An Observation: Plumbers vs. other professions

I'm posting this out of pure frustration.
I am an active licensed master plumber. I no longer work in the field and have moved on to middle management in a mechanical contractor's corporation. When I did work in the field, not too long ago, people always bitched about how much a plumber charges, blah, blah, blah....you all have heard it before.
When I worked for others, their rates didn't seem outrageous. In fact, most of them seemed to short changed their own businesses by not charging enough. This was the case when I went into business for my self, I never charged enough. I had a former employer and longtime friend tell me once "never short change yourself or you'll wind up working for nothing" How true.
Anyhow, what I'm observing is this. Recently, my eldest son broke his arm while skating, we took him to the hospital and they admitted him, x-rays, cast...the whole drill.... He was scheduled for a follow up visit at the Ortho's office 3 days later. This is where it gets interesting. We took him in 10 minutes before his scheduled appointment at 2PM, 20 minutes later he was seated in an exam room......for the next 1-1/2 hours without even being seen!!!
We're not talking about a major metro area doctor office, I live in the pucker brush..........
The observation I'm making is how rude and unprofessional would it be if I did that to someone that had an appointment with me. Doctors make good money, have unreal insurance bills and very real risks in their trade.....so do plumbers. But damn, to make someone wait like that, offer no apology and not even consider taking something off the bill for insulting us like that! C'mon, if I was late or cancelled they'd charge me for the timeslot. I suppose my time isn't as valuable as theirs..........get real, if I was to pull that on my customers, I wouldn't have customers. But for some reason, some professions think they're better than others
My point is these same doctors are most likely the same people that continually bitch about how expansive plumbers are, the ones that demand us to come out to their home on Christmas day to unclog their toilet or disposal, yet complain the most when we charge them a reasonable fee for this service. Some even go so far as to not pay the bill and get away with it. Try doing that the next time you're in for a set of stitches or the flu!
To top it off, we take our son in for another follow up appointment, pay another $20 co-pay only to have nothing done, no services rendered at all. How would your customer base like it if you scheduled an appointment with them, took time out of their day, only to do absolutely nothing at all and bill them for a couple of hours..........You think you have them as customers for long?
Trouble is that doctors, lawyers and other professions seem to think that plumbing isn't a profession, but rather an on demand peasant service at their beck and call, how dare we ask a fee for this!
I'm all for competitive pricing, bidding and services rendered.............the American way............but dammit all, when was the last time you could go out for bid for braces on your kids teeth or have at least 3 low responsible bids from 3 competing pathologists to review your biopsy......
How things got so twisted? Why is it that it's okay to bad mouth plumbers and accuse them of price gouging, yet some other professions get away with it.................well, you can figure it out.........
Go into your local supermarket or grocery store, pick up a loaf of bread, go to the check out line and ask the cashier to discount it because the market across town is selling the exact same loaf for .10 less!
It's high time plumbers and others in trade professions started taking a stand together! Quit low balling bids, undercutting each other with low flat rates or T&M rates $10 an hour less than brand X across town.
Enough is enough........if doctors have a set fee for something they do, we plumbers do too.............don't ask for a discount unless you're willing to extend the same discount to me when at your office. When was the last time you had the lawyer or doctor actually performing the work or service anyway? Usually they send it the paralegal or nurse practitioner (otherwise known as an apprentice or journey person) and charge you the full rate as if they did the procedure or wrote the document!
For what its worth, the next time a doctor calls you to their home on a holiday to unclog a drain when its 5 below zero outside and the wind is howling, snow ass deep and the roads haven't been plowed because the town won't get around to it until after the storm, tell them to put on the coveralls, pull out the drop light and take their sewer machine out of the shed and get busy.........I bet that sight would make for a good post card seeing someone of that "prestige" crawling under their house thru raw sewage trying to get to that cleanout for a rodding session..........tell them you'll be there sometime between the hours of 10AM and 6PM tomorrow, please be sure to have someone at home to sign for the bill!
I hope our society comes around,stops the bitching about how much the plumber charged, quit with the not so funny commercials and radio spots that make fun of plumbers crack and how much us slobs charged them and start looking seriously at the health care, pharmaceuticals, legal and insurance industries and professions who are calling all the shots and making life miserable for all of us!..........and congress who needs a serious enema!
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Rick Hodgson wrote:

<snipped>
You touched a nerve of mine there Rick.
Even though I'm an MIT grad with a master's from an ivy league school to boot, for the past 40+ years I've been happiest when I'm just diagnosing and fixing stuff with my own hands.
I've long felt that it's misguided social pressures which force many guys with great "hands on" skills to take paths towards white collar jobs, because while growing up they were conditioned by their families and peers to believe that nobody will respect them if they get into a "dirty hands" profession.
How many doting parents would advise their daughters to choose a grease monkey over a CPA?
The diagnostic skills required to find out what's wrong with something and fix it right "the first time", like an HVAC system or one of today's automobiles, easily rival those of a doctor. And, unlike in the medical profesions, excuses like, "We're just doctors, not gods", don't work in the trades. If the job doesn't come out the way you said it would, and you're an honorable person, it's your responsibility to make it right.
I'm taking some secret satisfaction in noting that many of my contemporaries' college educated children are still living at home with their parents 5 years after graduation because they can't find a job in their chosen profession, and if they can, it's not paying what they expected it to.
In the face of so many jobs being "exported" these days, (They're now reading digitized x-rays in India and shooting the results back to your hospital through the web.) I've been advising youngsters to think hard about what field they decide to get into. I've been pointing out to them that it's not likely that someone in Brooklyn is going to ship his car to India to get the transmission rebuilt, or call up somebody in Pakistan to come fix his toilet.
My Uncle Schlomo used to say, "I've met a lot of poor looking junkmen, but I've never met a poor junkman."
Just my .02,
Jeff
--
My name is Jeff Wisnia and I approved this message....

(W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
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if more of us were doctors the world would be even healthier. FACT Plumbers do more for the heath of the nation than doctors. FACT.
My a-hole liberial doctor had the nerver to tell me and I quote, "thats why its an art not a science"
I think that it has everything to do with people and their messed up values; blame tv parents or whatever.
One thing is sure, if you vote for kerry it will get worse.
repubs are for the working class, thats why we are not dems. http://www.partyoftherich.com /
john kerry and all left wing libs should rot in hell. FU Leave us alone.

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"Ned Flanders"

Repubs for the working class? That's a laugh.
I'm neither a dem or a repub. As far as I can tell they are both for the parasite rich.
MM
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Point taken Jeff. Society has imposed twisted values and ideas for certain.
I'd like to reveal more detail about myself just as you did.. A plumber by trade, I have 4 active master licenses in which I sat for each exam, nothing reciprocated. My licensing is from 2 different regions of the country that use 2 different code standards, BOCA & National. I also have an HVAC/Refrigeration background, have taught plumbing apprenticeship and currently work as the chief estimator for a multi million dollar mechanical company. I bid plumbing,mechanical & sheetmetal/HVAC&R projects in size up to 30 million. I have been in trade work for about 19 years now. I make a great salary and love my job. All this is said because I've never attended college for a degree. I've taken accredited courses, but never stayed in school long enough to obtain a degree in a major. I can tell you this, I'm not sorry for choosing this career path over staying in school and getting a degree in something I'd most likely not be working in almost 20 years later. Even though contracting work is cyclical in nature, with layoffs during lean times & overtime out the ears in times of plenty, I've always been very secure in my work, knowing that my job could never be taken from me and sent overseas. They haven't invented robots that can crawl under your house and unclog a drain pipe or rough in a medical gas piping system while the ICU ward is still occupied and the system needs to remain functional and pure. With the declining enrollment of people into trade apprenticeships, an aging workforce currently in the field, insurance and building regulations out of control causing a stifling effect on construction, our country is about to experience even higher rates for professional trade work in the years to come.
I have read all three reponses that my post has generated to date and in one the remark about the doctor's work being art not science, well the profession I'm in right not is both art & science.....professional estimating. The science part of estimating is the takeoff portion, the art is the bid building. There's even a society of professional estimators for the contracting realm. The transistion from working in the field to estimating can be a daunting task for most, in fact most don't make the final cut because of one reason or another. I've also seen people come right from college into estimating (and mechanical engineering) that possess no real life experiences to draw upon when designing or estimating a project that leaves holes in the estimate or design because that person doesn't have any practical experience in how a system is installed or functions. Putting it on paper and drawing knowledge from books on how to design or put a cost to it isn't enough. Without proper "hands on skills", no amount of smarts will overcome this lack, only time.
I suppose with the advent of the Home Depot's, everyone now thinks they're a plumber. A friend once coined the phrase "if they don't glue it, they don't do it" In my opinion, anyone with one eye and half a brain can take a section of PVC pipe and glue it to a fitting. It takes a plumber to install it correctly to meet the minimums of the enforcing code, with the experience to understand if the installation is correct to meet the design intent and will function as designed. I loath those that go to the box store, buy up a bunch of fittings, pipe, fixtures etc.... and then go try to hire someone to put their erector set together (most likey too cheap to hire a licensed pro, thereby hiring an unlicensed "handyman" because he doesn't charge as much), because they lack the knowledge of how to install the plumbing systems in their dwelling and think the licensed plumbing contractor is gouging them with high markups on materials so they go buy up out the store, but still cannot install it themselves......code enforcement notwithstanding. These "handymen" are the people that butcher up your home by doing a hack job and give porfessionals a bad rap.
This holds true to Builders & General Contractors that do the same thing. The markup a plumbing contractor has on labor is there to overcome the direct costs of overhead like the vehicle driven and labor burdens such as insurance. The small markup on materials and fixtures is his profit in most cases and those GC/Home Building Contractors that buy the plumber's material list are pocketing the markup.......you don't think they're giving the home buyer back the markup the plumbing subcontractor had on his materials? Same holds true for the house wiring eletrician, the GC is pocketing the markup, not allowing the subcontractor to make a profit. They even insult our intelligence by asking the plumber/electrician to generate a materials list, they can't even do that themselves!
This happpens on all size projects, from track homes, custom built homes, spec housing, commercial and industrial. I don't have a problem with DIY in most cases, if the individual doing the DIY is capable of and competent enough with skills to perform the task. But when people advantage of licensed trades people, that gets my goat.
This year, choose wisely with your votes!!!!! A wrong choice will cost more than 4 years when the policy in effect goes beyond the term!!!!

