My Plumber / Price Gouging
Kicking myself for not researching this company before using them. Prices charged for work are ridiculous. I had a kitchen faucet installed (labor only, I already had the faucet), a garbage disposal replaced, a shut-off valve installed on the line to the fridge ice maker, and a shutoff valve and supply line changed on a toilet. Total charge, $2350!!! On checking around after the fact I learned this was about two to three times what other plumbing services would have charged for the same work.
I realize prices vary and I normally don't mind paying a bit more for quality. But let's say this job was $400 for parts (very generous estimate) and $200/hour for labor (also very generous, this would be typical overtime rate), even throw in $100 for a housecall, that only comes to $1300. There's no way to make sense of the $2350 charge.
I tried to dispute the bill with them and after several calls finally reached the owner. He insisted they only make 15% profit on all their work. Well if you're charging three times what your competitors charge and only making 15% profit, you're doing something very wrong! He ultimately offered to refund $200 off my bill. That doesn't even bring it from "total rip-off" down to "gross overcharge". Oh well, I guess I just paid dearly for a learning experience.
In hindsight I can see a number of shady tactics they use to prey on ignorant customers.
- When you call they won't tell you anything about their pricing. The office says only the technician can give pricing. When I tried to dispute the total bill with the technician, he told me he doesn't set pricing, it's all set by the office. So if it's set by the office, why can't they tell you what the rates are for the jobs before you waste time meeting with the technician in your home? Because they know you'll be less likely to say no at that point.
- Fake "discount" rates. In the itemized bill they put everything in two colums. One says regular rate, one says 10% discount rate. You get the discount rate. Don't you feel lucky? You might, until you learn that their discount rate is still three times higher than their competitors.
- Exaggerating the complexity of the work. The technician told me that installing the wall mount kitchen faucet I'd purchased was a tricky job he "wouldn't wish on his worst enemy". The quote was for $350. That turned out to be about 20 minutes of labor and he didn't even have to get under the sink. I asked a competitor what they would have charged for that job and they said it would go at their normal labor rate of $135 per hour weekdays, or $210 per hour weekends. I paid over $1000 an hour to My Plumber!
- Adding on incremental work that greatly inflates the original quote. I was quoted $427 for a garbage disposal replacement. That seemed pretty high to begin with. You'd think that high of a flat rate would include padding for some contingencies in the work, right? Nope, after he removed the old disposal he told me there were code violations in the old installation (no electrical outlet, some galvanized pipe in the drain connection) that he had to fix. There was also evidence of some leaking at the drain connection. He ended up cutting the end of the drain pipe, re-threading it, and adding a new plastic drain pipe, plus adding an electrical box. Each item was added on at several hundred dollars extra. All told it was only a couple extra hours work and some plastic pipe. Grand total for the disposal went from $427 to $1212. There was even a $99 charge for "drain cleaning". Doesn't it seem like "drain cleaning" should be part of a garbage disposal replacement in the first place, and not added on later?
- Exaggerating the necessity of upgrades. It was quite obvious there was no outlet before he took out the old disposal, so shouldn't that have been priced up front? The owner told me if I didn't want an outlet box added, I should have told him to just wire it back up like it had been. Howerver, the technician had removed the old unit, then told me he couldn't just wire up the new one directly like it had been done because that was a code violation. It didn't sound like he was offering me an option, it sounded like he was saying he couldn't finish this job without adding it. He charged $300 for that addition alone.
- The high pressure up-sell. Besides the extra work on the disposal, he told me my existing ice maker supply line was done incorrectly and was likely to leak, and that my toilet supply line had a cheap shutoff valve that would likely break and "flood the house". I fell for this and agreed to have him fix these. Once again, the price charged compared to the actual labor & parts was way high. Those two items added nearly $800 more.
- There's a "Same day service GUARANTEE or the labor is free" on the website. They don't honor this. The office manager told me it would be removed from the site. It's still there.
DO NOT USE MY PLUMBER!
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