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  • Liability waiver?

    Does anyone use a liability waiver or "Hold Harmless" waiver?

    I always make it clear to homeowners that my cam could get stuck and if so there would be a cost associated in getting it out/repairing the pipe. In some cases where I have a feeling this may be a strong possibility I have them sign a waiver acknowledging this. It's not a big deal as long as the homeowner knows the risks going in and agrees to my terms. I'm doing the inspection because there is already an issue anyway.

    To clarify, what has happened to me a couple times already is that my cam will drop into a rotted out channel of cast iron pipe which will then get pinched/wedged and can't be retrieved.

    BUT, what if you're doing an inspection on a home for a potential buyer and the seller of the property is unable to be reached the day of the inspection (they lived out of state, probate situation).

    I'll explain a recent job:
    Went to a 80-90 year old house which already had a cast iron stack replaced and at least 2 spots where the floor and been broke out for pipe replacement, so my eyebrows are raised already thinking there is a STRONG possibility of more rotted cast iron that I could encounter in the course of my inspection.

    So I drew up my waiver with warnings of the potential risk and had the buyer sign it. The waiver just stated the risk and that there may be a cost associated in retrieving my equipment if the worst case scenario were to happen. They were reluctant to sign but eventually did & I really don't know how much protection this would have legally given me and thank god everything went smoothly...this time.

    So how should this situation be handled? Explaining this situation and having them sign the waiver nearly costs you the job but you also can't afford to leave $5k worth of equipment on the job either. I'm only getting $200 for this inspection so I don't wanna be responsible for the cost of retrieving the cam/pipe repair either.

  • #2
    In my area no waiver = you pay to excavate 8' deep to retrieve what ever is stuck, you pay for a back hoe, you pay for a new pipe, you pay for a new lawn, you pay a new asphalt driveway, you pay for a new camera or drain cable etc. You get stuck under the slab in their house you pay for the renos.

    I'm not going lose my shirt to make 200$ - expenses to make 75$ in profit. I'm a business not a run me over type of guy. I lose 10+ jobs every week because they think it's expensive, it cherry picks good customers that usually pay and are mentally sane and reasonable.

    Don't say they may have fees, you must write they assume all fees because that leave it into interpretation. The judge will decide what he thinks is reasonable.

    I rarely do jobs when the customer is absent, can of worms. If the wife/grandma is there she signs and the contract is between me and her. You have to tell them that.

    Comment


    • MainDrain
      MainDrain commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for commenting but could you clarify. The way you wrote the sentence I'm not sure exactly who "you" is.
      Are you saying if you don't use a waiver that you (the drain service company) would have to pay everything OR are you saying "you" the customer pay everything?

      So do you always use a waiver or not? It wasn't clear.
      In my opinion mentally sane would mean they understand there is a problem with their piping and they would assume responsibility and oay to have it repaired but we all know that is not always the case.

      Majority of my jobs the owner is present but when I do these inspections for realtors or potential buyers this is the grey area I am asking about.

  • #3
    I have to ask:

    If a doctor screws up and takes out your gall bladder when it should have been your appendix who pays; the patient ?

    If a car mechanic takes you car out for a test drive and wrecks your car is the owner at fault?

    If I'm plowing your driveway covered with 2 feet of snow and I run over your lawn jockey and some shrubs who pays to replace them; me or the home owner?

    If I'm working on your roof and drop my hammer and it smashes a skylight or bounces off the roof and hits your kid in the head can I ask the HO to pay for the replacement window or should they foot the hospital bill for the injured child?

    In all those cases the business owner pays, either out of pocket or their insurance pays.

    If you have a new hire working for you (in any trade, not just drain cleaning) and they're learning the ropes and you go out to the truck to get a tool or have a smoke and while you're gone and they are unsupervised your newbie takes some initiative and breaks something or otherwise screws up whose at fault; the HO?

    Why is drain cleaning any different?

    Does the HO get to inspect your equipment (or have someone else inspect it, or see an inspection report from an independent third party) and verify your gear is in top working condition BEFORE you start work or do they just take their chances that the cable wasn't 500 revolutions away from breaking or the camera isn't hanging by a thread and it just happened to break in their drain so they (the HO) are somehow responsible.

    In my opinion:

    Any business needs insurance to protect itself against such incidents. Get insurance and charge enough to cover those times when things go wrong. If I was the HO and was pressured into signing such a waiver or anything in the repair order that put the blame on me for your work then I would be first getting a lawyer (regardless of if I signed that contract or not) and second I'd be telling (truthfully) anyone who asked how the job went down and what I thought of the contractor. I wouldn't be going around broadcasting what happened, but if I was asked I would be within my rights to tell the truth about what occurred. And just as good customer reports can grow your business so can negative reports kill your business. And one of these would certainly wipe out a bunch of attaboys.

