Bad Experience with John's Plumbing Company

Birmingham, Alabama

This web page is not approved by John's Plumbing Company of Birmingham, Alabama.

Read below for a detailed account of a horrible experience with John's Plumbing Company.

An abbreviated version of this experience has been posted at Yelp!, and Angie's List. If you know of other places where I can post, please scroll to the mail form at the bottom of this page and send me a note.

This is the view of John's Plumbing Company from their street address:
5851 Service Road, Birmingham, Alabama 35235
Telephone: (205) 655-JOHN
Web Address:



If you travel I-59 north of Birmingham, you may recognize their building visible from I-59 near Chalkville Mountain Road, exit 141 near Trussville.


This is an account, with pictures and documentation, of a miserable experience with John's Plumbing Company of Birmingham, Alabama, how they abused the trust of two disabled people, both in their nineties, one who cannot walk and the other who is blind. This web page contains an account of what I saw, heard and experienced both as a participant in the events and an observer and that I assert to be true and accurate.

The events described below show:

I hired John's Plumbing Company of Birmingham, Alabama (near Trussville) to replace a ruptured water heater for Mr. C who is 94 years old and cannot walk without help and Mrs. C who is 90 years old and blind.

John's Plumbing replaced the water heater and Mr. C, being unable to navigate stairs, and Mrs. C, being blind, could not make an inspection and had to trust John's Plumbing had done the job properly. Mr. C paid John's Plumbing Company $1428.

Problems noticed immediately:

I received a call from Mrs. C about an hour after John's Plumbing Company left stating the new water heater was leaking and that her clothes dryer had been uninstalled and moved from its place.

I got off work and found what Mrs. C said was accurate and there was a new pool of water in the garage floor running toward the carpet in adjacent rooms. I called John's Plumbing Company and told them about these problems.

Incredibly, they did not send anyone to repair the leak and I had to fix it myself to prevent further damage to carpet. Also, when I attempted to put the dryer back, it would not fit. They had installed a water heater with too large a diameter to accommodate the clothes dryer. Jerry Abernathy had deceptively collected payment in full and 'got out of Dodge' before 'the blind lady' found out about her clothes dryer.

That's the John's-installed water heater on the left and the washer on the right. The clothes dryer is missing from its normal place between the water heater and the washer. When this picture was made, it was sitting about ten feet away from where it belonged where John's Plumbing had left it.


Before this, I had never done a web page so when I figure out how to put a video into this page, I'll post one showing about a one-drop-per-second leak in the newly-installed pipe, a leak they did not come back to fix or even check on after I fixed it.

For the sake of clarity, I had a conversation with Mr. and Mrs. C and they stated to me in direct terms that the installer said nothing about the condition of the clothes dryer and, had they known, would not have paid for the job until that was corrected.

I called John's Plumbing Company the next day and told part of my complaints to the lady who answered and she said, "I'll have the owner call you.". I called back later in the day and informed the lady that the owner had not returned my call. The person who then came to the phone identified himself as "Kenny". I told Kenny that I had already talked to Jerry Abernathy and gotten nowhere with my complaints. I explained to Kenny:

Both Jerry and Kenny had the same interruptive, argumentative response, and both said "they don't make water heaters that size any more" (a lie) .

During the first part of my conversation with Kenny, my thought was to give Kenny the benefit of doubt, that maybe Jerry Abernathy had not been forthcoming with Kenny about his improper dealings with Mr. and Mrs. C; but, that benefit of the doubt evaporated when Kenny told me he had forty-five years experience and parroted Jerry's earlier statement that 'they don't make eighteen-inch water heaters any more'.

I had already called six plumbing supply companies in Birmingham and found eighteen-inchers at all six and had already purchased a Whirlpool-branded eighteen-incher at Lowe's.

I could see clearly the deceit and/or incompetence and customer abuse goes all the way to the top.


Quotes from my conversation with Kenny:

Kenny: "They don't make eighteen-inch water heaters any more."

Alex: "Come out here and I'll show you a brand new one I just bought."

Kenny: "I don't need to come out there because I been doing this for forty-five years. If I didn't know what I was talking about . . . blah, blah, blah."

