Whether or, not Roto Rooter Pipe Shield preventative maintenance product for drains actually works is an interesting question that even I don’t know for sure. It’s really interesting how that could be, because years ago I used to work for Roto Rooter, and was required to sell Pipe Shield drain care products to customers. The technicians referred to the Pipe Shield as “Blue Juice” and we had a sales quota of 4 gallons per week that we were required to sell.
Find that interesting do you? Then good, read on.
Roto Rooter Pipe Shield is a blue colored liquid that is sold in blue 1 gallon plastic jugs and according to their sales pamphlet contains 64 treatments of 2 oz. which is not a clog remover but is a preventative maintenance product that will prevent a buildup from occurring in a drain for up to 30 days and then it may be reapplied. An interesting contradiction can be found right in the Roto Rooter Pipe Shield instructions it is stated that the product is not a drain opener and is only for drain maintenance but later it is stated “For Problem Drains Use Once Per Week.” The Pipe Shield is scented and according to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) contains “Viable Bacterial Cultures” and “Water” with no other ingredients listed. Clearly there are other ingredients, but due to the quantities being less than 1% or, non hazardous they are not required to be listed on the MSDS. Other ingredients, which are purely speculation on my part would include some type of detergent or, surfactant because the product does foam when shaken and seems to exhibit cleaning properties, which the managers at the Roto Rooter branches demonstrate once per year when they wash the employees vans for them on employee appreciation day by using Pipe Shield instead of car wash detergent.
At this time Roto Rooter is charging $52 for a gallon of Pipe Shield and the technician is paid a commission on each gallon sold that I estimate to be about $13 per gallon based on past payment levels. The technicians are given lots of information on sales techniques such as pitches involving how using Roto Rooter Pipe Shield will maintain the drain being clear, helping eliminate the need for service again, and how to include the Pipe Shield as part of a “Clean and Treat” program for your drain. One of the things that I noticed which made me suspicious was that they never gave any great detail on how it worked other than use it, and it works. With the technology the company has available for camera inspection of pipes wouldn’t it seem logical to have actual before and after pictures of the pipe with a build up of sludge and grease then pictures after the treatment has consumed the sludge and grease or, some other factual documentation? Instead the pictures on the sales pamphlet are drawn images.
Roto Rooter provides mandatory education classes for technicians that do not meet the Pipe Shield sales quota as punishment for not meeting the quota. The reason I say punishment is that the class is always held during working hours so the technician will lose about ½ of his workday, the commission income associated with that time will be lost. An added factor is the travel expense, the technicians who normally are required to only go to the shop once a week to turn in receipts, are faced with the added expense of a second trip to the shop in a week to attend the mandatory class, the class will never be scheduled on the day when the technicians would be going to the shop to turn in. Clearly this program is designed as punishment in an attempt to penalize the employee that is not meeting the quota financially.
In the Roto Rooter mandatory education classes the technicians that did not meet the quota are instructed how to pitch the product. In the past the technicians were also given a demonstration of how the Pipe Shield when poured into a bottle that contained Crisco and water, then shaken to mix the Pipe Shield would emulsify the Crisco after soaking for about an hour, Dawn dishwashing liquid will also do this and it sells for much less than $52 a gallon. What this demonstration proves mystifies me, as the water and Pipe Shield will never remain in the pipe like it does in the bottle, instead the product would flow through the drain and be in the city sewer or, septic tank in about a minute. Another smoke and mirrors how the “Blue Juice Works Talk,” included how the bacteria culture spores contained a “Electrical Charge” which would make them stick to the sludge and grease, any person who has ever taken even an elementary chemistry class should know that water and aqueous solutions are always electrically neutral and this statement violates the basic laws of physics and chemistry. There was never and real evidence that was presented showing that the product would actually do anything other than generate additional profits, which make me very suspicious about the product.
As a customer if you are “Given” a gallon of Roto Rooter Pipe Shield was not pitched to you and accepted, you can be sure that the product was added on to your bill without you knowing. One of the common pitches used is the technician calling his drain cleaning service a “Clean and Treat” which includes the product added on to the cost of the line cleaning. Although the technician is supposed to tell the customer the Pipe Shield is included in the price of the “Clean and Treat” and there is also a less expensive option of cleaning the line only, the customer will seldom hear the less expensive “Option” unless they object to the price of the “Clean and Treat.”
Among the Pipe Shield sales abuses I have witnessed while I was working for Roto Rooter was a technician padding the bill with 4 gallons of Pipe Shield and only leaving 1 gallon with the customer. This same technician was credited with selling 20 gallons in a single week despite only having 8 gallons on his truck. The manager turned a blind eye to the inventory discrepancies while praising this employee for his outstanding Pipe Shield sales abilities. It wasn’t until this “Model Employee” was caught doing jobs on the side, and collecting cash payments for that work without Roto Rooter getting their cut, that he fell out of favor and was terminated.
Does Roto Rooter Pipe Shield Work? Interesting question! I can reasonably say that it will not harm your pipes like drain cleaners and drain openers that use acid or, caustic based chemicals. Bacteria grows naturally inside pipes and septic systems eating sludge and grease so in principle it would work, but it is unknown whether adding additional bacteria would make any improvement or, whether the bacterial poured in the drain remains there or, is washed away. The “Enforced Quota” system, the concentration on “Sales Techniques,” and the “Smoke and Mirrors,” instead of “Factual Data,” and “Factual Evidence,” along with the “Blind Eye Towards Deceit,” says there is good reason to have suspicions that this product is nothing more than a profit maker. If you were to call Roto Rooter to have a drain cleaned and this product was either pitched legitimately or, added on without you knowing I would recommend that you decline the product and make sure that the charge is removed from your bill.