plumber rip off???

angie1010March 2, 2008

I upgraded my faucets and shower faucets to brushed nickel. He charged me a lot extra for them. When I did a search online for the difference in prices (from chrome to brushed nickel)he actually charged me the total price of the brushed nickel but said it was only the difference. What a liar. When I do the other bathroom, of course, I am not hiring him (had other problems with him, too)but I am also going to get all my faucet stuff online. He also overcharged me for the toilet and the tub. I realize they have to charge more than they paid for but not such a huge amount. I am assuming I can buy those at my local Menards and then just get a contractor to install everything or will they not do the work if they don't get the tub etc.???

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What your plumber generally gets from a plumbing wholesale shop is built better than what you get at Home Depot or Lowes.
It may be the same faucet as it looks on the outside but generally the valves,cartridges and filters used is a better quality from the plumbing wholesale company. That is what most consumers (me included) miss by seeing all these online ads at lower prices) The same product at a plumbing supply house will be made of all brass fittings,all brass cartridges and a brass filter in the spout. But when you go to HD & look at the same faucet on the inside the parts may be "plastic" as opposed to brass. Brass will cost 30-40% more & save the plumber a lot of time by no callbacks . The plastic will work but will NOT have the same durability and lifetime of the brass; and generally will have a lower price.
But the old adage..'You may get what you pay for' comes into place and you may not find out until 1 year later when you are fixing the same problem all over again. Is fixing it twice + labor worth more than fixing it right the first time?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 2:29PM
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I wasn't aware of that. I would rather pay more and get the better faucets. Thanks for the info. Angie

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 2:41PM
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I find it hard to believe that faucet manufacturers are making the exact same faucet on the outside but constructing them differently on the inside for the general public. Yes, I do believe that moen, delta etc make a "big box" grade of faucet, but I believe they are also different styles than their non-big box line. People also pay a premium for style in addition to quality.

If you have found the exact same faucet online then chances are good it's the same exact faucet. I've found that most contractors tend to pad the bill wherever they can (ie wherever they figure the customer won't figure it out). Not all of course - we are working with some fabulous contractors who are fairly priced and not looking to rip us off - but that was after finding a lot who were.

That said, our local plumbing supply warehouse does not really discount to trade. It's customary and reasonable for contractors to mark up anything they purchase for you, usually around 20% (for the effort of going to buy it and it's also a profit area for them). On top of that our local plumbing warehouse is WAY more expensive than buying faucets online - but the upside is that they stock stuff and you can get what you want the same day in many cases (not all though), so you're paying a premium for that convenience. So for all of that, your plumber may not be ripping you off and may have actually charged you the difference in price plus about 20%.

You're absolutely right that you can save money by buying fixtures yourself and having the plumber install them because this way you're not paying local prices + his markup. If you buy from a reputable dealer you're not getting a lower quality of product than what the plumbing warehouses are getting. The downside is you might have to wait a few weeks but if you plan ahead that's not an issue - most online retailers do not keep stock on hand but direct order from the manufacturer. If you buy a $20 faucet from HD you'll probably get what you pay for but if you buy a kohler from the plumbing warehouse at $400 and you can find it for $300 online it's the same thing.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 3:05PM
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I agree that it is less expensive to buy your own fixtures (and appliances for that matter) than to buy through a contractor. Even when a contractor is offering a "contractor's discount", you'll generally find stuff cheaper yourself on the 'net. You can save several hundred dollars (or even thousands depending upon how much you're buying) with some thorough searching. Having said that, be aware that by purchasing these items yourself, you will have the responsibility of researching prices, determining the correct sizes and types for your bathroom, purchasing the items, ensuring lead times are appropriate to your job schedule, following up on delivery, being there to accept delivery, checking the items upon delivery to make sure the correct model/finish/size/number were shipped, and checking for damage, and if necessary returning items if needed, and following through on the return's refund or exhange. All of that takes a lot of time. There may also be a lot of aggravation in the process which you can't put a price on. Just read threads on this forum, or the Kitchens forum or the Appliances forum for a taste of what is involved.

The contractor's mark-up is to pay for his time to do all those things, and his expertise, as well as give him somewhat of a profit, which he is entitled to make a living. So, yes, you can get fixtures cheaper yourself, but I think the title of your post ("rip-off") is unfair. Your plumber deserves to make a living from his work, and should not do all the things involved with ordering these items with no mark-up for his time.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 3:28PM
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I expected a mark up but 200% on moen shower faucet set that is $241 online? That is way too much. He had already given me a price for chrome fixtures but I wanted nickel and said he was only charging me the difference. So he had to place the order anyway but then to charge me so much extra is ridiculous. He did a few other things that were not right either. Won't go into that. The title rip-off is exactly right.

Kgwlisa, I did look up the exact same fixtures on-line (he gave me the number etc.)so you have got to be right. They can't sell the same number to a plumber and to a customer and then make them differently. I was starting to doubt myself but will go ahead and buy all the fixtures online when I have the next bathroom done. I am not doing that until the fall so have plenty of time to order everything and make sure it is here. Angie

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 3:59PM
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Be aware that some plumbers may not install or warranty what they don't buy. Generally they will put it right on your invoice. So if you have any problems with it being defective..the problem will be all yours & not theirs.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 5:42PM
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I had NO problem buying my own fixtures and having my plumber install them. I do have a great plumber though. We are friendly with the local building inspector and when we were having trouble with our first plumber he called this guy and put him on "stand by" and he's been really great. He's not interested in wringing every last cent from me but rather being paid fairly for the work he does do. In fact he was pretty encouraging about me buying my fixtures elsewhere - he understands the value of a dollar himself.

He won't change the fixture out for free if it's defective but if something HE does goes wrong he will fix it. IMO any reputable plumber stands behind their work regardless of whether they bought the fixture or not. In fact I have had no problem with ANY of my subs installing items that I've purchased and I've saved quite a bit of money that way and still gotten a very high quality installation.

I guess this is a little like the extended warranty question. We only buy them in rare cases and instead prefer to take our chances that rather than spending hundreds if not thousands on warranties that repairs on those products will be less than the cost of the warranty.

It's the same thing with plumbing fixtures - if you are buying high quality faucets and say it takes an hour to install and costs you $100. If you save $100 on the price of the faucet by not buying through the plumber, basically you are taking the risk that if you need to replace the faucet you will lose your savings in having the plumber back out. At least you have a chance of putting that money back in your pocket and if you buy quality fixtures the chances of you keeping that extra money are by far in your favor. In my case I saved thousands on fixtures, not hundreds, so if I get a dud faucet it will be well worth it to have the plumber back out to change it out.

If a plumber will only install items that he's purchased and marked up the wazoo, find a different plumber. They're not all like that.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 6:11PM
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Here is an example of a Kohler drain that looks exactly the same but the model #'s are off by one #.

The first has a plastic drain with a list price of $165.00, but I believe is available at Home Depot or Lowes for $88.00. The second is a better quality with a list price of over $200.00

Kohler Bancroft Monoblock Faucet
K-10580-4 (Plastic Drain)


    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 10:42AM
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