Did She Get Ripped off?


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Old 01-04-12, 02:22 AM
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Question Did She Get Ripped off?

Hi Guys,

I was away and my mother was in dire need of replacing the hot water heater. She called a pumer and it was $600+. It's a simple basic electric water heater- with pex piping throughout the basement. He ran a total of two PEX lines of about 3 feet. All the materials were provided by me as I had many extras from pervious work in the basement. I truly believe that I (as a non plumber but an avid DIY type) could have had it in within an hour tops. There was nothing complicated about it nor did he indicate as such. Is this reasonable or not?

Any Thoughts?

[IMG] [/IMG]

chers,
matt
 
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Old 01-04-12, 04:07 AM
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Not clear if he provided the tank.
If he did it is a bargain, if not seems a bit high.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 04:21 AM
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If I'm reading it right, it says "install customer supplied water heater." In that case that was a cleaning bill, as he took your mother (aka, little old lady) to the cleaners. $200 IMO and he needs to be reported to whatever local credit watch groups you have. If she is a senior, my area has a special group just for abuse of the elderly.

I know I'm not there, but this type of stuff happens all too often and he needs to get the message loud and clear, plus refund $400. If what you say is correct, he would look rather bad in small claims.

Bud
 
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Old 01-04-12, 07:15 AM
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Cool

Thanks for confirming what I already thought. It really discusses me that people are taken advantage of like this. Had I not looked at the bill they might have actually gotten away with it. Yuck...

Do you have any advice on how to approach them. The gentleman who did the work is going to be calling me back.


*yes the hot water heater was purchased and unwrapped in place when he got here... all he did was hook up hot and cold via PEX... $669... right...

Thanks for your input!
 
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Old 01-04-12, 07:46 AM
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If he calls it an emergency trip it would be higher, But if this was just a call to get it done, then he will offer something token, like $100. For myself, this goes into the "principle of the issue", more than just the money. I chased a bad check to criminal court and insisted on cash back. It took a year, but he had to come up with the money or go to jail.

You need to decide on what a fair number would be for you, and anything less, you file a complaint with small claims court that will include extra costs to cover your added expenses. Be prepared to name names, like "legal aide for seniors", "better business bureau", "chamber of commerce in all surrounding towns", and so on.

It is hard for me to make your decision as I am a hard nose and sometimes it takes that to get someone to move. In my state, overcharging a senior is a criminal offense. The typical sealing the driveway for $3,000 or cutting down a tree for $6,000. The police go looking for them. It might be worth talking to the local authorities.

Good luck,
Bud
 
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Old 01-04-12, 08:01 AM
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I disagree. That price is more then fair. Any contractor deserves to make a fair and resonable profit.

What do you think diesal costs. The cost to keep electric on at his shop. To pay the employees... Insurances... how about the pex tools. Do you own them?.... etc.

Also permit fees. With electric you need a plumber and electrician to sign off on it. Permits are about $50-$150 bucks.

Water heater $350 plus $700 labor = $1050????

Thats a bargin. Come to NJ where the heaters installed start at $1800 bucks.

Plus you got a two yr labor warranty...

I think you need to re-evaluate. I am on the contractors side. And if you dont think its fair and want to complain you are making it harder for honest contractors to stay in business. That puts America out of business IMO.

If your complaining you should have installed it yourself.

Just my two cents. Take it for what it is.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 01-04-12, 08:15 AM
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I would call a few contractors in the area and pretend you still need this done to see if you can get a WAG on the price over the phone. I would not pursue any course of action until I had this infromation available to me.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 02:27 PM
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My concern would the bill itself, there is no hourly rate provided, nor are the labor hours on the job and material used listed. In my area, a T&M ticket or bill includes a list of all materials with price and a listing of labor hours and rate so that the customer can do the math and check the total. I also see no permits mentioned on the ticket. The hourly rate should have the shop overhead built into it.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 02:46 PM
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It sounds as if for you to have all the materials AND the hw tank sitting there waiting to be installed you should have called a handy man rather than a licensed plumber.
You're expecting someone who presumably is qualified and operates a contracting business to charge based on a few hours work which is totally unreasonable.

This is a DIY forum and it is not surprising for there to be a lack of understanding or appreciation on how contracting works.
Hopefully he will cut you a break but if he does it will be just that.......a goodwill gesture!

Next time get a quote and maybe a handy man might be a better way to go.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 03:01 PM
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Who went through the problem of getting rid of the old water heater - not easy in some areas, especially for a mother with no family help especially for a supposedly simplistic job?

Dick
 
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Old 01-04-12, 03:07 PM
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Well you need to remember 64.00 is the evaluation fee. That is the fee to show up at the door. So dont count that. The $335 is a flat rate for water heater installs.

