Blocked Drain Scam Sydney

A BLOCKED DRAIN SCAM

IS LIKE A MOUSE TRAP.

IT WORKS BECAUSE THE MOUSE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND WHY

THE CHEESE IS FREE.

Blocked Drain Scams

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We recommend the following when contracting any Plumber or Drainer to clear your blocked drain.

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Beware of blocked drain scams and unethical behaviour!

Blocked drain scams are not just isolated to Australia, this fraudulent behaviour is widespread and committed by a large percentage of Licenced Plumbers and unlicensed individuals throughout the world. Watching the video below first will set the tone for the information that follows and the disturbing similarity in the videos further down the page. 

Is The Person A Licenced Plumber Or Drainer And Experienced?

Plumbing, drainage and gasfitting includes many distinct categories of work. Individuals and company's will need a Contractor's Licence before they can do any plumbing, draining or gasfitting (including LP gasfitting) work in NSW, regardless of the cost of the work and regardless of whether the work is residential, commercial, or industrial. Confirm the person who will be clearing your blocked drain or sewer line is licenced and suitably experienced. If you know a contractor's licence number or name, you can check the validity of the licence and other details by entering the licence number or contractors name into the NSW Fair Trading Public Register. If you don't get any results, then it is most likely the business is not legitimate. Licenced Contractors by law must display their licence number in all advertising. If you cannot find a licence number on a website or other advertising do not employ them! If they are going to break the law and not display a valid licence number, you really have to ask, what do they have to hide and what other illegal activities are they involved in. Not displaying a valid contractor's licence number in all advertising is no different to driving unlicenced in an unregistered vehicle on the road without registration plates!

More information here.

 

Also, you must double check by asking to see the Plumbers or Drainers licence card when he arrives. An individual holding a "Supervisor Certificate" card is not a Licenced Plumbing Contractor and cannot contract directly with consumers. A Licenced Plumbing Contractors card will display "Contractor Licence" at the top. Licenced Plumbing Contractors are always happy to produce their credentials whenever asked. A consumer asking to see a Plumbers Contractor Licence is no different than a Police Officer asking to see your drivers licence. They must produce it if you ask! Beware! A "technician" (Tech) or "engineer" is not a Licenced Plumber or Drainer! Plumbing Businesses calling their employees by these, or other names employ unlicensed and unskilled workers, labours or salesmen and pass them off illegally to homeowners as Licenced Plumbers or Drainers and many pay their employees high commissions to run "Bait-And-Switch" scams to "Up-Sell" unnecessary and overpriced plumbing repairs. A valid NSW "Company Licence" number displayed on a website does not mean that the people arriving at your home are going to be Licenced Plumbers. If a business or individual carries out work that requires a licence, and they are not licenced for that category of work and something untoward happens on your property causing property damage or physical injury you will not be covered by insurance. It is illegal for any individual to contract directly with consumers to carry out plumbing, drainage or gasfitting work in NSW without a valid Contractor's Licence!

Do You Expect A Proper Job?

Confirm the Plumber will be using a CCTV drain camera to clear your blocked drain or sewer correctly and honestly. Plumbers not including drain camera inspections with their service have another agenda, something to hide, or are just out to make a "quick buck" by only doing half the job! This will only result in short term results and frequent recurring blockages. Clearing a blocked drain or sewer line without using a CCTV drain camera is like driving a car with a blindfold on, you don't know what you are doing and have no idea where you are going!

Do You Like Surprises?

Unethical Plumbers are notorious for baiting homeowners with a cheap upfront price to clear a blocked drain or sewer line with a water jet only to switch or up-sell to a higher price once on the job by claiming that the use of a drain camera and other equipment is also required and is an extra charge. Clearing blocked drains properly requires both a water jet and a CCTV drain camera in the same way that eating a steak dinner requires a knife and a fork!  

The video above is an example of a homeowner being taken advantage of by a Plumber running a "Bait-And-Switch" scam. The "Bait" to access the homeowner's property in this example is the cheap upfront price of $95* to clear a blocked sewer line, and on a Sunday no less! Once the Plumber is set up on the property the job is then "Switched" from a $95* drain clearing service to a $395 drain clearing and camera inspection service then "Switched" again by up-selling a major $5,800 drainage excavation and sewer renewal job. This scam is carried out step by step in a very methodically planned process by claiming that extra work and equipment is needed.

Are You Paying Attention?

Do not depend on the Plumber simply telling you the blocked drain or sewer line is clear, be present when the work is being carried out, ask questions, and insist on being shown live video of the inside of the pipe of before, during, and after the drain clearing work to confirm for yourself that the drain clearing process has been carried out correctly. Just seeing water and a hand full of toilet paper flushing away is no guarantee that the drain has been cleared properly or tree roots have been removed!

Do You Really Want To Watch A Video Rerun?

Do not rely on seeing recorded video or pictures of the inside of your drainage pipes after the drain or sewer line has been cleared, the video recording or pictures may be of someone else's sewer line! THIS IS FRAUD! Plumbers who "switch" videos or pictures on their customers do this to "up-sell" overpriced drain repairs by running "Bait & Switch" drain scams!

