In hot water: Lawsuit accuses Flat Rate Plumbing of fraudulent business practices

MILWAUKEE COUNTY (WITI) -- Flat Rate Plumbing Inc., is in trouble with the state of Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Attorney General's Office has filed a civil lawsuit against the New Berlin-based business, the owner and one of its technicians.

In the lawsuit filed this month, Flat Rate Plumbing Inc. is accused of violating Wisconsin consumer protection laws.

The lawsuit alleges that the company used deceptive business practices, including lying to customers about repairs to get them to spend more money. The lawsuit also alleges that, in some cases, technicians "without consent, cut or otherwise damaged homeowners' pipes in order to persuade them to purchase replacement equipment."

The lawsuit states that complaints against Flat Rate Plumbing Inc. have been coming in since 2008.

It comes as no surprise to FOX6's Contact 6 because they have been following the company for years. In 2001 and 2011, Contact 6 conducted hidden camera tests to see what different plumbers would say about the same broken toilet.  In the end, Flat Rate Plumbing Inc.'s options were expensive compared to others. Contact 6 chose to test Flat Rate Plumbing after receiving complaints against the company. The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Better Business Bureau received complaints as well -- ultimately leading to the lawsuit.

Flat Rate Plumbing Inc. released a statement through a law firm saying in part:

" ...the State has filed a Complaint devoid of facts which makes broad
allegations of wrongdoing with no identifiable evidence to support its claims.
Flat Rate unequivocally denies that it has violated Wisconsin law and will
address the State`s claims once the Attorney General`s Office provides at least some
factual explanation of its allegations."

The lawsuit is seeking money back for Flat Rate Plumbing Inc. customers and an end to fraudulent business practices.

If you think you've been a victim of Flat Rate Plumbing Inc., you can contact the Department of Justice at 608-266-8063.