Plumber charged Acton man $35,000 for repairs that expert said he didn’t need

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

When Vincent Estrada’s hot water went out, he needed help right away.

He called Rapid Plumbing out of Culver City. Workers came to his home and told him he needed a new water heater. After further inspection, they said they needed to flush Estrada’s main sewage pipe.

The bill: more than $17,000. Estrada was shocked, but desperate, so he paid it. 

“I said it was okay to do the work, improve my drainage or whatever,” he said.

But the next day, after the work was complete, Estrada’s bathtub backed up with water. He called Rapid Plumbing again. The business told him he needed more repairs. The cost: another $18,000.

“That’s way too much, I know that. But they had me, especially the second day,” he said.

Estrada couldn’t afford it, so Rapid Plumbing set him up with a loan through Synchrony Bank.

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Looking back, Estrada regrets it. 

“Wow, it was a big mistake,” he said.

Plumber Arnie Rodio agrees. He’s considered an expert in the field; he helps write plumbing code for the state. He believes Estrada needed a new water heater — at most.

But Rodio said even that wasn’t done by the book — he found at least five violations. He said Rapid Plumbing didn’t properly install the water heater, failed to pull permits and didn’t get the required inspections.

As for all the other work Rapid Plumbing did, Rodio believes it wasn’t needed, based on the age of the house. And even if it was needed, he said they charged Estrada way too much. 

“It’s not even a couple of hours worth of work, and the materials are a few hundred bucks. Yeah, it’s nuts,” he said.

Estrada’s not alone. Rapid Plumbing has dozens of complaints online, some customers calling the company “liars and cheats” and “rude and incompetent.”

“It gives us a really, really bad name. A really, really bad name,” said Rodio.

Rapid Plumbing didn’t return the I-Team’s phone calls about Estrada’s repairs. But it recently replaced that poorly installed water heater with a new one. 

And after the I-Team got involved, Estrada disputed the charge with his credit card company, and it, along with Synchrony Bank, which gave him the loan, wiped away Estrada’s debt.

Synchrony Bank didn’t respond to the I-Team’s request for comment. 

In the end, Estrada did pay Rapid Plumbing $5,000 for the new water heater, a huge difference from the $35,000 Rapid Plumbing originally charged him. 

“I just want to get this nightmare over with, to tell you the truth,” he said. 

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.