On March 22, 2010, a large rain storm hit and flooded by basement. By March 26, 2010, James, one of Arnie's Plumbers, came out to the house and assessed our basement. We led him to the location where the water entered into the basement. He determined it wasn't a broken water pipe. Next, he looked at the basement interior walls and then the moved into the small stairway room that leads up to the backyard. After looking over the entire basement, James recommended that a sump pump installed in the small stairway room would fix our problem. My wife asked James if the sump pump needs to be installed at the center of the wall where the water is coming in.
James says, "You wouldn't want it there, I would suggest putting it out of sight. Since the sump pump will be installed under the foundation, so it will pull the water from below the foundation through the gravel. So, it would be better to put it in the small stairway room." My wife asked, "Do we need to have a drain on the concrete near the leaking area to send it toward the sump pump?" James again replies, "No. The sump pump will drain the water below the foundation."
My wife asks James, "So what is your professional recommendation to fix this?" And, James replies, "I would put a sump pump in the small stairwell. Basically, it will pump the water from under the foundation to the outside drainage ditch in your backyard." I ask, "So, basically the sump pump is the all we need?" James replies, "Yep." Then, my wife asks, "What if the sump pump doesn't fix the problem after it rains again?" James replies, "Well, if that happens, our work warrantied, call us and will come out and make it right. But, I don't think you'll need to worry about that, because the sump pump will keep the water pumped off." Then, I asked James, "Will we be expected to pay any additional money to fix the problem?" and James replied, "No. If the sump pump doesn't fix the problem, then it would be covered by Arnie's business insurance." My wife asked, "How much will the sump pump cost?" And, James replied, "It will run in the neighorhood of $800."
Upon James' recommendation, we thanked him and scheduled the appointment to install the sump pump on Monday. On Monday and Tuesday, James came out to the house finished installing the sump pump.
On April 2, 2010 another rain storm hit, the basement flooded again, but the water went away from the sump pump area, which was the opposite direction at which it flowed during the last flooding issue. We looked inside of the sump pump chamber and there was less than 1/10th of an inch of water in the sump pump pit.
Upon our basement flooding again, just after we paid $1500 to get it dried out, I called Arnie's Plumbing to come out and fix their mistake. The receptionist disrespectfully asked, "What do you expect us to do about it?" And, I told her that I expected Arnie's Plumbing to resolve the issue they were already paid $800 to do, which was to fix my flooding basement.
Arnie sent out one of his plumbers and he drilled a few holes in the sump pump bucket, which did NOTHING. After that, he told me he couldn't fix the problem, and would send Arnie, the master plumber, out to fix it.
On April 5, 2010, I waited into the afternoon on Arnie's call, but got no call. I called the main line and the receptionist told me that she didn't see me on Arnie's Monday list. I told her, "I was promised to get a call from Arnie to have him analyze my problem." So, she scheduled Arnie to come out. Arnie showed up after 5 pm and took a look at the basement sump pump.
Then, he said, "We might have to do a water test to see which way the water flows on the concrete, and I'm not sure if the water will flow under the foundation to where the sump pump is installed, because that room may not have been connected to main foundation." A water test? Why wasn't this done at the beginning? Then, I told Arnie that it was under James' recommendation to have a sump pump installed there. He continued to look around along the walls.
So, I asked Arnie what is still causing our leak problem and Arnie replies, "I think it may be a crack in your foundation side wall." Then, Arnie said, "I have other customers whose insurance covered this before to replace the all the costs--even the sheet rock and carpeting." But, I replied, "My agent said that no one is covered by ground water seepage in Missouri" and Arnie said, "Well, foundation cracks are a little different." I asked, "How much will that cost to get fixed?" and Arnie replied, "Don't worry... We'll work something out." So, we scheduled an appointment for him to come out and fix the foundation cracks on April 7th.
On April 7, 2010, my insurance agent called me and told me that she talked to Arnie and told him the insurance will not cover the cost--as I told him previously. Arnie never called me or showed up to the appointment to fix my foundation. I called him a couple times and left voice mails on his phone to call me back.
