The Great Homeowner Ripoff

Trust Me!

Electricians, Plumbers, and HVAC Techs are Screwing you

Note: this is not satire. It is just me, venting my spleen. And, providing a public service.

All you homeowners out there know the frustration of having a repairman come in to fix a plumbing or electrical problem, and having them charge you $100 to show up. Then they confidently tell you that whoever did the last repair work was a nitwit and did everything wrong. (I am certain this is in the training manual for every new repairman).

Then they proceed to proclaim that whatever looks like a one hour job, will cost you $1,000.

It used to be that repair people worked by the hour. And if the job took 90 minutes, you knew the cost. Plus parts of course. You, the hapless consumer whose mechanical abilities max out at plugging in lamps, feel that maybe that is more time than it would really take. But, at $75-$80/hour, the cost was manageable.

Those days are over. Now, when the repairman sees the problem, they whip out a book that is about the size of the old Sears catalogs. They blithely look thru the book, and find the price. $800-$1000. For what used to be a $200 job. And for whatever the job is. See, its right here in the manual! Its completely honest and above board, you can believe anything you see printed in this manual!

How did this happen? I have it on good authority, that when its time for a plumber to retire, he sells his business to an investment company that converts it from the very prosperous outfit that it was, to this new ripoff scheme. This way, the investment company overpays for the business, knowing that if they buy enough such businesses, hapless homeowners will be forced to pay their monopolistic and near criminal charges. And the investment companies laugh all the way to their waterfront mansions in the Hamptons.

To add extortionate insult to injury, these companies train their employees to recommend unneeded and vastly overpriced add on services. I have had a heating and AC tech recommend that I pay him $500 to hose off the vents on my outdoor AC unit. I mentioned that I could do this in 10 minutes with my own hose. He started to try to convince me that he had some sort of magic cleaning. device, which would do the job WAY better. I politely declined. I had a tech tell me that I needed to pay $600 to replace a solenoid in my humidifier line. Looking at the needed repair, it was obvious that any idiot could do this in 15 minutes with a new part. Which I did. The part cost $65.

I had been victim of this a few times, when I smelled a rat. I now decline ANY and ALL recommended add on services. I do pay for the twice annual inspections. Then I do any necessary additional jobs myself, which you can easily figure out by watching youtube videos and ordering parts off the internet. And of course, just ignore the stuff that costs $1500 for no real reason you can believe using common sense.

If any of this is beyond you, then find a retired neighbor who is handy and making a few bucks as a handyman. Likely the cost will $75 plus the part, which again, buy yourself. ALWAYS buy faucets at Home Depot or Lowes yourself. Otherwise you might get junk at a huge markup.

When your repairman brings out “the book”, listen carefully. You might get info about how to do the job and the part that is necessary. Ask questions as to exactly what work is required to do the repair. Memorize so you can do it yourself.

Offer the guy a bottle of water, send him on his way. Use the grand you saved and treat yourself to weekend at the beach.

As a last lesson, if you need a new AC unit, understand that you should call 10 companies. The bidding will start at $8,000 for a three ton unit. That unit costs them about $1500, two guys can install in a couple of hours. I have had mine done by one guy in that time. You can haggle this down to $3,500 or so, and have them throw in the first year of inspections for free. Keep going, even if you are baking in the summer heat. Think of the savings per hour your time and momentary discomfort is worth.

Just don’t be a sucker. And the investment banker will have to settle for a Maserati, rather than a Ferrari. Doesn’t that warm your little ol’ heart?

One thought on “The Great Homeowner Ripoff

  1. So true. I have my own mechanic/repair person that isn’t retired. My wife. She’s amazing at fixing things or Youtubing stuff. She doesn’t allow repair people unless it’s a huge job. And the add on thing is no joke. Jiffy Lube will turn a $40 oil change job into a $1500 engine overhaul. I always reject everything the recommend.


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