Saturday, July 08, 2006

Plumber Problem

My new home is coming along. My stuff is all in the place even if it appears to have been organized by a windstorm. I had a bad experience with a plumber recently, which I decided to share on craigslist. Here you go:

CONSUMER ALERT: If you live in the Riverview, FL area and need to hire a plumber, BEWARE the following company:

Chris's Plumbing Service, Inc.
aka Chris's Plumbing Services
6404 U.S. 301
Riverview, FL

Phone: (813) 623-6830
(813) 671-3993

I visited their offices on U.S. 301 July 6 to ask about having kitchen sink plumbing re-connected in my home. I had granite countertops with a new sink installed and needed the pipes re-connected. This is a new home so the "old" pipes had not been used.

Why replace countertops in a brand new home? You ask. It was thousands cheaper to buy the home with the included laminate countertops then hire Home Depot to rip them out and install new granite ones than it would have been to have the builder install them in the first place.

Home Depot would have done the re-connect for a flat fee of $270 but the sales person recommended hiring a plumber on my own because it would be much cheaper. He said Home Depot only charged so much because of liability issues. "We're a big company so people like to sue us," he said.

Actually, it turns out that people like to sue Home Depot because it farms out work cheap subcontractors who do shoddy work but I didn't know that then.

I go to this Chris's Plumbing Service (and, yes, it's spelled "Chris's" on its business card) because it is less than a mile from my home. I explain to them what I need and they say they'll come out the next morning. I ask for an estimate of what it will cost, even mentioning that Home Depot could do it for $270. One of the plumbers -- I don't remember his name because I didn't think I'd need to -- says that the charge is $75 an hour for labor. "Even at three hours, you'd be saving money," he says.

A plumber named Jose, according to the patch on his shirt, shows up the next morning and immediately proceeds to tell me that I need a new faucet (the faucet's already new) and a new garbage disposal (the one I have has never been used) and new pipes and fittings and that this would be a three or four hour job at $75 an hour plus the cost of the parts. If he uses any of the "old" parts, I'll have to sign a waiver absolving them of any liability.

Smelling a rat, I tell him that I don't want the service. He says that he has to charge me $75 for coming the 0.75 miles (I measured) to my home essentially to make a sales call. I call Chris's office and talk to Joanne Hoffman. (She and Chris Hoffman are listed as co-owners). She was in the office when I visited the day before and did not mention any of this stuff Jose's telling me now. I tell her that this is not the service I wanted and that I should not have to pay for what appears to me to be a rip-off. She says that if I refuse to pay that she'll put a lien on my property. I don't know if she can legally do this without my getting a chance to dispute it or not but I don't have time at the moment to research it.

I cave in. I do not buy a new disposal and I don't have the faucet installed at all and it still costs me more than $50 in parts plus three hours of labor, which included my call to the office to argue with Joanne plus another 15-20 minute break while Jose had to wait for a part to arrive.

Why it takes a quarter of an hour to drive three-quarters of a mile, I don't know but -- and this will shock you, I know -- Jose had the replacement faucet and garbage disposal he wanted to sell me [at twice what you could buy them at Lowe's or Home Depot for] sitting on his truck available instantly!)

So instead of paying Home Depot $270 to do the entire job, I pay Chris's Plumbing Service $282 to do part of it. I had already installed one of the drains in the sink and will still have to install the faucet myself.

Perhaps I am an ignoramus and this is standard and accepted business practice by plumbers but it felt like a con job to me. If you feel similarly, warn people about how Chris's Plumbing Services operates. I can't get my $282 back but I can inform others of my experience with this outfit so that they don't have to endure similar frustration.

If you have some spare time and feel so inclined, you can do something too: Call Chris's Plumbing Service in Riverview at (813) 623-6830 and let them know that you are now aware of their tactics and that you are going to take your business to a plumber that deals with customers more honestly.

That's pretty self explanatory but I can't tell you how angry this experience made me. I was careful not to call them crooks, creeps or criminals to protect myself from charges of libel but if readers were to draw that conclusion I would not feel motivated to disabuse them of the notion.

I'll look for other ways to spread the word. Then, of course, I'll let Chris's Plumbing Service know that I didn't take their treatment (Mistreatment? You decide.) without a response.

The plumbing story continues:


A Girl From Texas said...

You may want to go to "", I think that's the right address. I don't know if they have a place where you can post or not.

I would probably consult with the Better Business Bureau as well.

Fightin' Mad Mary said...

word is getting out...

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact, that "Chris" and "Joann" Hoffman,are not good to their employees. They give the impression that because you work for them, they own you..Sorry!!!

I think,if you can't be honest and good to the people that work for you and help keep your kids in private school, then you just can't be trusted in anyother way,and don't need to be trying to run business.