The video above is an example of what happens when a Plumber runs a "Bait-And-Switch" drain camera fraud on their customer. The homeowner is usually "Baited" over the phone with a cheap upfront price which allows the Plumber access onto the property then while the homeowner is not paying attention the Plumber will "Switch" video recordings of the inside of their drain with a recording of the inside of someone else's drain showing a much bigger problem. This allows the Plumber the opportunity to quote much higher prices to repair existing smaller problems or quote a price to repair a problem that does not even exist. CCTV drain cameras are an indispensable tool used by honest drainage professionals to diagnose, locate, and clear blocked or problematic sewer and stormwater drains however in the wrong hands this equipment can be used to swindle tens of thousands of dollars out of unsuspecting homeowners.

Are You Being Told The Truth?

If a Plumber informs you that your drain or sewer line cannot be cleared, tree roots cannot be removed or it is too dangerous to use his drain clearing equipment because it may get damaged he may be telling you the truth as on occasions this can happen however he may just be lazy, inexperienced, or using inferior equipment or it could be the Plumber is using deliberately doctored down drain cleaning equipment to run a "Bait-And-Switch" drain scam on you and be more interested in "Up-Selling" you an expensive drainage repair than clearing your blocked drain properly! You will know this is the case if the Plumber (or not a Plumber!) starts sneaky high-pressure sales and scare tactics to coerce you into signing a contract on the spot. If this does happen to you DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING and get a second opinion, obviously by another Plumber that does not run blocked drain scams, otherwise you will still get scammed only this time by another Plumber! (same poo, different dog) Most tree root blockages can be cleared with the exception being either a collapsed pipe or extreme or diabolical tree root infestations that couldn't be cleared with a stick of gelignite let alone drain clearing equipment.

The video above is more of the same "Bait-And-Switch" scams run by Plumbers. There are two things to take away from this example. The "Bait" is a cheap upfront price of $50* to clear a blocked drain and the "Switch" being to hoodwink or coerce the homeowner into major drainage repairs based on lies that the homeowner has broken sewer pipes and, in this example, all without the aid of a CCTV drain camera and this video is probably well over 30 years old which indicates Plumbers running "Bait-And-Switch" scams is not a new phenomenon however today the behaviour is a lot more widespread and rapidly spreading throughout the plumbing industry aided by the fraudulent use of more sophisticated drain clearing and inspection technology.

Do You Need To Be Smarter?

Truth be told, there is no such thing as a cheap upfront price when it comes to clearing blocked drains because the problem is not visible above ground being underground and the above ground symptoms of a blocked drain underground are the same whether the blockage is a simple one requiring only a short visit and minimal effort and equipment or there is a much larger and more complex drainage problem requiring more resources. If you cannot see the cause of the blockage neither can the Plumber, even if he is standing on the ground right above it! No one can see underground, that is why we use CCTV drain cameras. The number of people calling expecting us to tell them over the phone what is going on inside their drains underground somewhere on their property in a suburb far away is frankly bewildering to say the least. I have also lost count of the number of homeowners I have spoken with who have been shafted to the tune of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars by chasing or price shopping for cheap upfront quotes over the phone for blocked drain clearing services that simply do not exist in the real world from unscrupulous Plumbers with dubious character without a conscious and questionable values telling them lies from afar about their underground drain problem across town with their crystal ball to make them feel more comfortable about employing them so they can slither onto their property to close in on the kill. You can call me cynical, but serious questions also need to be asked of those who think they can get an experienced Licenced Professional being paid a minimum of $100,000.00 per year plus entitlements traveling up to an hour or more across town to their home in a custom built $100,000.00 service vehicle loaded with $60,000.00 of specialised drain clearing and diagnostic equipment you can't buy at Bunnings to diagnose and clear a blocked drain without having any idea of the size or extent of the subterranean drainage problem they about to tackle or at all knowing how long the job could possibly take, and expect that all they are going to pay is 95, 88, 79 or even 49 bucks!..... Seriously! You couldn't read about this stuff!...

The video above was posted online with thousands of views by an honest Licenced Plumber and blocked drain specialist (Ben - "From Sinks to Sewers") who is obviously also alarmed and concerned about the escalation of fraud being committed in the Plumbing industry giving him and other reputable contractors a bad name. 

The video above is an example of a reckless Plumbing business advertising $85 drain cleaning services running a blocked drain scam on their customer claiming their sewer line is broken then leaving an unlicensed and inexperienced person on-site unsupervised to carry out an unnecessary excavation to find and intentionally damage their sewer pipe to up-sell drainage repairs. This is what can happen when unlicensed and inexperienced individuals are employed by Plumbing businesses to work in customers' homes unsupervised. Let me be very clear, any business employing unlicensed and inexperienced individuals to carry out labouring type work is not in itself illegal however placing them on a customer's property to carry out excavation work in and around plumbing, drainage, gas, and electrical systems without an experienced Licenced Contractor on-site to supervise the work is moronic and reckless and can be potentially catastrophic! If you think this sort of thing doesn't happen in Australia, think again!

