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  • so I went out...

    So I went out to an old customer who owns 8 hamburger stands. He's kind of a cheap skate. The men's and women's toilets at one of the hamburger stands was plugged up. They had a hack come out there and worked on it for 3 hrs and couldn't unplug it. So the hack tells the owner he needs a new sewer pipe. So then, I get called out there (it's an hour away from my normal work area and in a very bad part of town. I camera the line, rooter it and clear it. 3 hrs later and $347 all is good.

    Recommend Hydro Jetting the line @ $350.00. Customer hems and haws around for about 7 days and then says to go ahead and do it. Meanwhile, everything is fine...until I get there. I hydro jetted the line and everythings ok.

    5 days later, the customer calls me and says both men's and women's toilets are backed up. I go out there and camera the line, and hydro jet the line, and find like 30 paper towels in the toilet. (This is a transient area w/ many homeless people, that have been known to set the toilets on fire and flush clothing down the toilets, etc.) The owner thinks that my appearance and work this day should be for free. He informed me that most other plumbers give him a 30 day warranty on unplugging a drain.

    Am I outta line wanting to get paid another $350 for cameraing and hydrojetting the lines again? I can't control what goes down the toilets between one jetting job and another. The lines were open for 5 days w/ no problem, until some meathead flushed a bunch of paper towels down the toilet.

    I told the owner he should lose the paper towel dispenser and install a couple of air dryers.

    So I ask you....am I outta line....or should I be paid? So far I haven't been paid anything.

  • #2
    Re: so I went out...

    Gotta think from there point of view. He spends 697 bucks. I would've just did a quick rooter job for free,, and if i thought it was paper misuse tell him if it backs up again you will go out there and camera it. If it's paper towels again he pays again. Or could have told him something similar the first time you went back on the first call back. But cut him a little slack too.
    Good call on the dryers.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: so I went out...

      Hi Sewer Rat. I have read many of your posts and they have helped me out, so thank you. As for the above story.......I too give a warranty, but it bars foreign objects. Paper towels in the sewer line definitely qualify as foreign objects in my book. If he does not believe that the drain was cleaned in the first place, just have him stand there when you camera, or give him a recording of the video. It a bit extra work but better than 2 hours driving time plus however long the cleaning took for free. If he is a good customer (repeats, referrals, etc.) maybe you can just take this one as a lesson and be extra cautious with this guy next time. If he is not a good customer then the hell with him. Hope this helps?

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      • #4
        Re: so I went out...

        Without being funny,Just what do you think about this?


        What ever you think you might be right.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: so I went out...

          I was told by one in the industry that the purpose of giving a warranty on drainwork was so that you would be the one they called if there was another problem. If I warranty a drain, it is for 1 (specified on the invoice) return trip and clearing. If I haven't camera'd the line before, I recommend camera work to see why this problem is re-occurring so soon. This is an extra charge. Once you camera the line, you either find a problem or not. If there's problem(belly, break, etc.) that he's not interested in fixing, then there will never be another warranty or free cleaning again! It's bound to happen soon. In his case, of what I call an 'event', someone causing his backups, I don't think I would warranty that. Now you know there isn't anything wrong with his line; it should't backup under normal use. To be honest, it sounds like you might be pulling teeth trying to collect both payments (going to small claims court); not because you don't deserve it, but based on your description, I doubt the guy has the money OR he doesn't feel he should give that much to you. This is why he calls the "hack" in the first place. If his buddy can get it going for $60, why waste money on a plumber? So, do you push the issue? Do you really value him as a customer? Does he really value your service and equipment? I'm getting to the point myself where a loss may not be such a loss...

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: so I went out...

            If it was for something that was my fault i would take care of it
            If a guy runs out of toilet paper & towels get flushed..Thats not my problem, thats a new problem
            I would go easy on him, but i would want to be paid

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            • #7
              Re: so I went out...

              Callbacks that come weeks later I will do for free no matter what. They are VERY small percentage wise and just another part of doing business.

              Some people just don't understand and I like to "keep the peace"
              Last edited by AssTyme; 01-19-2013, 10:34 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: so I went out...

