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Roto-Rooter Took Advantage of My Situation

Posted Fri April 17, 2009 12:00 pm, by Elizabeth H. written to Roto-Rooter Services Company

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Today was my first experience with Roto-Rooter plumping services. After battling my repeatedly clogging toilet alone for 2 weeks I broke down and called for service. Living in Colorado we were expecting a large snow storm and I'm a military spouse alone staying home with three young children...we needed our toilet to stay unclogged and I do not have the tools to do it. The service technicians were very polite and professional and did give me the price of $119 up front. I thought "Wow, this must be really involved." So I agreed and imagine my shock when 30 seconds later out came the culprit object and my toilet was free and clear. $199 for 30 seconds of labor!!! I felt taken advantage of because of my situation. Like I said, the technician was very professional and did give me the price up front. I do not have issues with either of those areas. My annoyance is in your flat rate price. $119...do you know realize how much food I could have bought for my children with that? This was the first, last, and only time I will ever call Roto-Rooter for any of my future plumping problems. Colorado Springs Roto Rooter, Invoice #334-18018102, Fed I.D. #42-0499300, service date 17 Apr 09.

I just don't think 30 seconds worth of labor costs $119. No parts were used and the technicians were done and out of my house in less than 5 minutes. I was expecting no more than $40 for the entire thing. I would like a partial refund of $79. I paid with a personal check because the credit card machine the technician had was not working.


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by chuck d. Posted Sun August 19, 2012 @ 5:53 PM

As a self employed drain cleaner, I often get comments about the cost
of my service, and sometimes how quickly I can fix something,
especially toilets. I often ask them, should I make less because I am
the best at what I do? There is a lot that goes into getting someone
to your house in a hurry to fix something, first they have to be found
in the yellow pages, many medium to large companies pay thousands a
month to have the biggest ad and get the calls, then there is the
local phone numbers , cell phones, liability insurance, health
insurance, vehicle insurance, vehicle cost, fuel, uniforms cost and
cleaning, in my case over 15k in tools that need constant upkeep,
state, federal, and local taxes.
I talk a lot to my fellow plumbers about how much it costs to go on an
average service call, just to get therewith a van full of tools and a
guy, is about $90 or so, so when i do a toilet I only make about 10
bucks after I charge $99, and if I give a senior discount I just break
even. to me toilety calls are the best way to give a card and get
future business.
Many people scoff at the price and my justification, but I also have
heard of the "cheap" other guys , who are under paid, under
experienced, or worse addicts or criminals, (it's not easy to find
people to play with toilets,others body fluids, and risk their own
health in the process)
I also have worked for the 'big' companies, I also have seen guys die
from mystery infections, you don't do this kind of work because you
like to play with poo poo, most guys either fell into it because it
has the promise of a good living, you are born into it, or other
assorted sad stories .
I have known a plumber who caught HEP C , and a drain tech who caught
a drug resistant infection and died from it. Those may be extreme
cases, but thats what we have to live with.
I have been in business for over 15 years, while I do ok, I am not
making money hand over fist and dont feel like I am screwing anyone.
when you call a drain cleaning company , it is like an ambulance for
your plumbing, there is a lot more that goes into the call besides the
15 minutes he is there snaking your toilet.

by SAlpert5 Posted Mon June 13, 2011 @ 2:46 PM

You are lucky. In my area, the suburbs of New York, the price charged
was $375 + $17.97 for a new drain cap + sales tax, for a whopping
total of $425.88 for 1/2 hour of work, tops.

by plumbproinc.com Posted Sun January 30, 2011 @ 12:36 PM

Well...that may seem a bit high, but, in actuality, is a fair,
competitive price - especially for ROTO-ROOTER or any other name -
brand chain. Remember that "safe", "legitimate" companies have things
such as employee pay,general liability insurance, advertising and
overhead to pay for...so the cost will be higher than using a non -
qualified, non-insured, non-licesened person/company for your repair.
The actual time of the repair shouldn't be factored into what you
paid. A good plumber can get the job done quickly and correctly.
Would you rather a moron take a few hours to clean your drain out? I
suppose that would make you feel better.
You could always go and buy the $$$500.00-$$$1,000.00 tool and do the
job yourself. Excuse me, you already stated that you had the problem
for 2 weeks and couldn't fix it yourself.
Remember that the $119.00 fee was not pure profit. The business may
have only be able to keep $40.00 after expenses and overhead. That is
measly profit for the job. Would you go to someone's home and clean
their drain/sewer out for $40.00 - probably not. If so you should
consider opening your own business up.
I own a plumbing company and approximately $10.00 - $20.00 of every
job we do goes (just) to cover advertising cost. We pay dearly for
your phone call and business. We also have overhead and expenses to
figure into the equation. We have to generate $500.00 per day / per
truck just to break even (covers overhead, advertising, insurance,
payroll, fuel, equipment, etc..)
So...$500.00 per day BEFORE we make any profit!! It's true! You
consumers may not believe this, but other business owners can attest
to this being true.
I personally hate that - I hate having to charge my customers as much
as I do.
I do hear many complaints locally about the LARGE companies over -
charging, but, usually it would be something like you got charged
$400.00 for the call.
So, you were actually treated fairly!