Other furphies and untruths to look out for

Providing on-site quotations - Many Plumbers will advertise or tell you over the phone they will come to your home and provide a quote or "up front price" as they call it to clear your blocked drain. These Plumbers claim that they will first inspect your drains with a CCTV drain camera and use pipe locators to find the problem and identify the blockage thus enabling them to accurately quote for the work. Not so! Drain cameras only work in drains that have first been cleared! Blocked sewer pipes are full of floating dirty wastewater, faeces, urine, pulverised toilet paper, grease particles and everything else you have flushed down the sewer creating a cloudy, dirty, and murky liquid environment inside the pipe which makes it impossible to see any further than a few millimetres in front of the camera head. The best description I can give of what this is like is if you were to put goggles on then sticking your head in a bucket of mud! If the drain is blocked the first step is to always clear the drain of all the dirty wastewater and solids to create a clear pipe with no liquid in it so a proper visual inspection can be carried out. This deceptive approach by some Plumbers is used to gain access to your property and hoodwink you into think they can provide an upfront fixed price to clear your drain before they do any drain clearing work when it is the opposite!

$0 Call Out Fee - Call out fees have always been a contentious topic with consumers with some homeowners understanding what a call out fee is and why it is charge and are happy to pay while others seem to begrudge paying a call out fee. In many instances whether a call out fee is charge or not can make the difference between a potential customer employing the services of a dishonest business over an honest one. Firstly, a call out fee is a charge to the customer to cover expenses incurred for the business in traveling to the job for the customers benefit. Travel costs are a real expense to the business and must be recouped. This means the cost of travel will be added to the overall cost of the total job in one way or another. This is where the deception lies. All service businesses charge a call out fee, yes that is right, even the businesses that advertise "$0 Call Out Fee"! Some businesses will tell you they charge a call out fee plus a labour charge and another charge for equipment such as $80 call out fee and $100 per hour for example. These businesses don't advertise "$0 Call Out Fee" because they tell their customers upfront that they do charge a call out fee. Another business may tell you that they charge $180 for the first hour then $50 per half hour thereafter and have you believe they don't charge a call out fee simply because the call out fee is not a separate charge but in fact it is included in the first hour's charge. Another business may supply a service where all three charges, call out fee, labour and equipment are grouped together into one charge per hour or half hour or a single quoted price . In this case if the business is being honest, they won't advertise "$0 Call Out Fee" because they know they do. At the end of the day travel costs are a real thing, the cost must be recouped by the business and the customer is responsible for the cost as those costs are being incurred by the business while suppling a service to the customer which includes travel costs for the customers benefit. One way or the other the call out fee (travel costs) will always be included in the total price by all services businesses. If service businesses that travel all over town all day making short service calls to people's homes didn't charge for their travel costs, they would go out of business very quickly as travel costs are a big part of the overall costs and expenses of running a mobile service business. Just know this. There is no such thing as "$0 Call Out Fee", it's a furphy or could also be described as a confidence trick used by dishonest businesses to coerce potential customers into call them. Again, if businesses are not going to be completely honest with you it's best to avoid them altogether because you never know what other sneaky tricks, they may have up their sleeves.

Deceptive "Local" advertising - ​Be wary of the many deceptive and disingenuous Sydney drain and sewer cleaning businesses not local to your area that advertise that they are. This type of advertising is extensively used online and in direct marketing such as flyers and fridge magnets delivered in homeowners letter boxes. A small percentage of homeowners are not concerned whether the contractor they are employing is a local business or not, and that is their choice, however from our experience we have found that most homeowners are. Regardless of where you live in Sydney, if one of your criteria is to support and employ local trades people in your local area you should use the NSW Fair Trading Public Register to check the location of the business by entering the licensee's name or licence number prior to making that first contact. For example, we are located in Sydney's northern suburb of Frenchs Forest and only advertise in and service northern Sydney suburbs such as the Northern Beaches, Northern Suburbs, Upper North Shore, and Lower North shore. If we did advertise in another area of Sydney such as the Southerland Shire for example, we would not hoodwink local homeowners by claiming or advertising that we are local to their area.

Plumbers who take advantage of or rip off their customers prey on and deceive homeowners who do not understand the Plumbing industry and as a consequence make incorrect assumptions regarding the difference between pricing methods used by licenced contractors and under what circumstances and why those different pricing methods are used. Every week we get calls from people telling us horror stories about their experiences with these corrupt businesses and individuals. Make no mistake, blocked drain scams are the biggest "money spinner" in the Plumbing industry worldwide which explains why such unethical behaviour is so rampant. It can be difficult if not impossible for homeowners to spot a scam artist in this business however it only takes me 5 seconds! Wouldn't you like to know what I know?

We value our reputation and relationships with our customers and as such do not run blocked drain scams to up-sell drainage repairs for the purpose of financial gain, it's just not in our nature!