Electrician scam or honest mistake?

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Old 03-04-17, 08:24 PM
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Electrician scam or honest mistake?

Hi All, I own a house built in 1955 in Cobb County, Georgia and here is my electrician scam story: A tree branch fell, hit the power line, and canted the electrical mast on my roof.

I paid for an electrical inspection. The electricians came to my house and just glanced at the canted electrical mast and said it could not be rewired the same way because of code. They pointed to my neighbor’s house to show me how it needed to be rewired. The neighbors have their electrical mast going up the side of the house. My electrical mast comes in through the roof and into the attic.

The electricians also came inside my house and looked at my circuit breaker panel. The electricians said that my circuit breaker panel in the stairway was not up to code because it was in the stairway and that I needed a second grounding rod added to be up to code. When they gave me my estimate of $6,000 they asked if I wanted to put it on my credit card. I responded no and told them I would file a homeowner’s insurance claim because of the large estimate.

My insurance company said that they would only give me $900 for the electrical mast repair and that the electrical company doing the repairs need to say which electrical codes are required to get the house up to code. I called the electrician company a couple of times and asked what the codes are and they said electrical code are not always black and white and hard to understand. The electrician company asks me how I would pay for it and I said again, if insurance doesn’t pay for it, it’s not going to happen.

I got an email/second quote from the electrician company stating that, “…since work doesn’t have to be done inside the house, only the electrical mast has to be moved and a kill switch added to the side of the house totaling $2200.” I called the electrician company again and asked why the work inside didn’t have to be done and what the required codes were to move the electrical mast. Again, they would not give me a straight answer.

At this point, you are probably thinking, “What an idiot!” I sure felt like an idiot trusting an electrician company with 4 star plus reviews. Well, the story continues….

I called a second electrician company for a paid inspection. Their electricians got on my roof and crawled in my attic and said it could be repaired as-is and that the house only needed a couple of minor repairs. They even saw that the wiring from the transformer to the mast was damaged so they contacted Cobb County. Since the wires are the county’s responsibility, that wiring was repaired at no cost to me. I ultimately chose the second company to do all the necessary repairs for less than $1,000.

I went online and filled out as many reviews as possible for the first company. I even called the main office and asked to speak to the top manager. I finally got a called from the owner. He asked me what he could do to rectify the situation. I asked for $1500 in compensation and specifically for this amount to be taken from the electrician and the manager that tried to scam me for a couple of thousand dollars. He said he will get with his employees to get their perspective and get back with me.

What do you think will happen?
 

Last edited by PJmax; 03-04-17 at 08:34 PM. Reason: reformatted text
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Old 03-04-17, 08:37 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

A rather long story there and extremely tough to read as one long paragraph.

It sounds like the un-fused power was going directly into your attic.
If the mast goes into the attic.... where is the meter ?

For the most part.... only 5-6 feet of un-fused service is allowed inside a residence. You have conduit which does change that to a certain extent.
 
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Old 03-04-17, 09:08 PM
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The power goes from the transformer to electrical mast, into attic to meter on side of house. It looks to be less than 6 feet from electrical mast to meter. Than meter to circuit breaker panel. The electrician pulled a permit and the work was inspected by the county.
 
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Old 03-04-17, 09:21 PM
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Different wiring methods are done in different parts of the US. Depending on how the house is built, the locations of windows, and where the overhead wires go will depend on how the service wires can be done. In MN, where I live, the meter is connected to the outside of the house and the mast will run up the side of the house. If the mast will go through the roof overhang, which is allowed, it is run with IMC. If it only runs up the side wall it is run with EMT.

At one time the mast was run inside a wall of a house. This is no longer done and is not allowed by code. Any new work/repairs done needs to follow current code. Any existing work is grandfathered in under the code when it was installed.

While I do not think that they were trying to "scam" you because they were correct, your existing service does not meet current code. I do believe they were "suggestive selling" to get you to spend more money. I do feel this is still dishonest and deserve the poor reviews, but I do not feel they owe you any more money then what you gave to them for their "inspection".
 
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Old 03-04-17, 09:36 PM
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I'm confused. The way I read the story is that the first company did no work other than giving a scope of needed work and a price. When the owner balked they came back with a reduced price at which the owner still balked. The owner then had a second company come, give a scope of work and price which the owner accepted, having the second company do the work.

I fail to see where the first company owes the owner ANY recompense. Even if the first company had charged for their scope of work and price estimate it was a charge for work actually performed.

I will agree that PERHAPS the first company was initially trying to oversell the job, a complete new service rather than a repair of the existing service, but that alone does NOT put them on the hook for subsequent monetary damages, especially when a different company eventually performed the necessary work.
 
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Old 03-04-17, 09:49 PM
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I want to clarify my original post: I am upset that I ended up filing an insurance claim based on the information I was given by the first electrician company, which I wholeheartedly believed was work that ABSOLUTELY needed to be done. I was under the impression that if all the work they'd quoted me for wasn't done, then I would not pass inspection when the county was supposed to come out and inspect the work. If I was given the proper information in the first place, I would not have filed an insurance claim, would have paid for the expense out-of-pocket, and made sure that my insurance rates did not go up for the next several years.

