Beware: this post is not for the faint of heart

My parents have been dealing with a seriously crappy situation.  When I say crappy, I mean it in the literal sense unfortunately…

Please read this letter I helped them write.  We will be sending this to the local media, complaint sites, the FTC, Small Claims Court, and pretty much anyone who will listen.  Please feel free to spread the word.

To whom it may concern:

We would greatly appreciate your assistance in obtaining remediation from Roto-Rooter Corporation. Please take the time to review the timeline of events that occurred.

As a quick summary, we contacted Roto-Rooter (Burlingame location) to fix a clogged toilet.  Should be a simple service call, right?  Roto-Rooter “fixed” the problem at hand, but ruined a pipe (MAIN sewer line) which caused leakage and not to mention a truly unpleasant situation for quite a few days.  We had to pay a cleaning specialist over $2,000 to clear out the sewage.

We have made multiple efforts to obtain reimbursement of the $2,076.70 cleaning charge from Roto-Rooter Corporate, however Roto-Rooter has been uncooperative and only willing to split the cost of the damages incurred by their employees.

Roto-Rooter Time line summary:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A service technician from  Roto-Rooter Services Company -1830 Bayshore Highway, Burlingame, California, 94010, 650-642-6128- arrived about 8:40am to clean the downstairs toilet clog.  After examination, another technician was called.  The Toilet was removed and they had to use a machine.  They needed to make quite a bit of adjustment to the “cutter” end of the cleaning device.  Eventually the water was flowing freely.  We later realized that the water was flowing freely because the main drain pipe in the crawl space was broken by their tool.  Roto-Rooter billed me $497.41 and noted on the bill that this was only guaranteed for 30 days “because it was hard to go thru.”  I can’t help but wonder if this short guarantee was intended to expire before we noticed the broken sewer line.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Home Preservation Service Representative came around 1:00pm for their quarterly winter checkup.  They noticed a bad smell coming from the crawl space.  After investigation, they discovered that the main house sewer line was broken and the sewage was just being dumped in the crawl space.  We immediately called Roto-Rooter to repair the break they had carelessly created the week before.  Cesar Palacios from the Roto-Rooter Services Company -1830 Bayshore Highway, Burlingame, California, 94010, 650-642-6128 – came at around 3:00pm and looked at the break.  He said Roto-Rooter could fix it, but only after the sewage had been cleaned up and disinfected.  He recommended  “Water Damage Experts” to do the cleanup.  We immediately called the “Water Damage Experts,” and they said they couldn’t come before the next morning and told us not to use water or toilet. We considered a hotel for the night.  We are only lucky the Home Preservation’s quarterly check-up occurred just week after Roto Rooter made their mess… if it had been weeks or months, our house would have been permanently damaged.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The “Water Damage Experts” came and removed the sewage, fumigated the crawl space and added biocide and active earth to cover the infected space. The “Water Damage Experts” asked us to pay $2,076.70 up front.  When they were finished they called Cesar Palacios at Roto-Rooter who came and repaired the broken drain pipe at no charge.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We sent a letter with the “Water Damage Experts” bill to Pat Swanson at headquarter (Cincinnati, Ohio) of Roto-Rooter asking the reimbursement.  Pat is listed as the person to direct “service issues” inquiries.

Friday, January, 23, 2009

At about 9:10am Jean Martinez from Roto-Rooter’s Sunnyvale Office – 183 Commercial Street, Sunnyvale, California, 408- 739 1648 – called.  He claimed that the fine print on their contract absolved them of any responsibility for damages and they would not pay for the cleanup.  I told him this was unacceptable since it was their carelessness that caused the damage and their advertisements claimed that they were “licensed and insured.”  Additionally their advertisements claim “No Hassle Guarantees.” As a result I was not going to accept their decision not to take responsibility.  He said that he would talk to his manager and get back to me by Monday, January 26, 2009.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cory Severson – Roto-Rooter Bay Area representative, 183 Commercial Street, Sunnyvale, CA 94086, Cory.Severson@rrsc.com, Tel: 650-259-7650 – called back to say they are only willing to pay 1/2 of the cleaning expense.  We told him that’s unacceptable, given we trusted Roto-rooter to solve the problem WITHOUT causing damages.  The damages should be paid by the service provider.

We would greatly appreciate your assistance in remedying this situation.  It is completely irresponsible and unethical for this business to refuse payment of damages incurred by their employees.  We feel it is important that this matter is brought to justice.  Roto-Rooter needs to place greater focus on properly training their employees so that situations like this do not occur in the future.   We feel that unless this situation is not brought to the public’s attention, other innocent consumers will experience a similar nightmare as we have endured.

Kind Regards,

WARNING: if you are prone to nausea, I suggest you stop here (see pictures below)




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