They probably should have waived that $64 fee if you had the work done. You could argue that.

Also the running of pipes from main to heater could be argued but we dont know what exactly was done. Possible something more extensive???

I worked for a company that used that same exact priceing format, and that same exact invoice. That invoice has no business name and is only used to give pricing options. You should have an actual invoice if the work was completed.

You probably would of been better off getting the heater from them. This way if something goes wrong they will cover the warranty. Now if something goes wrong you will need to go through GE, whirlpool or whoever...


Mike NJ
 
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Old 01-04-12, 04:49 PM
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I don't expect to get much sympathy as yes I know its DIYs forum..I know.. Had I not been out of town I would have done it myself. I appreciate your honest responses which is exactly what I am looking for.

I am just trying to look out for my mother as she didn't know any better. I didn't hire him nor did I talk prices with him. In the end I guess it just seems a bit steep for what was done (at least in my judgement)... I can't help but feel she got taken advantage of... perhaps I am wrong but I am still not convinced 669 for labor is reasonable.

(I did blot out the name of the company and any personal info)

I appreciate all your input- it is helpful. We will see what tomorrow brings
 
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Old 01-04-12, 05:55 PM
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No one... the guy didn't even offer to move the unit outside or at least closer to the door. He even asked her where was the hot water line... Granted this is second hand- But really... he's the plumber and he's asking a single mother with her hands full which line carries the hot water.. it just sounded a bit "off" to me... I wasn't there... but it makes me wonder how common this is out there
 
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Old 01-04-12, 06:29 PM
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A friend of mine paid $250.00 to have his batteries replaced in his thermostat today, so anything is possible.

I agree with mitch17, you need to make some calls and really get a couple of estimates to determine what the actual cost should be; as a DIY'er you'd think the bill would be less expensive, but like NJ Mike stated; not sure of all the details.

I'd call the company again and ask for a quote on doing the work, call from a different phone or address.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 07:52 PM
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Flat rate charges are fixed until the job looks bigger than they want to do for the price and then you will get (hopefully) a new estimate for the extra work required. So, up to a point the flat rate is an average of the big jobs and the small jobs. SO, if they will give a new estimate when the job is much bigger, why won't they do the same when it is much smaller? In the real world they will defend it as "the flat rate" on the down side, but will look for any reason to bid it up on the up side. It is at a minimum a poor business practice. If the job is super simple, the price should have been adjusted lower without any hesitation or argument.

Bud
 
  #16  
Old 01-05-12, 06:39 AM
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I think it was a typical rip off. For many contractors the business plan is simply to evaluate the need and the circumstance and charge whatever they think they can get. A woman in the house and no hot water - the guy was probably salivating.

There was no electrician here
There was no permit here
The $64 fee is supposed to cover time/fuel
There is no indication that the plumber had a helper - most don't on jobs like this
The $335 fee should have covered everything unless he used his own parts.

The sad thing is that contractors take advantage of people more often than not. I remember an electrician bragging about charging an elderly lady an hour of labor (plus his show up fee)for resetting her bathroom GFI. His comment - she deserved it for being so stupid.
 
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Old 01-05-12, 10:16 AM
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I just dropped of my daughter's puppy at the vet this morning since she is out of town. She left her CC on file to cover the charges, whatever they turn out to be. That is trust. A plumber that looks around and thinks, wow this is a piece of cake and this little old lady doesn't have a clue is someone who cannot be trusted. They will charge more in a heart beat if it is a difficult job, so we need to be able to trust them to charge less just as quickly when it is a simple job.

I agree with Wayne "a typical rip off".

Bud
 
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Old 01-05-12, 03:12 PM
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I think this thread has pretty much run its course.

No doubt there are many trades people who are dishonest, incompetent and steal from consumers by charging for what they do not deliver.
However, no matter what the circumstances are consumers don't give a hoot about what it costs to operate a business, especially when you are a consumer who strives to do things themselves.

Don't forget that "my mother was in dire need of replacing the hot water heater".
The plumber came and replaced her heater for a price that reflected his business strategy and is not that far off what other plumbing contractors would charge.

The other side of the "contractor ripoff" coin is that some contractors reading this might say that people who come to sites like this are naturally cheap and squeak when they walk! (no one here of course!)
 
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Old 01-05-12, 03:51 PM
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that people who come to sites like this are naturally cheap and squeak when they walk! (no one here of course!
I don't squeak but I do creak and groan

It's true that many don't realize all the hidden costs involved in running a business. I do know that plumbers tend to make more than the rest of us but have no idea what the going rate for a plumber is - I'm naturally too cheap to hire one
 
 

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