Service Technician is a term used by Roto Rooter to mislead the customer on the qualifications of the person they are sending to the customer’s house to perform plumbing repairs. In many cases Roto Rooter is sending a “Technician” instead of a “Licensed Plumber” to do the plumbing work, often in violation of state consumer protection laws. Roto Rooter charges some of the highest hourly labor rates for their plumbing service, yet they send the inexpensive “Unlicensed Service Technician” to do the work and maximize their profits.
Does that seem like a rip off to you? Read on!
What Is A Roto Rooter Service Technician?
A Roto Rooter Service Technician can be anyone, the technicians come from all walks of life, many have worked at everything from selling cars to embalming, and everything in between, as long as they can pass a drug test they can be hired. When the new service technician is hired by Roto Rooter he is assigned a more experienced technician to ride with through the training period. The new service technician will also be sent to weekly classes at the “Roto Rooter Plumbing School” where the tech will receive a “Basic Training” on performing various plumbing jobs such as rebuilding and installing toilets, faucets, sink drains, and many other plumbing tasks. The training period varies somewhat through the years and even with individual technicians depending on how they plan on classifying him and what jobs Roto Rooter is planning on assigning the technician. The training period is often anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks in length, with the training coming from the plumbing school classes, sales training at the office, and on the job training while riding with the more experienced service technician. Once the training period is completed the Roto Rooter Service Technician either has to provide his own van or, in some places is given a company van to drive. The pay is on a commission basis with the employee receiving about 30% if he provides his own van, and 20% if the van is provided by the company. The Roto Rooter Service Technician is then ready to be unleashed on the unsuspecting consumer with training that is not even close to matching the required training for a licensed plumber in many states.
What Is A Licensed Plumber?
The requirements for Licensed Plumbers vary in every state as to the general licensing requirements, with the most liberal being where the company holds a Contracting License and may have a Licensed Master Plumber with employees working under the company contracting license and or, the master plumber’s license, this is found in a few states such as New York, Florida, and California. Other states are more stringent with the licensing for plumbers being where a Licensed Master Plumber runs the business and the plumbers working under him would be Licensed Journeymen and Apprentice Card Holders with the apprentices having to be directly supervised by the journeyman plumber while they are working, this is typical in many more of the states and is what we have here in Connecticut. Roto Rooter has chosen to obey the most liberal licensing laws in the whole country and apply them to every state without regard for the consumer protection laws of the other states unless they are forced into compliance by the individual states. When you are having plumbing work check the laws of your state to find out the licensing requirements for the work you are having done.
The training requirements to become a licensed plumber vary in every state, from the California requirement of just being hired by a licensed contractor, being the most liberal, to other states where more stringent requirements allow only a licensed plumber can do plumbing work. In the states where a plumbing license is required the plumber is first hired as an apprentice, and goes to classes at night, while working during the day often for 4 or 5 years. Both the classes and apprenticeship are required as well as a minimum number of hours working before they can take a test to become a Licensed Journeyman Plumber. The Journeyman Plumber then is faced with the requirement of taking Continuing Education Classes every year in order to be able to renew the journeyman license. After working for a set number of years, and taking additional classes, the journeyman may become eligible to take the master plumber exam and become a Licensed Master Plumber.
Does Roto Rooter Really Break The Law And Use Service Technicians?
Absolutely! The training the Roto Rooter Service Technician receives in the 6 to 12 week training period does not even come close to the quality of training required in many states to hold a plumbing license or, for that matter even an Apprentice Card. Of course the apprentice also is required to be directly supervised by a licensed plumber while performing work as well. Roto Rooter is simply saying we are a huge company and we can pick which laws we obey, which in turn they use the lower paid unlicensed Service Technicians to do plumbing work while they charge labor rates that fall in the upper half of the price scale. If you are paying top rates for a plumber shouldn’t you have a Licensed Plumber being sent to do the work on your home? This policy has been demonstrated time an time again across the country with cases involving licensing issues on their work being brought forward by both state governments, and consumers in many states including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, Minnesota, and Illinois. In fact 3 Roto Rooter Service Technicians from the Windsor Connecticut Branch were arrested in Connecticut for performing “Unlicensed Plumbing Work” which was disclosed in a November 18, 2009 Press Release from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.
