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Thomas R Birnie & Sons

390 Lake Ave N, Hamilton, ON
24 reviews
Business claimed Last updated: Over a year ago
Listed in: Plumbers
About Thomas R Birnie & Sons

Full Service Plumbing, Drain, Wells, and Water Conditioning Company Go to full description...

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Thomas R Birnie & Sons, Hamilton Reviews (24)

24 reviews
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1 Star
By Denise Marshall on Feb 04, 2020
update on feb 4 2020. I recieved a call from owner Rob Birnie this am. we talked about all aspects of this situation and in the end we arrived at a new solution that we both found to be fair and equitable. I am grateful that he called and glad to have this matter resolved and behind me.
By Denise Marshall on Feb 04, 2020
I am having a terrible situation with Thomas R birnie and son. I had them come to give me a quote last fall for possible sewer line replacement and received a quote from them. As I plan on doing a number of upgrades in my house over the next year, I wanted a company that I could get to know and trust. thus, when one of my kitchen faucets leaked over christmas I called them to come see about repair. My thinking is that this was a small job that could help me decide if I hire them for larger projects. what an abysmal mistake that was! Jordan came and told me that my entire faucet would need replacing as there is no such thing as simply replacing the leaky hose part ( really?) . my other faucet on my island was also leaking a bit- same thing- they would both need replacing as he said by the time you find a replacement part its more expensive than just to replace them. these were brushed chrome moen faucets. I asked about purchasing two faucets at Canadian tire- i had looked at various one the night before online and found they ran anywhere from 250 to to over 400 per faucet. he said again, it would cost me more to buy my own vs selecting one that Birnie carries where they can get better prices. I was asked to scroll through their ipad pictures of their faucets. I did, i selected two. He went to his truck and came back moments later saying they were both not available in fact there would only be one available- one that he happened to have on his truck- but he could dash back to the shop and secure a second one. He showed me a picture of the faucet. it looked fine.I was asked to scroll through their ipad and read the disclaimer and contract that talked about repairs and follow up. as Ifound out later, something that was missing was the price of the actual faucet. they only listed an 'installed price". what a mistake I made signing that agreement to install, not knowing of course, that they were going to install the most basic, bottom of the line moen faucet- with a plastic spout no less and yet charge me $1200 to do so. I so wrongly assumed they were installing something at least close to the quality they were taking out especially at that price. what a fool I was to not insist of seeing the price of the faucet itself and examining the faucet myself prior to installing.
he went to the shop ( or so he told me) while I went downtown. He paged me about 1.5hrs later to say they were both installed. i returned home, they were installed and jordan told me my counters were easy to install them. he needed do nothing but take the old ones out and put the new ones in. my old brushed chrome were gone- i inquire where they were- surely with just leaks they could be taken to the restore and fixed and resold. he told me they were worthless and that he had taken them to his truck. then I was asked to sign and pay. I did. again, what a complete fool I was! jordan did not examine the faucets with me at all. only after he left in fact once I returned to my house later that weekend did I see the spouts were plastic.Simply moving the faucet from left to right dislodges it from the cheap casing. i went online to look up this particular model- I was shocked at its flimsiness. to my horror i found it was a bottom of the line faucet selling for $128 at various building storess. Thus, I was charged over $1200 ( my bill including tax was $1560) for a straightforward replacement where despite the technician leaving to fetch a seocnd one had him in and out of my house in under three hours.
i spent the next three weeks on the phone first with their office and email then on the phone with their manager Gerry. At first Gerry conveyed concern, impressing upon me that they would find a solution I was happy with- asking me what I would find appropriate - I said a refund and take them out, or half this price and leave them in, or come back and install somethign for this price that was approaching a quality, appropriately valued faucet. I was told for the first week that he 'wasnt at his desk"then 'wasnt at his computer" then "needed to talk to the owner" then "the owner is away" then finally on january 24 a call from Gerry saying there wont be any solution other than they will send me $200 the following week. Why so little? why not the solutions I had proposed? because said Gerry, they were a large company with over 50 employees and they have to charge this kind of money for simple faucets, or they cant pay their staff. I was incredulous with this rationalization? when I asked if this meant that people should call a smaller compnay not Birine for such work he replied " you would not have paid this kind of price if you had hired a smaller company'. he said they would send me the $200 and of course it never came.
despite my repeated calls and texts and emails, the owner Rob Birnie will not call me He has however, emailed me today saying basically " you signed the contract" and now that you are making this public, I wont communicate with you. in every way, whether its the price I was charged, how this low quality product was hidden from me when signing, or how I am being treated now by the owner, I feel taken advangtate of, duped, stupid , and naive. it feels like a complete breach of trust. I feel there is also a second form of taking advantage now- share your story Denise and I wont talk to you. it feels like such patriarchal discrimination with now-punishment! The choice- stay quiet and accept the $200! if ever there was an admission of wrong doing, that email and that $200 says it all. I called them in the first place simply because their name has been around so long. I now know that not only means nothing, its also a potential way that my trust was solicited -based on past historic reputation. im left with more questions than anwers such as
1. were my beautiful brushed chrome taps really beyond cost effect repair? I now strongly doubt this
2. would it have been more expensive to go to Canadian tire and purchase say, $300 faucets and have this company install them for me? I now doubt this too
3. is that "scroll through the ipad to read the long disclaimer yet not revealing or stating any actual price of the product" designed to hopefully dupe some people into paying for something they are not getting? I now strongly believe so
4. Do I have a leg to stand on?No, I signed the contract which was all Rob Birnie cared to advise me of in his email today- bascially saying to me "sucker"!!
5. Do i have a quality item? no, consumer reports say this cheap tap last maybe a year or two ( my others were here 16 years)
6. is the price for a company to install faucets the same for say, a guy who knows plumbing as say for example a 59 year old single woman who does not know much about plumbing...I seriously doubt it. I feel i was sized up for my gullibility and found to be highly gullible. I was
7. what constitute ethical business practice in the home plumbing service business in Ontario? I know what doesnt
8 Is refusing to call an unhappy customer and furthermore, telling her that her decision after a month of no resolution to share her story will cost her any further communication from this company, the best a decent company can do? Obviously not. there are good companies out there.
10 my advise to the next potential customer of this company? be suspicious, be aware , sign nothing on an ipad, insist of a breakdown of the cost of the time and the labour.
11 would i ever use this company again or even recommend them to even the most desperate person who needed plumbimg done? Absolutely not

