• Report:  #4010

Complaint Review: Roto-Rooter - Plymouth Michigan

Reported By:
- Tempe, Arizona,
Sun, December 10, 2000

14530 27th Ave. N. Plymouth, 55447 Michigan, U.S.A.
Tell us has your experience with this business or person been good? What's this?
I hired Roto-Rooter to replace my sewer line from my house to the curb. I paid them and they did the work. On September 19, I found my basement covered in sewage. I called Roto-Rooter; almost twelve hours after my phone call they came out and couldn't get the sewer line cleared. The next morning a crew came out, said they'd have to dig up the street (at a starting cost of $3,600). Of course I refused to sign anything until they explained to me what exactly they were going to do; they told me not to use the sewer, stared at the street for three hours then left.

Meanwhile I had contacted the Minneapolis city sewer inspector and told him of the problem. Over the next several weeks I tried unsuccessfully to get Dave Smith (the Roto-Rooter excavations head who did my previous work to give me a detailed written estimate. I was unable to live in my house at this time.

Finally I hired another company, who dug down near my sidewalk and discovered that Roto-Rooter had failed to connect the new sewer line to the existing line. Sewage had been pouring into the ground and back through the line into my basement. The city sewer inspector came over, put a call into Dave Smith, and suggested he come over and have a look. He refused. I spoke with him and asked him if he realized the extent of the damage he had caused, and told him I needed the name of the claims department, as I was going to make a claim against Roto-Rooter. He replied, "I am the claims department," offered no apology, and told me to send my complaint to his office. I itemized some of my expenses, sent it off to him. I didn't hear from him for two weeks, gave him a call, was told he was still "looking over the paperwork," waited two more weeks, called him again, was told he sent it off to his "division manager" Darryl Banks, and the matter was out of his hands. I informed Dave Smith that I was going to start charging them interest on the amount they owe me. His reply was, "whatever." I called Darryl Banks, upset, threatened to take them to court, and said I expected to be reimbursed. He said, "I'll mail the paperwork off to the insurance company and you can give them a call. The matter is out of our hands at this point." I called the "insurance company" (actually Roto-Rooter's claim company) long-distance and was told that they couldn't read the paperwork Roto-Rooter had sent and that I just needed to be patient.

So this is how matters stand today. I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (no answer). I have called the Minneapolis Mediation program, and they said that they'd send notice to Roto-Rooter, which (of course) has not responded. I complained to one local TV station which runs a consumer action program, and they said they'd forward my complaint through their program to Roto-Rooter. So, here I sit. I was unable to live in my home for 26 days, my sidewalk around the area of my sewer line has sunk and needs to be replaced, I am out the money I paid Roto-Rooter to do the initial work as well as the money I paid the other company to fix the problem, I needed to have my basement professionally cleaned and disinfected, and I missed some work as a result of this, to say nothing of the amount of time I spent and am still spending trying to get this matter resolved. Does anyone out there have any advice for me? I have reached the end of my patience in dealing with this company and their unethical, shameful business practices. Thanks in advance!

Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Roter-Rooter

8 Updates & Rebuttals


San Diego,
Roto Roote is a franchise

#2UPDATE Employee

Thu, July 08, 2004

Roto Rooter is a franchise operation. There are many, many corporate owned offices, but many are owned and operated by individuals, partnerships and couples. Please do not judge the entire company with a thousand employees doing quality work for hundreds and hundreds of customers EVERY DAY on terrible service from one office. Find out who the owner is to try to get satisfaction and then contact Roto Rooter Inc. on their website to complain about a franchisee you are unsatisfied with.


Fort Worth,
We would have never allowed a customer to be treated so harshly

#3Consumer Suggestion

Mon, November 10, 2003

I am a master plumber and owner of Plumbing Business in Texas, and would have never allowed a customer to be treated so harshly. The plumbing business is a business that depends on repeat customers and quality service... Your problem should be a simple one to resolve by calling the state board of plumbing examiners in your area. They should be able to resolve this matter quickly under the threat of closing down their unscrupulious business practices. *Without a valid masters license a company can not perform plumbing work of any type.


What you had was bad luck

#4Consumer Comment

Thu, June 26, 2003

First of all, get your address right. We are not located in Michigan. We are located in Minnesota. Also a name you mentioned in the problem you are having is wrong. Just because you had one problem with the company does not mean the whole company is bad. What you had was bad, I admit. However-we're still at the top of list for plumbing and sewer cleaning!


they deny any wrong doing, and what is worse... they deny responsibility

#5Consumer Comment

Tue, January 28, 2003

From another unhappy customer:

I can empathize with this Roto Rooter Customer. I had a similar experience... Similar in that once the "error" was discovered the reaction of Roto Rooter employees has been quite lacking. They are defensive, they deny any wrong doing, and what is worse... they deny responsibility.

In August of this past year I called Roto Rooter to replace an outdoor faucet. The employee arrived promptly but without the equipment, parts and supplies needed. After a run to our local home improvement center he returned with the faucet he was to install. Poor quality at best, but I was assured it would suffice.

This was only the beginning. He did not have a proper cord, ladder or light. He asked to plug in a light nearby and I pointed out that in our only partially finished basement not all outlets are working. He opted to unplug our sump pump to plug in his light.

Two months later it was discovered that this Roto Rooter employee did not leave our home as he had found it. He neglected to plug our sump pump back in. Our basement was flooded and all we had stored there... i.e. seasonal clothing, camping gear, ski gear, holiday decorations, home improvement supplies etc... floated in a foot of water.

We do not use our basement except for occassional service or storage of seasonal items. Because it took some time for us to discover our horror, Roto Rooter seems to think they should not be responsible for the damage caused by an employee unplugging our sump pump.

