It’s a lazy Thursday evening. You’re stretched out on the couch with a bowl of crackers watching Orange Is The New Black…

All of a sudden a bang! Crash! And a woosh of water as your wife/husband/kid/uncle comes flying around the corner drenched and angry:

“The sink! Water is flying out of the sink!”

“Why, that’s not the intended purpose of a sink at all! In fact it’s quite the opposite!”

Pop quiz, hot shot: who do you call when the sink breaks?

A Plumber, Obviously

NOT SO says a recent article in the North Shore News. Apparently you’re supposed to call the municipality instead of a private company in situations such as these. A judge recently ruled against a man who called a private plumber when a sewer line backed up and flooded his house. Now the homeowner is on the hook for the bill.

Would you know to call the city first? I sure wouldn’t. I equate the city with politics, with people who make decisions on behalf of their constituents. Plumbers, electricians and other private companies are an enormous part of that constituency, professionals trained and experienced in dealing with problems.

Can the Mayor fix a sink?

The Flip Side

A private contractor who completes a job deserves to get paid. Nay, must be paid. It’s simple cause and effect. So when city property breaks down and a private contractor fixes it, who ought to pay the bill? The homeowner dealt with the issue on his own by bringing a company in rather than calling the city, he took responsibility, so shouldn’t he be responsible for the costs incurred?

The Fix-It Process

There’s clearly a gap between what should happen when things break and how things happen. The work to repair the sewer line was completed for the city on property owned by the city, so the city should pay for that work minus the premium to hire a private contractor to get the work done quickly.

It’s anyone’s guess what the city’s response time would have been, but from their perspective, they weren’t even given the chance to help out.

And at this point, that’s the homeowner’s fault.

What do YOU think? Who’s responsible?

Kelvin is a freelance writer. He spends his days blogging for companies who can’t, won’t or shouldn’t be blogging for themselves. Drop Kelvin a line at or follow him on Twitter at @functionwriting.

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