Indoor plumbing is an under-appreciated modern miracle. Turn a faucet or pull a handle and everything you don’t want is immediately washed away into the dark unknown where you never have to think about it again. Unless you do. Or, perhaps more accurately, unless you. plumber does.
Listen, plumbers don’t have it easy: They’re usually called to someone’s house when there’s either a blockage in their pipes (gross) or a leak (yuck). But, most of the time, that’s just part of the job. It’s not until snakes are crawling out of the pipeline that it becomes a serious problem. These are some of their worst-of-the-worst tales from the field.
Just about every plumber who’s been on the job for a while will have a good stash of horror stories, and they’re worse than you might imagine. Since today is everyone’s absolute favorite holiday that they definitely already know about, National Hug a Plumber Day, here are seven nightmarish stories that will give you a new respect for the heroes who will fix your catastrophically clogged up drains for you:
Well oh Well
Customer: ”I’m calling because I need someone to repair my well pump. Do you work with Care Credit (credit card usually associated with medical related issues)? Because I don’t have money upfront to have this repaired.”
Me: ”I’m sorry sir, but we do not do repairs, we are a plumbing supply store. We also don’t take Care Credit, you would need to pay with cash, check, or credit card for anything you purchase.”
C: “Well then direct me to someone who repairs water well pumps on credit.”
Me: “Unfortunately I cannot direct you to anyone, but I’m sure if you call your plumber, they can help.” (I’m legally not able to suggest businesses because we work with most of the plumbing/well drillers in our area.)
C: “I don’t want to call my plumber, he doesn’t fix wells, I need you to come look at my well, and figure out what is wrong with it!”
Me: “Sir, we do not repair plumbing or wells, we are a supply store.”
C: “So what you’re telling me is that I need to find someone that does well pump repairs?”
Thomas the Train
“One evening we received a call from a casino we often work with (we are located in Arizona) who had complaints of a backed up sewer line. When we arrived, the clog was so bad that the foreign object had been pushed into the main sewer line, backing up all pipes throughout the casino. If we didn’t act fast the entire casino would have flooded with raw sewage! A combination of sawing, digging and jetting led us to the culprit of four “Thomas the Train” toys that had been flushed down the toilet in the daycare of the casino. To say the least, it was a literal train wreck!” — Tim and Robyn Roth, owners of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Yavapai & Coconino Counties, Arizona
(I work at a small family owned plumbing and heating company where the owner sometimes makes special exceptions for people who do a lot of business with us or are close friends to them. I also have exceptional customer service skills when it comes to irate customers. This exchange happens during the winter, when we are the busiest.)
Me: “Thank you for calling [Local Plumbing and heating Company]. This is [My Name]. How can I help you?”
Customer: “You guys installed a furnace for me a couple of months ago, and you still haven’t come back out to finish the work. When can we do that?”
Me: “I’m sorry, but it may be at least two weeks before we can finish that work due to our high volume of calls for no heat.”
Customer: *now very irate* “That is absolutely unacceptable!! I paid a lot of money for this to be done properly, and it should have been done over a month ago! You need to send [Specific Technician] out right now so he can finish his half-a**ed job!”
Me: “I do apologize for this, sir, but we are very busy with rather important calls, and seeing as the work that needs to be finished isn’t life threatening, we are going to have to schedule you two-to-three weeks down the road.”
Customer: “I’m going to call the owner right now and complain to him about your incompetence and lack of customer service skills!”
(He hangs up. I continue on with my work, as now it has piled up quite a bit while I was on the phone with him. He calls back again, and I answer his call.)
Me: “Thank you for calling [Local Plumbing and Heating Company]. This is [My Name]. How can I help you?”
Customer: “It’s me again. I talked to your boss. I’m calling you back to apologize for how I treated you. I’ve been having a rough time with things lately and it was wrong of me to take it out on you like that. I also told your boss that you’re a huge asset to the company and if anything, he should give you a raise for not losing your cool with me when you should have.”
(Sir, I don’t know where you are now, but I wish I had time to tell you how much saying that meant to me. Even with my good customer service skills, I rarely receive compliments about it and that truly made my day!)
The Plumber Did It
Most plumbers are used to being accused of over-charging for their services, especially when it isn’t the case, but that’s not the only misdemeanour they can be charged with. Take this next story, for example.
The plumber arrived at a well-to-do home in the nice part of town for rough-in for a new bathroom. The work itself went very well, but the clients weren’t the nicest of people. In fact, the wife seemed to think the work wasn’t what she wanted, a feeling that the husband did not share.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, to when the wife calls the plumber to complain about shoddy work. According to her, the rough-in led to massive leaks that affected not only the new bathroom, but the ceilings below. Naturally, the plumber came back to investigate and, after receiving a particularly memorable tongue-lashing from the wife, headed into the bathroom to investigate.
Upon his inspection, the plumber was at a loss for what happened. The water didn’t seem to be leaking from anywhere in particular. In fact, it seemed to be randomly splashed all over the entire room. It was a mess, but something didn’t add up.
The answer came when the couple’s daughter poked her head into the bathroom. “Are you here because Billy and Tommy had a water balloon fight in the bathroom while mommy was taking a nap?” she asked, “It was really bad. She put all of the broken balloons in my garbage can. Look how many. Mommy told daddy that the stupid plumbers did it and my daddy is gonna sue everybody.”
Turns out the two boys had a water fight in the bathroom and, instead of admitting this to her husband, the wife decided to blame the plumber and make a show of his supposed incompetence. Of course, the plumber soon found the two full garbage bags of broken water balloons and, upon discovering she had been outsmarted, he was escorted from the premises.
He never heard from them again.