the only silver lining from this expensive mistake of of mine trusting Thomas birnie and son, was to find out what kind of company they are now, based on what was to be a small job. Thank heavens I didnt hire them for anything more major like my sewer work. For this life lesson, I am at least grateful.

By suzste55 on Sep 18, 2016
We called to have someone come and repair our toilet intake water line. They told me that a tech would call me back asap and set up an appt. I said that I needed it fixed tonight as my water was turned off. "NO problem" the CSR said. Asked how I heard about the company and a few other unrelated questions. Two hours later, no callback. We phoned again, this time my husband spoke to them and they told us it would be several days before someone could come. Guess the job wasn't big enough to make them any money. My husband found a fitting (still wondering how that happened) and fixed it himself. I will never call Thomas R. Birnie & Sons again and will not recommend them to anyone either. Smell ya later Birnie!!
By Cobalt Mule on Jun 28, 2016
Called them and 2 other companies for quotes. Excavators wanted to dig down to pull out clay tiles and replace with PVC pipes, digging equipment and the mess they leave after the job and prices almost as much as quoted by Birnie and they didn't have to dig. New sleeve and anti backup valve installed in basement concrete floor, they did a good job and cleaned the mess, lawn still looks great and can't tell anything was done from the outside, Camera inspection done afterwards to inspect finished work done. 2 days work for 2 guys and they also finance at better than bank rates.
By Crimson Impala on Jun 15, 2016
My parents called these guys out to clear a clogged pipeline. Not only did they not clear the clog, they left behind a "snake" that apparently got stuck on a broken pipeline. 3 others companies and the City of Hamilton have all been out to review the situation, and until the company removes their snake no one will begin to assess the situation so that work to repair can begin. The company has quoted a HUGE cost to dig out the snake they got stuck. I would NOT recommend this company. GO ELSEWHERE.
By jackiedeja on Mar 02, 2016
I cannot even give them one star
By Carnelian Carp on Feb 25, 2016
Do not know this company at all, however, Paul and Jeff came to my home, did the job and even alerted us to a possible leak problem later if not attended to.
Courteous, knowledgeable and fair. Good plumbers can cost a bit of money, it is expensive because it requires expertise. It is bad plumbers who charge little money to patch a problem, which later becomes even more expensive.

Thanks so much guys, I will be calling on you again.

