My plumbing story - not too deep but I want to share

I sent this letter to my insurance company about my recent situation:

Recently I filed my first a claim as a homeowner.  My wife and I had a slab leak which quickly turned into a nightmare.  What was initially a small hole in our kitchen and to cost about $3000, quickly became a 15 foot trench through the length of our kitchen as well as a large hole on our front porch AND a hole on the exterior of our home all totaling over $13,000.  

The plumber we used was licensed and bonded and had a A- report on the BBB website and local to our home.  My wife and I had no idea what we were doing and so we called this plumber to do the work.  They gave an initial quote of $3000 and State Auto approved that work to be done.  Once that whole was dug it was reveled that in order to correct the slab leak a 15 foot pipe would have to be replaced. The hole began to be dug just before Labor Day weekend and thus everyone was off work for a couple of days and our house was a mess.  When Tuesday after Labor Day came the hole was completed but the outside adjuster could not make it to our home as he was swamped with the tornadoes and rains that came to the DFW area from a tropical storm from the Gulf.  

The rains created a big issue for us in that the many inches of water that came down had place to go as our foundation was already saturated from the slab leak.  Needless to say, water began to rise up through the hole and almost breached the top of the hole to flood our kitchen.  With more rains in the forecast it was essential to prevent flooding damage to our home to get the leak fixed and the hole repaired.  We had not heard from State Auto or the outside adjuster at this point for any sort of 'approval' of the $13,000 expense to fix this leak.  However this leak had to be fixed and now the hole had to be closed asap.  

Prior to the hole filled the outside adjuster (Ales Salias who was great) arrived and took photos and documented this work, but told my wife and I that he would have to call the plumber to justify his expenses.  As far as he could tell the job should cost between 8k-10k - not 13k.  This worried my wife and I greatly.  

Alex contacted the plumber and the owner of the company and I am not aware of what that conversation entailed, however I can tell you that our plumber and the owner, who had great reviews, was a total jerk to my wife and me.  I am sure they were the same to Alex.  

To give you some of the context, our plumber's voice mail is highly unprofessional.  When you call his phone and it goes to voice mail the recording says "in the words of my brother, leave your name, number and I will call you when I feel like it."  The plumber was told where a key was to access our home, but instead of calling me to locate it (as he could not find it) he broke into our home through our 'doggy door' only to tell me later that "that is unsafe".  Their were veiled threats such as "what you are doing with this slab lead is a violation to the city.  If we called them they will fine you $5000.  You need get this fixed asap."  Additionally, there was ZERO flexibility when it came to payment.  They were animate that they do not "work with insurance companies" and that we owed $13000 the Sunday after the work was completed.  There were several harassing phone calls about money and the fact that the ex-navy plumber could easily access our home created fear and stress to the point that we did not know what to do.  So we took loans from our parents and wrote checks which were picked up on that Sunday to cover most of the cost of the job.  

We still had not heard from David Gregg at State Auto yet because he was waiting for Alex Salias to file a report who was trying to get justifiable numbers from the plumber from hell.  

Yesterday, September 15th 2010, David Gregg called me at 12:24pm Central Time and told me that he reviewed our claim and that State Auto was cover the expense (minus our deductible of course).  After two weeks of a nightmare, with a hole in our kitchen, hole in our home, unprofessional plumber, jerk owner, crazy weather, mold and fungus, and an uncertainty about coverage - David Gregg's words lifted me from our nightmare.  While a man here in the South "should not cry" - I did.  

Thank you to Alex Salias for his patience, documentation and understanding.  Thank you to State Auto for your work and your service.  Most of all thank you to David Gregg who not only understood our situation and had compassion for us to approve coverage, but also for his willingness to remove the plumber from 'acceptable' plumbers in the future.  I will be filing reports to the BBB as well as making personal visits to the plumber and owner (to drop off our last payment) to express our extreme dissatisfaction.  I also will be posting their poor service on my blog, my church and on their website and any other place I can.  I will be recommending State Auto on all of these place and my friends as well with the same vigor I have for expressing my dissatisfaction for the plumber.

Jason Valendy

P.S. If you ever are in Texas and need plumbing work done by someone who is unprofessional and unresponsive to complex situations then you should contact Steve Hatcher Plumbing.  They are the excellent at killing you spirit.