One of the reasons we launched Hassle Free Home Services was out of frustration with some of the common contracting practices that we encountered in our own homes. Contractors not showing up or failing to deliver promised estimates convinced Jim that there had to be a better way for people to take care of their homes. One other practice that has given the industry a bad name in the past, and as I recently learned is alive and well, is the bogus home repair upsell.
So, I received a note from one of our customers the other day asking about some recommendations that a plumber (not one of ours) had made to her. While at the house to install a new dishwasher, this plumber took the initiative to inspect both the garbage disposal and the water heater. I am sure it will come as no surprise that both were in urgent need of replacement! The shocking part of the story to me was just how brazen the contractor was in his recommendations.
With regard to the disposal he explained that the customer needed at least a 1 horsepower disposal and that the cost would be around $1,000 plus labor. For those who don’t know, you can get a high-end disposal for under $200 at any home improvement store, and unless you are running a commercial kitchen there is no need for such a powerful unit.
The water heater recommendation was even more impressive. The customer’s heater is around 10 years old, which is at the outer limit of its expected lifespan. That said, it has been well maintained and shows no signs of imminent issues. Undeterred by these facts, the plumber explained that the government was banning all but tankless heaters starting this year, so the customer should replace her heater as soon as possible before the ban takes effect. While there are new water heater efficiency standards coming into play this year, they certainly do not include an outright ban of certain types of heaters.
Most contractors are knowledgeable and honest and make upsell recommendations only when they identify real issues in a customer’s home. Unfortunately, there are always going to be individuals who will try to take advantage of a homeowner who might lack the knowledge to be able to discern a scam. For this reason homeowners should always work with trusted contractors and should not be afraid to do their own research and ask questions when contractors recommend additional work.