Serviceman got drain snake tip lodged in pipe. Armstrong charging over $1100 to remove it.
On May 5th 2014 Armstrong Mechanical replaced a master bath toilet handle, charging $169. The toilet continued to run unless the handle was jiggled. July 10th Armstrong Mechanical was again called out for a garbage disposal repair. They suggested it needed to be replaced and their advice was followed. The serviceman also looked at the toilet because it was still running even though the handle had been replaced by Armstrong Mechanical in May. He noted it had NOT been adjusted properly at installation and he made an adjustment. The toilet continued to run. In mid-August the kitchen sink backed up and AM was called to check to see if it was related to the garbage disposal that had just been changed out in July. The serviceman, Jeremy, ran a snake down the drain and determined it was clogged. The problem was fixed. The master bathroom issue was mentioned again, but now, not only was the toilet running, there was gurgling in the shower whenever the toilet was flushed. The technician decided to snake the drain, never indicating there was the possibility he would get it stuck. This is where the big trouble started. The technician ran his snake from the rooftop vent and got the tip of the snake lodged in the drain. After several attempts to remove it he gave up and the snake was cutoff to remain in the pipe. A supervisor, Stan Williams (who we have worked with several times in the past), was called out and indicated the technician should have changed out the head of the snake between running it through the larger kitchen pipe and the smaller bathroom pipe, but if AM could cut through the wall in the bathroom they could get the snake out of the pipe. (Stan also noted the $169 toilet handle installed in May was the wrong size handle all along and that a new one would need to be installed. He eventually corrected that situation once the running could no longer be stopped by jiggling the handle.) Armstrong Mechanical sent a carpenter out to remove the paneling and they cut a whole in the bathroom wall. This did not prove successful. We were then advised that AM could jack hammer out the bathroom floor at an estimated cost of $1500 to get to the pipe or they could try to pour chemicals through the drain to let them work on getting the snake out. The chemical option was tried first, with no success. Armstrong Mechanical has been asked to correct the situation at their expense and they refuse to do so. Stan's supervisor has been contacted and has stated he has contacted Chris Carpenter, the owner, about this situation. Armstrong Mechanical has offered to put almost $400 toward the effort by reducing the price to over $1100 to fix their mistake. At 82 years old, I am a long time resident of Lubbock and we have done business with Armstrong Mechanical for years, paying premium prices for their services (including an on-going service agreement for our heating and air system) because we believed they were a reputable company we could trust.
Just get the snake out of the drain at the expense of Armstrong Mechanical. We have no problem paying for the service call to check the kitchen sink. Don't want to pay for the jack hammering out the floor and restoring the house after the lodged drain snake.
BBB received the following written business response,
"Dear Ms. Redeker-Perez:
I appreciate you contacting us concerning the work that we did for the Kirkman's at 3110 59th Street. We were originally called out on 7/31/14 to repair the slow kitchen sink drain. Once we cleared this drain from the roof, Mrs. Kirkman asked that we check the master shower because it was making a gurgling sound and draining slow. The drain had to be cleaned out through the roof vent since there was not good access below. The cable got stuck where the drain line changed directions connecting to the larger sewer line.
Kevin Kirkman, Mrs. Kirkman's son, met with our lead service plumber, Stan Williams, and asked him to explain the situation. After Stan gave him the history, Kevin stated that he has used chemicals to clear drains in some of his properties in Arkansas and asked us to try to use chemicals to help dislodge the cable before we have to cut into the floor. We tried several different ways to dislodge this cable one by inserting a retriever cable from the main sewer line in the yard and pouring chemicals (Sizzle)down the drain to no avail.
Alex Ramos, our service coordinator and Stan had a conference call with Kevin after he returned Arkansas. Kevin asked what we could do to help minimize the costs. Alex told him that he would get with me and would work with them to reduce the costs any way that we could. Alex called him back and it was agreed that we would split the costs. He asked that we make sure that everything was put back and repaired because he was moving his parents to Arkansas and selling the house.
Once we exposed the line we found that there was thick sludge built up in the quarter bend where the cable was stuck. The cable was removed and a new quarter bend and pipe was installed. The floor, carpet, wall and paneling were repaired. Alex has since talked to Kevin to make sure that everything was done to his satisfaction and was told that as far as he knows that everything is good. He stated that the realtor is listing the house and his parents are now living in Arkansas.
I hope that this information has been helpful. Please do not hesitate to give me a call if you have any further questions or need any additional information.
Chris H. Carpenter
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
It is clear to me from Armstrong-Mechanical's description of the situation that Mr. William's initial assessment that the technician should have changed to a smaller tip on his cable was accurate. I am not a plumbing professional, but I believe the snake cables are made to go through sludge, and had Jeremy used a smaller tip, or no tip, it would not have lodged at the bend in the pipe. Also, had I been advised of the possibility that the cable might get stuck resulting in costly damage to my home, I could have considered the situation more carefully before proceeding. My son was simply asking Armstrong-Mechanical to correct their mistake at their expense, not mine. During this past summer I have incurred increased financial strain from water bills due to their installation of an incorrect toilet handle, as well as tremendous mental and emotional stress during a time when I have been caring for my husband, an Alzheimer's patient, and trying to prepare for a move to be closer to family members who can help me. Having my house torn apart during this time was very difficult. Having to pay for it seems wrong to me.
From: Chris Carpenter (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2014 4:42 PM
Subject: BBB Complaint Case# 110545 Consumer: Kirkman, Lois
Dear Ms. Redeker-Perez:
I do not have a phone number for Mrs. Kirkman and I have a phone number for her son, Kevin, but it is not accepting calls. We have a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our work and I will do whatever we need to do to get Mrs. Kirkman satisfied, but I need to talk to her or her son to get this done. Please let me know if you have a different way to contact her since she has moved.
You can give me a call at my direct number below or on my cell phone (789-5242) if you have any questions or need any additional information. Thanks for your time.
Chris H. Carpenter
Armstrong Mechanical has resolved our complaint to our satisfaction.