L. Harrison
Burlington, Ontario
By Scarlet Baboon on Sep 10, 2015
Tried to charge $402. To silicone a shower drain.
By Black Wasp on Sep 04, 2015
So sad to see this business gone down so much. Grandpa Birnie would be so disappointed. My tenant heard water running in the wall . I heard it but the tech didn't. $350 later and nothing done the tenant put a hole in the wall an found the leak. Called back took most of the day to replace a piece of pipe and a bill of $1600 followed. I disputed the two bills and spoke withe the receptionist who was very nice but I did get to talk to the owner.I refuse to pay the bill until it is resolved. I have used the company for years but no more. My son used them and the repair took a pencil and 10 minutes work bill just over $400. Of course there goes another customer. Stay clear of this business
By pandb43 on Nov 28, 2014
I needed service for a plugged main drain on Nov.24. The telephone receptionist was most polite ,helpful and efficient in handling my request for service and a technician arrived on site within 90 minutes. Jeff ,the technician, diagnosed the problem ,quoted a firm price ,completed the work and was gone in shortly over one hour. To me the price was not excessive given the prompt service, the equipment needed to do the work and the expertise of the technician. I am only too happy to recommend this company to anyone who appreciates friendly and competent service.
By KTARASOFF on May 26, 2014
By Black Eel on Dec 10, 2013
My 85 year old widowed mother was charged about $1000 dollars to put in a slightly upgrades kitchen tap set to replace her basic set. The billing does not outline the break down of costs - just the grand total. Billing breakdowns not available without manager approval. Incomprehensible pricing and flat rate billing practices are ridiculous. Would suggest avoiding this company at all costs.!
By Yellow Panthera-hybrid on Sep 10, 2013
Called to get a quote on filling a basement drain. Made an appointment a week in advance, booked the day off work to be called an hour before the appointment to tell me most of the techs have booked off ill and they would like to reschedule. Upset but willing to stay with the company rebooked. The day of the new appointment, once again booking the day off work, my appointment was at 2:30. Called at 2:30 and was told within an hour someone will be there, waited an hour called back and was told but a VERY rude woman(would not call her a lady) that no one came come today sorry. I am not sure how this is even considered a business they have no work ethic at all! Consider your self warned!
By jstopay on Mar 06, 2013
Called to get someone in for an estimate. We were told by the technician they would have someone here at 5:30 - waited until 6:00 p.m. called the office and were informed that the person was delayed with another quote but would be here shortly. Called back at 6:32 and the lady did not know where the tech was and would try and contact him. If this is the way this company works trying to get a quote heaven knows what it would be like to get the work done. Will never ever deal with them again. Their company mottos is : It's a stinky business, but we love it. Well it seems they are right it is a "stinky" business - Beware of their "stinky" business practices.
By Rose Halibut on Nov 19, 2012
Had work done today on a main drain clog that was backing sewage up into my home. The technician David K., arrived when he stated he would and didn't waste any time, getting to the drain in question. He gave quotes for the various options to proceed with and adhered to the option I chose. I did find the price a little expensive, but quickly realised that no matter how long he would take to clear the drain, it was the same cost. No hidden fees were sprung on me at all. He completed the work successfully and efficiently. He cleaned up the work area afterwards and left my house exactly as he entered it, but with an unclogged main drain. Will definitely use this service again and request David K by name if possible.
By Coquelicot Praying-Mantis on Apr 25, 2012
This company needs to seriously revise its estimate procedures in order to create greater transparency. The customer should not be confronted with outrageous charges after the fact.
By boymimbo on Jan 26, 2012

After reading client testimonials, chose this place to do my repair. What a costly mistake.

Plumber spent 75 minutes doing work and charged $640 of labor to replace a sump pump and a $10 piece of pipe. While the replacement of the sump pump pricing was explained to me, I was told after the fact (after I had returned with a new "customer bought" pump) that he would need to replace some pipe as well. I thought "obviously", when you change a sump pump from a pedestal to a submersible (as advised) you have to replace or add pipe. Given that he cut pipe to see if the flow was working out of the pump, he would have had to replace it anyway. The estimate for the pump replacement was reasonable at $292.37. The estimate for the pipe (which was explained after the fact) came in at $348.36. What choice did I have but to sign the paperwork -- the work was already 1/2 way one and he couldn't install a sump pump without replacing pipe?

- Ridiculous pricing.
- Extra work explained after the fact.
- When the labor is there for 75 minutes, I expect to pay about $200 for labor PLUS perhaps a 30 minute service call fee of about $50 - $75 for a total of $275, max + tax. A $600 charge may be reasonable for 3 hours of labor, but this was not the case.

On top of that, I received a followup call after the appointment. I explained to the CSR that the cost was too high. She told me that a manager would call me back. He never did.