On April 8, 2010, I called him a couple more times in the morning, and finally called the receptionist, who told me he was in a meeting until 1pm. Later, Arnie called me back and said, "We can come out to fix the basement, but it will cost you around $400 to $600 to dig up the dirt and patch the foundation cracks" and continued by saying, "we can work out a payment plan, if you need help with that. Just call me back and let me know if you want us to do that. I can get someone out there Friday for you."
After talking it over with my wife, we both came to an agreement that we just wanted our money back from the misdiagnosed sump pump because it didn't fix our basement leak. But when trying to contact Arnie back, his cell phone went straight to voice mail. Then, the last three times I called him on the hour before his business closed, receiving no answer. I left him a voice mail, and asked him to call me back, because we need to talk.
On April 9, 2010, I called to reach Arnie two or three times and it went to voice mail. So, I called the main number again, and explained to the receptionist Arnie is suppose to talk with me about my basement issues, but Arnie is not returning my calls. Then the receptionist replied, "Well, Arnie is out sick this morning. You might try calling him back on Monday." And, I hung up and realized that Arnie was avoiding me, and didn't have anymore need for me, since he already had my money.
Next, I opened a case with the BBB and immediately Arnie called me back trying to cut a deal over the phone, but not in WRITING. Then, he tried to convince me that any plumber would have diagnosed my issue the same way, and would have called would have immediately suggested a sump pump, then continued with a next step (if that didn't fix it) until the problem is resolved. However, for me, that is an expensive way of not researching and just misdiagnosing the root cause of the leak to make money. So, he wanted me to keep throwing money at the problem until it went away.
Then, Arnie acted reluctant and made me a "final" offer to refund $400 of the $800, but he also wanted the equipment back that he said was worth around $200. So, I did the math: the $400 would cover all his labor costs (as he told me before) and he gets all his equipment back--so he is out NO money for a misdiagnosis of the problem, and I am out $400. To me, it didn't seem like a fair deal at all and I've NEVER seen a business NOT lose money because of a problem they had misdiagnosed. What happened to Arnie's business insurance covering it and what happened to the mentality of the customer is number one? The only conclusion I could come up with is it was all a smokescreen to get my money.
Three months later, the BBB considered the case UNRESOLVED as Arnie's Plumbing responded by saying (and I quote), "We sent a letter to [the customer] that we are not responsible for the pump not working, it was at their request to put it in. Based on the information that we recieved at the time we and [the customer] thought this was the best possible measure to stop the water leak also based on the information given, the pump was put in the area decided on by [the customer]. We do not do foundation repair, and we will not go back and undo work that he specifically requested."
First, Arnie's Plumbing is not responsible for the pump not working? That statement really shows me a lack of taking ownership over their own work! Second, why would I diagnosis my own problem, that is why I hired them for and to have a company to verify if the repairs are covered by my insurance--so why would I suggest to have them install a sump pump that isn't covered by my insurance? (Their statement makes no logical sense.)
Next, why did Arnie's Plumbing post to the BBB two months earlier (if they couldn't resolve the issue) saying, "We have left a message for the customer to call us direct so we can set up a meeting on the job site and try to find a resolution to this situation" and try to make me an offer over the phone? I can tell you it was not because they care about resolving the situation, it was because they wanted to keep it quiet and off the BBB records.
Lastly, Arnie's Plumbing recently sent me a "past due" invoice of $80 for "checking the pump" that was mutually agreed upon as no charge, because the visit resolved NO issues, it was approximately five minutes, and I made it clear up-front before they sent the plumber out that I wouldn't pay for any additional services as it was a defect of their work. Plus, they never had me sign any kind of bill after the work was done and I never would have called them if I knew they were going to try to charge me like this. It is very unprofessional.
Basically, I wanted to alert any other potential customers to this, so nothing like this happens to anyone else since I already got burnt by it by being too trusting--as I got a gleaming recommendation from another business who did great job for me. I suggest anyone who wants to do business with Arnie's Plumbing to get EVERYTHING in writing, ask for a quote and make THEM write in DETAIL what they are recommending. Second, anything they promise as far as warranties or service practices, get it in writing too, even if you have to make them put it on the quote because if ANYTHING does go wrong, they can't jump out the backdoor and blame you for their work, as well as you being out a lot of money and time.
This is the first rip-off report I ever wrote for any company, and now that I have learned my lesson the hard-way, I hope this message can help others.