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Nothing can ruin a weekend more quickly than a clogged drain, a leaky pipe, or a backed-up sewer. Unfortunately, like many other areas in which the average person lacks expertise (and which can have serious consequences if tackled by a non-professional), drain cleaning services occasionally attract scam artists looking to make a quick buck at your expense. Read on to learn more about some red flags to watch for when hiring a drain cleaning specialist, as well as ways to ensure that you hire the best person for the job.
Why do scam artists target drain cleaning and plumbing companies?
Most homeowners' first inclination when facing a drain problem is not to tackle it themselves, but to call a professional. Although the vast majority of those billing themselves as drain cleaning professionals are honest, upstanding individuals who take great pride in their work, some mercenaries see this reliance on professionals as a prime opportunity to take advantage of homeowners. These types of scams harm the honest professionals the most.
What are some red flags of a plumbing scam?
Unfortunately, one reason so many unscrupulous scam artists are successful is because it is often difficult to distinguish between a true problem and a scam-artist-created problem. However, there are a few situations in which you may be able to call the scam artist's bluff.
One of the most common scams is just an attempt to drum up more work than is needed -- and at artificially inflated prices. If you call with a minor problem, such as a stopped-up sink that won't respond to commercial drain cleaners, the scam artist may suggest using a camera to scope out your pipes and see if he or she can identify the culprit. However, instead of using a camera to inspect your pipes, the scam artist will show you an old digital video of someone else's severely clogged pipes, falsely stating that the video is of problems discovered in your pipes. Understandably, most homeowners are shocked to discover that "their" pipes are in such bad shape, and are quick to agree to any work recommended by the scam artist.
If you find yourself in a situation in which one of the following occurs, you may be dealing with a scam artist rather than an honest plumber:
Above all, trust your gut. If something the scam artist is telling you (or appears to be withholding from you) just doesn't add up, don't ignore these gut feelings. Ask questions and never agree to work that you're not comfortable with.
How can you ensure that you're hiring an honest and reputable company?
Luckily, with a little bit of research it can be fairly easy to avoid these scam artists. There are a number of local and national websites that keep directories of home construction and improvement companies with a proven track record of excellence. These websites also have strict penalties for noncompliance, so a report that one of these companies has defrauded another customer will result in swift action. Although these websites are not always free, by paying for a subscription (even on a temporary basis) you can ensure that anyone you hire is the right person for the job.
Many states also keep directories of licensed and bonded plumbers. In this example, you can search for a licensed plumber in your area and be confident in your choice. As with commercial websites, states whose licensing authorities receive complaints about the quality of service provided may be able to quickly suspend or even revoke this company's license. You can also go to sites of local plumbers to learn more about their business and their policies.Share