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Time to pay the Toll

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  • Time to pay the Toll

    This will probably bring continental divide to those who like me, those who hate me, but whoooooooooooooooo cares!


    Here it goes:


    There's an unlicensed plumber in my area that has ripped off, screwed, taken advantage of, pilfered and I'm sure I've missed a few along the way.


    Been in business for over 30 years, every year I've heard of people stating they'd never have that guy in their house again. How does one stay in business 30 years screwing people over? The state couldn't stop him, the 1000's of dissatisfied customers couldn't stop him, but dying sure has.

    He's ripped off old people, young people, grandmas, families with kids, always fixing the plumbing enough to get out the door with their money, never to return or return their money when it goes bad, again.


    About a month ago, I started getting a rash of calls mentioning this guy's name, stating that his phone numbers have been disconnected. Angry customers trying to get him to call back and wouldn't.


    Well, it turns out he has cancer of the liver from heavy drinking. I've been told, even though I've never seen them before personally that the two in business are extremely ragged looking, missing teeth and not the kind of person you invite over for christmas holiday cheer. One has a heart condition and the other has cancer.

    Apparently the fellow with cancer is the one who ran the show, and he's the one now employing me now that he's either dead or on his way.


    Fast forward to today:


    Customer calls me, a referral from a good friend of mine. It's a Moen 875 series faucet......we all know what's wrong; leaking down into the base, it's the backflow assembly leaking and I told her it's not worth replacing.

    Anyway, we got into discussion and mentioned the reason she called me was because she used this guy for years, and couldn't get a hold of him.


    She went on to glorify this guy on a pedestal, and I would chop the legs out underneath her statements for doing so. Told her that this guy has some select customers he took care of, but he has a tradition of ripping people off, badly.

    Aside from that, the state of Kentucky has got on him many times for operating without a license. He has only a driver's license, just like "Joe the Plumber".

    Anyway, she went on to tell me that he did a great job replacing her water heater, and knowing this guy's work, I gambled.


    I asked her if I could look at the install, and cautiously she said yes because the curiousity was killing her to see if I was making it up or not.


    Here's what I found:

    It was a "American" (cheap-*** junk) electric water heater

    Charged her $600 for the heater alone, that heater wasn't even $300

    Charged her $300 for labor, total $900 in total

    CODE VIOLATIONS:


    No T&P Drip Leg to floor
    Water heater supported by wood 2X2's
    Electric wiring into tank was too short, no romex connector, NO GROUND, hooked to a improper wall switch rated at 15 amps, not 20.

    A LEAK on the cold water inlet where this fool threaded the 3/4" FIP's onto the tank. Heating them up shortcutting setting up jigs is what melted that teflon and caused it to leak. There was a puddle of water in the depression of the tank, it had been leaking down the side of it and was drying before it hit the ground. Without a doubt, it was a leak that shouldn't be.

    Other than that, there is solder splatter everywhere on top of the tank, you can tell he was fighting water or just too damn stupid after 30 years to know how to solder without leaving dog nuts all over everything, not wiping joints or not contaminating them, and the water heater was grossly off level, not a care in the world to dress the job to act like you give a damn about your work.

    Of course, this woman was quite shocked to see the leak, that confirmed what I was stating for the record about this guy along with the serious issue of no ground to the tank, no romex connector and no T&P drip leg.

    I told her if the state of Kentucky came in and inspected this, it would instantly fail, more a electrical hazard issue than anything. A non-licensed plumber installed this.

    Here's where the blame lies:

    The plumbing supply house for selling to an unlicensed plumber/contractor. If they can't buy it, they can't install it. If a homeowner buys a water heater over the phone or in person, it should leave with a document stating WHICH LICENSED PLUMBER IS INSTALLING THE UNIT.

    If they say they're doing it themselves, have them sign a legal document that basically states you're going down hard if you're caught not installing the heater. Scare tactics do work on these.

    The homeowner for not checking out credentials of the person they let into their home to do work such as this. Homeowners deserve a lot of the ripping off sometimes just because they was too stupid to do their homework first. Stupid is when I ask them who did it, and they always say "Well, I don't know" or "Well I have to look for the receipt" and they either never find it or want to change the subject. FOOLS. Save your damn heartbreak story for Dr. Phil because if you're not going to address your mistakes, don't tell me your sob stories while I'm fixing yours. Comprende?


    All I can say is.........death fixes you for good.
    Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

  • #2
    Re: Time to pay the Toll

    Gotta admit, I felt the same way in a similar scenario about 15 years ago. Since then, I guess I gave up caring. There will be another just like him come along soon and the process will repeat itself.

    In the end, the consumer is the fool, and some would say that fools need to be protected by their government. It seems government never really has a profound effect on the trades, because we as tradesman fail to lobby as a body to stop the madness. Consequently, the cycle continues and madness prevails if you let it.

    Better to invest my energy in serving those who have learned this life lesson -- it's wise to stay away from the toothless guy.
    spodelee

    Until lions have their own storytellers, stories of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Time to pay the Toll

      Amen to that!~


      He had a pretty good grip on work in this area...only because he was cheap and people would take crap work in trade...and I'm the next "local" plumber that is well known in my area. This works out nice because I've been the only plumber in probably the history of my city to ever give so much to the community through my plumbing company and the the other two businesses I have.


