Water heater repair leads to labor dispute

Water heater repair leads to labor dispute

COMPLAINT: Sean Oberholtzer, Menomonee Falls, Wis.

"I hired Joe Debelak Plumbing Heating A/C Sewer to service my water heater. The manufacturer's website listed this company as a certified technician.

"When the tech saw the brand, he said they haven't serviced it in three years and the company shouldn't be on the website. However, he worked on it.

"He was on the phone for two hours with the manufacturer troubleshooting and replacing various items. After four hours, he left and said he'd come back Monday.

"He did finish the work, again on the phone with the manufacturer. He eventually fixed the heater. However, he should not have serviced it with dated experience with the model.

"His inexperience cost me $500 just for the service time he spent. The parts were free under warranty."

DESIRED RESOLUTION: "I would like to compromise on a fair price for a service that would have been performed had their tech been skilled and honest about his experience.

"He saw right away, based on the model, that he was neither certified nor up-to-date to service the equipment."

RESPONSE: Bill Newsbury, president, Joe Debelak Plumbing Heating A/C Sewer

"The member's original call never mentioned warranty or brand. Had he done so, we would have told him we do service that brand, but only with parts warranty, not labor.

"Our technician, Rick, is a skilled, honest technician who is proficient and qualified to repair all models of water heaters.

"When a water heater is under warranty, it is our policy to call the manufacturer while on-site to verify the warranty and check for any service updates for that model. Rick felt bad that the job took as long as it did, and we reduced the bill by approximately 25 percent.

"The member never contacted us to say he was bothered by the cost. When the bill was 30 days past due, I left three messages, which were never returned. The fourth time I called, he answered and I was exposed to the most verbally abusive customer I have encountered in more than 20 years.

"After calling me a vulgar name, he said he put the check in the mail. No other communication occurred until the letter from Angie's List. I will not resolve this in the manner the member believes is fair. I have already reduced the bill to a "fair" price."

STATUS: Stalemate

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