Most plumbers are all right -- like any other trade, there are good ones and bad ones, but nearly all of them get leaky pipes and valves fixed; failure is just too obvious.
Plumbing companies, though.... Were the universe inherently just, there would be a very special little corner of Hell reserved for 'em. The best ones often go away, except for the ones that metastasize into vast, sloppy, it's-not-my-problem, Call-One-Number conglomerates.
My old plumbing firm was a Type One. Small. Been there forever. Located here in Broad Ripple, Steck's did a huge amount of work in the nineteen-teens through '40s bungalows in the neighborhood. No old plumbing was a surprise to their guys and their plumbers were unfazed by the classic techniques -- lead and oakum, soldered copper, galvanized-steel nightmares, reseatable valves, no problem. Nor were the wonders of modern plastic foreign to them; they used whatever it took to do the job. So, of course, when the principal retired, Steck's vanished (at least their profitable and well-stocked supply house remains -- you need plumbing stuff, get to Winthrop Supply!).
I found another outfit, one of the El Hugiod firms; their guys did good work (okay, a couple were just adequate and if I meet up with the nitwit who "fixed" our outside hydrant but removed the shutoff inside the basement and left the leaking fixture outside with no steady mounting, I'll have harsh words, but mostly, they're fine and occasionally outstanding). After several repairs small and large, I signed up to their Super-Valued-Customer Club, which promises 15% off and superfast service.
So they say. Big mistake, signing up. Money down the... Well, down the drain.
It's 6:40 p.m. I'm waiting on them now. Funny, they called me at five pip emma at work to let me know the plumber was On His Way. --Maybe he's driving from Oklahoma? Called them a few minutes ago -- got, not the Ultra-Modern Dispatch Centre one might imagine but their answering service, who boredly asked for and took a basic who-what-why-where is he? message but, according to the call I just received from someone supposedly at the plumber's HQ, delivered only a "call this number."
And the best part? I have a hot water leak in the basement (low volume but the iron pipe, in a not very visible place, is in sad shape, wreathed in little sprays of crystallized rust; you can't trust them at that point) and possibly thermostat problems with my water heater, since it doesn't usually run for an hour-plus at a time the way it was when I found and investigated the leak.
At 9:15 this morning, I called up the Hugiod Plumbing-and-Dog-Grooming Outfit, they allowed as how I was indeed a member of the Sooooper Customer Discount Club...and that to get service today would cost an extra $50 for "emergency service."
You know, tonight's adventure, assuming the truck ever shows up at all, is going to be their swan song. I'll find somebody else, somebody that may only be an average plumber but shows up in a timely manner and doesn't have any nonsensical Best Friends Club.
Oh, yeah, my pager keeps going off. Something's awry down at the Skunk Works and I'm tryin' to talk guys through it 'cos I have to, you know, wait for the service guy. Hey, Mr. Plumber, you want your football game? Live? Gonna cost ya extra for that!
Sheesh, I hope his truck didn't get hit or something. Even so, it is way later than the originally-promised time when they called with the "on the way!" message. Nearly two hours ago. Swan. Song.
Update: They lost him. The actual dispatcher and I have spoken twice. They haven't heard from him since he said he was on his way and he's not replying to any means of communication.
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
6 months ago