by tom m. Posted Tue November 9, 2010 @ 9:27 AM

my suggestion to you is to look on craigslist and find some non
insured,non licensed,non drug tested yahoo who has absolutely $0
overhead(partially due to him living in his mother's garage)and get
him to do all of your plumbing,electrical,baby sitting,etc...that way
you don't have to pay for petty things such as
overhead,insurance,licenses,permits,experience and such because you
only care about COST......my question to you though is why is it roto
rooter's problem to feed your kids?the fact that you have 3 is totally
irrelevant to anything unless you were impregnated by the roto rooter
serviceman.i suggest that you give them up for adoption as that will
save you alot of money!!!

by LANDLORD Posted Tue March 23, 2010 @ 2:53 PM

Bathroom Drain clogged, Estimate $600. Tenant Paid final bill for
$838.15 after an hour and a half''s work from the ground cleanout PVC
in front of the kitchen. I called and was told a Roto Rooter manager
would get back to me, hasn't happened. I called several other
plumbers and was quoted $300-$400. to jett out and degrease the sewer
Roto Rooter comes in at over twice everyone else's price with an
estimate 40% above that quoted.

Think twice before you decide on ROTO ROOTER, THEY ARE A BAD DEAL

by Mary H. Posted Thu April 23, 2009 @ 5:16 PM

If your husband is active, move on post. You will save a lot on home


by MA Cunningham Posted Wed April 22, 2009 @ 3:50 PM

it's worth that much, but since you had neither the tools nor the
experience to do it yourself, isn't it a little unfair to balk at
their price after the fact?

And why would you expect no more than $40 for the whole thing when you
knew up front what they charged? You called around to see what
average prices were, right?

In this case, the fix WAS easy, but what if it had been more involved
and they had to take pipes apart and such? Would you have offered to
pay the repairman more?

But since this is something you felt so strongly about and you will
likely be home with the kids for sometime longer while your husband is
away (thank you BTW!), maybe going to the library and reading up on
basic plumbing or home maintenance might prevent you from having to go
through this again in the future!


by dulynoted (aka duttycalls) Posted Tue April 21, 2009 @ 5:29 PM

You agreed on it now you are saying it was not fair. Technically you
told them to go ahead and now you do not think
Get a plumbers snake and get the clog out on your own next time if you
have to. Its not that expensive to rent one from the local hardware
store...or ask around...someone may just have one.


by petgiraffe Posted Tue April 21, 2009 @ 3:11 PM

I'd be thrilled that a plumbing bill to fix my clogged toilet
(especially with three kids in the house) was only $119. If I don't
know how to properly do a job myself, or don't have the right
equipment, I am more than happy to pay a professional their going rate
to get the job done right and in a timely manner. Plumbers aren't
cheap. Neither are electricians. But a properly executed job by either
is well worth what you pay for it.


by Tricia B. Posted Tue April 21, 2009 @ 2:21 PM

Did u call anyother sewer and drain company? What was
thier prices. Have u ever considered that the prices have nothin to do
with the service men? Roto rooter employees have children to feed too.
If u own ur home
then u must assume the costs of sewer service and repairs. If u rent
then ur landlord should be the one
footing the bill unless of course it was a toy or forgien object that
caused the problem. Instead of complainin bout the price maybe u
should consider preventive measures when it comes to ur sewer service.

by cissy Posted Tue April 21, 2009 @ 12:25 PM

I can't believe this. I would have been elated if a tradesman was only
in my house for 30 seconds. Our clogged toilet lead to ultimately
taking the toilet off (the only one)and 2 days of plumbing. I also
learned alot and hope it will come in handy if the occassion arises
again. I had two small children and but no military spouse to complain

by sarahsmile Posted Mon April 20, 2009 @ 9:42 PM

I live in Aurora Colorado. Damn! That was a lot of snow


by Lisa H. Posted Mon April 20, 2009 @ 5:18 PM

You mention that you didn't have the tools to fix it, and I have to
think you didn't think it was worth buying them. So, part of what you
were paying for was their tools, right?

