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Thread: Hot Water Heater -It is all about up-charges

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Alpharetta GA ( Metro Atlanta)
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    499

    Hot Water Heater -It is all about up-charges

    Well, Thursday morning I went to take a shower and get to work early.

    No Hot Water. So I take a almost cold shower, quickly.

    Go to the basement ( shop ) and find water everywhere. I suck up about 80 gallons with the trusty Rigid wet/dry shop vac.
    LOML goes online to find a hot water heater.

    Sears !!! ( they have a Hot Water Tank hot line !!! )

    9 Year warranty /40 gallon Gas.
    Heater 349.99
    Install 199.99
    Permit 50.00
    tax 19.60
    Total 619.58.


    Expansion take required, but included in price.

    They can install today!!!.

    Sounds good so far right?

    LOML very impressed with customer service on the phone. They were very complete, even asked for exact measurements of unit.


    Well, come 11:30am plumbing company calls, they cannot install today.

    So LOML, decides she has to have something today. Calls local company. They will have someone between 1 and 4pm. Deal on telephone.

    6 Year Warrany, 40 gallon, gas, $599 installed.

    Plumber shows up about 3pm. Looks at unit ( I am not home ). Tells my wife:

    Heater 599
    Expansion Tank 225
    Replace section of Cold Water Pipe 126
    Reset T/P discharge line 187.08
    environmental fee 7.50
    TOTAL 1144.72

    OK... The section of cold water pipe has a cutoff value and 1 foot of pipe, which has to be removed to install heater anyway. I have no idea what the T/P discharge line was for. I guess this is the overflow on the hot water heater that always has to be removed, so this was basically an up-charge to jack up the price.

    OK, The wife call's me and I talk to plumber. I tell him thanks, but no thanks. Not going to pay $500 more for lesser product.

    LOML call's sears back and reinstates order. Apologizes to me for being impatience.

    Are you tired reading this yet... It's all about installation up-charges.....

    Friday AM. I look online at the credit card charge and Sears has charged me $773. (not going so well now) Call them, find out the expansion tank is really not included. They do some research and give me credit for the installation charge for the expansion tank ( Yea!! ). Well that's good news, but I figure somehow it's still going to cost me something..

    Are you completely over my hot water heater yet, I am!!

    So the plumber, Pablo ( from Argentina, via New York ) shows up about 3pm on Friday. I go to the basement to assess the install.

    Well 1st of all the hotwater heater is in a basement. It's a walk-in basement but anything with more than 3 steps is a basement. That's a $75 delivery fee. (up-charge) Then the gas pipe has more that 3ft of copper tubing and the cutoff values is dripping so it has to be replaced. ( yep another one)

    I get a little agitated over the gas line. I know where this is going and it will not be cheap. I tell him to get "his inspector" here right now and will talk about the gas line. He backs down, but we still have the cutoff value. It's $53. So I give in on that and we are at $123 for the install. Sadly, I now think this is a good deal.

    Remember the credit from Sears??? I knew it would get eaten up somehow.

    So I think I have the plumber installation thing figured out. They have to get up-charges. That is where all the money is made.

    You are without hotwater and all of a sudden there are a LOT of things wrong with you hotwater installation that HAVE TO BE FIXED.

    I pointed out to Pablo the room full of tools. He quickly understood I knew what was going on.

    I did stick around to help ( and protect my tools ). He was done in 1 1/2 hours start to finish.

    So just to prove this happened, there are pictures. Here is the new unit. 9 year warranty, which means it will last 10 1/2 years. DAMHIKT

    Here it is. Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	18653 This is a an expansion tank. Now required by code. Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	18654

    This is the cut off value that got replaced. Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	18655 Notice this all had to be reworked just to install the tank, but one guy want $126 for that.

    So if you read all of this, maybe next time you have to take a cold shower, you will remember it and ask a LOT more questions that I did. And make sure you are home to meet and "discuss" the up-charges with the plumber.



    My apologies to anyone who make their living doing this. I just expect people not to rip me off because they seem to know something I don't.
    Last edited by Bartee Lamar; 03-16-2008 at 12:20 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Tokyo Japan
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    15,807
    Bartee, that really sucks, and they have you over a barrel, so what can you do eh?

    We have an inline gas heater for the water and the heated floors in our house, it has worked very well, an I think is the way to go, never ever run out of hot water, and you don't pay to heat water sitting in a tank. We had trouble with the mixing value about 6 months or so ago. My wife called "Tokyo Gas" and they came to fix it. The guy came, was very good, put drop sheets down to protect the floor etc, did a fairly quick job, and then wanted my wife to sign off on a bill....

    "What do you mean bud, we have a maintenance contract, and a 10 year warranty....?"

    Well, he says he don't know nothing about that and we have to sign off on a bill, that we would owe. My wife calls me, I come over, I tell the guy, politely, that he had better check with his office, as we are not paying squat, as we have a maintenance contract and the unit has a 10 year warranty.......

    Now when I told him, he back down and did call his office and checked..... but when my wife told him, he would not back down and insisted on her signing the bill, that is what ticked me off, made me a very unhappy camper.

