Asked on Sep 06, 2012

The $350 garbage disposer?

KMS Woodworks
by KMS Woodworks
I got a message from one of my long term clients yesterday about some kitchen sink leaks, when I called her back a few hours later she said she had already had a "rooter" firm come in and "fix" it. I got to swing by later to check on the water damage to the cabinet base shelf. The Cabinets are older and not so great and the drips have caused the particle board base to turn to mush. So I'll be back early next week to do some cabinet surgery / repair.
Inside the sink base was a new Badger 5 ...1/2 horsepower disposer...connected to the old plumbing of the sink that I installed some 4 or 5 years ago. On the kitchen table was an invoice for this work, and some "snaking" of the drain...the Drain snaking was listed at about $122. The total invoice for the snaking and disposer was $442. The Badger 5 was listed at $354 dollars with "discount" down to $327. This Badger 5 is the most basic disposer I have seen at my local Home Depot (they sell it for about $85, and you can get them on amazon for about $75 or $76)
Even on a bad day I can install one of these in about an hour (that is with a complete revamp of the pluming tee, opposite drain etc)...and most times its about 30 min. for a direct swap out.
I later called my client and gave her some of this info....needless to say she was a bit pissed off by being taken to the cleaners for this install.
I mean really....listing a $85 disposer at $354 installed is just criminal in my book.
  34 answers
  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Sep 06, 2012
    What did you advise her to do?

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Sep 06, 2012
    She Said she would call them on this and get back to me...I think this just re-enforces the bond that I have with my clients...they know and trust my work. Ironically I just did an install like this a month or two back for another client, who said "I need this done in my rental and I'm on a tight budget". She got a badger installed for about $125 parts and labor.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Sep 06, 2012
    It is a shame that people get taken advantage gives the repair industry a black eye! But a lot of people just do not know what things cost and are at the mercy of vendors! She should make sure she informs all her neighbors not to use these folks!

  • Cindy Mink Cindy Mink on Sep 06, 2012
    Amen Jeanette! So rare to find the honest guys these days. Hang on to them when you find them and refer them to everyone you know!!

  • Now you know why they drive Caddies to work. lol High prices such as this is not uncommon for licensed contractors to charge. I had a plumber install, or should I say re-pitch a four inch PVC drain about 20 feet worth. He used one new coupling and some new hangers. Open basement. $250.00 for about six dollars worth of materials and less then one hours time. Last time I used this person. The advice to have her call back and complain is good. Report them to the BBB as well for price gouging. Not uncommon if the person is a older woman.

  • This is a battle that we fight everyday...... and I mean that. I too have built a pretty good base of customers in the last six years, and that comes from charging a FAIR price, doing good work, and effective and timely communication. For you homeowners reading this..... ask for references!!!!

  • Rose S Rose S on Sep 07, 2012
    As a homeowner it is nice to have someone that can be trusted and help make the right decisions. Kudos to you. :-)

  • Dianne D Dianne D on Sep 07, 2012
    I'm still fuming from the bath I took from local 'rooter' guy over 6 months ago on septic tank work (I did a post on HomeTalk)! Joined a "List"-type company who said they can help with issues with service-providers; then they renigged on this one. Cancelled my membership; but at least I was able to post my experience on their website and possibly be of help to someone else. To all Posters: Thanks for the reminder to ASK Questions and CHECK references. Problem I don't know how to address is how do you check prices when you don't know what the problem is or what is needed to fix; and, when you find out, do you tell the repair person to wait while you go check on-line to see what prices he should be charging???

  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Sep 07, 2012
    On the other side of the coin though~ Recently we bid a job that we can do in our sleep, irrigation. Another bid came in almost $1500 dollars less than ours. We cautioned the customer that you get what you pay for (in a nice way of course). The quote they showed us was unbelievably low and I am flummoxed as to how they could possibly do the job for that. I hope it turns out ok for them but I have my doubts. To me if you receive bids that are extreme on either side they should be suspect.

