Cowboy plumber

The 7 deadly sins of a (cowboy) plumber

There’s no doubt about it, over the past 10 years or so, the plumbing trade has really upped its game on the customer service stakes. The main reason being the rise of the online review. With platforms such as Check A Trade, Trust-a-trader, and Google My Business, there’s no hiding a poor customer experience.

So with all that in mind, I thought I’d reflect on how the industry very much used to be.
Sadly though, there are still a few cowboy plumbers out there who commit some or all of these seven deadly sins.

1. Greed
Overcharging and carrying out unnecessary work
You’ve agreed the scope of work, received a written quote, and the plumber gets to work.
But by the end of the job, you’re presented with a bill that bears no resemblance to what you’d agreed. The excuses come thick and fast:

“We had to fix A, in order to fix B”. “The job was more difficult than we had anticipated”. “There’s a new EU directive that says you need this (insert nonsense reason here) done”.

2. Dishonesty
Poor communication and not turning up when agreed
Probably the most common problem of all. You’ve agreed a time but there’s a no show. You wait patiently thinking that perhaps they are caught in traffic, but there’s no sign of them. You call, they finally answer, and then they invariably say: “I had to go to a funeral”. That seems to be the number one excuse.

If it’s not that, it’s turning up late and not informing you of their impending delay, or if parts need to be ordered and a revisit booked, you are just kept completely in the dark about progress.

3. Disrespect
A complete disregard for your property and possessions
They turn up knowing that the job in hand will create a mess, but fail to adequately cover the items in the room. Dust and grease get everywhere, and there’s no chance that they’ll be cleaning up after themselves.

Or, just as bad, once the job is complete, out comes a battered vacuum cleaner that would struggle to pick up a piece of confetti. On top of that, they’ve walked in to your home with filthy shoes, not having a care in the world or the decency to remove them.

4. Slovenliness
Lack of self-respect and cordiality
Who wants to do business with someone who smells bad or has a completely unkempt appearance? Or someone who stinks of cigarette smoke or alcohol?
It’s quite frankly disgusting.

I’ve heard of many an occasion when a tradesman has turned up looking like they’ve had a night on the tiles, and the prospect of doing a job was nothing more than a complete inconvenience to them.

5. Sloth
Lazy and slob-like approach to work
They turn up, complete the work, but can’t be bothered to explain in simple terms what they’ve actually done. On top of that, the invoice is written and lacks even the most basic of job descriptions leaving you completely in the dark about what you are paying for.

The job itself, has been poorly carried out, corners have been cut, and incoherent excuses made in order to cover their tracks.

6. Consideration
Or lack there of
You’re downstairs in the kitchen and all of a sudden you hear the toilet flush upstairs.
Ok, so people have to use ablutions, it’s normal. But not being asked permission first is a complete no-no.

On top of that, you go to inspect the bathroom afterwards, and low and behold, there’s the obligatory puddle of wee on the floor.

7. Assumption
You’ll just have to pay
They’ve spotted an opportunity to make a few extra quid. It’s not a tonne of money, just enough for them to be able to get away with it without too much hassle.
They don’t inform you, don’t provide a formal quotation, and decide to complete without your permission.

They present you with a bill and expect you to pay for it, whilst issuing loads of excuses as to why you weren’t told about it in the first place.

So there you have it. The seven deadly sins of a plumber. Fortunately, these kinds of situations are happening less and less – and you can do a lot to avoid them. Use the platforms I mentioned at the top of the page. Cross reference them, check out their company status, and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions when you make the initial enquiry. Good luck.

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