    The next week, the unit was leaking water again....... this time they replaced the whole guts of the unit, the whole she bang, this time the guy knew we were set up, and the kicker is that our warranty got extended another 5 years, go figure, but like I said, if we had not fought for it, we would have been paying the first time out.

    The up charge thing is really dirty pool, in my book, I wonder if you could contract the better business bureau or someone?

    Well, enjoy that hot shower, you have earned it!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
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    Oct 2006
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    ABQ NM
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    I had a similar upcharging experience the last time I replaced a water heater. I was selling the house, and right before it went on the market the water heater sprung a leak. I went to Sears and picked out a $600 or so water heater, but by the time it was installed I think I paid over $900 for it.

    I just rolled the cost into the other fix-up expenses I'd had, and it all ended up paying off down the road.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  4. #4
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    London, Ontario
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    What is an expansion tank for? I've never heard of this thing.

    Around here lots and lots of folks have rentals. $69 a quarter. Free everything else. In an era when most people don't stick around long -- or don't think they will -- a deal like this is easy to take, since buying/installing a HWH has such a comparatively long payback period.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Mulder View Post
    What is an expansion tank for? I've never heard of this thing.

    Around here lots and lots of folks have rentals. $69 a quarter. Free everything else. In an era when most people don't stick around long -- or don't think they will -- a deal like this is easy to take, since buying/installing a HWH has such a comparatively long payback period.
    Wow, a rental water heater? I've never heard of the concept. Are other "built-in" appliances (HVAC, dishwasher, cooktop, etc.) also available?
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  6. #6
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    Dec 2006
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    Indianapolis area
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    1,697
    That sounds like a report to the BBB is in order. I have heard similar reports on Sears products before. We have a service contract on the furnace, AC, humidifier etc that also includes plumbing provided by a local mechanical contractor. I have used the plumbing coverage a couple of times with good results. So far, for us, the SC has been a good deal.
    ________

    Ron

    "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
    Vince Lombardi

  7. #7
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    Villa Park, CA
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    Sorry to hear about your situation. I've always replaced the hot water heaters myself but I have been caught on other things (replace garage door springs) so I know how you feel. When you have to get it fixed, they have you over a barrel.

    Mike

    [Last time the water heater went out, it was late in the day. I ran over to Lowes (right before they closed), bought one and brought the unit back with their $19.95 truck rental. By now, it's getting late so I tell my wife, "I'll hook it up tomorrow." And she says, "I have to go somewhere tomorrow morning and I want to take a shower. Can't you hook it up tonight?" So there it is, getting on to 10pm and I'm taking out the old water heater and putting in the new one. I only hooked up enough to make it work and finished the install the next day (such as the pressure relief pipe). I remind my wife that's she's really spoiled, having a handyman as a husband.]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 03-16-2008 at 02:52 AM.
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Ablett View Post
    ...Now when I told him, he back down and did call his office and checked..... but when my wife told him, he would not back down and insisted on her signing the bill, that is what ticked me off, made me a very unhappy camper...
    Stu, my wife and I have run into this several times over the 30 years weve been married. Makes me a serious unhappy camper also. When I have to step in and they consequently back down, I make sure that individual or company looks pretty silly by pointing out their game plan and that I had to step in, and I make sure they understand that anybody I talk to will get an earful of what that company tried to do, and that ultimately they are shooting themselves in the foot. Bottom line there is I do get my pound of flesh when I know I'm being played. btw... my wife has gotten pretty tough when it comes to those things now and is no longer the easy target she was 30 years ago. Gosh even the health insurance people fear her now. As for up-charges... Bartee my blood was boiling reading your thread. I had my water heater (gas) replaced about 10 years ago, which means we're due soon, and I don't seem to recall that kind of hassle back then. But we used a plumber that was a friend of a friend, so there was at least some connection there. He gave us a price (forget what it was back then), he installed it and everybody lived happily ever after. No expansion tank ( why do you need that???). Point is though after reading your post, we will be asking a lot more questions this next time, whoever we get to do the job. I will insist on him/her telling me what it will cost TOTAL from when they arrive to when they walk out the door. The word "up charge" will probably be tactfully included in that conversation. Thanks Bartee.
    Build it Break it Fix it ...repeat

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Mulder View Post
    What is an expansion tank for? I've never heard of this thing.

    Around here lots and lots of folks have rentals. $69 a quarter. Free everything else. In an era when most people don't stick around long -- or don't think they will -- a deal like this is easy to take, since buying/installing a HWH has such a comparatively long payback period.
    I think the expansion tank works like a shock absorber for the water and stops hammering of the pipes. I have seen similar smaller versions installed in areas that have taps and shower. They use to just add an 8 inch extension on the pipes and cap them off.
    Daily Thought: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES..... NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS...............

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Watson View Post
    I think the expansion tank works like a shock absorber for the water and stops hammering of the pipes. I have seen similar smaller versions installed in areas that have taps and shower. They use to just add an 8 inch extension on the pipes and cap them off.
    Question for any of the plumbers out there. In most places I've lived, the code required the anti-hammer pipe extensions described by Drew. But air is soluble in water so it seems like eventually, the air will dissolve into the water and the anti-hammer feature will no longer work (unless you drain the system to re-set it). Is that correct - that the anti-hammer pipes only work for a certain length of time?

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

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