    Making someone sign such a waiver is a gamble on your part. A gamble that nothing goes wrong and you then force the HO to pay for something they only watched happen, and had no control over the outcome. The payoff to this gamble is when nothing happens and you don't have to enforce the waiver, not when something goes wrong and you force the HO to pay for the repair.
    "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006

    https://www.youtube.com/user/PowerToolInstitute

    ----

    Comment


    • #4
      Originally posted by Bob D. View Post
      I have to ask:

      If a doctor screws up and takes out your gall bladder when it should have been your appendix who pays; the patient ?

      If a car mechanic takes you car out for a test drive and wrecks your car is the owner at fault?

      If I'm plowing your driveway covered with 2 feet of snow and I run over your lawn jockey and some shrubs who pays to replace them; me or the home owner?

      If I'm working on your roof and drop my hammer and it smashes a skylight or bounces off the roof and hits your kid in the head can I ask the HO to pay for the replacement window or should they foot the hospital bill for the injured child?

      In all those cases the business owner pays, either out of pocket or their insurance pays.

      If you have a new hire working for you (in any trade, not just drain cleaning) and they're learning the ropes and you go out to the truck to get a tool or have a smoke and while you're gone and they are unsupervised your newbie takes some initiative and breaks something or otherwise screws up whose at fault; the HO?

      Why is drain cleaning any different?

      Does the HO get to inspect your equipment (or have someone else inspect it, or see an inspection report from an independent third party) and verify your gear is in top working condition BEFORE you start work or do they just take their chances that the cable wasn't 500 revolutions away from breaking or the camera isn't hanging by a thread and it just happened to break in their drain so they (the HO) are somehow responsible.

      In my opinion:

      Any business needs insurance to protect itself against such incidents. Get insurance and charge enough to cover those times when things go wrong. If I was the HO and was pressured into signing such a waiver or anything in the repair order that put the blame on me for your work then I would be first getting a lawyer (regardless of if I signed that contract or not) and second I'd be telling (truthfully) anyone who asked how the job went down and what I thought of the contractor. I wouldn't be going around broadcasting what happened, but if I was asked I would be within my rights to tell the truth about what occurred. And just as good customer reports can grow your business so can negative reports kill your business. And one of these would certainly wipe out a bunch of attaboys.

      Making someone sign such a waiver is a gamble on your part. A gamble that nothing goes wrong and you then force the HO to pay for something they only watched happen, and had no control over the outcome. The payoff to this gamble is when nothing happens and you don't have to enforce the waiver, not when something goes wrong and you force the HO to pay for the repair.

      Basically what I highlighted in red, let's say their main pipe under the lawn 8 feet below ground is broken and split and your drain cable gets caught and impossible to retrieve it you are telling me you will do all I said in the previous post, dig, new pipe, new lawn for free? Your insurance is going to reimburse all the fees every single time you get snagged and you need to retrieve it. I don't think so. Maybe once if your'e lucky but I doubt it, they have clauses to void any claim and the second claim they'll drop you and tell every other insurance.

      Then you said charge enough, hmmm add 1000$ for every main drain you need to unclog to pay the eventual need of a backhoe, new pipe and new lawn?
      Last edited by Pro Service; 06-10-2019, 03:25 PM.

      Comment


      • #5
        MainDrain commented
        Today, 11:56 AM
        Thanks for commenting but could you clarify. The way you wrote the sentence I'm not sure exactly who "you" is.
        Are you saying if you don't use a waiver that you (the drain service company) would have to pay everything OR are you saying "you" the customer pay everything?

        So do you always use a waiver or not? It wasn't clear.
        In my opinion mentally sane would mean they understand there is a problem with their piping and they would assume responsibility and oay to have it repaired but we all know that is not always the case.

        Majority of my jobs the owner is present but when I do these inspections for realtors or potential buyers this is the grey area I am asking about.
        Ok this is for my area. If you don't have a waiver the customer could sue and the judge may make you the drain cleaner pay for everything. Then they can also file a complaint and you will have a HUGE fine because you didn't tell them of the possible outcome and fees associated to retrieve your snake or camera. That's why I have them sign before I do any work. Just a verbal warning good luck proving you said so.

        I don't have them sign a waiver for unclogging kitchen lines. I do make them sign a waiver for 3" toilet lines and 4". I don't drain clean from the house to the street. I'm not buying them a new pipe because they have roots and I got stuck.


