I have back problem and I needed a plumber for a simple replacement of the hot water supply valve under the bathroom sink. I hope more people would post their experience so that we'll have a better chance finding a plumber worth doing business with.
I checked the Better Business bureau website and realized that a few of them who have big ad's in the yellow page have many complaint records. The worse one being Pat's Plumbing who claims to provide free estimates. Apparently, once they got your ok to do the work, you always ended up paying more. So I stayed away from the most attractive option of getting a free estimate first.
I called those that had very few complaints on BBB's record and the pricing are very similar. Most of them charge a trip charge and a 1/4 hour rate. The bottom line is that they all charge about $120 for half hour of work. Half hour is plenty of time for a plumbing professional to replace a supply valve.
Roto-Rooter's pricing practice is a little different. They would come out to give you a flat price for the job. If you don't like it, they'll charge you $39.95. Since they have no BBB complaint record, I went with them. When the plumber got here, the price quotes are either $250 for the job or $174.50 for the first 1/2 hour and $43.63 each additional 1/4 hour. I ended up paying over $200 for the job, having to replace an additional nipple. But I believe they know the going rate of $120 for 1/2 hour of work. If you pay the $39.95 trip charge without having them doing the work, you'll pay any other plumber $120 to get it done. Either way it'll cost you about $160 to $170 and it'll take longer to get the problem fixed. I'm happy with the work itself. The job is done right and the plumber is courteous. But it I knew ahead of time that's how they charge, I would go with a different but equally reputable plumber.
The bottom line is that all plumbing jobs are expensive. Next time, for little jobs like these, I'll pay some young man in the neighborhoon for $40 an hour, buy the parts myself and work together to get it fixed.
Please let everyone know if you see a good plumber.