The primary resource for finding local home services shifted from the paper phone book to the Internet around 2009. Advertising of plumbing services (and other services) on the Internet increased dramatically. Unfortunately, nobody is enforcing false advertising laws or plumber licensing laws on the Internet. Consequently, thousands of ads, websites, search results and online business listings (directories) are fake, ficticious and misleading.
Both the consumer and the legitimate professional plumber are under duress. Did you know that 80% of all residential plumbing services are being performed by unlicensed pretenders? Did you know that a real journeyman plumber is in danger of going extinct? Did you know that it take 4-5 years of certified training to legally do plumbing work?
There are two trades that require a licence: plumbers anf electricians. Why? Because these trades, if done badly, are a hazard to people and property in a very big way. There are very few fake electrical ads out there because you have to be an electrician to be an electrical contractor. Washington dropped the ball years ago by not making the same requirement for plumbing contractors; so today anybody can be a "plumbing advertiser" without being a plumber or having one employed.
This loophole (i.e. there is no link between the plumber license and the contractor registration) has opened the door to scams and frauds on many levels. The consumer and the licensed plumber are paying dearly - and not just in dollars.
This site is for you if you have an interest in contractor and/or consumer fraud. You may be a plumber or a plumbing contractor that is being unfairly underbid by the unlicensed pretender . You may be a homeowner that has been scammed by a pretend contractor and/or plumber. You may be a consumer seeking information on how to find a legitimate skilled honest plumber due to a negative experience in the past; or maybe you just want to vent. OK! Please register here, write comments and make suggestions.
The laws regulating plumbers and contractors vary from state to state. Some states have better, stronger legal protections for the public and the tradesman than others. It is useful to know what these laws are, and if they are weak and ineffective, we should make some effort to improve them so that they perform the function that we need them to do. This site can help you with this. Contractor/plumber registration laws, state false advertising laws, Federal Trade Commission laws may be helpful.
In Washington State we have two regulatory agencies that are responsble for our law enforcement:
- Criminal violations of the law (fraud) are the responsibility of the Washington State Attorney General.
- Civil violations of licensing laws are the responsibility of Washington State Labor & Industries.
Neither of these agencies have effectively dealt with the problem of rampant fraud or plumber license enforcement with the consequence that the consumer is at very high risk of getting scammed when responding to an advertisement for plumbing services. The secondary effect is that the licensed plumber wages are being forced to levels comparable to unskilled labor. Traditional skilled local plumbing contractors are either going over to the dark side (hiring commissioned salesmen instead of licensed plumbers) or closing their doors.
Consumer protection is the primary intent of contractor registrations and plumber licensing laws. Plumber licensing laws are intended to prevent the unskilled and dishonest from advertising and pretending to be competent service providers. False advertising in a local area shows plumbing services are offered by those that are not licensed plumbers. Something needs to be fixed before it is too late - the enforcement of the existing laws is what is needed.
Real plumbers have to work under supervision and be certified for between 4-5 years before they receive their license. This site seeks to create consumer awareness of the problem. If we require plumbers to be licensed then it is foolish not protect them as the intention of plumber licensing is protection of the public.
The licensed plumber has had no power to influence how the industry is managed due primarily to the fact that the license is issued to the individual. Individuals have no political voice and have no say with the regulatory agencies. The individial consumer also has no influence. The only way something is going to change is for the licensed plumber and the consumer start complaining.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find skilled plumbers in Washington State. Training apprentices or trainees for 4-5 years is expensive. It takes a plumber to train a plumber. Since the industry has been increasingly infiltrated by a business model that lets anybody advertise plumbing without using licensed plumbers, there are not many technically skilled residential plumbers left that haven't been re-defined as professional salesmen dressed up to look like a plumber. Sales companies maquerading as plumbing contractors do not train competent plumbers - they produce clever sales technicians.
If the plumber license laws are not enforced there is no incentive to enter the trade as an apprentice or trainee. The residential plumbing industry in Washington has been hijacked by sales and marketing interests and are a serious risk to consumers.
Please contribute your voice to this site if you have had an experience with an unlicensed plumber or contractor. False advertising is fraud. It can be a crime. File a police report if you believe you have been defrauded by a con man pretending to be a licensed plumber.
Now that you have a taste of this sites' attitude...
If you are a licensed plumber, your years of training, your license and your future livelihood are worth nothing if the state doesn't do a better job protecting us from the "fake" plumber.
If you are a consumer, you are being defrauded. Hire local plumbing contractors you can trust.
We all need to demand enforcement of our plumber licensing and false advertising laws. If we don't fix this we will only have con men and salesmen left to call when we need a plumber.
Washington plumbers and plumbing contractors really need to get involved here. We have active legislation that is proposing changes in Wasington laws that will protect legitimate plumbers and small plumbing businesses.