Short story on my first encounter with Yatrofsky Plumbing, now known as Gold Medal Plumbing Heating Cooling Electric.
Three years ago my company had a high end kitchen remodel in South Brunswick. While the work was in progress the Homeowner asked if I could also repair, at a later date, a ceiling where a leaking tub above had damaged the sheetrock to the point where the ceiling had collapsed. I agreed to handle the repair after he had his own plumber find and fix the leak.
About a week later I arrived to find the homeowner in a state of, lets say... disgusted fury. He explained that it was going to cost him $2,200.00 to fix what on it's face seemed to be a minor leak.
Being a little familiar with these type of problems, I asked to see his estimate. I don't recall the exact work to be done or the materials specified but it amounted to a full replacement of shower diverter, a remodel plate to hide the damage caused by the repair, and a new drain and overflow assembly.
I've done enough home renovations and repairs to know my way around most any residential plumbing problem. After seeing the estimate called for a replacement of any and all possible leak sources, I offered to look at it myself for the homeowner, with whom I had a very good rapport, as I myself was not just a little perturbed at what looked like a scam at birth.
Three minutes, a short ladder, a running tub and shower, and a small flashlight later, I had had a good enough look at the problem to make this offer to the Homeowner.
I said, "Hector, I can fix that for you, but it won't be until tomorrow night as I'm just a little busy till then. I'm gonna charge you $250 and if I can't fix it in less than two hours I'll do it for free".
As the leak was small, there were two other bathrooms in the home and it had been leaking for over two weeks already, there was no urgency for this to be done on the spot, so he readily agreed.
The following evening I returned with my plumbing kit, pulled the drain assembly, fit in a new basket gasket, tightened, filled, splashed, drained and otherwise tried to get a leak from anywhere in that bath. Couldn't do it.
Elapsed time: 35 minutes.
Material cost: $0.35
An honest contractor: Priceless
I didn't even want to take the $250 instead asking for just $100. Husband and wife insisted, a deal after all being a deal. Just taking that business away from a @%$&! piece of $#*@ like that, a company that gives all contractors and tradesmen a bad reputation, was satisfying enough. The few dollars made it a little more so.
I thought at the time, that the tech pulls into a big home in a nice neighborhood, sees a couple expensive cars in the driveway and figures to eat the rich and ignorant.
I just today found out that this company doesn't discriminate.
I post this now as I just had another meeting with a tech from this company and his troubleshooting procedure, explanations and demeanor were more than a little suspect.
A close friend had a new indoor heat and air unit installed in December of 2008. Not able to give her any help with contractor selection at the time she pulled a name from the phone book. They did the install at what seemed to me a pretty high price, but they explained that the units are pricey as the codes for mobile homes (read trailers) are more stringent than for a permanent residence. (After researching a little I find that these units are no more expensive that an equivalent standard residential unit).
They offered to replace the outdoor unit at the same time, but the total cost would have been the equivalent of a new Pontiac G3 financed over 5 years so that wasn't a cost effective option especially as outdoor units don't really "go bad" as long as they are properly charged and serviced, it didn't make financial sense at the time to replace it.
Just this week the AC stopped working. Gold Medal is the company that installed the new unit and also the company my friend holds a yearly service contract with so it made sense to call them to look at the problem.
Turns out the outdoor unit seems to be the problem.
As mentioned, these units don't generally go bad if cared for, so now I am wondering if there was an intentional accidental oversight during the install of the indoor unit, such as insufficient lubricant, or some such. The tech said that the charge was a little high which may have contributed to the problem.
After trying a booster kit (Extra start capacitor) and then a new start and run capacitor, the unit still wouldn't start while the tech was here.
Booster Cap: $30
Start Cap: $20
Run Cap: $15
His quote for adding or replacing those parts was $345.00
Elapsed time would have been 30 minutes.
So for a total cost of $950 + tax, she could have had a better, non-working air conditioner. Or the alternative could be a new outdoor unit for $3,400 + tax. She was told that, "the compressor is bad and you're gonna have to replace it either now or next week. It's gotta be done and we can finance that for you".
Well where we are now is I have spoken to others and they laughed at the price, saying it's highly inflated, and when I told them who the contractor was they could only say "no surprise there".
Gold Medal has a real slick marketing campaign, website, sales training and pricing structure aimed to maximize profit. That is no crime, but I think that they exceed that by advising the unwary homeowner that they are in need of services and repairs that are unnecessary and if a contractor is that unethical, I believe that they would have no qualms about sabotaging equipment to get a call back for a new problem in an repair unrelated to their previous work.
I think that the words resounding in the original tech's mind were, "Oh so you don't wanna replace the outdoor unit, well lets see if you want to replace it 5 month's from now when it goes bad", as he overcharges the system just enough to put a strain that will cause its failure in time, or puts in the wrong lubricant.
This is under investigation and I will keep ripoff current as I contact the attorney general.
Meanwhile, this AC unit is working fine for the moment.
Not dumb enough!!!
Newark, New Jersey