Four Star Plumbing Orange County just ripped me off for $165 dollars. They charged me for a service call that produced nothing of real value. Later, they sent me a bid e-mail that got the facts of our situation completely wrong even though they had sent out their own plumber, Angel, to assess our situation. I'm going to ask the property management lady who recommended Four Star Plumbing Orange County to us to see if she can help us get our money back.
After we sent Kelli Frank, co-owner of Four Star Plumbing Orange County, photos of our issues and described our problems in a detailed e-mail she charged us $165.00 for the privilege of waiting around for two hours and then watching her plumber, Angel, inspect our kitchen and write out his notes for a bid.
What did I get for the $165.00? Angel looked under our sink and behind our refrigerator. He advised us to save money by buying our own disposer and faucet. He advised us to use another company to fix the angle stops. My wife and I watched him as he did some paperwork. He said that he could not do any work at all that day.
As I remember it, he said he would not install the disposer unless the water was hooked up to test it. He would not have the water running because he would not use the plastic angle stops used by our PEX installers. He said that we needed to get another company to come in and replace the angle stops and then he would go ahead and do the disposer.
Angel could have done at least a little work for us for $165.00. For example, he could have taken out the old disposer.
Even worse, when I finally got a bid back from Four Star Plumbing Orange County it was as if Angel had never even visited our property. The bid made it sound as if the existing angle stops were embedded in dry wall (an extra charge to fix) and suggested we may need to install a refrigerator icemaker outlet box, this is that box between the wall studs that keeps the water valves out of the way yet accessible. This was bizarre. Angel had inspected behind our refrigerator and clearly saw we already had a refrigerator icemaker outlet box.
Even worse, the bid said that they would charge us $185.00 per hour and that the hours they spent on the project would go from any where from 4 to 8 hours, or $740.00 to $1,480.00. I'm not joking. I have all this in their dated e-mail. The wildly variable bid was due to the supposedly unknowable expenses surrounding the question of whether or not they would need to remove drywall or, I suppose, install a refrigerator icemaker outlet box, and tear out some drywall back there too.
I called Kelli up the next day to see if we could get a more detailed, precise bid.
Once I'm on the phone she explains to me that the e-mail containing their most recent, widely ranging bid, was created with the knowledge of Angel, another lady and Kelli. I pointed out, innocently enough, that their email bid didn't really show any signs of the benefits I imagined we would be receiving after paying Angel $165.00 to inspect our situation.
After all, there were no dry wall issues at all, and we already had a clearly visible recessed ice machine water supply box. At this point, Kelli reacted with surprising anger and didn't seem to even want me to have an opportunity to talk back. She seemed especially concerned that I was suggesting that she did not know her own internal procedures or business. She also suggested that my comments where somehow due to the fact that she was a female. (Trust me, if she recorded this conversation, then this is all on their audio tapes.)
I can see that from her perspective she wants to make sure she makes $165.00 every single time one of her Four Star Plumbing Orange County plumbers goes out into the field.
From my perspective, however, I think that is a huge rip-off. Frankly, if I thought there was a chance a guy would come out and charge me $165.00 and not even remove the old disposer, I would have said to forget it. I only paid Angel the $165.00 in the first place because I thought - erroneously - that this bill would be deducted from future work he performed for us. It is interesting to me that at least another person writing at their Yelp site - Jon C. - had a somewhat similar experience with Four Star Plumbing Orange County.
I feel cheated. I can't believe that they charged me $165.00 for an inspection and then produced a bid that was so negligent and sloppy that it failed to reveal that I already owned a refrigerator icemaker outlet box.
I will send Four Star Plumbing Orange County a formal letter asking for my money back since Angel didn't do any work at all and because the results of the inspection we paid for were not accurately incorporated in their later bid. I'll let you know how that works out.
Meanwhile, it would have been nice for Angel to let me know that it was probably a bad idea to work with Four Star Plumbing Orange County. After all, if they can't get three people together to create an accurate bid, one which reflects the facts of the situation, then what else is going wrong at their second generation, family-run plumbing business?
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.