In late 2009, we had heating problems in our house (the different heating zones weren't operating separately). We called Lew Plumbing and Heating, and they came to fix the problem. They wound up coming back at least once or twice after the initial visit because after they left saying the problem was fixed, we discovered it wasn't. To their credit, they didn't charge us for the additional visits to fix their own mistakes.
In September 2010, we called Lew again because our basement sink was plugged. Their technician brought a snake and couldn't get the snake in more than 5 - 6 feet before coming up to a solid block or dead end. The technician told us we had a broken drain connection, and that we would have to smash up the concrete slab to try and find where the broken connection was. The technician was there about 25 minutes, and charged roughly $250.
The suggestion that we had a broken drain connection was very troubling to us. Not only did we have potentially expensive and disruptive repairs on our hands, it meant we had no immediate relief with the sink. We had a series of short term tenants coming to stay in our suite, and we had to heavily discount the rent to compensate for the unusable sink. To boot, our kitchen sink upstairs was connected to the same drain line, which meant that we had to wash dishes in the bathroom for several weeks. All a major inconvenience.
After our tenants left, we called Lew again to see if they could come with a camera to find the broken drain connection. They didn't have room in their schedule to do same-day service, so I called another plumbing company. The second technician was going to put the camera down the sink drain, but decided to try and snake the drain quickly first. He had no trouble putting 20-25 feet of snake in. The plug was removed, and the sink drain (for both the upstairs and downstairs sinks) has been working perfectly ever since.
The second plumber explained to me that he used a "drop head" snake, which has a metal head that pivots and drops with gravity. This makes it much more likely that the snake with go downwards and find the right drain path. I spoke with the technician from Lew's, who conceded he did not use a drop head snake.
I wrote a letter to Lew for a refund for failing to get the job done, but didn't hear from a manager for around two weeks. I called Lew, and a manager called me back. He told me a letter was in the mail to me, explaining that I wouldn't be getting a refund. He started challenging me about my version of the facts, and questioning the second plumber's opinion on what might have gone wrong with the Lew technician. When I said it was short-sighted of the manager to not refund my money, because I would tell people about my poor experience with Lew, he told me that was "slander." True statements cannot be slanderous -- that's the law. The phone call was not a pleasant experience.
And a little epilogue: that letter that the manager said was in the mail? It's been over two weeks since that conversation and I haven't seen any letter. I doubt anything had been put in the mail.
From technical service to client service, I can't think of a worse experience I've had with a skilled trade outfit than with Lew Plumbing and Heating. I certainly cannot recommend them. They only get 2 stars (instead of 0) because they came back to fix our heating problems for free in late 2009.