Plum Island Resident Complains About $4,200 Repair Bill For Frozen Pipes

Oil lickign from pipe
A Plum Island, MA resident is perturbed over what he feels to be an excessive bill for the repair work done on his home’s sewage system, and is taking his plight to city hall.

The Daily News of Newburyport reports that Mark Friery was given a bill of $4,198 for two hours of work on his sewage pipes. The repair company, ServiceMaster, was contracted by Newburyport’s insurance carrier, MIIA Property and Casualty Group, Inc., for a series of sewage repair jobs which were the result of recent winter storms.

Friery, a restaurant owner, warned City Councilor Bruce Vogel in a letter that the city should be concerned about the bill, which he believes isn’t an anomaly. ServiceMaster, after all, will eventually submit the bill to MIIA, not to him.

“Someone somewhere should be concerned about the $4,198.25 bill presented to the city through its insurance carrier by ServiceMaster,” Friery wrote. “ServiceMaster was at my home for less than two hours. While I am happy that they addressed my problem, in what world do they justify getting paid $4,198.25 for this — over $2,000 per hour.”

Friery isn’t the only local resident to deal with sewage problems. After a particularly harsh winter, many residents on Plum Island saw frozen pipes and sewage backups in their homes and businesses. About 170 residents had to leave their homes because of backup problems or their inability to use water while repairs were being done.

Local officials contracted companies like ServiceMaster to repair the damage but did not anticipate the steep costs.

In Friery’s case, he was forced to contact ServiceMaster after the sewage pipe under his house froze. Specifically, sewage material was clogged up by a faulty frozen valve pit. As a result, parts of his home overflowed with sewage waste.

The damage to his sewage system was the result of both the recent winter storms to hit Massachusetts and the outdated pipe system itself. Piping experts recommend that pipes older than 40 years should be evaluated or even replaced.

Though he was pleased with the repair work overall, he was taken aback by the bill. He felt it was too much, especially considering the repair crew was only in his house for two hours.

“While this outrageous bill doesn’t directly come out of my pocket, it impacts us all as taxpayers,” he wrote. “It may increase the city’s insurance rate.”