Every contact I have had with Roto Rooter employees since discovering the flood and the damage done has been a real disappointment. This is a company I once had faith in. Is there any way to get thier attention? Are they growing so fast now they do not need our business?

Should it matter how often we do or do not use our basement? Does the arguement that we waited too long have any real bearing?

The cleanup from the damage consisted of two full loads of trash being disposed of in excess of $2,000, the fee for a company hired to dry out and sanitize the flooded floor and walls $700, the fee for a plumber to discover that the sump pump failed only because it was unplugged $150...

What does it take to get this company to right a wrong?


What to do

#6UPDATE EX-employee responds

Wed, October 23, 2002

Ofcourse this is after the fact; but in the future, if another company must be called to fix (or diagnose) a problem caused by Roto Rooter (or any serviceman for that matter); be certain to photograph, from start to finish, everything the 2nd opinion company does. Be sure to get their faces in the pictures as well as the logo on their trucks. Calling the city inspector was a good idea, but it's best to request the office of central inspection's "main man".

Once you have a written statement from the 2nd company, with a diagnosis written ledgibly,prefferably by a supervisor, CONTACT AN ATTORNEY. I hate to sound like a commercial, but what late night T.V. attorney's say is true. You must know your rights.

Brandon, formerly of Roto Rooter, Wichita Ks.


St. Louis,
I do not believe your horror stories

#7UPDATE Employee

Mon, April 29, 2002

I cannot speak for every Roto-Rooter office, as far as my own, I am confident that they go above and beyond to see that the customer is satisfied. Even if to the determent of their own techs. anotherwords even if their techs are right, the cust. prevails and comes out the winner.

I have been the #1 technician at my office for close to 3 years so I feel that I my comment should have some validity. signed

P.S. I believe this sight was probably set up by an ex-employee who could not hang...


roto rooter just a name

#8UPDATE EX-employee responds

Sun, March 31, 2002

in responce to the roto rooter rip off, as an exemployee of this company i can till you that company practices and its reputation became so bad that i could no longer stay employed there, iam a plumber of over 23 and let me tell tou that i was shocked when i came in to work at this company most people hired never saw a pipe wrench, muck less used one.

you are trained as a sewer & drain teck for about 6 to 7 weeks then you are turned loose on the unsuspecting public, your are givin a quota that you must meet at the end of the week if you are new you start at 2500.00 you have to sell that much in jobs, remember were talking about a person whos never seen a drain cleaning machine till last month.

you are paid on commission, about 30% if you own your truck.you are told that you must sell mulitiple jobs in each house you go to, sometimes told to sell jobs or line cleanings that are not nessasery or any many cases that do more harm than good.

i was usually sent out to correct problems created by these tecks or so called,now the company gives you a warrenty on all jobs, the way that works is when you are paid for a job and the customer calls back with the same problem, if the same teck cannot go back and anther teck is sent he gets his pay from the first teck in other words the first teck looses his money or has it pulled from his nexts weeks paycheck. most customers will trust in thses people that come out to save them a flood of sewage and pay.

only to find out later that they were overcharged by trades standards.sometimes up to 60% more.

remember employees are paid on commission.next time you need a plumber remember a name is just a name make a few phone calls before you sign that invoice please note there are some good plumbers working at roto rooter but like me they are looking to disasociate themselfs from Roto rooter.

truly Jose miami Fl div,

I was working for Roto-Rooter at the time you called in to have service done by them


Mon, January 07, 2002

They filed the following rebuttal to the above Rip-Off Report:

Their email: [email protected]
Their name: william hunter

Their relationship to the company: Advocate

Hi, im very sorry to know how you feel. I worked at Roto-Rooter For over 1 yr, I worked in plumbing for 20 yrs before working with Roto-Rooter. I was working for Roto-Rooter at the time you called in to have service done by them. There real Co. Name is Jabo co. Thats there cover. They use BBB as a shelid so if someone calls the BBB on them the report dose go through. Smart business.

I was working as a service tech at the time for there Co. But was treated like a Group Leader for the whole time i was
empoleed by them. What a group leader dose is look at problems with in the Co. Like broken lines and sewer lines that cant be open when a new empolee cant open it or heavy roots and possible broken lines. Most of the time a baby sitter. Cus more times there empolees were never train right by there Co, Thats Right Never Trained Right.

They hire People off the Street just cus there a body to fill the seat and cus they have a good drivers lic.
Not that they know Plumbing or are real Plumbers by having school training or by lic. from the State of Michigan. I called out to clean up there dirty work like what happen to you. There reason wasn't good for you.And you were 100% right.They should of put a video camra down your line when you had the work done the camra whould of showed the problem right away. They should of done this the day they did the work of your sewer line. But
the reason they didn't if they didn't was cus they only had one working camrea. That Right One Working Camra. They fight over the Camra day after day there over 40 workers at a time and over 20 jobs that need camra's everyday. Some days you get luckly and its slow and you get it.

The Owner name is Bob Flowers, and Rember its Jabo Co. they use the name Roto-Rooter. They pay good money to get a spot on Chanel (7) at the News time to use Roto-Rooter name to get alot of people business using the name. The real Roto-Rooter is trying to buy there Name back form this Co. As you can tell they are not in the right business.

The big thing about your problem is, One did your sewer line need to be replace in the first place? Two if so did it needit to be a 10' or more repair? Three is yes to both of these was there a camra there? If not why? and the bottom line here Was the person working there lic. not thou the Co. but self lic.?
everyone who works in plumbing need to be self lic. thou State of
Michigan. if you have and ?s please email me ill help you im not empoleed by them any more. sorry and than you.

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