                If I repair a broken window ,and next week a VANDAL Breaks it again, I charge again ! He doesn't have a drain problem ,He has a vandal problem ! I walked into a park rest room Years ago,and this is what I found. A homeless Man, undressed, doing a bath from the sink ,Paper towels everywhere ! This is Probably Your customer's situation, If You want to run a day care ,You'll have to file for an additional Calif. License . Hope Your taking pictures of the catch of the day! Now go collect Your Money,or Mom and I will be disappointed !
                Last edited by toolaholic; 01-19-2013, 04:25 PM.
                I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: so I went out...

                  When I video and jet, there is a before and after video. It shows the problems, and the results, finished job.

                  When you returned , you should have been able to send him a cell phone picture of the condition of his bathrooms. At that point, with a phone call, you would know where you both stand.

                  If it wasn't so far or involved, I would eat it. But in this case, not. You could also take it out in food credit that he can easily absorb.

                  Rick.
                  phoebe it is

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: so I went out...

                    Thanks guys for the replies I've received. There was some good comments there.

                    One thing I neglected to mention...one of the employees that was working the 2nd time I went back to the Hamburger stand... said the toilets are ALWAYS getting plugged up, either by vandalism or homeless people sneaking in to bathe.

                    I didn't see any bellys or misalignments on my camera.

                    Since I haven't heard from the owner yet, I'm not sure what I'm gonna do at this point.

                    Keep your comments coming; they're much appreciated.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: so I went out...

                      Are the bathrooms open or do you need a token to get in?

                      Removing the paper towels will definitely save money and maintenance.

                      You need to discuss all this with the owner. He'll appreciate your money saving ideas.

                      Rick.
                      phoebe it is

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: so I went out...

                        This must be a bad area! Not sure of the law when it comes to locking bathrooms and not allowing people to use them. Gas stations do it.. Of course, if a homeless guy buys a coke and is a "customer" that can use your bathroom, who's to say he doesn't plan on camping out or giving himself a makeover in there.. Went into an ice cream parlour at a strip mall near home. Owner asks me if I can disable his drinking fountain in the back near the restrooms. He wants it "out of order" even though it was installed per code. I asked why. He said that local teens and skate punks that hang out in the parking lot come into his store to(not buy ice cream) get a drink from the fountain or use the bathroom. This area of the store is out of view from the front via a short hallway. So, while he's serving a 6 year old girl and her mother ice cream, these kids walk by the counter to the back. Then, he goes back there and catches them doing all kinds of "kid"stuff- smoking pot, huffing glue, and one time he said one kid was spraying some kind of aerosol in the other kids face in an effort to... This goes on just feet from where he sells ice cream to families and kids. He said he had no idea where the water supply valve that fed the fountain was. "Got a screwdriver?" I pulled the cover off and shut off the 5/8" X 3/8" angle stop to the fountain. Re-installed the cover, and it's out of order. He was thrilled. Free ice cream for me. Perhaps vandals and bad behavior are harder to fix than plumbing..

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: so I went out...

                          I treat call backs with as much respect as paying calls if not more.
                          If you treat these (cheapskates) with respect and play straight shooter with them, and if you cut them slack when you can, (like after they pay you $700), they may give up dealing with hacks and go with you. Maybe not today or tomorrow. But we will scare them away if we play hardball. My goal is to not tick them off enough as to let pride not to allow them to call me again. I have many customers who call me back years latter.
                          Thanks for letting me share.

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                          • #14
                            Re: so I went out...

                            My competitor explains it like this. NO WARRANTY ON TOOL WORK. Only installed parts get a warranty.

                            It's drain cleaning, not a buffet. If he allows it to be abused, then how's that your problem?

                            You both know he's cheap, but when do you put your foot down to people who want to take advantage of you because they love their money and want you to subsidize their poor management?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: so I went out...

                              Rick...no the Hamburger stand doesn't have coin tokens or self locking doors.

                              OK folks...here's the update.

                              Spoke to the owner today. I recommended removing the paper towels again, and replacing w/ electric hand dryers. Also suggested he move to self locking doors. We talked about the recent bill, and he said he doesn't hold me responsible in any way. He wondered if I could give him a break and take a little off the last invoice. I said I'd knock off $100.00. He was very happy, called me a real gentleman...and said he thought that the hand dryers and self locking doors would help the restaurant's problem w/ restroom abusers.

                              Happy customer...happy plumber. Thanks everyone for your replies and letting me see this from a variety of angles.

                              p.s. Off the subject...heard from two different plumber friends that have had their trucks stolen. One from Home Depot and one from an apartment building where he was doing a job. Scares the hell out of me.

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