Some tradespeople are better than others, some charge more than others, and some charge the earth. Brothers Plumbing, 130 Osler St., Toronto, falls into the latter category.
I’ve used the firm before so Brothers was my first call recently when I had a running toilet. Marcus replaced the flush valve and flapper. Since he was already at my house, I thought I’d have two other small jobs done at the same time: replacing leaky pop-up plugs in a tub and a sink. Big mistake. Turns out Brothers charges by the job, so I now had inadvertently asked for three jobs. As a result, each was billed according to some price book as if they were separate visits.
For the new flapper and valve, I paid $426 plus tax for parts and labor.The same job on the same toilet by a different man from the same company in April 2011 cost $250 for parts and labour, so Brothers has jacked up prices by 70 per cent in less than three years.
The two stoppers cost $40 each and I was billed $150 in labour as a separate line item on my invoice for that work. The retail price for a valve and flapper is about $30.Even allowing 100 per cent markup on parts, the labour cost for this latest work on the toilet was $366. Add the $150 labour for stoppers and the total labor was $516. Let’s allow one hour travel time for that initial one-hour visit, and another hour for two return visits with the stoppers, for a total of three hours. I think I’m being generous in my computation, but I’m prepared to err on the side of fairness. The hourly rate for labour works out to $172. Who cares about losing all these $30-an-hour factory jobs when plumbing repair pays so well?
Update: Brothers Plumbing responded to my complaint. In February 2014, I had a problem with another toilet that included the usual flapper and flush valve plus something called the Douglas valve. J. P. Benn did the work, valued at more than $300 in parts and labour, for free. Thanks to Cindy for making all the arrangements.