LH Cook, Plumber, fitting a shower, tradesmen stories

I recently had a new shower fitted in one of my bathrooms (odd house, we have three bathrooms altogether but just two bedrooms!). I was looking for a professional company and one which was recommended was LH Cook, based in Little Hadham, Herts.

Len Cook himself came to do the quote, but his workman for the job was Nick – a very nice bloke and a good plumber too.

During the course of the job we added in a small amount of extra work which made more sense as the job progressed than it did at the time of the quote. Len Cook was clear we would need to pay a bit more than the original quote, and I agreed this was reasonable. The additional work amounted to tiling the bathroom floor and removing an extra piece of timber…

Yes, you guessed it, the additional work was over charged!

Worse still, we contested the ridiculously high amount we were being asked to pay, which incidentally included two extra days work which just didn’t happen, but heard nothing from Len Cook at all. I rang his office twice and left the ball in his court, but no response was forthcoming.

That was in October ’04.

In February ’05 we received a letter stating that we would have our debt handed to recovery agents if we did not pay up. Imagine the arrogance of thinking that not responding to a genuine enquiry, and sending a final demand, was OK!!

I rang again, and once more failed to speak directly to Len Cook, but instead left a message with his secretary (wife??). He failed to return my call once more and so I approached the citizen’s advice bureau, a solicitor and the trading standards office.

It transpires that we have not much to stand on here… but we did make a payment which we thought was reasonable, based on the current prices for the additional materials and Len Cook’s own quote for labour per hour. We have since heard nothing (no surprise there) but expect to get another threatening letter soon. I seriously doubt we’ll get an apology, or a letter that says ‘silly me, how right you were all along’.

The thing is no-one likes to get ripped off. Unfortunately Len Cook seems to be a rip off merchant, despite having a fairly good reputation. The funny thing is that the joke between us and the plumber, Nick, was that Len Cook does his quotes by peering through the letterbox! Odd how true this seems to be, since he has not once looked at the finished work or made an assessment of the additional work carried out.

So, if you are looking to employ Len Cook, INSIST on a detailed item by item quote, as he will apparently hide all manner of additional costs in the lack of detail.

Alternatively, don’t use his services at all.

10 thoughts on “LH Cook, Plumber, fitting a shower, tradesmen stories

  • 22 September, 2008 at 11:28 am
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    Very unfair, I have used L H Cook on a number of occassions and found Mr Cook to be helpful, honest and reliable….

    There have been times when I have been unable to pay my bill in full, and he has allowed me to pay in installements…. what other company allows you to do that???

    He is not a rip off merchant, I can say hand on heart that they are the fairest plumbers in Hertfordshire….

  • 22 September, 2008 at 3:47 pm
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    Glad you found him to be so, Kathy. I can’t say my experience was as good as yours, and so I don’t think the post is at all unfair. Anyone who does not give a clear indication of cost up front, then tries to add on extra charges that shouldn’t be there isn’t all that honest, really… If at the beginning I had been fully informed of it then I couldn’t complain. As I wasn’t, I can.

  • 30 January, 2009 at 11:01 am
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    I have always found LH Cook to be good tradesmen who charge a fair price. Another job cannot be quoted on up front if you add it on half way through other work. All I can say is agree a price before the extra work comences. Len Cook once fixed a minor heating problem for me and when I asked the cost he didn’t charge for the work.

  • 31 January, 2009 at 10:36 am
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    Thanks Terri – let me repeat that the job was not, in my mind, clearly quoted, and had the work completed according to the specification created then the result would have brought about more problems later on. I accept we added the tiling of a floor that took 8 tiles to cover.

    None of the quote was itemised, which means many things can contain hidden costs. And of course, we reveived a bill that included two extra days labour which just didn’t take place.

    I’m pleased your experiences were good. Mine wasn’t. I struggle to believe I am the only one, but am heartened that others are supporting him.

    If there is a lesson to be learned here it is to require an itemised quote, and get someone in who can see the pitfalls, pros and cons of the situation. I felt I could rely on his experience and reputation, but as it turned out I was wrong to do so. I’m pleased I kept a log of the days and activities on each day so that I could justify my response to the bill I received.