  • One needs to remember. And I tell my clients this all the time. When I submit a price quote. I provide a detailed description of exactly what it is that I am going to do, what materials I am using, Length of time it will take, payment requirements etc. My agreement is normally four to five pages in length with most projects that I perform. My competitor says the same thing with about a 1/4 page proposal. The difference, you know exactly what your getting. Theirs, as soon as the job starts, they tell you that "this or that is not included and is an extra". While their price is from the start much lower, more in the range uniformed clients think it should cost, the truth is that it costs them more in the long run from the low ball estimate once all the "extras" are added and factored in. I see this all the time. I spend in some cases hours trying to explain to my hopefully future clients that this is what is going to happen. And in the end, they call me to complete the job that the other guy/gal started and ran away with their money. Oftentimes with no recourse of action. With plumbers, electrical contractors and some other trade types, particularly those with a franchise type of business model. You will always see high prices, as they simply cannot determine cost factors with the unknown. Plus their overhead costs are really high. They will not provide you with what it should cost, or so they think, because if they run into a issue while doing the job, then come to the client for more money, all the remember is what you said it was going to cost. Your best bet against overcharging is to get everything in writing up front. Details are very important. Try to learn all there is about what your project is. Go on sites such as this and ask other experts what they think and get their advice. This works for both parties. Protects both against unfair trade practices, and clients who refuse to pay when you go to collections. While sites such as this cannot simply tell you what you should be paying, as there are way to many variables that people often forget about. The advice you should be seeking is that of how should the job be done and what options should I think about when getting my quotes.

  • Darby C Darby C on Sep 07, 2012
    Often times, with leaks like this, the homeowner just files a claim in their homeowners insurarance. The insurace companies will just often pay the bill if the homeowner has incurred the cost already. So these companies know that they can get paid without any problem, so they charge what they want and lable the extra cost as "emergency service" or "Service after hours".

  • Becky H Becky H on Sep 07, 2012
    Having worked for a general contractor in the past, I learned about "specs" and bids. After working for them, I always made it a point to get 3 different bids (minimum) before having a job done. Seldom have I had the contractors disagree with one another, but in that instance, I just kept getting more bids, determined the majority felt it should be done a certain way and then looked at their proposed charges. Indeed, if one bid is drastically lower than all the rest, something is not going to be done to the same standards. I'm not opposed to taking the next to the lowest bid or the middle bid to insure I've a contractor who will see the job done properly and will address any issue w/it later.

  • Leida R Leida R on Sep 07, 2012
    KMS Woodworks, thanks for posting this as it is very good info.

  • Bernice H Bernice H on Sep 07, 2012
    Thanks Kevin..good reminder! Darby...good point!

  • Sharron W Sharron W on Sep 07, 2012
    My Middle son is 1/2 way through his 2 yr HVAC Pressurized vessel class...and this is exactly what I've told him, if you work for a company for a few years great....but if you ever decide to work on your own, give people a fair and honest price and word of mouth will build your business because that's all people are looking for...someone to be honest and reasonable with them...

  • Leida R Leida R on Sep 07, 2012
    Sharron W, that is an excellent advice for your son, and I will also add RESPONSIBILITY as in the coordination of making the appointment and being/getting there as scheduled.

  • Teresa D Teresa D on Sep 07, 2012
    I think, often times, especially when you need a plumber, the homeowner is in a position that they just need the problem fixed quickly and don't have the luxury of calling in different contractors for quotes and add to what DIanne D said, you don't know what's wrong so shopping for quotes is difficult - especially when there is someone there and ready to fix the problem. It sucks when you discover later that you've been taken also. I always try to get several quotes before having work done, but when I've been in a situation where I need it taken care of right away and I don't know what the problem is, I'm sure I've probably paid more than I would have, had I been able to shop around. Shame on those guys for taking advantage!

  • Sharon, I taught HVAC in our local Voc School for many years. Many of my past students still touch base with me, all of them have become quite successful doing that type of work. It can be trying at times but this industry as we become more reliant on cool air in summer and warm air in winter along with indoor air quality. This is one trade that will be around for a lifetime.

  • Sharron W Sharron W on Sep 09, 2012
    @WE, Yep that's my boy that tried to take the hardest road possible despite anything we tried to do, full lifetime of Private Schools....etc, he dropped out in 12th grade...spent a few years "rousting about" and found out that after HS the cops really aren't likely just to give you a cab ride home..... However...He learned a lot, in his own way and FINALLY, after years of trying to convince him, I was confident it was a fairly "recession proof" trade...He works all day, goes to school at night and is raising his two girls...he's a really great and considerate son and I hope anyone struggling with a teen will take heart and not give up...I can't tell you all the places I hunted that boy down in and dragged him out of...and today he'll tell you...don't give up.. you can turn them around.

