I keep rehashing the situation in my mind, imagining all the things I should have done differently. I should have called Ted (the flat manager) the minute the plumber asked me for money. If I couldn’t reach Ted, I should have agreed to pay the plumber only after the work was complete and I had an invoice in hand. But because I got caught off guard and seem to have issues saying “No” to authority figures (is a plumber an authority figure?), I forked over £130 with no receipt. If the plumber is shady — and hopefully his massive plumber’s crack was the only bad thing about him — he could say I never paid him and try to get money from the landlord as well. Hopefully it doesn’t come down to his word vs. mine.
I believe last I wrote the plumber had came, I paid him, and he said he would come back the next day to finish the work and bring me an invoice. He returned on Friday 20 minutes earlier than he said he would (have you ever heard of a plumber/cable guy/delivery guy doing that?!), and finished the work in less than 10 minutes. So much for the “major project” I thought it’d be. The garbage disposal is fixed and the sink unblocked, so even if he did steal my money, at least he did the work. He then told me he’d come back “later” with the invoice. When I probed him for a time he said, “After lunch.” Well 5 p.m. rolled around and he never showed. I called Ted and explained the situation. He then launched into a rant about how crazy expensive plumbers are. He said something about “covering blocked sinks” which made me think that he would pay for it. It was only when I called him back again on Monday to pester him about my money, that he told me they won’t cover a blocked sink. We’ve had several different plumbers and repair men come to the flat over the year and we never paid a dime (or a penny? 10 pence? a pound? What is that expression here?) That’s why I was thrown when the plumber asked for money. But apparently we’ve been living here too long for them to pay for a clogged drain, because it’s our fault. Ted said they would cover the repair of the disposal since it’s been broken since we moved in. I can understand his reasoning for not covering the blocked sink — obviously it was my mushrooms and rice that slipped down the drain and clogged it over time. But I also think he should have told me upfront that he wouldn’t cover it, so I could have tried Drain-o (or an equivalent British brand). When I asked him how much he’d be able to give me back for the disposal, he said, “Oh, you already paid the plumber?” Like I hadn’t spoken English when I said several times I gave the plumber £130 cash. He said he would call the plumber and get back to me. That was Monday evening. Now it’s Thursday evening and I haven’t heard from him. I called him this morning with no luck. I hope the reason he’s not calling me back is because he’s haggling with the landlord or plumber and not ignoring me. I wrote out a nice message about why I think the landlord should cover the cost just this one time, but Ted doesn’t have voicemail. Who doesn’t have voicemail these days? Even my pay-as-you-go sim has voicemail. I’m only good at handling these situations when I can write out what I want to say, preferably in an email or as a voicemail. When I have to say it live, I always get interrupted or sidetracked. Grrr. I just want this situation to be resolved, but it’s not going to be easy — these things in Britain never are. Worse comes to worse, we could subtract £130 from the rent. As Stephen likes to say, “What are they going to do?” I doubt they’d evict us or take us to court over a £130 plumbing incidence. And even if they tried, I’m sure something like that in Britain would take years to go through.
Stay tuned as the plumber saga continues.