    If there is a lesson for Mr Cook, it would be to communicate more readily with his customers and not ignore letters sent or avoid phone calls, and itemise the quotes and bills he sends out. Oh, and it would be useful if he bothered to look at the work when it was complete to see exactly what was done.

  • 10 February, 2009 at 1:33 pm
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    I just had an encounter with Len Cook, and i found him to be extreemley rude. I have been waiting for a job to begin for 6 months and recieved a phone call saying they can start the following day, as it was such late notice i explained i couldn’t get the time off work to which i was ment with the comment ” well you either want the work done or not?” That is not the response i expected nor deserved. He then proceeded to say that he would call me to arrange an alternitive time when it was convienient for him!! I would never recommemd him to anyone!

  • 9 October, 2009 at 8:12 am
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    I am sorry, I have to disagree with you.
    I have used L H Cook for donkey years and would never even contemplate thinking of using anyone else.
    Yes, Mr Cook is sharp and spikey… but I prefer someone who will speak there mind rather than pussy footing around things.
    I think his pricing is fair and honest, if ever I have had a problem with an invoice I know I can ring the offfice and sort it out.
    Sorry but I disagree with you Hal and Paula.
    If anyone is thinking of using LH Cook please don’t let the above put you off… it is a REPUTABLE firm.

  • 10 October, 2009 at 7:45 pm
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    No problem Louisa – happy that you’ve had better experiences than I had. All I can say is that I’ve not embellished the story above, this is what actually happened. Given that your experience is so much better than mine simply makes me feel that not all of Mr Cook’s customers are treated equally.

    It was five years ago this month that all of this happened. I suspect (hope?) that things will have changed by now.

  • 15 February, 2010 at 4:23 pm
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    Totally agree with Hal… L H Cook are compete rip off merchants….STEER CLEAR
    Took me for a complete ride…. never again!

  • 3 February, 2012 at 10:38 am
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    Had a similar experience with LH Cook. Back in 2004-5 they attended to bleed our system due to an airlock. In the process a secondary central heating pump was taken off to vent the sytem, afterwards we only had 2 or 3 rooms with any heat in them. Thinking it was still an airlock Len Cook himself arrived 2 days before Christmas and proceeded to turn the pump on and off to free the airlock, after a couple of minutes a circuit in the boiler blew. Blaming the boiler and not being able to do anything about it he left resulting in a very miserable Christmas. Having had enough of LH Cook I got another engineer in and despite not knowing the system (very complicated) pinpointed the problem, the secondary pump had been re-installed back to front meaning it was pushing against the pump in the boiler! Everything was put right a circuit board in the boiler replaced and warmth returned. A month late an invoice arrived, I can’t remember now for how much, but suffice to say we didn’t pay a penny and received a threatening letter which I took delight in replying to listing ALL of their failings and quoting the comments from the engineer who had fixed the heating. We heard nothing more, the man is clearly used to trying to bully people into paying.
    Jumping forward to the present finds us in a new house with an oil boiler which is playing up. My wife found an old service booklet from Bournbrook heating in Bishops Stortford and gave them a call. An engineer arrived quite promptly, touched a pipe and stated it was warm therefore the heating was ok despite being told we kept having to manually restart the boiler and the temperature in the radiators was going down all the time. He reluctantly changed a filter then drilled a hole in the flue to check the CO2 filling it back up with putty even though there was a dedicated inspection port 2″ below had he gone to the trouble of opening the top casing! Result this morning was freezing as the boiler had cut out again overnight so I phoned Bournbrook and was very surprised to hear that they had been taken over by non other than LH Cook. After being passed around the office Len Cook came on the phone, on asking my name his memory obviously churned over and he made a pretence of not being able to hear me and just put the phone down. My wife has just spoken to Aquatec, another heating company, and told them of the goings on with bad engineers she was asked outright ‘was it Cooks’? Well for me that was a classic and I would be interested if anybody else on this micro blog has thought of contacting trading standards before someone else is taken for a ride.
    Clearly as in any walk of life there will be people who have had a good service, however I think there seems to be a weight of opinion against LH Cook including from within his own industry now that does show they could be a candidate for ‘That’s Life’ (if anybody remembers that programme).

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