an outstanding record of performance in the community.
When Mr. Mark GILLECE politely interrupted me as I was relating how Mom had been taken advantage of only to tell me that, “…we did not perform that service at that address.” I asked if the 831-6199, was not his number and he said “no.” He would not answer any question concerning them at all, but only said, “Call that number.”
Upon checking again with the BBB, this time I correctly brought up the record of “GILLECE Services” with Thomas GILLECE as president and much to my sickening shock, learned that ‘GILLECE Services’ record with the BBB showed a whopping (114) one-hundred and fourteen complaints over the past 36-months for a rating of “F”, which any reasonable person would agree is a consistently sustained, unsatisfactory track record of performance in the community, upsetting and frustrating scores of good citizens falling prey to this company, when all they did to deserve such treatment was simply do what my sister did: Looked in the phonebook!
Can such a business remain unscathed and beneath the Attorney General’s radar if so many people are being treated so unfairly and unreasonably?
Little wonder GILLECE had absolutely no intention of either calling me back or rectifying the gross billing error since I’m nothing to them but “complaint number 115” and they don’t believe they made an error because they are not in the business of performing reasonable, responsible plumbing services and would rather accrue and average of 3+ complaints to the BBB per month! (I can only imagine how many people are dissatisfied and do NOT contact the BBB! Surely, the BBB complaints are just the tip of the iceberg!) GILLECE Services does not care my Mom lives on less than $400.00 a month and they managed to clean out better than 4-months of social security checks with one-outrageously overpriced job!
As for Mom’s plumbing problem: It was an existing problem that was leaking drops down into the cellar for years. It wasn’t an emergency. It was a routine plumbing job, learned by novice plumbers during ‘Plumbing 101.’ Now, no question, it can be a complicated job. But not Mom’s. The house, though 60-years old, has a direct access panel, just the other side of the tub, in through the master bedroom closet, needing 30-seconds to gain access…after moving a few shoe boxes out of the way. It was a gravity leak. A simple fix by removing the old drain and putting in a new one; no need for heat with new copper pipe, just put in a piece of pvc-plastic pipe, which “Jerry” probably had laying on the floor of his truck and some glue. Truth is, a water-resistant, duct tape probably would have fixed the problem. No high tech, plumbing cameras required either. Less than 2-hours and done – out the door.
(Also realize, to put their outrageous pricing into perspective: I could have flown up from Florida, flew my brother in from Utah so he could ‘help’, stayed at the downtown Hilton, rented a car at the airport, fixed Mom’s minor leak, stayed a few extra days for vacation, charged dinner…and still spent LESS than what GILLECE charged Mom for this simple, basic repair! And…we had our entire house in Florida taken off a septic tank, dug to the street, laid new pipe to connect to the main sewage line, took a week to complete… for about the same price!)
I understand businesses are in business to make money. But not to CHEAT the public just as GILLECE Services sustained track record of performance indicates!
I implore you to open an investigation and get to the bottom of GILLECE Services gouging the disadvantaged and bring this unfair and unacceptable billing scam to an end.
Richard F. Hawthorne
To aid in your investigative efforts, I’ve included the BBB web link address below:
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