Regardless of where you live, at some point everyone will experience plumbing problems and will need to call a plumber to fix them. A phone call to a plumber, can result in you getting swindled, which is why it is essential to inform yourself on their process. We’ve created a list of the seven biggest plumbing scams that people in Tampa, FL have encountered. Scams like these can exist anywhere though. Regardless of where you live, this article is a great start to educating yourself before you are entangled in a costly mess. Bear in mind that most plumbers are good, hardworking people, but it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the bunch.
This is one of the most common issues with plumbers. They often offer free estimates, but those estimates never match the final bill. It is always a good idea to get at least three estimates from reputable plumbers (ones that are insured), unless of course if you find yourself in an emergency situation that cannot wait. Inaccurate estimates are an easy way a plumber is going to get more money out of you. Once they have started the work, it is not likely that you will ask them to stop. A good way to avoid surprise costs, is to get a detailed quote with a cap on the labor fees. This way you will know exactly what you are getting and what you are paying for.
Bait and Switch
If you are paying for expensive appliances (e.g., hot water heaters), you need to make sure that you really are getting the appliance you are paying for. Frequently, plumbers will use refurbished appliances instead of new or never used ones. Also, make sure they are not going to take out any of your expensive appliances that are good and replace them with cheaper appliances. This is more common with ranges and microwave sets. Another tip is to compare prices of the materials to make sure you are paying the correct price. Do keep in mind that you will have a slight markup to cover overhead and operating expenses of the plumber.
High Cost for First Hour of Labor
Standard hourly visits are expensive for the first hour of labor. Once you get the plumber there, make sure that you are making the most of their time. Be sure they are not talking on the phone or having side conversations. If they do these things, see to it that they deduct it from the time. If you are paying for an hour of their time no matter what, utilize the remaining time to ask them about any other plumbing issues you may have in your home.
Markups in Expensive Neighborhoods
This trick is very biased and unfair, but it does happen. If you live in an expensive neighborhood, you may be quoted a higher rate than if you lived in a less expensive neighborhood. It is all about perception because the plumber sees that you can afford nice things, so they feel you should pay a top tier rate for their services, even though they are the same from home-to-home. In order to make sure that the plumber is not going to raise the price of their work just because of where you live, call around and get quotes from plumbers that are not specifically in your hometown. Remove any travel fees from your quote, if you do use these plumbers.
Yes, a common scam is theft. A plumber may be informing you they are coming into your home to repair the leak, when in fact, they are just coming into your home to steal things. Plumbers are often unsupervised and left alone for the duration of their work, which makes it very easy for them to scope out the home for valuables. This is a very common matter when they are called into apartment buildings. Beware of unsolicited plumbers that show up at your door, claiming to be with the water department. Call the water department and make sure they should be there before letting them into your home. You should never let any contractor into your home without first verifying their identity.