Sewer Line Back Up

This downstairs bathroom is where the problem first surfaced for the Garrison family.

The sewer backed up and the nightmare began. "Oh, we have just been devastated. I just want to sit down and cry," said Rose Garrison.

Rose says dishes are piling up in the sink and they can't use their toliets or showers. She says a call to Roto Rooter sent out a technician who inserted a cable down the pipe. When his cable got stuck she says the tech took off.

"All they did was call and want their money for the scope and their snake. They didn't want to help us," added Rose.

Rose says Roto Rooter explained she was responsible for the stuck cable. Reps told her to come up with $4,500 and they'd go back to work, but when the company learned the Garrisons couldn't afford it, she says that was the end of it.

That's when the Garrisons rolled up their sleeves, rented a backhoe, and began excavating.

A call to Roto Rooter's CEO brought out a manager. Scott Moore used a video camera to scope out the pipe. He told me cables sometimes get stuck in sewer lines and when that happens it's the customer who's liable not the company.

Moore says the liability is spelled out in the work order which the Garrisons signed, but the tech never gave them a copy.

I asked Moore, "So was there a breakdown in communications?" He answers, "I haven't talked to either of the other technicians involved, so I don't know the answer to that." Later, a Roto Rooter spokesman in Ohio called me and said it was the Garrisons who put a stop to the work because they couldn't pay for it.

The lesson here: if you live in an older neighborhood with mature trees it's important to hire a plumber to have the sewer lines cleaned out every year. The $150 to $220 charge will help protect against these kind of problems.

I'm now working with another company and a non-profit to try and help the Garrisons. I'll have the rest of the story Wednesday.

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  • by Jan Fetrow Location: Colorado Springs on Jul 8, 2010 at 04:09 PM
    I am one of the customers who was taken advantage of by Roto-Rooter as the same thing happened to me as the Garrison's: cable stuck in the line and quoted a price of $4500.00 for repair. When I balked and contacted someone in Ohio (Pat Swanson) for assistance with the problem, the President of Colorado Roto-Rooter threatened to turn me in to his lawyer and claimed that he would "own my property before he was done with me." I would recommend and support any actions that have to be taken against a company that thrives on bilking the elderly and single-women. Roto-Rooter is incapable of providing quality service. Additionally, their plumbing license with the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department expired in April 2009, so they should not even be doing any kind of plumbing for anyone in the Colorado Springs area.
  • by Ray Location: Cimarron Hills on Jul 8, 2010 at 06:15 AM
    Looks like the family had plenty of money for cigarettes at $60 a carton.
  • by Mike Location: OCC on Jul 7, 2010 at 03:28 PM
    I work for a water/wasterwater district. I have seen the well known name brand outfits go for the customers jugular routinely. You might call for a cleaning of your service and that probably entails camera work however the digup (which costs thousands) is being presently more often then is really needed. Get a second opinion from a smaller local outfit. Talk to your water/wastewater provided. Get their opinion. I usually send folks to Landmark Plumbing.
  • by Robert Location: Colorado Springs on Jul 7, 2010 at 01:47 PM
    Roto Rooter - Pipeline Industries has been taking advantage of customers for nearly 2 years now. We have diagnosed many lines that they claim need to be replaced, only to find out they dont need replacing or only need a spot repair. Always get a second opinion!! We have saved ex Roto Rooter customers thousands by giving them a second or third opinion. There are allot of other trust worthy companies (I know most of them)that are just trying to make a living, not get rich overnight at the customers expence. Always check with your local BBB to find a reputable A company. If they are not a member, dont do business with them. You will find those of us who are members of the BBB take pride in customer service. Just because the name Roto Rooter has been around practicly since the toilet was invested, clearly does not make them the best. They should change their jingle from" whatch your troubles go down the drain" to "Whatch your hard earned money go down the drain"
  • by Jared Location: cos on Jul 7, 2010 at 12:54 PM
    Roto Rooter has had horrible customer service for a long time. Hopefully that will be a company that doesn't survive this recesion.
  • by Lisa Location: CS on Jul 7, 2010 at 11:49 AM
    Roto Rooter thats the name away go troubles down the drain............. HA not this time, maybe they should listen to there own jingle. Maybe they need to follow thru and hire PROfessionals. BTW don't call Fenton Plumbing either.
  • by Hank Location: Colo. Springs on Jul 7, 2010 at 11:09 AM
    This is not the Roto Rooter we knew here for years. This is now part of a national conglomerate and their service and prices reflect it. I used them for 22 years and 2 years ago they came out,, would not give me a price beforehand and then charged me $280 for what was $135 the year before. Identical work,, annual maintenance. I managed to get some of it back but they will not get the chance to do that again. I hope this all gets turned in to the BBB and eventually they will HAVE to do business honestly or leave the area. I have found local businesses doing the same work honestly and for a fair price since my encounter.
  • by SS on Jul 7, 2010 at 10:16 AM
  • by sally on Jul 7, 2010 at 07:37 AM
    I've been hearing these kinds of complaints about Roto Rooter for some time now. Be especially cautious if they want to dig up your line. ALWAYS get a second opinion!
  • by serious Location: colorado on Jul 7, 2010 at 07:14 AM
    WOW!!!! that is all i can say. So much for customer service anymore. With the uncertainty of jobs, and you have people like that with no customer service skills. Wouldn't be suprised to here of that company cutting jobs!!!! i will do the work myself before i call that company!!!!!
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