UPDATE WITH RESPONSE: Consumers concerned with pipe thaw prices, - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE WITH RESPONSE: Consumers concerned with pipe thaw prices, quality

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UPDATE: Representatives of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing released a statement to KWWL Thursday regarding Mr. Wilson's issue.

"The job at Mr. Wilson’s home was somewhat complex and difficult in that it involved a galvanized water service," wrote Thomas Hutson, Owner, and Brad J. A’Hearn, Operations Manager. They said they halted the work until Wilson could check with the city if the water main was frozen.

They say a Friday appointment with Wilson to continue the work was already scheduled. Wilson previously told KWWL that his appointment was rescheduled multiple times.

"As licensed plumbers, we have been serving customers in Eastern Iowa for more than 15 years," the representatives wrote. "We have an excellent reputation for quality work, customer service and a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee."


ORIGINAL STORY: Winter's chill has hundreds of people in the Cedar Valley waiting for someone to thaw their frozen water pipes, but some feel companies are taking advantage of them.

Montez Wilson hasn't had running water for more than a week.

"The toughest thing for us living without water is not washing the dishes, and you can't wash your hands," he said.

When the pipes of his Waterloo home froze, Wilson called Cedar Rapids based Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. Up front, he was quoted $800 for the repair. Wilson said the repairman was at his home for hours, but when he left, the pipes were cut and the water meter was dangling from the wall by the wires. A week later, his water still isn't running.

He paid the man about $800, cash. But a week later, his water still isn't running.

I called the company to ask why, and spoke on the phone with a man identifying himself as Brad, the Service and Operations Manager. He refused to give his last name. He said the work wasn't completed because Wilson asked his crew to leave, but Wilson disputes that.

Wilson said he thinks the high price tag for service takes advantage of desperate people like himself. KWWL has received multiple calls from people charged hundreds of dollars by other companies to clear their pipes.

Brad from the Benjamin Franklin said their fees are formulated to cover their operating costs, and that every customer agrees to the price up-front.

Either way, Wilson just wants his pipes fixed.

"If they could just come put the pipes back in and give us some of our money back for not doing nothing, it'd be better," he said. "I'm just going to give them $800 and let it go? I don't think that's a good deal."

Brad from the plumbing company wouldn't answer my questions on the phone, but did say he will meet with Wilson and I tomorrow to discuss the bill if we drive down to Marion. We're working on setting that up.

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