Summary: He replaced the fill and flush valves with a good Fluidmaster kit. The toilet then had a slow drip leak on to the floor. He came back and replace the leaky hose between the tank and the wall for free. It then had a very slow leak from the tank to the bowl (not present before he worked on it - but also consider that it was a 30 year old toilet). He suggested I have him now replace the entire toilet. We also had a misunderstanding over a bidet add-on price quote and had a frustrating disagreement about whose fault the miscommunication was. It was quite important to him to make sure that I knew it was 100% my fault and not his fault and I would be stupid to think he could do the bidet job for such a low price. I decided to replace the toilet but hired another plumber to do it.
My fill valve was occasionally not working and my overflow tube was too high so instead of the water overflowing into the overflow tube, it was leaking out the lever hole onto the floor. I tried to saw the overflow tube shorter (as it should have been during installation, years ago) and accidentally snapped it. I didn't have time to deal with more repair work so I called The Neighborhood Plumber. He came and replaced the entire fill and flush valves with a good Fluidmaster kit. After he left, water was very slowly leaking onto the floor (slow drip). But even 5 minutes of watching the tank water level showed it visibly dropping (perhaps he could have caught this before leaving). I determined that the line from the wall to the toilet was leaking. He came back and replaced it for free. Which was great. That problem was fixed but there was another problem.
There was a slow leak from the tank to the bowl. I could hear the toilet filling every 4h for 15 seconds. So I called him again. He said it might be a hairline crack. It might also be something else. He could troubleshoot it but it would cost at least a few hundred and would not be guaranteed to fix the problem. He recommended me replacing the whole toilet. Which kind of makes sense - a few hours of a plumbers time can cost more than a new toilet, depending on the toilet chosen. The previous work cost 195 (including about 45 for the fluidmaster kit) and his guarantee to fix any problems for free afterward would not cover this problem. My toilet didn't leak from the tank to the bowl before he worked on it. He said he has successfully repaired many toilets and this kind of problem is very uncommon. I am not sure what to think. Either he did a shoddy job or my 30 year old toilet was ready to crack as soon as someone worked on it. I did not want to give him any further business (also see additional details below) so I had another plumber replace the toilet.
I had one additional major problem with him. Originally I also asked about how much extra an additional job - a bidet install - would cost. I got the bidet myself off the Internet, as he suggested, and it is a pretty easy job to do (I ended up doing it myself in <1h and he probably would have taken 15min). He quoted me one thing on the phone (the original 195 was supposed to cover both the toilet and the bidet). Then in a later phone call he increased the price a few hundred and said it might take him a couple hours to do. He explained that it was completely unreasonable for him to do everything for 195. Which after hearing him explain the cost breakdown I agreed that 195 is not reasonable. During our discussion he subtlely insulted me and was verbally attacking me and defending himself. What he wanted most was for me to admit that the misunderstanding was 100% my fault and it was entirely my mistake. This was not true. He said one thing and then changed his tune entirely later. I am certain of this. Before he led me to believe that he was going to give me a good deal on the bidet install but afterwards it sounded like he was going to charge me a very high price for an easy 15 minute add-on job. We had not confirmed a firm price for the bidet work but he said it was easy and could be added into the same job. So lets call it some kind of miscommunication/misunderstanding, fine. I would have been fine if he had just apologized or been more diplomatic. Whatever happened to the customer is always right? But even if he had at least just dropped the subject of who was at fault, that would have been fantastic. But what he would not let go of is making sure that I knew that he had not made a single mistake and that the entire thing was my fault. I had misheard him and I would be stupid to think that 195 could possible include everything. I would be stupid to think what I thought. How am I to know plumbing cost breakdown and why would I think deeply about it? I continued to hold that he had said one thing before and now changed his tune. This really annoyed him and he kept on driving that it was not his fault but my fault. I normally never lose my temper or swear but I actually swore at him. He just kept pushing my hot button over and over and would not let go. It was 100% my fault. This seemed so unjust to me. Say it even was true. What is the point in hammering it in like that? Was he so certain that what he said was 100% crystal clear and impossible to misinterpret? Yes, apparently. It was my mistake and I would be stupid to think that 195 would cover everything. Finally, I tried to diplomatically suggest that let's just call it some kind of miscommunication and let it go. He agreed but was unable to stop himself from putting one final word in about it not being his fault. But then, to his credit, he still came back to try to fix the problem for free. And gave me some good troubleshooting information over the phone. And when he did come back to try to fix it, he apologized (and did not talk about fault, thankfully). But he was unable to easily fix it and so needed to either charge more for further troubleshooting or replace the toilet.
I chose to install the bidet myself because an extra couple hundred is not worth it considering I was able to do it myself fairly easily.
If only he had just said "My hourly rate is X, rounded to the half-hour. The bidet should take me between 30 minutes and 2h depending on the bathroom. I'll tell you how long I expect it to take when I see the bathroom." I would have said "Perfect, done deal."
I originally chose him because he was not the very top homestars plumber result (but still had 1 review which was good) so I hoped he might charge a bit less. But he charged a fairly standard plumber's rate (145 + parts-cost for ~1h work, I believe). He is an experienced plumber and wanted a standard rate.
So I have to give him at least 2 out of 5. It is quite possible that my toilet was just old and about to crack (and it wasn't him accidentally cracking it or somehow causing the problem). I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He gave good advice and his prices were reasonable. He came back and fixed my leaking hose for free. But perhaps he could have suspected my 30-year-old hose should be replaced? Or perhaps, before he left, he could have noticed my tank water level dropping visibly in only 5 min? Ultimately, the 195 I paid him was all for nothing because I had another plumber replace the still broken toilet.
If he can find some other happy customers to give positive reviews, all the power to him. Maybe my problem was just particularly challenging for any plumber to face.