Plumbing Scams to Look Out For

Plumbing Scams

Not all plumbers are created equal and when you’re facing a stressful and urgent plumbing problem you may be left vulnerable to the schemes of dishonest individuals, whose aim is to scare you and take advantage of your situation. So today we will address some common red flags and plumbing scams to be mindful of and tips and how to avoid them!  

No credentials

This is a first no-no. Any respectable plumber will not have an issue with showing you their credentials and plumber license number. If they seem to avoid doing this, that’s most likely because they do not have these credentials to begin with. If they do not have a plumbing license they most likely also do not have business insurance.

How to avoid this?

Look up a plumber’s license number before contacting them. This information should be easily accessible on their business website or apps such as Yelp. You can check a plumber’s license number for the state of California at the Department of Consumers Affairs website. There you will be able to see if a plumber’s license is active and if they are insured. You can also look up their rating on the Better Business Bureau website.

Bait and Switch

This scam involves a dishonest plumber who is assuring you they are using the best quality materials for your job, when in reality they are using the cheapest option available and keeping the profits for themselves. 

How to avoid this?

Whatever parts are necessary for the job, get them listed in writing. Then, do your research online or at a local hardware store and compare the prices to what the plumber quoted. While there may be some slight differences, they should not be major. If you are still in doubt, get a second opinion and see what another plumber quotes for the same job. 

No Written Estimates

A plumber who is avoiding writing up an estimate before starting a job raises some red flags. What’s more suspicious is if they provide you with a verbal quote before actually coming to inspect your plumbing system first. Though some services such as hydro jetting can have fixed-pricing or special offers, more often the estimate will fluctuate based on the complexity of the job. So if a plumber has not performed an inspection but is giving you a quote and rushing to start the work right away, do not fall for it. It’s almost certain that once the work is started, additional charges will come up and your final total will be much higher. 

A verbal quote is unfortunately useless and if you receive nothing on paper, do not allow any work to begin. 

Once a plumber has performed an inspection to assess the problem they should be able to write down an estimate on paper, right then and there. There should be no reason for them to “get back with you” or for this estimate to change several times. This is another red flag indicating that this person claiming to be a plumber, doesn’t actually know what they are doing. 

How to avoid this?

Make sure that your plumber of choice comes by for an in person inspection and then provides you with a written estimate and a contract before any work begins.

Cash Only Payments

In today’s age of technology, a plumber who accepts cash-only payments and avoids a paper trail in the form of an invoice or a receipt, is likely up to no good. This could mean said plumber is not running a legitimate business and is dodging taxes. While this alone doesn’t disqualify them from doing good work, they are probably not insured and can leave you in hot water in case something goes wrong. 

How to avoid this?

Again, obtain a plumber’s credentials before allowing them to come to your property.

Large up front deposits

There is no reason whatsoever that a legit plumber would ask for a 25-50 percent deposit before starting a job. Disappearing with your money is one of the most common plumbing scams around, according to the  Better Business Bureau. This is in large because paying 50 percent of a job in advance sounds reasonable to many homeowners and is acceptable in other forms of services. 

How to avoid this?

Most states have laws that prohibit a plumber from taking more than 10 percent of payment upfront. If your plumber is asking you for more, decline and look for a trustworthy plumber elsewhere.

Remember to always ask questions. A reputable plumber who wants your business will make an effort to ease your concerns and be transparent about their work. Overly pushy plumbers who use scare tactics often come with an ulterior motive and don’t have your best interest at heart. Have concerns about your plumbing system? Call your friendly professionals at VIP Sewer and Drain Services today, where we strive to be your plumber for life!

If you have any emergency plumbing need, simply call our 24 hour emergency service line