Even Roto Rooter’s celebrity “Plumbers” from the Sci-FI Network TV show “Ghost Hunter’s” Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson are turning out to be “Roto Rooter Service Technicians.” A check of the Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training License Check Website reveals “Plumber License Inquiry” “Not On File” when Jason Hawes & Grant Wilson are searched. Likewise a search in Massachusetts comes up with Profession: Plumber , Last Name: beginning with hawes, First Name: beginning with jason
“There are no licensees fitting this criteria.” “Your search has resulted in “0” licenses.” and Profession: Plumber Last Name: beginning with wilson First Name: beginning with grant “There are no licensees fitting this criteria.” “Your search has resulted in “0” licenses.”
What Is The Danger From Having Work Done By A Service Technician?
The biggest danger you face is the fact that the Roto Rooter Service Technician does not have the necessary training to be a plumber, the 6 – 12 weeks of simple training does not even come close to the training an apprentice would have, never mind a licensed plumber! You can expect to pay more for misdiagnosed problems that the inexperienced service technician couldn’t figure out so the troubleshot with lots of parts. While it is true that Roto Rooter’s Deep Pockets may afford some degree of protection in the event work being done by one of their “Unlicensed Plumbers” goes wrong, what about the problems you may suffer from that can’t be fixed by Deep Pockets?
What if the Service Technician incorrectly installed a gas water heater and your entire family was poisoned by Carbon Monoxide or, a gas leak caused a fatal explosion or, the bad installation caused a fatal fire? Those cannot be undone by deep pockets! What would you feel like if your were bathing a young child and it was badly scalded by an incorrectly installed bathtub faucet or, a water heater that was turned up too high, to an unsafe temperature.There is a big difference between damages that can be fixed and inconveniences and things that can’t be fixed and no amount of money is worth experiencing the problem. Plumbing has many areas where improper plumbing can cause injury, health problems and even death.
I personally know of a situation where a Roto Rooter Service Technician that has worked for the company about 10 years was sent to replace a gas water heater. The problem was that despite working for over 10 years as a service technician, he hadn’t been trained, was unsupervised, and did not know there was a difference between Natural Gas, and LP Gas. He went to Home Depot and purchased a Natural Gas Water Heater which he then installed on a home that was supplied with LP Gas. The Gas Water Heater has an orifice that the gas goes through on the way to the burner that helps control the amount of gas going to the burner. The orifice on a Nat. Gas water heater is almost twice the size of the one that would be installed on one for LP Gas. When he went to light the burner, flames came rolling out of the combustion chamber door, up the side of the water heater making a black mark up the side, and they also came out around the exhaust vent on top. Fortunately he was able to shut the gas off before a fire was started.
Without proper training there is no way that you can be assured of the work being done right.
How Can I Find Out If I Have A Plumber Or, Service Technician?
The best way you can find out if the person Roto Rooter sent to your home is a “Plumber” or, “Service Technician” to simply ask to see their plumbing license before having the work done. Almost every state that requires a plumbing license for plumbing work being done will have a law requiring the license to be shown when asked. If the person Roto Rooter has sent does not pull out the license and show it, but instead starts talking about the company being licensed and insured, the work is full guaranteed then you can be pretty sure that you have an Unlicensed Service Technician.
In addition you may also go online to your state’s On-Line License Check as demonstrated by the Rhode Island Professional License Check Linked in the above paragraph, where I found that Roto Rooter’s “Celebrity Plumbers” were really Service Technicians. Many states have these license check websites on the state government websites, finding them is not always easy, and you can always call to ask if they have one and where it is located. Usually they can be found under consumer protection, licensing boards, and labor boards.
If you are paying premium rates for a plumber shouldn’t you expect Roto Rooter to send one to your home?