How would you handle this Over Billing?

My manager call a plumbing company to cap a couple of pipe sticking out of the ground where a home once set. The company had worked in the park before and their charges were reasonable. It is a small job, stick a cap on the pvc sewer pipe so kids don’t stick stuff down there and it can’t back up and dump sewage on the ground. Simple. Also stick a ball valve on the water supply pipe. Again, simple. If I was there it would take me about 30 minutes to do because I am kind of slow and easily distracted.

I got the invoice – $785.

I pay all the bills that come across my desk and I pay them promptly. No one has every had to chase after me to get paid. But this is an insult to my intelligence. Should of had my manager get a quote first, yes, but it was just a nothing job and I figured it was set me back $200 - $250, which is high but I needed to get a lot done and this was just a minor issue on my list.

So what would you do? Pay it? Fight it? How?

I have no experience when it comes to not paying a bill. The guy claimed it took him 3 hours to do. Bull!

Call the Guy and say “Hey that job seemed pretty small to me, what did it take 3 hours?”

For all you know he had to dig down to the main or do something unanticipated.

If he doesn’t give you a decent answer, then say " You know I really like working with you but this bill seems unreasonable, I was expecting about a $250 bill, how can we work this out so you and I are both happy?"

I agree 3 hours seems like too long to put a fernco on a sewer pipe and glue together some 3" PVC.
I can’t tell quite what was done on the waterline, but that looks like Pex in which case a shark bite connector would work just fine. Simple and quick.

I think you have it right – a shark bite connector and a fernco fitting. There was no digging. He took down the plastic net fence and did not put it back up.

Oh, and there was that beautiful insulation job.

Call and ask whoever did this work not to come back, ever. You dont make a sewer riser 3’ above the ground and what moron could possibly think that flat grey insulation material is going to do any good at all. I had a local company install a heat tape for me. When I inspected it the kid he sent out to do it had wrapped the heat cable around the outside of the meter foam box! Total joke! I called and sent a pic to the owner who was totally embarassed and sent a different tech out. If your plumbing owner thinks that is adequate work then its times to move on to a diff plumber.

Would you pay the $785?

Most certainly YES. You could have asked for an estimate, you were not present when job was happening.–learning experience. Your manager did not do the job or overseeing it–what is your beef? What is your time worth per hour? The contractor is operating a business–part of trying to compensate crazy Biden inflation . Heads up–just got notice from Bober & Bober, P.A. looking for park mangers who are frequently paid below the minimum wage and denied overtime pay to seek their help to seek help to recover money call 800-995-9243. What are you paying your management, any overtime money? Even W-Mart is over $12 per hour–just trying to inform!!!

Not to say that this is the case here, but there has been a historical association of excessive plumbing bills and some community manager involvement. It’s simply too easy for a manager to authorize work and then split the billing with the plumber when the payment arrives. This con has been going on in the park business for decades, and I have written many articles on it because it’s a really terrible situation.

The only way to guard against this is to require at least two bids on every project, but the problem is that this is not always possible given the tight labor market. Another solution is to rotate the plumbing work between contractors. Equally important is for the owner to quickly supervise what’s going on with a texted photo of the problem and a firm price estimate from the plumber.

On this particular bill, I would call the plumber and tell him that you are extremely concerned about the amount the bill that came in at, get a complete explanation, tell them that you think it should be lower, try to negotiate an amount that is satisfactory to you, and then never again let a plumber do work without a firm cost estimate. I would also watch this plumber carefully going forward and maybe find someone else.


No. I would not pay $785.00 for that job.

The PVC/Sewer Job would be $25-85.00
The Waterline job would be $100 tops.

$200 max labor and materials.

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Both the plumbing company and you know by looking at it that a man didnt spend 3 hours on that. Even if he did it wouldnt amount to that price. They can try and gouge you but it doesnt mean you have to pay it. Contractors are not shy you shouldnt be either!

Have you TALKED to the owner? If not, that should be your first task. Send the photos and DISCUSS the situation.

From what you’ve written, you got the bill and have worked yourself into a lather over a situation that may turn out to be a simple, fixable error.

Always get an estimate in writing, it eliminate the confusion. If you can find a Handy person in your Park to do these small repairs, it is usually a win/win. My manager does 99% of the repairs in my Park and he is just on Salary. I had a More local Plumber tell me how much cheaper he was than the larger Septic tank Company I had been using for years, He charged me 3 times what the other Company Charges, and turns out he was not licensed in my County, I offered to pay him what the other Company had been charging me and he sued me and won.

I am a Plumber by trade, and that don’t even look like Plumbing to me. I think you should keep your eyes on your manager and get a new plumbing company even if he cuts the bill in half…

On second thought it looks like a DIY job done by your manager…

Pay it or fight it are two extreme options. The middle ground is negotiation. Call the plumber and explain that your estimate is that it should have been a 30 minute repair and your expectation was that a sewer cap would be more like $200 to $250. Perhaps the plumber says a problem arose causing extra work. If he does not have a good explanations and expects the full payment, you can find a new plumber in the future, or if he is the only game in town, you will have to watch more closely and get photo proof of any extra work. Unfortunately, is some markets, you don’t have much leverage and if you upset the only plumber, he won’t come back.

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