When it comes to plumbing, you don’t want to mess around. Whether it be a quick fix or an elaborate project, it is always best to let the professionals take care of plumbing jobs in your home or business. Unfortunately not all plumbers are honest, and many will do whatever it takes to make a quick buck. It’s a good decision to ask the plumber a few questions before you hire them. Below we will talk about the four most common plumbing scams and how you can spot them early to avoid falling for the trap.
- Knock-off materials
If you want high quality materials to be used in your home, these materials come at a cost. PEX piping or copper tubing is a well known and high quality material often used in plumbing, and many homeowners often do not mind paying extra to include these materials in their plumbing systems if it means they will last for a long time. Some plumbers take advantage of this willingness to pay and charge high prices while swapping out high quality materials for lower quality look-alikes. One of the best ways to beat this scam is to ask your plumber for a list of all materials they will be using. Take this list to the local hardware store to check on the prices. If they are overcharging, call their bluff and call a different plumber ASAP!
- Too many workers
This scam occurs when your plumber hires more people than necessary to complete a job in your home. The plumber will make extra money by subcontracting out small parts of the job that they could complete themself, and then claiming they have no control over the hourly rates of other workers. Always ask about each person’s reason for being there and check to see that they are actually needed. Remember, if you are not sure why someone is there, stop work immediately.
- Pricing by neighbourhood
If some plumbers notice that you live in an affluent neighbourhood, have a nice car, or have a flat screen TV, they may assume you have a lot of money and overcharge you for their services. Since plumbers do not have a mandatory fixed hourly rate, some contractors will up their rate by 50-100% if they think their client can pay. Before agreeing to any work, always be sure to collect multiple estimates.
- Nothing in writing
Some contractors will offer you a great estimate over the phone or face to face – but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Without anything in writing, your plumber can perform the work and charge you two to three times as much as the original estimate with no consequences. Always be sure to get an estimate in writing, and never agree to any work before you have received this estimate. If your plumber assures you that they can begin work right away and “will get back to you” with paperwork, it is time for you to find a new plumber.
What’s the best way to spot a scam? Ask lots of questions to any potential new plumber, and always go with a trusted and certified professional that is honest and upfront with you. It is never rude to ask a plumber to see their license, and if they take offense it is likely because they were about to scam you! At the end of the day, it is your money and your home – so you will be dealing with the consequences if things go wrong.