The second company informed me that none of the wires in my house/property were damaged and that the only damage present was with the electrical mast supports.

I am angry about the fact that the first company tried to con me out of a couple thousand dollars using misleading information and scare tactics.
 
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Old 03-04-17, 11:46 PM
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So you are asking them to pay you a $1500.00 settlement because you didn't like their sales technique. Did you pay them any money upfront? Like for the inspection? If you did, I would say that a refund of the inspection could be considered reasonable. If you are asking more than I think you are pushing it. If you think they purposely were trying to scam you then report them to the Consumer protection agency in your state. They really didn't do you any harm. Leave bad reviews but more than that I think you are pushing it.

skeeter
 
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Old 03-05-17, 12:13 AM
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Your rates should not go up based on a claim like that.
Plus... you have the option of paying out of pocket and not having the insurance company pay for it. Discuss that option with your agent.
 
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Old 03-05-17, 12:23 AM
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My insurance company doesn't raise the rates unless I am an excessive user of the insurance. I've never filed a claim but have asked about it and they say at a minimum I get one claim gratis no matter the amount. If I start nickel and dimeing them they'll increase the rate. I do have a $1000 deductible not sure if that matters.

How much did yours go up? Or how much did they say it's going up?
 
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Old 03-05-17, 04:05 AM
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I am also having a difficult time understanding how the mast goes through the attic and ending up on the side of the house at a meter location. That would mean not only going through the attic, but from there down the wall to the lower level, then exiting to the meter base. Just for clarification can you post a picture or two of this set up. I am curious. Is your electric service from Cobb County, or through Georgia Power Company?? If the first company did not work, you have no basis for a claim against them. You're spitting in the wind.
 
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Old 03-05-17, 05:12 AM
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Where was the original "Tree Damage" relative to the Electric Meter ?

I ask because here in Vermont, the Utility is responsible for getting power to the Meter, and the HomeOwner is responsible for all of the cabling thereafter.

That means that our power companies (of which there are still 26 or thereabouts) are responsible for getting electricity from the transformer to the Mast and all cabling, drip-loops, and stand-offs down to the Meter , , , , and that includes maintenance of the Mast.

I've had to avail myself of these maintenance services several times when snow and ice has damaged the Mast or "Drip Loop" in the cable coming from the Transformer to my Barn or to my House.

I've never needed to call a private electric contractor to get involved in repairs necessary in those areas upstream from the Meter. That certainly minimizes the number of cooks in the Kitchen. It sounds like that isn't the way things are organized in Georgia ?
 
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Old 03-05-17, 05:18 AM
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Locally we are responsible for everything past and including the weather head, the power company is responsible for everything before the weather head.
 
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Old 03-05-17, 05:38 AM
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Mark's right. We are responsible for everything to the drip loop they install when connecting the power. I"ve just never seen a mast in an attic, and I have worked on a bunch of older homes in Georgia.
 
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Old 03-05-17, 05:46 AM
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While I can not help with electrical or code advice, I also think asking for anything beyond the inspection/quote fee is not going to get you the money. I understand your frustration but;
1) you should only ask for the amount you paid them (inspection fees etc),
2) if the 2nd company charged you $1000 I cant see that you needed to file an insurance claim on that as there is normally $1000 deductible on homeowners ins anyway. They probably wouldn't have paid anything any way. If you had a $250 or $500 deductible, it was still your decision to file a claim. My question is, did you in fact file a claim on the insurance or, did you just place the call & ask questions. If you didn't file an actual claim that the ins company needs to, or will pay, there is no claim & your ins plays no part in this, whether payments, ins increases or refunds from the electrical contractor.

In the end, its not my intent to come across rude with my reply. I am just merely trying to answer your question & explain why.

Chandler, my understanding is that the mass goes through the roof at the eve or over hang of the roof. In other words, if the homes roof has a 2 ft over hang/eve, the mass goes into the roof at the eve/overhang into the attic, then out the eve right at the exterior wall & down the exterior wall to the meter.
This is the way I am understanding the situation.
 
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Old 03-05-17, 05:52 AM
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I have to agree with the take that Furd gave (post #5). No one twisted your arm to use or believe the first company. The onus is on you to get at least two quotes prior to contacting your insurance company. The first company owes you nothing. I hope you don't buy a car from the first sales pitch that they throw at you.
 
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Old 03-05-17, 06:03 AM
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Chandler, my understanding is that the mass goes through the roof at the eve or over hang of the roof. In other words, if the homes roof has a 2 ft over hang/eve, the mass goes into the roof at the eve/overhang into the attic, then out the eve right at the exterior wall & down the exterior wall to the meter.
I read it a bit differently. In my area, with older homes it was common to place the meter socket in the exterior wall stud space and box around it before sheathing or siding was applied. This then has the mast going through the stud space, exiting the top plate and subsequently through the roof. It keeps the conduit from the meter to the mast hidden inside the wall, a bit more aesthetically appealing that surface-mounted conduit. The mast through the roof may be really short or extended about 18 to 24 inches above the roof.


