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  • #16
    Re: How much am I at fault?

    we use written waivers, ie excavating releases and a standard customer agreement form as well as on our invoices, well state that unforseen issues along with an explanation of what might occur is on the customer, unless of course we do something stupid and that does happen from time to time.

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    • #17
      Re: How much am I at fault?

      ace...i'd say only you know if you were "ham fisted with the snake". if you went at it like a bull in a china shop, you probably are somewhat responsible. i'd advise trying to mitigate the financial impact of the collateral damage in some way for the customer, provided you want to placate the customer. if its a customer you don't care about, put the blame on anyone other than yourself and realize that satisfied customers tell one or two people; dissatisfied customers tell everyone they meet and you can't please everyone all the time.
      there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

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      • #18
        Re: How much am I at fault?

        Originally posted by aero1 View Post
        disagree top dog a good part of what we do is to know a head of time potential problems that can occur that is called being a professional, you know as well as i do that if iam going to take on a second floor tub thru a face plate with a power or even hand held snake you bet your as# iam going to inform the homeowner of trap seals that could leak overflow gaskets that could be in bad shape or even nonexistent, what about cast iron or galvy ever poke a hole thru it, you have to inform who is in charge as to what may or may not happen that is called proper communication, as i learned the hard way from a lawyer that proved that once you touched it you own it and a judge agreed, i dont care what you say the bottom line is we are the pros even if you cant see it you have to know what might be waiting, there is no such thing is saying opps im sorry anymore, or gee i hit a wire with my sawzall cutting open your wall to repair a pipe didnt know it was there its a shame your house burned down, gray area is knowing what could happen and jumping in with out an upfront advisory conversation with your paying customer and covering yourself we do it all the time and guess what it works.
        Are you trying to say that you have a waiver for every possible scenario that you may run across in the plumbing field? Could you send me a copy of it so I can see how to word one that will cover my A** every time I go on a service call now that I know that I am responsible for there hidden problems?? I still have a problem that Alex is responsible to cover the damage because of faulty pipe that fell apart during a cleaning. A service tech should explain the possibilities that something may leak after the cleaning but I still find it hard to believe that one should have to cover the cost for a defective system because he did not have them sign off on a waiver. But then again I'm just a Plumber trying to make a living in this sue happy land of lawyers!! Thanks for the advice
        ________
        Jaguar R4 History
        Last edited by TOPDAWG; 02-24-2011, 06:10 PM.
        Mike

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        • #19
          Re: How much am I at fault?

          Originally posted by FINER9998 View Post
          ace...i'd say only you know if you were "ham fisted with the snake". if you went at it like a bull in a china shop, you probably are somewhat responsible. i'd advise trying to mitigate the financial impact of the collateral damage in some way for the customer, provided you want to placate the customer. if its a customer you don't care about, put the blame on anyone other than yourself and realize that satisfied customers tell one or two people; dissatisfied customers tell everyone they meet and you can't please everyone all the time.
          I would take the complementary approach, it isn't his fault that the pipe was glued incorrectly; so the customer should pay to fix that (shouldn't have to be have to be him if they don't want), but since he didn't clear the drain he shouldn't charge for the initial visit.

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          • #20
            Re: How much am I at fault?

            None. It sounds like you did everything correct. Drain cleaning is always done in good faith. You cannot possibly be responsible for what you cannot see (writen disclaimer or not). The fellow that trained me has had about 30 years experience doing nothing but drain cleaning. He spoke of numerous times when old CI would just give way and flood a downstairs room or apartment. The Customers would of course try to hold him liable, but never did it hold up in court/arbitration. Take this as an opportunity to fix the problem, which is an old system ready to give way. Be firm, fair and diplomatic.

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            • #21
              Re: How much am I at fault?

              Originally posted by TOPDAWG View Post
              Are you trying to say that you have a waiver for every possible scenario that you may run across in the plumbing field? Could you send me a copy of it so I can see how to word one that will cover my A** every time I go on a service call now that I know that I am responsible for there hidden problems?? I still have a problem that Alex is responsible to cover the damage because of faulty pipe that fell apart during a cleaning. A service tech should explain the possibilities that something may leak after the cleaning but I still find it hard to believe that one should have to cover the cost for a defective system because he did not have them sign off on a waiver. But then again I'm just a Plumber trying to make a living in this sue happy land of lawyers!! Thanks for the advice
              top dog good debate, i will pm you a disclaimer we have on our invoices, some time today let me know what you think.

              Comment


              • #22
                Re: How much am I at fault?

                Originally posted by cpw View Post
                I would take the complementary approach, it isn't his fault that the pipe was glued incorrectly; so the customer should pay to fix that (shouldn't have to be have to be him if they don't want), but since he didn't clear the drain he shouldn't charge for the initial visit.
                Actually, I did clear it....

                Thought I'd let you all know how the story came out.

                All parties involved were reasonable and understanding. Little if any finger pointing (the most came from me at myself), and actually got a pat on the back for staying with it that night and getting it to a point the guests upstairs could shower w/o causng damage.

                The sad part of the story; due to massive miscommunication the drywall got closed up over my band-aid repair before I could get a key to get back in and fix it right. We discussed it and the property manager's decision was that it might hold up, and to just leave it alone and see as he's out another drywall repair for sure if I open it up again now, and it may hold up anyway.