You say you think it should have been $40, what are you basing that

by realworld Posted Mon April 20, 2009 @ 3:19 PM

Roto-Rooter solved your problem quickly & at the price they quoted
you. For you to come back at them and find fault because they did
well and were paid what you agreed to pay, just doesn't make sense, no
matter what your personal financial circumstances. The price was
reasonable, considering you had two adult, skilled workers come to
your home with the right equipment to do whatever they might face in
the way of plumbing. It's lucky to have services available at
reasonable cost when you really need them.


by Gypsywannabe Posted Mon April 20, 2009 @ 11:28 AM

This guy who had a leaky faucet called the plumber to have it fixed.
The plumber looked at the leaky pipe for all of a minute, pulled a
screw out of his bag and placed it where one must have fallen out. He
then turns to the guy and says "that'll be $200.35." shocked the guy
"How was that worth $200.35?" the plumber responds,
"Thirty-five cents for the screw, and two hundred to know where to put


Nice! by Lisa H. Mon April 20, 2009 @ 5:17 PM

That's just what we need around here... by ♫Venice♫ Mon April 20, 2009 @ 7:25 PM

by sarahsmile Posted Sun April 19, 2009 @ 1:33 PM

I had to call a plumber to unclogg the 2in line under my kitchen sink.
When I called to see about an estimate, he gave me a flat rate of
$100.00. When he came out, it took him all of 3 mins to unclogg the
line. My husband said that next time he'll just rent that piece of
machinery that the plumber used ftom Home depot and do it himself.
I paid the rate because that's what I agreed to.


by Donno Posted Sat April 18, 2009 @ 11:16 PM

And that is what they charged you. The downside of flat rate pricing
is some people make out well, and others don't. You could have
shopped other companies for a lower price, but you evidently did not.


by Just Jeffrey Posted Sat April 18, 2009 @ 8:11 PM

See this:

Was his flat price ($119) more than what he'd charge a man? Or on a
day when no snow is coming? Or for someone without kids?

If so, then you were taken advantage of.

On the other hand, if everyone is charged $119 for this type of job,
then there were not taken advantage of.

"At Roto-Rooter we use a well-researched flat-rate pricing system that
charges a single rate for a specific type of plumbing job no matter if
the plumbing repair is finished in twenty minutes or eight hours..."

"Occasionally, we hear from flustered customers who say something like
"sure, he fixed the sump pump perfectly, but it only took him 20
minutes and he charged me $200! I think this is way too much for the
time it took him to make the plumbing repair." That is the downside to
flat-rate pricing. If our guys are too good or too fast, the customer
comes away feeling he was taken. But we maintain that flat-rate
pricing is much fairer to the customer than hourly pricing. After all,
how can you be sure that an hourly plumber isn't stalling in an effort
to pad his bill?"


Great research, Jeffrey by Final Score: Boys-3, Girls-1 Sun April 19, 2009 @ 10:02 AM

by RedheadwGlasses Posted Sat April 18, 2009 @ 5:43 PM

Hmmm my comment got deleted. I'll say it again, then.

You're owed absolutely nothing. You agreed to the price. If you
think it should be cheaper, you can buy the equipment, do the
training, and learn to do it yourself.


Or go with a plumber that... by Just Jeffrey Sat April 18, 2009 @ 8:17 PM

Or.... by Harley Has A New Cat Sun April 19, 2009 @ 11:57 AM

This is the best advice here by ♫Venice♫ Mon April 20, 2009 @ 5:12 PM

My neighbor.. by Harley Has A New Cat Tue April 21, 2009 @ 9:46 AM

Plumbing can be a nightmare by ♫Venice♫ Tue April 21, 2009 @ 4:31 PM
by sarahsmile Posted Sat April 18, 2009 @ 4:10 PM

How did Roto Rooter take advantage of you? When you call them to make
the appt, did you tell the person on the phone your whole life story?
You agreed to the price before they even came out to your house.

by gb Posted Sat April 18, 2009 @ 3:05 PM

Always call around for prices. We needed to have two small plumbing
jobs done. The prices ranged for $150 to $850. I was shocked at the
difference. Many places charge $100+ just to show up.


by Nate! Posted Sat April 18, 2009 @ 12:18 PM

You are paying for their service.
While it may not seem fair to you, people will pay the price because
they can't fix it themselves.