Kenny went on to berate me, indicating my involvement being the cause of the problems and that I was interfering in something that was none of my business, so I put Mrs. C on the phone. As I listened to the conversation Mrs. C said, "This is Mrs. C" and before she could say even one more word, Kenny started over-talking her and would not allow her to speak. She said "Will you shut up and listen, will you let me talk." and "I am blind and I need all the help I can get." (referring to me being her help). Finally, she terminated the call in frustration.

About my "involvement":

Taking care of these kinds of matters is a privilege Mr. and Mrs. C delegated to me years ago. I replace light bulbs, faucet washers, fix minor plumbing leaks, fix their computer problems, do their grocery shopping, take them meals on weekends and holidays, drive them to the doctor, set up a surveillance system that I can monitor remotely from my home, have lunch and dinner with them two- to three times a week, make welfare checks, do some of their banking and I am always invited when out-of-town relatives visit. I have been close to them since 1988 and have been progressively more involved in their lives as their years advance. Mr. and Mrs. C gave me the water-heater-replacement job to hire done and handle at my discretion. It was I who hired John's Plumbing Company, told them what needed to be done and gave them directions to the house, and would have been there during the work if my job allowed and that is why I hired what I thought was a reputable company in our own neighborhood. So I am not an interfering outsider. Mr. and Mrs. C's only involvement should have been to write a check and "live happily ever after"; but, this experience with John's Plumbing brought totally unnecessary misery, aggravation and a $1428 financial loss.

Whether Kenny or Jerry understood my relationship with Mr. and Mrs. C does not excuse the shoddy work and lies.

I believe Kenny's and Jerry's displeasure over my involvement was more for the fact they felt they could take advantage of the aged and infirm 90- and 94 year olds but found me to be not easily hoodwinked.

This is the water heater I got at Lowe's, the eighteen-incher both Kenny, who was represented to me as being the owner of John's Plumbing Company and in the business forty-five years, and Jerry Abernathy who said he has fifteen years experience, told me they don't make any more. Also, please note it is Whirlpool-branded, certainly not an obscure company.



Note the size marked on the box, eighteen inches in diameter.


Why would John's Plumbing push a wrong-sized water heater on us?

Having been in the home maintenance business, myself, eighteen years, here's an educated guess: John's Plumbing is not a small company and probably keeps water heaters in their own stock. Since the eighteen-inchers aren't in much demand, John's may choose to not buy those and buy larger quantities of others instead. Then there is the fact that if they installed a water heater they don't keep in stock at their own building, extra time and mileage would be spent in acquisition, maybe losing as much as a few hours.

But none of that is a reason to lie to your customer.

We finally solved our water heater problem by hiring a competent person with integrity to do the work over again. The overall cost the second time, including the water heater I got at Lowe's, was below $1000, much less than we paid John's Plumbing for a bushel of misery and wasted time.

The clothes dryer once again is back where it should be, right next to our brand new eighteen-inch-diameter water heater that John's Plumbing says does not exist.

Disclaimers: Mr. and Mrs. C have no affiliation with this web page, to this point are unaware that it exists and have no influence over its content. John's plumbing Company of Birmingham abused the trust of Mr. and Mrs. C and I don't want that kind of abuse to be visited upon anyone else. This page is entirely owned and operated by Alex Ethridge, Sr. of Birmingham, Alabama as a warning to would-be John's Plumbing Company customers.

Mr. and Mrs. C contributed to this web page in no way.

The domain,, is the property of Alex Ethridge, Sr. and is not for sale.

This site is copyright 2013 - cannot be copied in whole or part without the express written permission of Alex Ethridge.


Here are a few web addresses for John's Plumbing Company of Birmingham, Alabama and their Lawyers:

First Amendment Schools - Consumer wins Free Speech Case

Digital Media Law Lucas Nursery & Landscaping v. Grosse

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Lucas Nursery V. Michelle Grosse, No. 02-1668

If you would like to contact me, you can use the form below.


* I have been asked for the name of the company we hired the second time around. For legal reasons, I cannot name the company that ultimately did the job correctly. The name of that company in this web page coupled with the use of the web address might be construed by a court as using another company's name for financial gain, which is forbidden under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) of year 2000 which is explained in the last link above. Sorry.