The $39 blocked drain!!! What's the Customer really getting?

Ok, so I'm not talking about burgers, but rather ads that say one thing and mean another...

I want you to think about this - do you have plumbers in your area advertising ridiculously cheap blocked drains?

How low will some plumbers go?  And what does the poor customer really get?

The low ball marketing for blocked drains started at about $99 a few years ago, and has progressively got cheaper and cheaper.   But lately, I've seen blocked drain prices advertised for as low as $39!!!! What the ....F..... $99 was cheap but $39 is just ridiculous.

It appears the race to the bottom for the cheapest blocked drain is well and truly in full swing. 

Can a plumbing company genuinely make a profit, or even break even, by doing blocked drains for ridiculously low prices?????

At worst.....The low advertised prices of some plumbing companies may be bordering on illegal "Bait and Switch" marketing tactics. 

At best...... some plumbing companies may just be deemed unethical.


Who's doing it? 

From my observation, it appears to be mainly larger plumbing companies that offer drain relining services. 

The game is to advertise a ridiculously low priced blocked drain service, to entice customers into engaging them into solving their blocked drain problem (ie. the bait).  The bait price will normally have the word from in front of it.....and/or an * after the price.  What does that mean?  Well this gives the plumber the option to change the price after looking at the job. Sometimes the plumber may even have a half assed attempt at clearing the blocked drain - before then advising the customer the job's now going to be MUCH more expensive because of various blah blah blah---------------------Feel free to fill in the blanks.

The plumber will then attempt to sell an expensive drain excavation and replacement....or a drain relining service.....because your pipes are in such bad condition there's really no other option. (Or something similar!)

In marketing terms the low priced blocked drain is called a loss leader.  Why?  Because if the company actually cleared all the blocked drains at the "elcheapo" advertised price, the company would lose money on every job.  Anyone with a $2 calculator, and any idea of the costs of providing a professional, licensed, insured plumber with drain cleaning equipment, knows that it's mathematically impossible to be profitable charging the $39 or even the $99 fee for clearing blocked drains!!

So how do they make money then?

The company has done their maths.  They've worked out that for every so many elcheapo blocked drain customers they attract, a certain percentage of them will agree to the overpriced upsell (more expensive method) provided by the plumber on site.  The upsell (reline jobs and/or dig up jobs) are so ridiculously overpriced that they cover all the advertising and the drain jobs they lost money on.  All those costs, and much more, are built into the jobs they actually get.

Smart???...... or unethical.???...... what do you think?

Do you think these companies are giving your industry a bad reputation?

Let's be honest, the plumbing industry has a reputation for being expensive. When you're working with other people's sewers, you should be well paid.  And you should be charging the correct amount to have a profitable business.  We all know that some drains really do need to be replaced to ensure the customers drainage works as it should.

But.... in my opinion, advertising ridiculously low rates to get customers, puts pressure on the plumber on site to offer very expensive extra services that......., maybe.....if the customer had called a different plumber, the job would have been solved for a much cheaper price. Or even more concerning, did the large job even need doing at all? 

One thing that really amazes me is that customers are so gullible to fall into believing that they'll really get their blocked drain problem solved for $39-$99.

I'm all for marketing your services and running a profitable plumbing business, but NOT if your services are so overpriced that you have to market yourself as the cheapest in town - even though you're really closer to the most expensive in town! Is it just me, or does this seem a bit unethical? 

I'm really interested to know what you think about it?