Saying no to a plumber
July 15, 2014 7:23 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I had a plumber come in to snake the drain in our master bathroom, and he discovered the pipe curves in a way his snake couldn't go. The clogged drain is ultimately due to the galvanized pipes in our 1925 home. What's the best way to tell this company that we're going to go with a different company?

The plumber has already knocked exploratory holes in the wall of the room that's behind the sink (my wife's office) and in the ceiling of the room below (the kitchen) and each time he comes over he discovers a new problem he didn't expect.

Ultimately, he recommended tearing out the kitchen ceiling to replace the galvanized pipes with PVC.

I got a second opinion from a different plumber, and he confirmed that we should replace the pipes now or we'll just have to do it later. But he also found a different way to install the vent for the bathroom sink that wouldn't involve an exposed section of pipe jutting out of my wife's office.

We haven't been billed yet because the sink still isn't fixed. What should I be prepared for when I call the office to tell them we're going with someone else?
posted by emelenjr to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Hard to say, but call the guy and tell him, "Thank you for coming out, but we've decided to go with another tradesman. What do we owe you for the X hours of work?"

I had a weird thing happen, I called a plumber to remove a sink when I was remodeling my kitchen, so he did. I asked for the bill and he told me, "I'll get you later for the reinstall."

As it turned out, I installed the new sink myself. I never heard from him again. I called him a couple of times, but he never called back.

Weird but true.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:30 AM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just call them up, ask for the bill for services already rendered, tell them that their services will no longer be needed, and thank them for their time. You're the customer, you don't have to give excuses or explain anything. If they ask to schedule a follow-up just decline.
posted by Librarypt at 7:31 AM on July 15, 2014 [9 favorites]

Most people don't realize this but for small business tradesmen, a huge chunk of their time is spent collecting money. If this is a roto-rooter type place, you'll def get a bill and hear from them, but if this a small time plumber they may just forget about you! (but you should pay and you should never use roto rooter)

Anyway. What methods did you use to unclog the drain yourself? Keep in mind a plumber will ALWAYS bring a snake to unclog a drain, even if its a sideways soft serve turd that got lodged at the bottom of the toilet bowl. If they came in with just a plunger and did their work, then dropped a bill off, the customer would be like WTF I COULD DO THAT! So they snake. Always.

And yes, you don't owe them an explanation.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:59 AM on July 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

"Hi, what do I owe you for the other day?"

If he asks about next steps, you can tell him you found someone else to do it differently, sure. But you can also lie and say "we're still making up our minds about that."

Alternately, if you really like the guy, you can tell him what the second opinion you got was, and see if he'd like to go that route.

I think your response depends in part of what kind of future relationship you want with this guy.
posted by colin_l at 8:08 AM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Call another plumber and get a third bid for the job. (And a fourth, if you want.) Go with whichever one you like the best. (Not necessarily the lowest bid; get referrals, ask a lot of questions, ultimately go with your gut.)

Bidding out larger jobs is standard practice. If the first plumber follows up with you, he won't be surprised to hear that you're getting other opinions. If he sends you a bill, pay it. My guess is you won't hear from him again. He's already busy on other jobs.
posted by sportbucket at 11:39 AM on July 15, 2014

Just tell them one of your friends is a plumber and is going to finish the job for you and ask how you can get the invoice for the work they've done. Personally I think if you say you're going with another company, they may argue. If you're mind is made up, a little lie can let you escape that.

If you would be open to them saying "Oh, we can do it that way too. And we can beat their price," then tell them the truth that you're going to a competitor and they can send an invoice.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:53 PM on July 15, 2014

You don't have to explain, but I agree that its comfortable to have a little white lie at hand. I'd probably say "Since this is getting to be such a big project, we think we're going to take some time to figure out exactly what we want."
posted by SemiSalt at 6:01 PM on July 15, 2014

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