Most homeowners have only basic knowledge about plumbing, and so they trust experts to help them when something goes wrong. Unfortunately, not all who claim to be “experts” really are, and some businesses can easily lure you into a scam with low costs. To help your finances and your home stay safe, here are four common plumbing scams to watch out for:
- Material Scam: Good quality plumbing materials have high costs, but it is worth it for the quality of the material. In this scam, a plumber will tell you that they are using these high quality materials and charge you for them, but will actually use a lower costing alternative. To beat this scam, you can either request a list of materials from your plumber and take it to your local hardware store to check, or you can also request an invoice which will list the brands and materials used. By checking the items before installation, you may be able to determine if the correct material is being used. If you discover your plumber is charging you too much for the materials used, find another person to do the work.
- More People Than Necessary: Some plumbers will delegate work out to others that they could do themselves in order to make more money in labour costs. When confronted they will claim that this cost is out of their control. If you are uncertain why so many people are needed in your home, don’t be afraid to stop work and ask some questions to clarify.
- Overcharging: When providing services in well-to-do areas, plumbers may charge more because they know the clientele has the money to pay for it. Since plumbers do not need to have a fixed hourly rate, they can charge what they want for services. If a contractor notices that you have a nice home or valuables, they may charge you more. To beat this, make sure to get at least three estimates from three different plumbers on the work that needs to be done.
- No Paperwork: The evasive type of scam involves a plumber who will verbally tell you an estimate but will never put it in writing. This scam can be costly because the costs that are told to you upfront are often increased by three or four times when the final invoice rolls in. Before letting any contractor begin work in your home, always get a paper quote and sign a contract that specifies your payment. This procedure can help protect you from being overcharged later.
Of course, the best way to avoid these scams is to hire a trusted professional, but some scammers put on a very good show and can be hard to pick out. Determine their trustworthiness by asking lots of questions, and if the contractor ever becomes upset with these questions, you have a scammer in your home.