On March 31, a 73-year-old man in Wisconsin called a plumber to fix a clogged toilet. He says that a day later, on April 1, the plumbers handed him a bill for $13,698, but it was no April Fools Joke. Of course, this has all ended up in court, where the customer alleges employees at the plumbing business are told it’s part of their job to upsell additional work to the consumer.
The lawsuit also claims that the plumbers talk customers into financing expensive plumbing work that may not be necessary in the first place.
According to the plaintiff, the plumbers first told him that his clogged toilet needed to be replaced — which he states was a false claim by the defendants. And after looking that the pipes in the rest of his house, the plumbers allegedly told the man that most them would also need replacing.
From Courthouse News:
The plumbers told him a second toilet had to be replaced because it was loose and “costing him money;” that a bathroom sink “had to be replaced because it had a small stain and a sticky handle;” that a hot water heater “needed to be replaced because it was ‘outdated’ and ‘costing him money;” and that the area near a sink “needed to be replaced because it was not ‘up to code.’”
Per the complaint the man said he “had not been experiencing problems with any of the plumbing in his home with the exception of the clogged toilet,” and that he “never asked for additional work and even told Flat Rate that he did not have to funds to pay for any replacement plumbing.”
This is when, according to the suit, the plumbers brought up the financing option and application. The man says the plumbers told him the financing would have two years of deferred interest, but the application only mentioned one year. He claims that it also mentioned an “attached credit card agreement” though he says there was no such thing attached.
Regardless, after filling out the paperwork, the customer was now the proud holder of a Kwik Comfort credit account, to which the plumbers charged $6,743.
And then they showed up again the next day to give him the bad news that “even more of his plumbing needed to be replaced and that they could help him get additional financing to pay for the work.”
Unfortunately, GE Money Bank, the issuer of the Kwik Comfort credit, wouldn’t increase his credit limit to cover the additional $6,955 of work. Instead, the man gave them a $3,000 money order and the plumbers said they would put the balance on the credit card next year.
The plaintiff says the plumbers didn’t get a permit for the work until after it was done and that a city inspector says their work violates building code.
So please, please, please let this be reminder to anyone who gets work done on your house, even if it’s a clogged drain. Before you pay anyone thousands of dollars to do work — especially if you’re not sure whether or not it’s necessary — get multiple estimates and do reference checks on anyone you consider.
$13,698 to Unclog a Toilet? [CourthouseNews.com]