This place is highway robbery. Lesson learned.
By Cardinal Pheasant on Oct 31, 2011
Charged us nearly $900 to change a kitchen faucet and add two water shut off valves. Found out elsewhere that I could have had this done for $300 (+ the $79 faucet). Husband was the one to stay home and watch the plumber; plumber sold him a $99 Service Plan that after reading, is nothing but weasel words and terms that plumbers SHOULD do anyway (like keeping a record of maintenance). I called after to cancel other work we had scheduled and after I had mentioned that the price was far too high, I was merely met with a 'Yeah, prices have gone up.' Outrageous. I feel absolutely sick to my stomach. Will never do business with again.
By Bole Pekingese on Jun 11, 2011
I had a leaking pipe my tenant told me about. So instead of going out there (about 1 1/2 hours away) to do it myself, I decided to hire these guys. After cutting a galvanized pipe and replacing it with a copper one the job was done.
I was charged over $400 for 45 minute worth of work...RIP OFF! Never going back!
By Martin on Jan 19, 2011
This is regarding work or lack thereof at #35.
A few weeks back, my mum, who has dementia, lives at home and only has one toilet, flushed something too big down toilet. My brother in law tried for hours to plunge the problem but to no avail. With only one toilet it became a problem. I called Birnie and was told they could send someone the next day. I explained that this sick old lady would need a working toilet, like soon, no exceptions I was told. More than a little perturbed at this lack of compassion and understanding of the situation, I called another company. They answered in the same manner, until I explained our situation, the nice girl said those magic words, we'll be there in a half hour. The job was done in a short time with no disruption to this older lady's life. Businesses have to be better at assessing the urgency of certain calls, this one had no empathy for our situation, and consequently will no longer get any calls from our family. I made the phone call, so Mr. Birnie, no need to try and justify your staff's actions. Good for the other company who saved our day. Thank You.
Marty Miller
By Orange Toucan on Jan 12, 2011
Birnie did a good job of this installation of 3/4 inch pipe upgrade, which allowed for better water pressure. This was last year in January or February and job cost exactly what they estimated. We were very happy with the results. Check on to read my other review of anticipated work at #35.
Marty Miller
By Blue Elephant on Jan 12, 2011
Everyone should know that this companty did an excellent job in changing all the hardware regarding the water system and related plumbing in my house. I have had no problems and the workmanship was neat and they took their time to do the work properly. no problems.

Dr Andy T
By Rose Kangaroo-mouse on Mar 22, 2010
Very prompt, and polite. Work cost exactly what quote said. Not at all characteristic of other reviews. We were VERY pleased!

Pam Orlic
By Bistre Ocelot on Aug 05, 2009
I contacted this company for a suspected drain leak problem. During the phone conversation they clearly indicated that a rep / technician can visit the site and provide a FREE NO obligation estimate for the work. They indicated that if I am satisfied with the estimate & at my discretion could proceed with the work. The person came to the location spent approximately 3-5 minutes inspecting the area and mentioned that there is no problem. However at this point to my surprise he mentioned there is some paper work he needs to process and when I inquired further he requested me to pay $89 for the service call and another $109 for the diagnostics. I refused to make the payment and indicated about the confirmation from the initial discussion with the company. At this point he insisted that I should sign the invoice (without payment). I made a note on the invoice that I am not making any payment for a service that that they did not offer. I could only imagine what it would have cost me if they actually performed work.
Comment by Admin on Dec 30, 2009
In response to the review BE CAREFUL we would like to first question the validity of this review. We have carefully gone through a range of over 400 invoices that were submitted to our company before the time of this review. We could not find any that matched what was posted on this review and due to the fact the reviewer did not contact us or leave contact information we cannot verify the review as legitimate.

Our company does give FREE no obligation estimates to all our clients. If for some reason the problem requires that we must bring out tools to diagnose the situation the owner would be notified that there would be a charge prior to proceeding with the diagnostic work. Once the problem has been diagnosed we would give a price to fix the issue. If the homeowner proceeds with the work the diagnostic fee is typically waived. It is not our policy to surprise customers with any hidden fees. We want the customer to have a great experience with our company whether they choose to proceed with the work or not.
By niaguy on Apr 22, 2009
Your technician, C (G?) Brandon installed a sediment tap in my garage on April 20/09. The work was satisfactory. My complaint has to do with the charges of $168.78 + tax for this work which required about 20 minutes labour. Upon reading the print on the invoice under SERVICE TECHNICIAN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I see his signature confirming that he conformed to the printed statement that prior to the customer entering into the contract he discussed the nature of the service and cost. He is mistaken. I would never have consented to his doing the work had I known the cost, which I regard as excessive. I have already spoken to your customer service manager to no avail. I look forward to your reply in hopes we may arrive at a mutually satisfactory conclusion of the matter.
Comment by jennifer on Apr 23, 2009
The company will not reply to your review as they have not been notified that you have posted it.
Comment by Admin on May 19, 2009
We regret that we could not come to an agreement on this matter, we have spoken to our technician who was on site and he has assured us that he followed through with our company policy about upfront pricing. Mr. Allen did call in to our office and we explained that we do not charge by the hour but by the job and he was also told this on the phone prior to booking the appointment. Mr Allen was also told that if he did not agree to the price before we started any work there would be no charge and we would leave. Mr Allan called our office with a problem in the morning and within 2 hours we had someone at his home. The entire amount of time booked to his call was approximately 1 hour. I am always concerned when we have any unhappy clients as that is not the way to continue growing a business but we at Thomas R Birnie & Sons will continue to strive for excellence and look for ways to enhance the customer experience. We will use this as a training tool for our staff to make sure communications between staff and our customer are clear and concise.
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