Plumber of the Month

Oh, my…it’s a tie…
The Winners are…Gervais Plumbing from Auburn, MA and Best Yet Installations from Spencer, MA

I needed a plumber to look at several tankless water heaters that were not producing hot water. We agreed that they would come on 1-5-22 I think. The morning of that same day they called to reschedule for 1-11-22 for 9am. The morning of 1-11-22 they called again to tell me it’s going to be 12noon. OK. I waited for 2 hours from 12 to about 2pm and no one showed up. I left them 2 messages during that time thru an answering service but they were at lunch. Finally I spoke to Marci from their office about all these cancellations and them being so late and not answering. Also I had tried to get them to tell me how much they charge before 1-5-22 and again before 1-11-22. They refused to say. Apparently they wait until they are already inside your house to slap you with their price when you have already waited and waited and they got you by the balls and you are much more likely to agree to pay. I pushed Marci to do the right thing and tell me how much their hourly rate is for labor before they come and she said that they don’t charge by the hour, it all depends what materials you need for the job. I asked how much assuming I don’t need any materials and she said it’s about $325 for the first hour !!!!!!! and then if another hour the price will be about $500 !!!!!!! I feel their system is intentionally confusing. Because I was rescheduled twice and waited for more than 2 hours on 1-11-22 I asked that they fix this hot water situation for “only” $250. Marcy agreed and told me she would call me in “5 mins”. The 5 mins turned into about 30 and then she called me to tell me that maybe someone will come at around 4:30pm. I said no because I had other scheduled things already for 4:30pm. My whole day was ruined in waiting. What a disappointing company and what a dishonorable business model.

I had hired them previously to replace a tankless water heater. It took them about 2 weeks after they did the job to pull the permit. They charged me $165/hr. OK.

Several months later I wanted them to do another job. This time they wanted $150 with 1.5 minimum. The appointment was for “between 11am and 1pm”. The day before I texted to confirm. No confirmation by them. The day of the job they did not show up. I thought half an hour before the appointment starts they would have a better idea of their schedule so at 10:25am I texted them asking if they would be closer to 1pm. Their reply –  “My plumber called out sick today. Currently trying to see if i can get another out there”. This company having hundreds of plumbers and with total disregard for my time made me wait until 12:28pm when he texted me that he is sending a plumber and I had to wait another hour or so until he actually showed up.

OK so to sum up they did not confirm the day before and half an hour before the appointment they said they had no plumber and offered to schedule for another day. When I pushed back and said it was too late and I was already there he found a plumber who showed up about 1:30pm for the “11am to 1pm” appointment.

He told me that it needed a new heat exchanger and left. After he left I texted the person I was texting with, his boss I assume, and told him that I have a spare heat exchanger and how much to install it or alternatively how much to install a new Rheem Combi wall-hung unit. His reply – “We will not install used parts. A new unit costs roughly 2700-3000 for the new Rheem combi unit. Installed is still hourly plus material”. I informed him that it’s not used, it’s new. No reply. I also informed him that a 190,000BTU Rheem combi (much more BTU than I need actually) costs only $2000 at Home Depot. His reply – “No. I dont buy home depot.” When I pushed back a little bit and said that the manufacturer’s warranty is the same no matter where one buys it his reply was “Please find another plumber” and then tried to convince me that the valve kit and piping was more than $700-$1000 (yeah, right)…except I had never asked him to provide me any pricing for any extra non-included materials, I was simply asking how much for the unit itself and whatever comes included with the box.

So basically these people were very late, refused to install the new heat exchanger I had for the same model water heater and overpriced the new combi unit with $700-$1000.


Even my regular plumber whom I have consistently worked with and hired over the past 6-7 years this year raised his price with me 25% and recently was late 2 hours to a prior appoint we had made because someone at the last moment offered him more money and he thought he could squeeze that job before our appointment. I had to wait for him 2 hours!

The reason all of this is happening is because there is a drastic shortage of plumbers in MA and the reason for that is because of protectionism of plumbing jobs in MA. The thinking here is “let’s make it extremely difficult to become a plumber so there is an artificial shortage of plumbers which will guarantee our high income.” In order to become a plumber in MA you need to go to school for 4 years and then you need to do Practicum as an “apprentice” to a licensed plumber for another 4 years. This is 8 years of education after High School. It’s more than to get an MBA and a PhD. My wife recently became a Physical Therapist Assistant after 2 years of school and 3 months of Practicum. If you can learn human anatomy in 2 years I think you can learn how to change a toilet, a sink, a tub, a faucet and install a water heater. Now, on the other hand if you want to become an urban plumber and work for a city installing pipes under the street, please, knock yourself out and study 8 years, I don’t care, but for all the rest  2 years of school (and even that’s being generous because I think only 6 months should be needed for those plumbers who do not install gas appliances) and several months of Practicum should be more than enough.