  • Leida R Leida R on Sep 09, 2012
    Sharron W, GREAT MOM!!! May God bless you!!! I, myself, had a little share of that with our son, but thanks to the Higher Power, and our efforts, he now at 17 yrs old started college just this passed month of Aug. By the way, he is actually LOVING IT, and I couldn't be happier!!!

  • Sharron W Sharron W on Sep 09, 2012
    One of the funniest things I ever heard was his rendition of me hunting him down at a "friends" that I did NOT like, thought the mom was enabling drug use etc...I couldn't keep him from over there and they wouldn't come to the I stood in the yard and screamed that I was calling the cops and reporting it as a "drug trafficing house" and then by god he wouldn't be in there cause they would all be in jail...about two minutes later the door opened and they shoved him out...he was never welcome there again, cause his mom was crazy.....LOL!

  • Leida R Leida R on Sep 09, 2012
    HAHAHAHAHA!!! Luckily I did not get that far (only by the grace of God, I think), but I will tell you, I would probably have done the same thing as you did. Just to think of some of the different things we as parents sometimes get put through with our children, raises my hair. Lol!!!

  • Sharron W Sharron W on Sep 09, 2012
    Yes but it's worth it, he's the most dedicated dad and such a good and loving son to appreciative of all that he has now...never fails to say thank you for the littleist thing that I do for him, I guess he needed to see what life "Could" be like to appreciate the one he had...

  • Leida R Leida R on Sep 09, 2012
    TOTALLY AGREE!!! Glad he is who he is today. GREAT JOB, MY FRIEND!!!

  • Bernice H Bernice H on Sep 10, 2012
    Love it Sharron! So rare to hear success stories. Our area is a drug traffic line from Mexico to CA to Yakima to North..And so many of our kids get caught up in it. I conducted bible studies with 2 different girls and they both went back to drugs. So sad. But in our congregation we have a young man who was successful in breaking off association and lifestyle. We love him so much, it is heartwarming to see how strong some are after all. I never got to yell on someone's lawn, but now that I know you did it, maybe I could have done it also. My son left the house, his choice, at 19, to live with another family who thought we were too restrictive. Maybe I should have stood on their lawn and yelled, 'send that kid home. You are not doing him any favors! ' That was 18 years ago, and now it is ok, but what heartache then.He is a good father and husband and a tax payer too! haha

  • Bernice H Bernice H on Sep 10, 2012
    Oh back on topic, I really would have liked my kids to get into a trade like plumbing, flooring, HVAC,electrical or medical etc. Things will always break down and people will always need medical services! Or massage therapist! hahah I would love to have my own massage therapist!

  • Sharron W Sharron W on Sep 10, 2012
    Well HVAC went from a luxury to a necessity, and no matter what happens in the economy, people are always going to want it fixed, that's my rational anyway...LOL

  • Teresa D Teresa D on Sep 11, 2012
    @Sharron W ... thanks so much for sharing about your son. I know it is off topic, but I so needed to read that this morning.

  • Sharron W Sharron W on Sep 11, 2012
    Thanks Teresa, it occurs to me more and more often that sometimes others may benifit from knowing that although it's difficult, it can get better...

  • Core Plumbing San Diego Core Plumbing San Diego on Oct 26, 2013
    If I could offer a different perspective: the dosposer is about 85.00 if you go make the purchase. How much should it be if the plumber does your shopping for you and forks out the cash ahead of time. If you can change out a disposer in 30 minutes, why are you asking a professional to take time out of his work day to put it in for you and then griping about the price? He fields the phone call, gets in his truck, drives across town, discusses the job with you and then performs the work. Then he assumes all liability for your cabinetry if anything ever leaks which, God forbid, could cost hundreds of dollars. He does this for a living, to provide for his family. And the weekend warriors fault him for clearing a couple hundred bucks to pay for his overhead, and maybe turn a modest profit. It is certainly a couple of hours for him when all is said and done. How 'bout a little respect for those who put food on the table by helping you. How 'bout paying him his due without the condescending, "I can do that in 30 minutes" attitude. Do you get this at your job? Seriously, people. Watching a You Tube video and buying some stuff at Home Depot does not qualify you to tear down a trained professional.

    • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Oct 27, 2013
      @Core Plumbing San Diego You missed the point. This was one of my CLIENTS...not at my home. I am a class C certified contractor. I do buy supplies parts and equipment up front for my clients and do not add premiums or surcharges. I do however charge them for nominal time to pick up these items. The drain guy above saw a customer who was distressed, and uninformed, and then took advantage. A good number of my clients are single women who do not have the experience on many of these items. Unfortunately they have paid through the nose a handful of times from some of the less scrupulous service providers. I have never heard of a plumber ( or in this case a drain cleaning outfit) stepping up and assuming risk and liability to water damage to cabinets etc. In many cases I am the rescue guy coming in to fix others screw ups. It does not happen often but enough for me to notice Last week I had to rework a shower drain that had been leaking off and on for years at a new clients home. The cause of the leak was a no-caulk pan drain, where the pipe was trimmed to the wrong length and the gaskets parts installed up side down.

  • KMS... .we fight the battle everyday with "those" that take advantage of those who are either; uninformed, single women that you mention (not to be biased, but there are contractors who prey on single women), or in many cases elderly. One of the many reasons I have been led to start a ministry is to help the elderly with home repair that they may not be able to afford to do so. You can get more information at KMS, lets keep fighting the fight brother.......

  • Core Plumbing San Diego Core Plumbing San Diego on Oct 28, 2013
    Look guys, there are crooked contractors and we all see them representing each trade. "Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do it ALL to the glory of God through Christ Jesus our Lord." That is our accountability at Core Plumbing. I am, however, addressing this attitude which has crept into the marketplace. In San Diego, $350.00 minus 117.00 (disposer with acceptable mark-up) minus 9.36 (tax) minus 50.00 (air-gap, 7/8" hose, ss clamps, ABS parts for trap and continuous waste) leaves $173.64 for the job to cover overhead, gas and some profit. In San Diego, labor for service plumbers is 100.00 minimum and a lot of work gets bid at around 150.00 hr. No one is getting rich here, THAT'S WHAT IT COSTS TO DO BUSINESS. So why are you throwing the drain guy under the bus? He probably takes home 20.00 an hour. KMS, are you a General Contractor?

    • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Oct 28, 2013
      @Core Plumbing San Diego I have the certs for a Class C General Contractor...which means I can build single family, to multi family up to 4 units and 3 stories. My main stay however is more in the remodeling arena, With tile and hardwood flooring, cabinets ( both custom and commercial) I also do "handyman" type projects, windows, doors,Trim, decks, etc. It is "One stop shopping" for many of my clients. Many of my competitor "handyman" types do not hold this full service class C certification. The disposer in question was installed using all of the old "parts" far as p-trap, pvc etc. the guy even re-used the old pigtail plug. I would be willing to cut him some slack if he had replaced the drain parts etc. as I have done many of these myself and it can be a bit more time consuming. I also see where many plumbers or service type can get a bad rap. This often is the case where there is the "service call" fee. which is $60 to $100 just to knock on the door...whether any work gets done or not.

  • Core Plumbing San Diego Core Plumbing San Diego on Oct 28, 2013
    There are a lot of "handymen" in California that do remodels without a license and claim to do it all. They get hauled away in handcuffs and taken straight to the pokey by the State License Board when caught because they undercut those that have spent years in apprenticeship and training and earning a license as a skilled tradesman. To have some guy with a bucket of tools, no license, no formal training and no insurance performing work at an undermarket price IS the problem and the consumer loses bigtime when the shower pan has to be torn out because the "handyman" didn't hot mop before pouring a concrete base. (True story.) The homeowner thought he was getting such a deal and the plumber was such a crook charging those outrageous prices. This mentality is really out of control and the public needs to be enlightened regarding the perils of hiring illegal workers. There is no substitute for a skilled craftsman carrying on the rich tradition of his trade, fully licensed, bonded and insured. He will cost more than a handyman. My doctor costs more than the school nurse, as well.