      To some, that means something.
      Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Time to pay the Toll

        dunbar,

        i had an instructor at NAIT when i attended tradeschool during my apprentiship that had the same passion towards public safety and awareness regarding plumbing as you do.

        i was very fortunate to have bert as my therory instructor for all 4 years. like you, he sure knew his sh!t.

        you remind my of him.

        anyways, have you ever considered compiling a basic safety information booklet or pamphlet for your customers and/or mailbox stuffers?

        the reason i say this is because your obviously articulate, knowledgeable, and (com)passionate towards the trade (and people).

        a wise man once told me to to lower my expectations.

        i try to remember that whenever i deal with our local hack. it's gotten to the point that the customer doesn't even have to tell me who last touched it. i can just recognize his pitiful attempt to be like the people that frequent this forum, pro's that do give a sh!t. fortunately, nobody has been injured from his sh!tty attitude and even sh!ttier work habits, yet (he ish by far the sh!ttiest sherviceman to ever work on a really sh!tty sh!tter during the shpring and shummer. he don't leave the shop when it's too shunny or shnowing, let alone when its shtorming).

        i apprectiate your thoughts (as twisted as they are at times) and feel that you will a great benefit to modern plumbing practices. i'd vote for you if you ran for a interinational plumbing "safety code" council advisore. seriously.

        Vinsh

        i still say that we have to convince the insurance companies to put pressure on the governments to change the current trade related accountability practices, or lack there of.

        up here, the whole plumbing infastructure is breaking down because they, the government allows non-trades people to install/repair/replace without any accountibility.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Time to pay the Toll

          Here's the down side of dealing with his clientell.


          I took this lady at her word stating she was going to pay me for correcting her faucet problem that day, with her insinuating I'd be called to install a new faucet.


          No call, no contact. I'm calling the guy who referred me to her and let him know that something didn't go as planned.


          I could be wrong and she'll call this week, but it's been a while and I'm not going to chase what I was going to charge her for the repair. Too close to the home, came from a good referral and I give a full rate it'll start a ruckus.

          It's just that kind of call. I truly think some people don't care if others do "wrong" things. Maybe she got offended for pointing out this guy's mistakes, feeling sorry for him.

          You just never know....some people are just like that.
          Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Time to pay the Toll

            When I am dealing with customers I keep this in mind.

            If you can't complement your competition don't say anything.

            Dunbar, I am sure you have noticed that most people don't give a crap about code, the training/schooling or licensing. Honestly they just want hot water and want to know how much it will cost. They could really care less about a drip leg on a water heater even though it is important to plumbers.

            It's sad, I know.
            Anyone can tear a man down, few can build one up.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Time to pay the Toll

              Originally posted by Tyman View Post
              When I am dealing with customers I keep this in mind.

              If you can't complement your competition don't say anything.

              Dunbar, I am sure you have noticed that most people don't give a crap about code, the training/schooling or licensing. Honestly they just want hot water and want to know how much it will cost. They could really care less about a drip leg on a water heater even though it is important to plumbers.

              It's sad, I know.
              I'm working on that now.
              I'm starting to do a lot more talking to non-tradespeople so I'm noticing they have quicker "fade".
              So explanations are wayyy shorter for me to keep their attention span and the conversation moving quickly towards a resolution to the problem that brought me to their home.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Time to pay the Toll

                I am guilty of bad-mouthing my competition, even though I know it is wrong. I just can't help it sometimes when I go in behind them and see some of the horrendous repairs they have done.
                I know it amkes me look whiney and overly competitive, so one of my new years' resolutions is to stop it. I am not going to say anything at all about my competition and let my customers make up their own minds. It will be hard to hold my tongue when I see a water heater installed with no shut-off valve, no relief tube, and crooked leaky pipes, or when I go to cable a sewer and the homeowner shows me a hole in the ground with a busted hole in the top of the pipe and says, "there is the "cleanout" the last guy that was here installed."
                But I will try. Nobody likes a slanderer.
                Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

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                • #9
                  Re: Time to pay the Toll

                  Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
                  I am guilty of bad-mouthing my competition, even though I know it is wrong. I just can't help it sometimes when I go in behind them and see some of the horrendous repairs they have done.
                  I know it amkes me look whiney and overly competitive, so one of my new years' resolutions is to stop it. I am not going to say anything at all about my competition and let my customers make up their own minds. It will be hard to hold my tongue when I see a water heater installed with no shut-off valve, no relief tube, and crooked leaky pipes, or when I go to cable a sewer and the homeowner shows me a hole in the ground with a busted hole in the top of the pipe and says, "there is the "cleanout" the last guy that was here installed."
                  But I will try. Nobody likes a slanderer.
                  An admirable resolution for sure. Just remember that you can point out "atrocities" of the trade, just as long as you EDUCATE people how they will benefit by doing it the right way. If you always connect the benefit of correction to the crime, there is never a reason to bring up the perpetrator.
                  Last edited by spodelee; 12-26-2008, 03:46 AM.
                  spodelee

                  Until lions have their own storytellers, stories of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Time to pay the Toll

                    It always helps people when you tell them they were ripped off by your competition . Just keep your mouth shut, explain the violations and offer to fix them. Why bad mouth?

                    Bad mouthing is BAD BUSINESS PERIOD!

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