To the original poster: THIS is why it is recommended that a person get at least three estimates for a job prior to awarding a contract. It is especially important when the work being done must meet certain standards (codes) and the homeowner has little knowledge of the standards. Your first red flag would have been the estimator's reluctance to discuss the relevant standards with you or to discuss what, if any, options you might have. Then again, if you simply told him (her) that you wanted it brought back to "A number one condition" then the first estimate was probably correct.

However, if you had asked what is the least cost option they probably would have done exactly what the second company quoted and did.
 
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Old 03-05-17, 08:33 AM
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I paid for an electrical inspection.
First sentence in the OP's second paragraph. I was under the impression the OP paid for the electrical contractor to come out a give a price for the repair. I could see demanding a refund for that, if a payment was made. Beyond that IMO no other compensation is warranted.
 
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Old 03-05-17, 05:32 PM
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Hi All,
I did pay for the inspection ($49). The electricians didn't go in my attic or climb up on my roof. They just glanced at it, pointed to my neighbors house as reference and said it could not be wired the same, they then added a bunch of inside electrical requirements that were not needed. I called ******and also paid for an inspection ($39). *****electricians got on my roof and went into the attic. They said that the wiring owned by the county was damaged (county would fix) and the wiring I owned was not damaged. The only part that broke was the electrical mast supports, canting it. ***** electricians went into my house and said only a couple minor things needed to be fixed. All being less than a grand. How can my rates not go up? I've always heard that if you file a claim, your premiums will always goes up. I see nothing wrong with asking to be financially compensated by an electrician and his manager who failed to do a proper inspection and who lied about electrical code to dishonestly profit off of me. I did file a consumer complaint. They said it will take 4 to 6 weeks.
I agree, I should of gotten a second estimate prior to filing a claim. I screwed up and trusted somebody.
 

Last edited by Shadeladie; 03-06-17 at 11:05 AM. Reason: Company name removed
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Old 03-05-17, 05:39 PM
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You filed a consumer complaint against the first company.
Do you have a written estimate of the high estimate ?
If not.. it's your word against theirs.
 
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Old 03-05-17, 06:16 PM
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Yes. They are a paperless company. I have 2 emails.
The first quote said that the electrical mast was damaged and associated wiring could not be wired to code. The second quote said that the inside work was not required but didn't state why the inside work was not required now.
 
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Old 03-05-17, 06:28 PM
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However, if you had asked what is the least cost option they probably would have done exactly what the second company quoted and did.

And for the above comment, I asked the first electricians to repair the electrical mast supports. The first electricians said it could not be wired as is and said I needed the upgrades to meet code.

The two electrician companies gave two completely different routes. One tried to scam me, the other didn't. I should of called ***** first.
 

Last edited by Shadeladie; 03-06-17 at 11:05 AM. Reason: Company name removed
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Old 03-05-17, 06:31 PM
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Some companies give "free" estimates and some charge. Generally, if a complex "scope of work" is prepared as opposed to an estimator just saying offhand what his company will charge for a job it is more likely a fee will be charged but the fee will be waived if the company gets the contract for the work.

In the real world we all know that NOTHING is free, that one way or another it will be paid for but usually the cost is hidden in the "overhead" a company charges for the finished job. They simply cannot do work for free and coming to a customer, surveying the job and preparing a bid IS real work.

Now it may very well be that the first company charged you an exorbitant fee for the work of preparing the bid and it is certainly possible that they used unscrupulous practices to try to entice you into signing with they to do the entire job. That simple line of "...electrical code are not always black and white and hard to understand." is both true and false in that ALL codes ARE in black and white although often hard for a lay person to understand. However, that "line" is also a bunch of weasel wording and the person refusing to explain EXACTLY why the simple repair could not be made makes me agree with you that the first company WAS trying to get away with making the job much bigger than necessary.

Nonetheless, I think you will find that no court will award damages/compensation beyond your actual out-of-pocket losses to date. The possibility of being awarded unknown future increases in your insurance premiums is extremely unlikely in my opinion.

But I've been wrong before and I may be wrong about this as well. I seriously doubt the first company will do anything more than refund your original $49 and even that may require a lawsuit on your part. Attorney fees will eat up any amount the court may award you. My advice is to just chalk it up as another learning experience and get on with your life.

Just my opinion.
 
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Old 03-06-17, 12:32 AM
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I've always heard that if you file a claim, your premiums will always goes up.
You've always heard wrong.
 
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Old 03-06-17, 04:13 AM
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As far as I know insurance premium increases are based more on frequency of claims and the overall risk for a certain area. If you've never filed a claim it's doubtful this claim will cause your rate to increase.
 
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Old 03-06-17, 12:28 PM
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The first company may have been upselling or they may have been taking a guess about what the inspector will require as part of the repair. If there was a very strict inspector in your area their initial scope of work might have been correct. Not only are the codes themselves somewhat gray, but the enforcement of the codes varies a lot from district to district. The second company may have better knowledge of what the inspector will allow when it comes to repairs and adjusted their quote to match.
 
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