                The discussion about waivers and explanations etc is an interesting one to me. This is a classic situation where it is impractical to have the discussion. I am called by a management company, who are trying to solve a problem for their guests, and probably billing the homeowner who has no knowledge that there is even a problem. I am working on a clog in a piece of pipe that may well be owned by the H.O.A., not the homeowner, and potentially affecting another unit, with other guests, a different management company, and a different homeowner. There are at least 7 different parties potentially involved, and it is after 6pm on a Saturday night. Maybe I am hanging myself out there, but to make the calls to contact all those people over a plugged up tub, when I've had a problem like this maybe twice out of a few thousand clogs, just seems impractical. Even if I'd had to eat the whole thing and just charge for clearing the clog, I'd be close to the same amount of hassle as contacting, discussing, signing waivers, etc with all those parties.
                This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

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                • #23
                  Re: How much am I at fault?

                  Sounds like you handled the problem well . But you still might want to get back in there and take care of your bandaid repair if you can just tell the manager that you dont feel comfortable with what you have done dont want to be the guy responsible for the next time the drain needs snaked ending up with the same issue. Plus if no one is in the condo below if something happens with your bandaid repair could be a lot worse than it was this time.
                  If he still says to leave it be than i would have him sign something releasing you of any wrongdoing just in case.
                  Sad that we all have to keep protecting our asses like this but thats just the way things are done nowadays

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                  • #24
                    Re: How much am I at fault?

                    This happened to me today. I was called to a 50's era coal burner power plant for some backed up urinals. I pull an access panel and see that that two of the urinals are tied together and they were plumbed with 300 lb. galvanised fittings I can see the pipes are full of urinal salts, so I use my General Super Vee and I go about 6 foot, which puts me in the main. Both urinals are draining well. I start rebuilding toilet flushometers. one of the maintenance gets me and shows me a waterfall on the floor below. We investigate and discover the 4 X 2 cast iron tee is leaking pretty severely. I bust open the glaze block wall and cut out the bad tee and install a new one. I left them with all the toilets and one urinal working, which is one more than they had when I got there. I have to go back Monday and rough in the two waste arms, then get a mason to fix the wall. This will end up costing several thousand dollars. I already got 5 hours o.t. tonight. The bottpm of that tee was very thin, probably because of the the urine salts and all the draino chemicals they dump in the urinals. It was a shitty way to plumb it to start with, probably by pipefitters, it would back up forever until it was replumbed, which now it will be. I wasn't responsible and feel no guilt about it. It's more work for me.

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                    • #25
                      Re: How much am I at fault?

                      I disclose a waiver for existing plumbing on contracts/work orders...however...
                      Waiver or no waiver, you CANNOT be held responsible for every detail that goes wrong that isn't included in your scope/price.
                      I had a globe valve packing nut literally fall apart once when I turned it off under a sink as I looked to ensure it worked on an estimate..I had to RACE to the basement to shut down the water main.
                      I lucked out, the packing washer managed to stay in place and very little water got out, but had it leaked onto the ceiling below there is NO question I was not at fault.
                      The valves function is to open and close without failure, it could not function properly and that was not my fault.

                      Another customer, I'd done a tank rebuild for her, I mentioned to her that her shower valve was dripping at the stem and it could eventually become bad enough to get behind the wall and down the condo ceiling below, she insisted I just open it up and see if I couldn't just replace a washer or something while I was there...for free, I refused to touch it...the woman gave me a very bad vibe.
                      She called me 6 months later to tell me the neighbor had called to complain she had stains on her ceiling.
                      She then implied it was my fault for refusing to repair it when I was there because I was already working on her plumbing & it was my responsibility...claiming it was part of what she'd paid me to do.
                      I procured the invoice/work order & read it to her over the phone, then hung up.
                      I often wonder how far she'd have gotten if I hadn't written it up....

                      Drains have cleanouts to provide access for augers & snakes, when a drain in in such poor condition that a snake could rupture or dismantle it, it's not the responsibility of the drain cleaner to pay to replace the defective piping.

                      When a mechanic changes my power steering serpentine belt and discovers the bearings are gone on the pump, he doesn't pay for it..I do.

                      This topic is one of the biggest sources of anxiety for me in self employment and I think I'm not alone..I actually size up new customers over the phone with this in mind.

                      I've had 2 & 3 week stretches with very little work and STILL will turn away someone who raises a red flag by exuding a list of demands topped with expectations of low prices before they even say "hi" in many cases.

                      I hope Mark/Utah will respond, but the impression I get from experience is that a waiver would simply avert having to take the time to listen to a judge state this in court.

                      I play it safe to the point where I'm sure it actually costs me work, but I have to wonder if playing it safe hasn't saved me in the long haul.

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                      • #26
                        Re: How much am I at fault?

                        I explain to customers that plumbing is a mechanical system that they don't see or think about until there is a problem. And with it being mechanical, it is constantly expanding, contracting, & wearing. Because of this I can't be responsible for any incidentals as a result of repairs. Breakage that occurs while doing a repair can often be a required part of the process of the repair.

                        You may only be replacing the basket strainer, but the metal p-trap is going to fall apart, right?

                        J.C.

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