        Mentally sane, I get so many calls from cheap and or crazy people it's a horror show. Some turn into monsters when they get the bill even though you told them the hourly rate 2-3 times and you told them the expected time it should take and you told them the aprox amount.

        Example : one guy this morning thought I was going to unclog his main line, inspect all the plumbing, drain clean sinks and more because he asked a FREE ESTIMATE!! He thought a free estimate came with free work!! Then last week a guy went completely berserk because I said I wasn't going to locate a mystery leak at his house for free. I blocked his number and this weekend he left a voice mail looking for a plumber. He probably called everyone in the city.

        Last story : a woman called Sunday morning at 9:30 to redo the exterior french drain and foundation membrane. She thought it was less than 200$ WTF??? A french drain job is minimum 10 000$.
        Last edited by Pro Service; 06-10-2019, 03:51 PM.

        Comment


        • MainDrain
          MainDrain commented
          Editing a comment
          Had one where my cable got stuck and I told the guy it would be $2500 to dig up outside and install new pipe from house to sidewalk. He wasn't happy so he called another company who kinked one of my sectional eel cables by doubling it over and broke a second cable that was sticking out of the clean out. Long story short he paid them $3k and all they did was install an outside clean out at the house.

          The problem...someone had previously installed an outside clean out (which the new homeowner knew nothing about) in the clay sewer by punching a hole in the clay tiles and resting the vertical riser on the now broken horizontal lateral line and then back filling. So, that rigged clean out had finally slipped and fallen into the lateral which is what my snake was caught on...and this was my fault (Bob)??

          The other company told him it wasn't my fault and called me to retrieve (what was left of) my cable.

          I ended up charging him a drain cleaning charge and $100 for my cables. He refused to pay my cam/locate fee. He was crying broke and said he was gonna dig it up himself so I located it and found that it actually crossed and left the basement on the opposite wall than what we had thought. Would have been pretty funny if he dug it up on the wrong side of the house...LOL.

      • #6
        Looks like I've opened a can of worms here.

        I'm sure I can come up with a few witty examples as well:

        When the ER doctor can't save a gunshot victim does he pay the life insurance policy or take care of the mans family for the rest of their lives?

        If you hit a pot hole and blow out your tires is the city gonna replace your tires or pay for your suspension because they refuse to repave the roads annually?

        If you stick your hand in the snowblower or lawnmower while the blades are moving is it the manufacturer responsibility if you come up a few digits short?

        Why should the drain service have to pay for a pipe that began rotting out the day it was installed? Often they take years of abuse such as grease or how often have you come across a line that has no pitch or back pitched that led to premature failure? Those things are the drain company's fault?

        You think that after 75 years of cast iron gradually decaying that the drain service should pay for someones drains to be re piped? And I suppose I should remodel the basement too because the asbestos tiles that can't be replaced are my fault too?

        If I made a couple of $10k+ claims like that I wouldn't be able to find insurance...and yes I am insured.

        I know of multiple companies that make the homeowner sign a disclaimer before they snake any drain. I don't do this but if I see signs in an old house that multiple repairs have already been done this is when I bring it to the attention of the homeowner and may have them sign a waiver acknowledging there is potential for a problem. I stand behind that and think its smart business. The only reason I asked the question in my original post was because the owner was not available and I didn't want to bail on the customer who set the job up a week in advance. As I said in this case I don't know if the waiver would have even made a difference since I wasn't dealing with the owner but I wanted it in writing that the customer who hired me was notified of a potential issue.

        I've been at this a long time and nine times out of ten the homeowner acknowledges the problem and pays for the repair. Often times their homeowners insurance will pay for the majority of the repair which is the way it should be. Usually its not the first time there has been an issue and they've been forewarned that eventually pipe will need to be replaced.

        I thank you for your opinion and I've stated mine so lets leave it at that and not turn this into a two man debate thread.
        Last edited by MainDrain; 06-10-2019, 04:00 PM.

        Comment


        • #7
          @MainDrain Here read this post, and then read the entire thing. It was the same debate.

          https://www.ridgidforum.com/forum/me...121#post736121

          Comment


          • MainDrain
            MainDrain commented
            Editing a comment
            Good read. Thanks.

            Particularly this post:
            https://www.ridgidforum.com/forum/me...335#post736335

            In that post Bob D agrees that informing customer of a potential problem and they will be responsible for dig up costs if equipment gets stuck is fair
            Pretty funny, that is exactly what THIS post is about...kind of a DB internet troll move just trying to stir up trouble with his post above i guess.
            Last edited by MainDrain; 06-11-2019, 03:04 PM.

        • #8
          @MainDrain you should quote me instead so I can put a like to your comments.

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