Capital District Plumbing Contractor Makes Refunds

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement with a Capital District plumbing and sewage contractor that resulted in more than $18,000 in refunds to 24 customers.

The agreement with Watervliet-based Pro-Rooter, Inc., formerly doing business as Rooter Man, Inc. and Rooter Man of Capital District, Inc., and its owner, James N. Ward, Jr., settles allegations that the company misrepresented its hourly rates for emergency sewage services, misdiagnosed and failed to rectify plumbing and sewage problems, and refused to correct deficient work unless additional payments were paid.

Spitzer had also alleged that the company failed to honor warranties, failed to pay small claims judgments, damaged homeowners' property and refused to provide information to homeowners about its insurance coverage.

"Consumers often find themselves at the mercy of contractors during a plumbing or sewage emergency at their homes," Spitzer said. "This settlement will ensure that homeowners are informed in advance of the costs of emergency repair services and the extent of their warranty coverage."

Pro-Rooter has agreed to modify its business practices and contracts with regard to pricing, warranties, workmanship, and insurance claims. The restitution payment includes $11,000 for small claims judgments which the company had failed to pay. Much of the company's work involves fixing broken pipes and clogged sewer drains on an emergency basis.

The Attorney General's investigation was triggered by numerous complaints from consumers alleging that their sewer lines re-clogged soon after Pro-Rooter cleared out the lines and that the company refused to return unless additional money was paid, notwithstanding a thirty-day conditional warranty. Many consumers also felt pressured to pay prices well in excess of the initial estimate because of the emergency nature of the repairs.

In addition, Pro-Rooter will pay $9,100 in penalties and costs to the state.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Matthew J. Barbaro of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.

To be eligible for restitution, consumers must file complaints against Pro-Rooter within six months and can do so by contacting the Attorney General's Consumer Frauds help line at (800) 771-7755 or go online at www.ag.ny.gov.


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