In every industry there are great operators and some dishonest one. The plumbing industry is no different with its fair share of rogue plumbers. But what are some of the more common scams, or deceptive techniques that you should look out for?
This article aims to outline practices employed less than scrupulous plumbers in order to overcharge you.
Milking the clock: Since plumbers charge an hourly rate on most small jobs (Larger ones usually require a quote), it is an incentive for them to milk the clock and not complete your job in a timely fashion.
So how can you safeguard against this? Well the short answer is it’s never 100% possible to safeguard yourself against someone who is hell bent on adding on minutes. What you can do, is make a clear note of the time they start and write it down. This is because some companies may bill you later and have hours worked that don’t align with yours. By letting the plumber know you are wise to the time they start, and also noting the time they finish, then you are being subtle about putting them on notice that their company can not send you a bill for overcharging.
The other thing is to ask them politely in their experience, how long this sort of work usually takes. Try and get them to commit to something. Again, this is not foolproof, but they may feel embarrassed working on a job for 2 hours if they’ve told you it’s normally a one hour job.
Don’t Watch: Plumbers hate being watched like a hawk. They’ll never tell you to get lost, but they’ll be thinking it the whole time. So how do you keep an eye on what they are doing and if they are on task? Well, you can always have the odd sneaky look, but a good way is to pop in every 10 or 15 minutes with a question and use this as an excuse to check on progress. Offer them a glass of water, ask if the problem was easy to find, be creative but keep it genuine and then back off and allow them to work.
Driving for parts: A common scam is to get half way through a job and say that they need to go and get parts. All the while they will keep the clock running. They may take up to an hour to drive to the relevant plumbing supply store, and at a going rate of $100 an hour or thereabouts, it’s a pretty expensive cost for you.
This should set off alarm bells and is widely known in the industry as a scam. Yes ok there may be a rare occasion where a plumber legitimately has to go and get some pretty unique parts. But plumbers have well equipped vans these days. Ask them to turn off the clock, and make note of the time they leave and return.
If they refuse to stop the clock running, ask what the problem was, what part is required, then thank them for their services. You now can contact a more honest plumber to finish the job quickly. Yes the new plumber may charge a call out fee, but it wouldn’t be that different from paying the original operator to drive to the supply store.
The most important thing is to ensure that you are vigilant. Keep track of times they start and finish work, and make sure the clock has stopped before you decide to have a lengthy chat before they start work, or after they finish.