Finding a plumber is never a happy ordeal. Usually, there is a plumbing issue that you need taken care of as soon as possible. Unfortunately, not all plumbing issues are suitable for a DIY fix. Therefore, it is your best bet to know how to find good plumbers and be aware of the common plumbing scams and how to avoid them. Fortunately, we are here to help you out.
Common plumbing scams and how to avoid them
Not everyone has had an experience with a plumbing issue or plumbers in general. Therefore, some people are just unsure how to approach them and what to expect. Unless you’re an expert yourself, plumbers will know more than you regarding plumbing. This means you should inherently trust them. Same as you would with a car mechanic or an electrician.
Even something as simple as a clogged drain may require a plumber’s aid. But, unfortunately, putting faith in all plumbers gives a lot of room for fraudulent people to take advantage of the more gullible individuals. Here are the most common ways in which fraudulent plumbers trick people.
Bait and switch
Nine times out of ten, a plumbing issue will require some new parts in order to get fixed. The plumber will likely inform you that they will get the part for you and replace it in due time. All is fine and well so far. But, the issue occurs when the plumber decides to overcharge you for the part. Namely, they know that you don’t know how much a plumbing part should cost. Therefore, they can charge you whatever they feel like as long as they keep a straight face. This might even lead to you getting a poor-quality part and having to fix the same issue within a week or two.
The way to avoid this from happening is twofold. First, ask for the plumber’s estimate once they perform the initial inspection, and have them provide it in writing. Second, ask for receipts for any part they wish to buy. By knowing the two, you can see if the plumber plans to overcharge you online. If they are, feel free to find a new plumber.
Every plumber should be able to present the following:
- License number.
- Business card.
If your plumber hasn’t, you might be dealing with fraud. A plumber reluctant to present this information isn’t a licensed plumber. Or they are afraid of what will happen if you check up on them online. In either case, withholding information is a big red flag if not a deal breaker. It’s also one of the most common plumbing scams you should watch out for. However, the solution is rather simple. Either have them present the information or show them the door.
Asking for 40-50% upfront
Another common scam, especially with plumbers withholding information, is asking for 40-50% upfront.
The trick is that they will convince you to pay them and simply vanish. And if you don’t have their information or haven’t had the chance to make sure it is legit, it will leave you stumped and robbed.
Of course, specific jobs require large upfront payments (for instance, a complete bathroom rework). But, in such cases, you shouldn’t even consider working with a contractor you didn’t have the chance to inspect online and ensure they are legit.
Different rates based on neighborhoods
While plumbers should have the same rates for the same jobs, it is not uncommon that plumbers will change rates based on neighborhoods. After all, if they are headed to a wealthy area, why not charge a couple of hundred more? Well, if you want to avoid this happening to you, it is paramount that you find out the plumber’s rate before they come to you.
If you got a recommendation from a friend, try to see how much they paid for it. Always ask for an estimate if you are looking for a plumber online. A plumber with prior experience should have a good idea of how much a common repair will cost. So, if they show up and give you a substantially higher number, know that they are trying to fleece you.
Multiple plumbers don’t have to be a sign that the plumber is trying to scam you. What it likely means is that you are simply getting a subpar service. Namely, what usually happens is that plumbers have multiple apprentices. And seeing that those apprentices need to learn, they will likely get more routine jobs.
In all honesty, the plumber shouldn’t charge you the same amount if it wasn’t them who performed the job. After all, they would likely do it faster and better. So, you can voice your complaint and even look to change the plumber. If the plumber said the problem is simple, and their appetite will take care of it, great. But, if they didn’t even look to notify you, you have a legitimate beef.
A plumber’s estimate should be a precise outline of the final cost. Ideally, the plumber should come over, tell you what the repair will cost, and charge you once they are done. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.
Some plumbers will say one thing and charge you entirely another once the job is done. They will either claim that you misunderstood the pricing or that the problem was bigger than initially stated. Or that the parts were more expensive.
To fight this, you first need to inspect your home and make sure it’s secure and free of plumbing issues. That way, the plumber won’t be able to come up with problems that aren’t there. Secondly, have them put everything in writing.
So far, we’ve listed the most common plumbing scams and how to avoid them. While it is possible to deal with all of them, we advise that you take certain measures to ensure that you never run into them.
First and foremost, look for a plumber before you face a problem. That way, you will have ample time to ensure they are legit and trustworthy.
Secondly, don’t shy away from talking to them. Not only will you figure out whether they know their job, but you also might learn how to fix issues yourself. Good plumbers are always hard to find. But they are more than happy to provide any information you need.
Door-to-Door Sales Scams In Texas
Personally, I never hire anyone that knocks on my door. There are scammers that say they are doing a job down the street and they could fix my house too. Not always, but sometimes these companies are legitimate. If you are interested in such an offer, always check them out online first.