Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Battlezone- water heater wars

So I live in a "manufactured home." Yeah, it has wheels under it, but they haven't been used in about 20 years. Everything in a "manufactured home" is built out of the cheapest crap imaginable, nothing is the same size as a regular house, and everything is twice as expensive to replace. Which has to be done often and repeatedly. This week.... water heater wars... ~ Da duh DA! *insert dramatic music here*

About a month ago I discovered a spot of wet carpeting in our bedroom, suspiciously close to the wall which separates our bedroom from the outside water closet thingy that is where our water heater lives. (It's like having your water heater on the back porch but oh so much classier.) Me to DH: I think the water heater must be leaking. DH to me: no I think rain is leaking in the vents in the door. me to DH: well can you check? DH to me: grunt

Last week the floor was so wet it was starting to swell. Now if you have ever experienced a "manufactured home" then you know that the floors are made of something that resembles pressed paper. One toilet overflow and the floor of the bathroom swells and then falls through. Since the bedroom floor had now been wet for several weeks, and I was imagining my dressers falling right through, I stopped walking around my side of the bed. That meant that to get into bed I had to crawl over DH diagonally from his feet up to my pillows, pull back the covers and get under without touching the floor in any way. Great fun if you are young and newly married, but when the bed is for sleeping and not sex, which happens around 20 years later, it causes much late night grumbling.

Well there was enough grumbling about me crawling over his legs, and me bitching about sucking up water out of the carpet (every night with a really loud rug cleaner) that DH checked the water heater and found water running out the bottom. It was Saturday--time and a half for plumbers. We waited until Monday. By then, there was water, water everywhere. And the plumber? Well only one company in my town who services "manufactured homes." All the fittings are different, they cost more, and you can't just run down to Ace Hardware and get them.

This is where the war started.

Plumber guy (PG): I only take cash or checks from people in trailers because they have cheated me in the past.
me thinking: checks? charge cards are safer, you must be trying to hide the money from the IRS. Well, when we replaced this nine yeas ago it only cost about $350. It can't be that much more.
Me out loud: So can you give me a price range?
PG: $800-$900 if we don't have to do any special plumbing.
Me: ACK! WHAT????
PG: We'll we have to "insert BS plumbing crap here" and then there's the "more plumbing crap" but I have to look it over first.
Me: DO we have to wait until Monday?
PG: it will be fine, just put towels around it.
ME: great! see you Monday.

I have a friend who's husband is a plumber. I asked about this guy. He said he was crook, but if I told mentioned his name, and that he was coming over to check out the work then he might gouge me on the price, but at last he would do the job. Great choice-

I get a call about 10:00am
PG: Well, I have bad news. We have to "more plumber crap" and it's going to take a bit longer. And it will be $1000-$1100.
Me: Are you sure?
PG: Well, I didn't realize it was an outside access, so I'll have to bring the ladder. (I SWEAR this was his $200 excuse!)
Me: Well I can't very well say "Oh no, I don't need hot water" can I?
PG: We'll get to it this afternoon, and if we run over 5:00 I won't charge you overtime.

Swell, what a guy.

Me: mind if I have my friend Mike C. come over and look over the work, just to ease my mind. I really don't know anything about plumbing. (I wanted to add "Ms. Scarlett" after that, but just couldn't bring myself too.)
PG: Oh, You know Mike?
Me: Why yes. He's too busy working at *** to do it for me, but we've been friends for years.
PG: Did you tell him I was doing your work?
Me: Of course!
Pg: Umm.. Sure I don't have a problem with Mike looking at it. (This was obviously the biggest lie since he said "Of course I love you" to his high school sweetheart just before getting into her pants.)
Me: great! I'll see you this afternoon.

Now, I wanted to be there when the plumbers arrived, so I went into work early that morning and left early. I was home by 4:00- boy I hope I don't miss them!

6:00pm- some barely out of high school kid shows up. He hooks a hose up to my water heater to drain it, and asks me to shut my water off. (For those who don't know- in a "manufactured home" there's only one water shutoff, underneath, in the dark, near the meter, to everything. And animals live under there. I sent my husband.

A few minutes later Goober and Cleatus show up. Junior leaves. I have to go to my weekly night out with the girls which is sacred and not to be missed. (And since we now have no water, I need to go somewhere to have a pee anyway.) I leave a signed check (on my personal account, where all the money really lives) for DH to fill out when presented with the totally outrageous bill.

I get home and find:
A water heater (the old one) next to the driveway.
The box from the new water heater in pieces and laying all over my front yard.
All the insulation we had carefully put around our water heater closet pulled out and on the ground in the back yard.
Their drain hose running across the back yard.
And a bill for #1192.00 blithely paid for our of my checking account by he who shall remain spineless.

Tuesday morning:
I call the plumber guy:
Me: I expected you to honor your estimate, outrageous as it was. And I did not get an itemized bill. I want to know where you got these numbers. Oh yes, and my yard is trashed. And I am not on city services. I have to pay for trash pickup. No one will pick up that water heater.

PG: well we had to "insert more plumbing crap" but I'll honor your estimate. And I'll come by to clean up your yard.
me: Did I mention that I'm on Angie's List? There will be a review of this job on there.
Pg: I'll call you back with the itemized bill, and I'll have your yard picked up this morning.

Call a couple hours later from PG:
PG: I left a refund check for you for $142.00 at your house, and everything is now picked up. The bill was $522.73 for the water heater, and $174.87 for pipes parts and the permit. And I had to put in a gas "blah, blah" valve. And you had seven hours labor at $455
Me:(being quite calm, I thought) Seven hours? they arrived at 6:00pm and were done before dark at 8:00.
PG: well one guy had to go pick up the water heater at the warehouse, so he started at 5:15.
That's 5 hours at $91 an hour, and that was without time and a half. Goober and Cleatus are worth $91 an hour?
PG: well, I decided to take off and extra $50 from the estimate of $1100, so that's why you are getting a $142 refund.

Notice he used the top estimate, not the bottom, and tossed me back $50 clams. And I had to call him back to clean up their mess.

Oh yes, There will be an Angie's List on this one. And if I see one drip....

And in my mail Tuesday? A $150 water bill for one month. That's about 4 months worth of water leaked via my bedroom floor apparently. And now I have a floor to replace. That's going to be the next war.

1 comment:

Dana said...

OMG, what a disaster!!! People are the same everywhere. There is not one single person in the world who will do the job exactly as you want for a reasonable price. Oh and that includes husbands