You mention multiple times you agreed to the price, so you knew that
for $119 you would be getting your toiled unclogged. Next time call
around. This sounds like a flat rate thing.


by calm Posted Sat April 18, 2009 @ 10:06 AM

But of course you're not just paying the labor costs for the actual
time the technicians spent in your home. Sure, $119 would be a lot of
money to spend for a plumber for 1/120 of an hour. But that's only a
tiny amount of what you're paying for.

You're paying the labor costs for the estimate of how much time they
were going to spend in your home, because they can't tell what's wrong
with your toilet over the phone and because they can't schedule other
service calls for time they expect to be spending at your house.

You're paying for the cost of getting the technician to your home,
which includes wear and tear on their vehicle, gas, and the time it
takes to get from one customer to another.

You're paying a portion of the costs of having an office (and
providing it with light and heat and perhaps air conditioning), a
phone number, a person to answer the phone and schedule appointments,
another person to be the dispatcher if it's a large enough business, a
supply of commonly-used parts and a place to store it, and the tools
the technicians need to have with them when they arrive at a service

You're paying part of the labor downtime that inevitably happens when
service calls are being scheduled for very soon after the initial
request for service -- they can use their workers more efficiently if
they are able to plan ahead and schedule people to be in one area all
day, but that means that people have to wait around without a working
toilet until a day when it is convenient for the plumbers to have
someone get to them, and nobody wants that. (And note that for the
same reason that there is downtime, the costs of getting from one
customer to another -- see the third paragraph -- are higher than they
might otherwise be.)

And, because Roto-Rooter is not a nonprofit organization, you're
paying for some profit. After all of those other things get paid for,
they still want to charge you a bit more money so that there is more
money coming in than going out.

So, no, I don't think you're going to get $79 back, nor do I think you
ought to get it back. $119 for a service call by a trained plumber
does not seem unreasonable to me, even if it turns out that the job is
a fairly simple one. Now, maybe it's more than the local competition
would charge for the same service (including getting there speedily),
in which case you absolutely ought to call the competition the next
time you need a plumber. If others follow you to the competition,
Roto-Rooter will be forced to find a way to charge less or will be
driven out of business. But whether or not it was a good choice to
pick Roto-Rooter out of all the plumbers in Colorado Springs, you did
make that choice and you did agree tothe $119 fee before you got the
work done.

On the other hand, if you should need a plumber again soon -- which I
hope you do not -- and you find one whose fees are more to your
liking, I hope you'll post a compliment to them here, so that any of
your neighbors who heed a plumber will know that they don't have to
pay Roto-Rooter rates.

But if you really need that $79 to buy food for your kids, I wish you
the best of luck and I hope you find someone to help you out. A
working toilet really is a necessity these days, and no parent should
have to choose between hungry kids and backed-up sewage, even if the
plumber's fee is a reasonable one.


by Harley Has A New Cat Posted Sat April 18, 2009 @ 8:39 AM

When you are charged for service in your home you are charged for more
than just the actual time the service tech is there, you pay for
travel time etc. I think $119 is very fair.


by RowdyRetailer Posted Sat April 18, 2009 @ 12:04 AM

You were willing to pay it before he started, but then after it was
completed, then you complain about the price???

Did you happen to think how far the driver had to drive to your house?
You know the van is powered by gasoline and oil? You know the vans
are probably not paid for, and have a payment on them. You know the
company has to pay for its tags, and in most states, inspections. You
know the driver has to be paid a fair wage? You know the company has
to pay for its equipment, the tools the use dont last for ever. You
know the company probably pays for his uniform. You know the fee also
covers advertising. You know the company has to pay taxes. You know
the company has to have insurance to pay for injuries.....????

So many things go into that fee that you agreed to. You cannot agree
to the fee, then complain about it afterwards. They came out to your
house, quoted you a fee, you accepted, they fixed the problem, and
then you complain??? Amazing!

You are owed nothing.

Good Day

by CO Mom of 3 Posted Fri April 17, 2009 @ 11:13 PM

I just realized I typed "plumping" instead of "plumbing" service!
Maybe if I had received some "plumping" for $119 I wouldn't be so
upset. :-) Just kidding...my kids were there!


At least you still have your sense of humor! by ♫Venice♫ Fri April 17, 2009 @ 11:27 PM

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