December 16, 2003- How much is that plumber?
Yesterday the dedicated staff of edhat.com made up a lie. We pretended that our toilet was clogged and that the old rubber plunger couldn’t unclog it. It wasn’t just our kids using too much paper. The clog was deep in the dark unknowns of our underground piping. The situation was dire, and our only solution was to hire a plumber. And we needed one quick because we only had only toilet in the entire house!
So, we called the plumber. Actually we called 35 plumbers.
“Hello,” we said, “Our toilet is clogged and we someone to fix it.”
“How much do you charge and when can you come?” we asked.
As subscribers may know, the first problem with getting a plumber is getting one on the phone. 14 of the 35 numbers we called were directed to voice mail - often a cell phone. We left messages and wrote down their names on a piece of paper, but we might as well just have flushed that paper down the toilet (if ours was working) because none of the messages were returned.
The next problem in finding a plumber is finding one that is not too busy. Monday, as we were told, is a busy day for plumbing. According to the excuses we heard, it was busy for 2 reasons - workers not showing up and people putting off fixing their plumbing woes over the weekend (probably not wanting to pay weekend overtime). Of the the 21 plumber we talked to, only six could definitely come to our assistance today. 4 even pointed us to other plumbers who might not be so busy.
In our research, we quickly discovered that most plumbers charge a flat rate to get your toilet water flowing again. The amounts ranged from $55 at All-American Plumbing in Santa Maria to $110 at Jerry’s Plumbing (the same price at both the Santa Barbara & Santa Maria locations). In our incomplete sample, the places in south county to get this dirty deed done dirt cheep are Channel Plumbing in Goleta and George-the-Rooter-Man in Santa Barbara. Each charges $65.
See all of our results
The average for all the plumbers we surveyed was $76.92 for someone to be there in 3.5 hours. The winner of the contest was SBCharter who guessed $72.50 and 4.0 hours. Congratulations to SB ... and lets all knock on porcelain that none of us will have a need to unclog a toilet any time soon.
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