DENVER (CBS4)– A Denver woman thought the price she paid for a plumber to replace her garbage disposal was too much. Jean Waite paid $856 for a new kitchen garbage disposal. She wasn’t over charged, but doing a few things differently could have saved her a lot of money.

Waite’s new disposal is a common brand, a Badger 5, ½ horsepower. 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks found the very same model on the shelf at Home Depot for $99.96. Home Depot charges $119 to install it. Sears also quoted a price of $99 for installation of a garbage disposal purchased anywhere.

Waite, 82, had a friend look at her bill.

“He goes ‘You got screwed’. And I said, ‘I know.’,” Waite said.

Her bill lists a trip charge of $98. The garbage disposal plus labor totaled $660.64. There’s an $85.83 charge for someone to bring the disposal to the service technician and a $12 environmental protection fee.

“It made me feel, well, angry and used,” Waite said.

She knew about the service call fee. The 4 On Your Side Investigation found that’s a common fee. Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks called around to try to get an estimate from private plumbers for a garbage disposal replacement. None of the businesses we called would give an estimate over the phone. All of them wanted to look at the situation before committing to a price, and all wanted to charge a service fee to come out. Brooks found only one plumber who would come out without charging.

Experts say you should get three estimates before you have any work done in your home, but you should budget in the cost of the service fee to get those estimates.

Beyond the service fee, Waite says money was never discussed. She admits that it was her mistake not to ask what the cost of the job would be. And when the work was done, she signed the bill agreeing to pay in full.

“I’m not a stupid woman, and I’m thinking where was my brain?” Waite said.

David Davia is the Executive Vice President & CEO of the Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors. He called several of his member contractors to find out what a fair and reasonable price would be for a garbage disposal install.

“As inexpensive as $400-$500 and as expensive as $1,500,” he told CBS4.

Waite still feels like she was overcharged.

“How can you justify that for a garbage disposal,” she said.

The company Waited hired has an “A plus” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been in business for 14 years. They didn’t do anything wrong, so CBS4 is not naming them. They didn’t want to discuss the charges. They stand behind their billing, but they didn’t like having a customer who was unsatisfied. The company agreed to refund $400 to Waite.

“I couldn’t have been happier if this had been a check for a million dollars,” Waite said.

Experts agree that getting everything in writing before you agree to the work is the best way to make sure there are no surprises at the end of the job.

–Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith

Comments (5)
  1. J Murray says:

    It is incredibly insulting to tell people they should have gotten 3 estimates when your story says you couldn’t get estimates. How was this lady supposed to get estimates?

  2. Kash Lalka says:

    The easiest thing to do is just check a DIY video on Youtube and set it up on your own. its pretty easy. I wrote a post on Home Depot Garbage Disposal too –

  3. Larry says:

    I hate people who take advantage of seniors like this. The plumber absolutely ripped this lady off, and took advantage of the fact that she was unaware of the cost for these repairs. I have the Badger 9 installed in my kitchen, and my total cost came to about $75 by installing it myself. It was the first home repair I ever did, and it took me only about an hour to install (a skilled plumber could almost certainly do that same repair in half the time).

    The story says the plumber has an A+ BBB rating, which is a joke anyway. The Better Business Bureau has given great ratings to a lot of shady companies in recent years, while tarnishing the names of legitimate businesses. Anyone who charges over $800 for the install of a cheap brand garbage disposal is a thief. Sure, buyer beware and all, but I’m surprised that guy can sleep at night.

  4. Lori says:

    sounds like PlumLine plumbing, who charged $956.00 about 5 years ago to one of my tenants, unfortunately it was costly for my tenant.

  5. Stevie says:

    I guaran-dam-tee you that any of her unemployed and handy neighbors would have done it – gratefully – for 50 bucks. The plumber she used USED HER. It’s guys like that who give the trade a bad name.

Leave a Reply