A PoopReport Short: Septic Scammer Trick

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In what I hope is the final installation of daphne's Septic Tank Poopgate 2013, I wanted to share with you a piece of information that a technician from our septic company told me today while he was installing a floater tree in our septic pump.

One of the biggest scamming tricks that septic companies will use in order to take more of your money involves the outgoing baffle. The baffle is a long, sieve-like (perforated) cylindrical piece of plastic and the compartment it sits in. This contraption filters what enters your drain field, i.e., in order for the effluent to reach your drain field, it must pass through the baffle, whose job it is to catch any solids before they leave the tank. The baffle should be cleaned out every couple of months.

If you are not supervising an unscrupulous septic company employee carefully, he or she might take that opportunity to intentionally break the insert of your outgoing baffle or the holder itself. Whether it meets its end by being roughly pulled out of its holding place at a bad angle, or it is crushed by a poop-crusted work boot, the end result is the same: you will be charged for it. You might even be told there is no way to re-install a baffle and that an entire tank replacement is necessary.

I was dumbfounded when Septic Guy Two told me this, because I remembered what happened to us around 2007, when we suffered a back-up in our downstairs bathroom. A larger company sent two employees out, and while I was making some coffee for them, they were in the back yard uncovering our tank. When I went out back later to see what they had been doing, one of the employees pulled up a shattered white piece of plastic and told me that it was the insert for the outgoing baffle, and that it needed to be repaired. I did not know a damned thing about septic tanks at the time, so I did not consider how odd it was that a perforated plastic sleeve was straight-up broken--not rotted out, eroded, or brittle from chemicals or time, but broke-ass broke. We were charged close to $1,500 for a baffle replacement, 1,500-gallon tank draining, and a one-pound dose of some high-power bio-enzymatic bacteria booster. What Septic Guy Number Two told me makes so much sense now; I had been duped by a company that I found has a one-star rating on Yelp. Ouch.

If you are interested, here is short video showing the outgoing baffle cover of a two-compartment septic tank much like ours. You might be able to make one yourself if you are familiar with the materials you see:

And here is a video of a toilet-trained cat peeing, just because:

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5 Comments on "A PoopReport Short: Septic Scammer Trick"

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points

It is a shame that so many repairmen are so unscrupulous, we can only hope that they will eventually be repaid by Karma. Your experience reminds me of an acquaintance of mine when I was attending college. He, like me, had just left the Air Force where he had learned the trade of refrigeration and air conditioning, unfortunately he had learned it too well to keep a job at a local company. He saved the customers money by actually repairing equipment when he went on a service call. This wasn't what the company wanted him to do, they wanted him to sell new stuff rather than repair the old. He was berated and eventually fired for his ability, in many cases, to save the customer all but the price of a service call. Sad!

If I had two faces do you think I'd be wearing this one?

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ pointsf 5000+ pointsg 4000+ pointsh 3000+ pointsi 2000+ pointsj 1000+ pointsk 500+ pointsl 100+ pointsm 1+ points - Newb

Chief when I earned my first associate's a few year ago, the one in accounting, my Income Tax class book was sponsored by H&R Block. This fact came to me as ironic, considering what my mother told me that year:

My mother has a friend/acquaintance who used to seasonal work for H&R Block. One day near the end of her shift, this person was called into the office and told to stop giving so much help to the people coming in to file their taxes. It may be that H&R Block has an agreement with the IRS, or each chapter or office of H&R Block has a certain limit to how much money they give away, or that this particular office was corrupt; however, why would a manager of one office tell someone to not find so many tax breaks unless there was something in it for him, or this action put a red flag on their particular branch.

Whichever scenario was the right one, the story reminded me that corruption is everywhere, in every branch of retail or service. It's very sad that someone would be told to stop finding so many breaks for people like you and me, who need those tax breaks, when corporations find loopholes as easily as stale Cheerios in the recesses of the couch.

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

Deja Poo's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points

Well, that sucks, Daphne. It almost makes you wonder whether the tech gets paid based on commission.

When I used to work for a small courier company that specialized in inter-city deliveries, the company guaranteed that, between major cities, if we picked up the package by 5 pm, it would be delivered by 9 am the next day. Unfortunately, there are a ton of variables in such a service, some of which you have no control over, like traffic and broken elevators.

So, once the driver would finish his morning drops, he would call in the delivery time and signature. It was not uncommon to see many drops made just minutes after 9 am. These tickets were routed to our Special Services division for their Special Care, which did not include calling the customer and apologizing for the late delivery. Instead, they would get their best Bic ballpoint, scratch out the actual delivered time and mark a time that was usually a couple of minutes before 9 am.

I asked the head of the division why were doing this, since it was occasionally part of my task to call this information back to the client. His response was that we made the delivery and should be paid for it, being late and our guarantee notwithstanding.

Yo quiero Taco Bell.

prarie doggin's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Quality Moderatorg 4000+ points

A common trick used by gas stations years ago was to "short stick" your oil. They would take out the dipstick, wipe it off and stick it back in, but not all the way. When they took it out, the oil level on the stick would indicate that it was a quart low (they would show this to the driver) and they would proceed to come up with a quart of oil (which was actually empty) and "pour" it into your engine and charge you $5 for the oil. I wonder if a septic guy could "short stick" you in a way that makes you believe the tank is full when it isn't. Most people don't have the desire to stick their heads in the opening to verify.

Daphne, that baffle looks like about $20 worth of PVC pipe and fittings, and I don't imagine the actual baffle being at a cost of much more than $50. It also looks like a half hour job to replace. Was your families poop so stinky it warranted the extra $1430 being added.

The Dook's picture
m 1+ points - Newb

I have been in the septic tank business before and the scams that some of these people come up with never ceases to amaze. I really hate the ones that specialize in preying upon older individuals that may not know much about septic tank systems.
Your description of the baffle is correct. Old and new tanks should have an inlet and outlet baffle or a "T" as we like to call them. Their purpose is to not allow solids to flow into the drain field lines. Older single compartment tanks will have just the Ts where as newer two compartment tanks will also have a filter that slides into the outlet T. In the case of the older single compartment tanks many times the Ts are concrete and attached to the inside wall of the tank itself. These can deteriorate over time but can easily be replaced with a modern PVC T and about 20 minutes of work if everything is already uncovered and opened. Also, a normal pump out should not cost a thousand dollars. My best advice to people is to contact at least 3 seperate companies and have them qoute you their prices for pump outs.

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