Busting tradie myths with plumber Darren Clancy

Pipe Perfection Plumbers founder Darren Clancy was recently interviewed on radio 3AW following a  News.com.au article where he shared insights on ‘tradie myths’ and how you can avoid being ripped  off by a bad tradie.

Darren, who’s been a plumber for more than 30 years, says a good portion of his customers at Pipe Perfection Plumbers have had negative experiences with previous plumbers. He found that in most cases, it was because the customers did not have much information at their disposal to be able to make a good decision about who to use. In case you missed it, here are some of the myths about tradies and how you can make sure you circumvent the dodgy ones.

Myth #1. Tradies only provide rough time estimates based on hourly rates, so they can push the cost out. While there are a few tradies who might do this to waste time and charge you for it, others give a rough estimate to begin initially because they need to scope the job properly and make sure they know what needs to be done.
Agree on a fixed and final price You should be able to agree on a fixed price after a tradie has inspected your issue and has a better sense of the job. Sometimes a tradie may even charge to quote you and that should mean that the final cost is not likely to shock and surprise you as they will have had time to investigate the job properly. You should also aim to secure strong guarantees beforehand:

What does the tradie offer over and above statutory warranties? Do they only offer what they are told to by the NSW Office of Fair Trading or do they offer more? What happens if you are not satisfied?

Myth #2. Tradies inflate the cost of parts. Often people are overly concerned about inflated costs.
  When it comes to small repairs, don’t sweat it. You don’t think to ask your hairdresser to itemise the price down to shampoo, conditioner, colour etc – do you? Plumbing suppliers set a recommended retail for parts and plumbers tend to stick to it. Get your final fixed price so you know what you’re up for. And remember, you’re not paying for the widget. You’re paying for the expertise, time and knowledge taken to identify the issue correctly, devise the best solution and install it so it works the best way for the longest time. If you are getting a bathroom renovation done, by all means, search out sales and clearances to get your bath and taps. Sometimes you’ll be able to access pricing that your average plumber couldn’t dream of getting from their supplier.

Ask for evidence. For example, a drain camera can show the source of a problem.

Myth #3. Tradies make up phantom problems. The job starts with a blocked toilet and progresses to tree roots in your piping. How do you know if it’s true or whether they’re taking you for a costly ride?
Solution: Ask for proof If a plumber tells you that your blocked drain is due to tree roots in your pipes and it will take serious work, chances are they are not lying. Good tradies will be able to provide evidence by way of photos or a video; otherwise you simply have to ask.

Myth #4.  Tradies are often late, rude and dirty. Sadly the number of people who are surprised when PPP plumbers are on time, polite and neat shows there are plenty of tradies who are late, rude and don’t clean up after themselves. This is not professional conduct!
Solution: Follow by reputation. A good way to know if a tradie is professional or dodgy is to check their reputation. Ask friends and family if they can recommend someone from personal experience (not just from the free magnets they have on their fridge door). Also check reviews left on online directories and social media. At a minimum, you should check to make sure your tradies are:

  • Qualified/accredited and licensed,
  • Have public liability insurance, and
  • Have workers’ compensation.

When they come for a quote, feel free to judge first impressions. You can tell a lot about their work ethic from the first few minutes of dealing with them. They should be

  • On time, or at the very least should call if they are running late,
  • Well presented as their trade allows (a paint stained painter is probably a good thing!), and
  • Polite, especially when answering questions. There are no stupid questions.

Myth #5. A cheap tradie isn’t ripping you off. Just like anything in this world, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Cheap tradies may be so because they cut important costs like insurance, equipment or materials and/or quality employees.
Solution: Do some due diligence In addition to checking credentials, get a clear understanding around the longevity of the solution that’s offered and the warranty around it. Often, an approach that will last many years but has a higher upfront cost is better value in the long term.

Tradie myths busted? Unfortunately there are some tradies out there who give the rest a bad name because negative experiences are shared more often than the positive ones. The good news is that online reviews and a greater awareness of consumer rights have empowered consumers to shed light on the bad and the good. It is important to remember that there are good and bad service providers in every industry, so you should take the time to check out their reputation and ask the right questions to help identify the right one for you.

What has your experience been with tradies?