MILWAUKEE – When sewage is bubbling up in your basement, do you have a plumber you trust? Or should I call? Two homeowners say the plumber they called gave them a run only to find out later that he was not a licensed plumber at all.
Contact 6’s Katrina Cravy approached Alan Barr on his property. Cravy was joined by Karen Crane and Judy Strobel. Before Cravy could say anything, Barr knew exactly why they were there.
“Is it around $600?” Barr asked.
Advertisement for Abarr Plumbing & Restoration Co. in the yellow pages
Crane and Strobel were unhappy with Barr’s business – ABarr Plumbing and Restoration Company.
The two women hired his company when they had water and sewers in their basements. They found the company in an ad in the Yellow Pages.
“First, the 24-hour emergency service that was right away. It had low bonded and insured rates,” Crane said of Barr’s hiring.
But Barr did not return the next day after paying her $600 in cash. So Crane called the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau and Contact 6.
Barr told Cravy that he tried to work things out with Crane.
“Actually, I was ready to give him a truck to get it over with… wasn’t I?” Barr said.
“He offered you a truck?” Cravy asked Crane, but before Crane could answer – Barr intervened.
“Yes, I did. I swear to God,” Barr said.
“Do you realize how crazy that sound is? Cravy said to Barr.
“Because I don’t have any money. I had an accident and haven’t worked for quite a while,” Barr said.
These are excuses that both women had heard before.
Judy Strobel shows Contact 6’s Katrina Cravy concerns about Alan Barr’s work.
Strobel says she constantly called him to finish work in his basement.
“He removed that wall for me and he had to put a new one in because it was deteriorating,” Strobel explained, showing Cravy his basement.
Strobel says she paid Barr $43,000 — mostly cash — and won’t know if it was done correctly until the next big rain.
Much like Crane, Strobel called the BBB.
The BBB then called Contact 6 about Barr.
Barr is not a licensed plumber. He doesn’t have his contractor’s license. Barr’s business is not registered with the state and he has an F rating with the BBB.
“We have complaints that people were typically paying cash that work hadn’t started or been completed,” said Jim Temmer, president of Wisconsin BBB.
Cravy asked Barr for not having the proper licenses.
” Yeah, a sewer drain that you don’t need a plumbing license for and that’s mostly what I do. But, you still have to have a contractor’s license; which I work under and he is in jail. He got it for drunk driving,” Barr explained.
Barr said he was going to put new tires on his car and get the money from Crane.
Crane says she’s been hearing this since May.
Cravy asked Barr if he had someone to direct him to collect the money to pay Crane. Barr said he probably could.
“You write the end of this story,” Cravy told Barr.
Fortunately, Barr kept his promise and brought Cravy $600 in cash, which Cravy gave to Crane the next morning.
Alan Barr presents $600 cash to Katrina Cravy of Contact 6 for Karen Crane.
“Very surprised. Very happy. Thank you,” Crane said of his money back.
“What have you learned from all this?” Cravy asked Crane.
Karen Crane hugs Contact 6’s Katrina Cravy after getting her money back.
“Not paying cash – for one thing – and just being careful,” Crane replied.
You can see why it’s important to choose a plumber before you need one.
“Do your homework. Ask your friends for recommendations from loved ones and please reach out to us at the BBB,” Temmer advised.