About a week ago, I posted a message on this NG under the topic "Need
Bathtub Drain Repair Advice." I'll quote an excerpt:
> The other day it stopped draining altogether. The usual measures
> didn't seem to help. All the other drains in the house seem to be
> working. My wife called the plumber while I was at work. He says he
> couldn't get his snake down the bathtub overflow tube. He says the
> brass fitting has corroded hopelessly, the tub has to come out, and
> then "he'll see what kind of repairs are needed." He may be right,
> but I have a funny feeling I don't trust this guy.
> He said he "might try" to go in thru the back of the kitchen sink.
> It's "not impossible" that he'll have to break out the old
I got some good advice, and I described how I fixed the problem myself
by unclogging the main wastewater drain line with really hot water and a
bunch of dishwasher detergent -- like several boxes.
(BTW, this method worked better than any unplugging method I ever tried,
partly because it goes right thru the traps and down to the obstruction,
wherever it is. Of course, it wouldn't work on every type of
obstruction. Is this a common practice?)
Anyway, I paid $200 to "Drain Patrol" for nothing. (They seem to be a
Northern Caliornia regional operation.) They didn't even replace the
drain basket or overflow tube cover. I think that was one more
inducement for me to sign the contract for their expensive repair
recommendations. I thouht about trying to get my money back, but decided
Then, to my surprise, yesterday morning I found a major article in the
newspaper about Drain Patrol. (The following statements are approximate.)
They did about $10,000 worth of (allegedly) unnecessary work on the
wastewater drains of a little old lady who probably couldn't afford it.
She happened to be a friend and neighbor of a district attorney in
charge of consumer fraud prosecution and the guy knew a little about
plumbing. I think he got in touch with his colleagues from other
counties. An investigation ensued. It appears that Drain Patrol is in
big trouble. The newspaper article described lurid allegations of
grossly misleading, fradulent and coercive sales tactics, plus
exorbitant charges for routine work. Their plumbers were allegedly
instructed to say, "This is the worst I've ever seen," whenever
possible. (Their guys said something similar to me and my wife.) At
least one Drain Patrol facility (allegedly) had a "closer," i.e., a guy
whose job it was to bump up the price even more, while convincing the
customer to sign the contract immediately.
The tactics described were similar to those my wife and I experienced.
I called the local Drain Patrol manager and got my money back, with
little dfficulty. I wasn't even rude or sarcastic. (More like polite and
subtly menacing. I made the tiniest comment about having seen the
newspaper article.) I figured they might not be solvent long. I imagine
the company is looking at bankruptcy and I wouldn't be suprised if a few
people went to jail.
I'd guess that this particular company just happened to get caught. I
suspect that many of their local competitors (the other drain cleaning
companies, many of them seemingly brand-name franchise operations, with
double page ads in the yellow pages) engage in similar behavior. I'm not
sure, though. I hope the district attorney attempted a sting operation
on similar companies before all this legal action against Drain Patrol
hit the newspapers.
What a world, what a world!