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People bitch..so what ? You want to meet Steve my gas station attendant ? ( yeah, there is one left.) The sun is out, its too much sun, its raining, its never GONNA stop! Too much snow, when will it snow ? Clinton *was an asshole, Bush *is an asshole, Kerry *will be an asshole. I only go there to hear him bitch. Or there is Antawain, he can't control his 'ho's, he has to bail them out all day & night long. Booboo is trying to steal Antwains stable. Ain't 'nough peoples be buying poontang. Antwain also has his street degree in Pharmaceuticals. He has his Masters in fact. He can't find good shit to sell, Booboo is undercutting him on that too. Ain't no good peoples with money coming to the Fillmore & Broadway Dist. Antwain can't get no sleep in his crib at night ! Damn poo lice be 'restin his 'ho's all the time. It never ends....all that bitching !
Look in your yellow pages and count how many Doctors there are. Now I need not look in it and see how many Lic. Master Plummers you have, damn few huh ? You went out of business for not charging enough. Its your fault and NO ONE else ! You hurt us all by undercutting the other guy. That's how you end up working for the other guy ! I don't work anymore, but I'm glad you where not around me when I was. I sure hope you were not a 24 hr emergency service type ? The kind that goes to some home at midnight to change a washer. Yeah, that's how to make a fortune. Fuck good will and a good name. Just do good work and charge like hell.
10 bids = 10 jobs, you lose money. 10 bids = 2 jobs you make money. I hope you figure it out someday.
I'm was going to write, Zen and the art of Plumming. Now its, JP's Art of (Plumming) War.
BTW; Plumming and Medicine both started at Andersonville Prison after they hung the warden. Read the books. Hint; Civil War or to our buds in the South, The War between the States.
You're just as good as any Doctor. You just don't need to put in as many hours in to make more than he does. You are in the Public Health Service too. Decide. Are a Lic. Master Plummer ( Bonded) or a handyman who needs beer money ? You don't worry about lawyers, Ins. or Congresscritters. Don't worry about small shit, everything is small shit. Find your pride.
Don't come back on this for the next 24 hours.

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If you had taken the time to read entirely, you would understand my "bitching" wasn't about me being in business, undercharging, politics, etc... I am bitching about the fact that the doctor we took our kid to at appointment time had us wait in an exam room for 1-1/2 hours without so much as a "hello, "I'll be with you soon". I think THAT was rude and unprofessional. These are the same people that are "bitching" about how much the plumber charges..........
"Plumbers protect the health of the nation">
FYI, plumbing started in ancient Rome where women worked lead for a living while the men were off conquering, I've read the books..........funny how Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore all had plumbing long before Andersonville Prison........
<Snipped> BTW; Plumming and Medicine both started at Andersonville

COPY OF ORIGINAL FOR YOU TO READ THIS TIME
<Snipped> Anyhow, what I'm observing is this. Recently, my eldest son broke his arm

We're not talking about a major metro area doctor office, I live in the

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umm that wasn't 24hrs.

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I know my history well. Medicine and Plumming started after the Civil War. As I said in a public health sense. In the past I posted old codes from other ages. Those were not for PH.

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That's allot of damn writing to say 1 1/2 hours !

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Here is a post I put about sombody who questioned a high price for a water heater install I agree with you. If they don't like the price they should do it them selves and hope for the best! We all do what we know best. The value of having sombody available on fri night at 8 to drop what ever they had planned to make sure you had hot water or anybody else who called is well worth the price. I bet if you did with out till monday during normal hours and made some calls you might save 200.00 if you are also willing to be patient until they are available to do the work. You also have to rember sombody will have to be there to let the plumber in so you might lose another day of work. Yes it is alot but you did get great service when you wanted it and at your convience. Your only other option would be do it yourself but then you would still have to wait till sat and get a truck to pick it up, wait in line, run back for the part that you forgot, do all the work, and if you made a mistake you could burn down the house with your family in it. You could also need to take a few more trips to get the right part or the maybe the heater would turn out defective and start over. Ya 925.00 sucks to dish out but you can bitch at the plumber if he messes up. If you mess up well, you face the music from the wife for ever and you still pay the plumber. Have you hugged your plumber today? I do my own plumbing but I don't work on my car now those guys are thiefs! they don't even come to your house or work after Hours!
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