Plumbing rip offs, in my opinion, are frequently emotive exaggerations bereft of facts from people whose only motive is not to pay their plumbers bills.
Sadly most plumbing rip offs are perpetuated not on the customer but on the plumber by other plumbers who stupidly aid and abet con artists using them without any payment to condemn work another plumber has undertaken.
Every week we get multiple phone calls virtually demanding that we condemn over the phone other plumbers work or for us tell them that they have been overcharged. Of course, they never wish to pay for this advice and never want it adequately investigated.
Unfortunately, far too many plumbers are completely gullible and get sucked into agreeing with unsubstantiated, exaggerated statements over the phone from someone they have never met. For some bizarre reason, they think by agreeing with baseless opinions from an unqualified person that they will get work from it and even more bizarrely get paid for it!
Despite what some non-plumbers think plumbing is complex in its entirety requiring in-depth knowledge and precision. With the dominance of Google, it is effortless for someone to create a cheap website and make a raft of promises usually based on how cheap they are.
“No call out fee! Free quotes! No service charge! Free plumbing audit! Free gas inspection! $0 call out fee! $40 off today! $99 drain special! Free plumbing quotes!” And so the list goes on when you Google the term “plumber Gold Coast”. All of these “promises” create the perception that you are getting something for free or at a considerable discount.
The often-quoted “There is no such thing as a free lunch” is applicable in this situation. Obviously, it means nothing is ever truly free because the fact is someone has to pay for the plumber to come to your house or business. All of those above claims are designed with the sole purpose of getting you to ring that plumbing company and nothing else. I guarantee you will be paying for them to come out one way or another.
You should know it costs money for a fully equipped and staffed plumbing truck to arrive at your home or business. Some companies will charge a call-out fee which allows for no work. Some companies such as Whywait Plumbing will charge a diagnostic fee which provides for a preliminary investigation of the plumbing problem. Some companies will charge a minimum one hour fee no matter how long they are on site. Some companies offer a free call out, but it will be built into all their costs so beware of all free call out offers as generally, all their other prices are higher.
You are ripping me off because Joe Bumcrack Plumbing Service is half your price
In the last 42 years, I’ve heard multiple variations of this excuse for not paying an account countless times.
Buyers regret is a constant issue for all businesses. I remain bewildered by people who turn to the bottom feeders of our industry and turn them into experts. These hobby businesses are frequently referred to as Joe Bumcrack plumbers for obvious reasons. Of course, Joe Bumcrack’s phone wasn’t answered, and he wasn’t available at 10 pm on a Saturday night to clear the blocked drain. But of course, his word counts because he told the customer what he wants to hear concerning what price should have been charged and plumbing rip offs.
The reality is half the price of what? We have never been interested in being the cheapest Gold Coast plumber. We are not interested in what other plumbers charge because every business differs regarding cost structures, overhead costs and productivity levels that are utilised to set a selling price for a businesses services.
Notwithstanding the urban myth that there is a “going rate” or “recommended rate” for plumbers, it is illegal under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 for business to collude in setting prices or for there to be any set or recommended rates by master plumbers associations.
Here at Whywait Plumbing, we take pride in our industry best practice service levels. We endeavour without exception to deliver quality workmanship with expertise and long-lasting permanent solutions to complex plumbing problems that are fully compliant with the legal requirements in the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018.
A recent e-mail I received with the following quote from Benjamin Franklin, “The Bitterness of Poor Quality Remains Long After the Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten” always applies, and that is the lowest price is not still the best. With plumbing problems, they are frequently reactive, and the practice of going back after the job is completed to Joe Bumcrack Plumbing Services for his expert opinion on what work should have been undertaken is counterproductive as you are not comparing apples with apples.
Plumbing is like everything else with a plethora of solutions, methods and opinions to solve problems. This, in turn, creates multiple pricing solutions if you do not specify exactly what products you want installing with the result is that you require. We accept that our customers are often in a situation where they are choosing between the price we must charge versus the quality of the service.
More and more, we are seeing where a customer has researched what he should budget for a job via Google and on websites such as Bunnings. The reality is they don’t have the expertise or knowledge to undertake the research, so end up with a superficial answer. This research then becomes the driving force in determining the price they think they should pay for our service.
It is our experience over 42 years that many clients fool themselves or their employer in choosing the lowest price service to fit within a budget that was flawed from the start. Typically this results in budget blowouts in the short term as the lowers quality service, and products have to be replaced long before they should have been.
Equally, the highest price does not always mean the highest quality service. Frequently the highest price and the lowest price for service are due to inefficiencies in the service delivery combined with there not being a specifically tailored specification.
When you are assessing a company to provide service delivery, please ignore Joe Bumcrack Plumbing Services and their constant cry that all their competitors are involved in plumbing rip offs. The ability of companies such as Whywait Plumbing or Oceanside Plumbing or Waterfox Plumbing to meet your service and business requirements should be paramount in decisions. Equally successful past performance is just as critical to ensuring quality service and installation take precedent over the enticement of a low priced service delivery.
What’s your hourly rate?
No legitimate business works on hourly rates. The reality is most businesses charge a set price for a set service task. Even in the construction industry businesses such as tilers and plasterers charge per m² or brickies per 100 or 1000 bricks laid.
The exception to this is far too many plumbers and electricians who won’t invest in quantity surveying software and the time to create task based pricing. As a result, we have many Joe Bumcrack plumbers who work on hourly rates that do not cover the cost of wages and accuse all their competitors of engaging in plumbing rip offs. Even for a solo operator plumber or electrician, their break-even points will be between $100 – $150 per hour depending on their overhead costs. So if you engage a plumber who is telling you their hourly rate is $80, then you can guarantee they will be doubling up somewhere or charging for services that are not delivered.
Hourly rates are a meaningless component in the overall service cost being utterly subjective to the point of being meaningless.
I’m well aware many people think an hourly rate for a plumber in excess of $100 is a plumbing rip off and extortinate. This is why hourly rates are meaningless because within that price countless expenses have to be covered such as wages, superannuation, workcover, fuel, insurance, vehicle repairs, equipment repairs and replacement, travel time and so the list goes on and on.
I can only repeat that labour is only one component of the cost when working through a task cost in quanity surveying software. The other components are overheads, materials and equipment.
Plumbers who charge using hourly rates frequently engage in charging base to base travel time or charging for apprentices who are really goffas or for making multiple trips to the merchants for materials
Just give me a ballpark price over the phone
I repeat incessantly that no professional plumber can give you an estimate over the phone. Solving plumbing problems over the phone with any degree of certainty is an absolute impossibility. Every plumbing problem is entirely variable and can change rapidly once you start working on it.
The most common price we are asked for over the phone is for replacing a hot water service. Sadly many plumbers will indulge people and give costs for replacing a hot water service over the phone based on “Like for Like” installation. This is utterly deceptive as there is no such thing as a like for like installation. Every replacement installation must be done in accordance with ASNZS 3500.4:2018, which requires substantial upgrades on the original installation which is frequently over ten years old. Of course, once they get on-site, they discover you need all sorts of extras such as valves, insulation and drain installation.
Always require that the plumber comes to the site and gives you pricing after a thorough site inspection. Even then that can change as often once you start on the job, you can get a myriad of faults to show up that cannot be detected by a visual inspection.