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Whiny Consumerist Plays the Handicapped Card

Yet another whiner at Consumerist is complaining that a company followed the terms of an agreement. This time it's a wheelchair bound guy named pat who was charged $550 for a toilet repair.

Basically, this guy calls up a plumber and asks for a quote on a toilet repair. The plumber refuses to give a quote sight-unseen, but rather sends out a plumber to give a quote. Plumber shows up and gives a quote of $500, reportedly without looking at the toilet first.

Then the whiner plays the handicapped card:

Well, I am physically handicapped. I had a spinal cord tumor removed from my back, and it has really screwed up my G.I. system, so this is one reason the toilet was clogged, plus, I depended on that toilet to work. I was desperate. I reluctantly agreed thinking that this job was going to be a toughie ...

There's your first mistake pal. You agreed to pay $500 for a toilet repair. You could have a new toilet installed for less than that. You should have called around first, and maybe got a couple of quotes. Ever see that auto insurance commercial? ... Here's the money shot:
... but 15 minutes later, they were done. They told me the problem was a disposable razor head lodged in the trap. Well great, then since it was so easy, they would only charge me about $100, which was fine with me, I was happy, but no, they wanted $550. Well, under duress, I paid

Ahh ... There's the rub. He unspokenly agreed to pay $500 only if it was a really tough job. Once they finished in 15 minutes after fishing out a disposable razor (and I would assume some more nefarious things that provided the actual clog) this whiny asshole's logic told him that he should only have to pay $100. When was that part of the deal? According to his statement, he agreed to pay $500 for the repair. As far as I can tell, his only room to argue is that they asked for $550, not the agreed $500. How did he come up with the $100 figure?

There is this old joke about an elevator repair man. This elevator repair man goes to his boss and asks for a raise. The raise is denied, so he quits. A couple weeks later, he gets a call from his old boss asking for emergency help with a broken elevator. The man agrees, but only if the ex-boss pays $1000 for the repair. Desperate, the boss agrees. The man shows up, puts his ear on the wall, listens a bit, hits the wall, and the elevator starts working again. On his way out the door, he gives the old boss an invoice with a single line item "Elevator Repair - $1000" and asks him to sign it so he can get a check before he leaves. The boss refuses ... "All you did was hit the wall. I'm not paying $1000 for that." The man thinks about it, and takes back the invoice. He quickly makes some writing on it, and hands it back. This time with two line items: "Hitting the wall - $1", "Knowing where to hit the wall to repair the elevator - $999."

The point of telling the joke is that the man agreed to pay $500 to repair the toilet because he was unable to do so himself. Whether or not the job was easy for a properly trained plumber who is not disabled is irrelevant. The man agreed to $500, and then reneged to $100 after the job was done.

That said, I think it's a pretty scummy thing to charge $500 for a toilet repair. I would have smelled a rat the moment that high of a figure was thrown out. I had a water softener installed for almost half that price, and would have known immediately I was being ripped off.

If the story had been that some asshole plumber came over and quoted $500 to remove a razor from a toilet, and was laughed out of the house, I would have much more sympathy for the guy. If the initial quote was $100, and then 15 minutes of work later raised to $500, I'd say he should refer the case to the DA. Considering the fact that he agreed to $500 in the first place, I don't have much sympathy for him, although it is a scummy thing to do. Especially to a handicapped guy.

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