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Crooked Contractor
"Honest Jake" does no job too small or too dirty to find money.

Marge: Wait, there's still one last thing that doesn't make sense. Why did you start fixing our roof and just disappear?
Ray: That's easy — I'm a contractor.
The Simpsons, "Don't Fear The Roofer"

A small household crisis, like a faulty pipe or a leaky roof is likely to hit everyone at some point, and when it does someone profit from it.

The Crooked Contractor comes in two flavors, the Criminally Lazy and the Plain Criminal. The criminally lazy is paid an hourly wage, shows up late — if at all — and doesn't exactly rush the job. The plain criminal flavor includes scammers who e.g. "inspect the roof" and leave behind holes so large you have to hire them to fix them.

Offices located next to Honest John's Dealership.

Known to happen in Real Life every now and then


Examples:

Comic Books

Film
  • A plumber in The Godfather, who was decisively outbastarded in about one minute when his client got wind of it, of course.
  • The Money Pit.
  • This is the heart of the rivalry between Mario Bros. Plumbing and Scapelli Contractors, Inc. The Mario Bros. look like the trope, but Scapelli's business is this trope—his grunts sabotage their own work while Daisy and Luigi are down in the pit with the dinosaur bones.

Literature
  • Discworld has the Ankh-Morpork Guild of Plumbers and Dunnikin Divers. Motto NON ANTE SEPTEM DIES PROXIMA, SQVIRI ("Not Before Next Week, Squire").
  • Robert A. Heinlein's story Its Great To Be Back! two recent people who have returned to earth from the moon deal with a plumber who isn't a crook but refuses to help them for petty reasons.
  • One of Harry Graham's Ruthless Rhymes is a comment on contractors who inflate work time by "accidentally" leaving tools behind:
    I warned poor Mary of her fate,
    But she would wed a plumber's mate!
    For hours the choir was forced to sing
    While he went back to fetch the ring.
  • The Father Koesler mystery, Death Wears a Red Hat, features corrupt roofing contractors targeted by the main villain. In part, this demonstrates that the character, having run out of truly evil people to kill, has started on more minor criminals.
  • In the book of Big Trouble Dave Barry wrote about a prison contractor who used garage-door openers to actuate the cell doors. Hilarity Ensues when someone drives by and hits the garage door opener by mistake.
  • Rally Round the Flag, Boys! has landscaper Minton Evans, whose excuses for disintegrating lawns include "them atom bomb explosions." Minton is part of the ruling class of Putnam's Landing, which includes Waldo Pike, an equally dishonest hardware salesman, and Doc Magruder, a physician who is relatively honest about not knowing medicine.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has the Freys of the Twins aka the Lords of the Crossing; but, more specifically, Lord Walder Frey. This crossing is, in fact, one of the very, very few safe, reliable ways across the Trident (part of the biggest river system in Westeros). It is often the only way if you want to cross in bulk and at speed, be you an army or a winding merchant train, unless you wish to risk your ETA and/or goods. They are the only service providers you can go to holed up in two of the more defensible and tactically tricky positions in the Riverlands — and, they all know it. Lucky, lucky you.

Live-Action TV
  • The page image: in the Monk season 7 premier "Mr. Monk Buys a House", Monk moves into this new house. He finds an off-centered lamp, and calls over a handyman he met in a hardware store, "Honest" Jake Phillips (Brad Garrett). He comes to take a look at it, then starts a house-wide demoliton project extensive enough that Monk and Natalie are left cowering on the steps as Jake and his assistant "Honest" Ramone hack away at the walls. Turns out he was after a hidden fortune left behind by the last tenant of the house. His accomplice and lover killed that occupant to prevent him from telling the secret to anyone else, though she told Jake about it. Jake stabs and kills her in her house after Monk catches onto her. When Monk and Natalie find the bloodstained murder weapon on Jake's toolbelt, he takes them hostage by shackling them by their legs to a claw-footed bathtub. After finding the money, he shoots and kills Ramone, before Monk and Natalie knock him out by pushing a wall down on him. They manage to crawl down the hall to send up Morse code smoke signals from the fireplace to Stottlemeyer and Disher, who barely arrive in the nick of time as Jake recovers and prepares to shoot his hostages.
  • The premise of the show Catch A Contractor. Adam Carolla (a former carpenter himself) and a married couple (one a contractor, one a private investigator) visit homes of people who've been screwed over by a bad contractor. Adam and the crew then track down and confront the contractor, and make them come back and fix/finish the job.
  • In Tracy Beaker Returns S2E12 Grandad there's Xanthe the antique seller. Frank desparately needs money for his grandad's headstone, so Xanthe buys his pocket watch for £100 and tries to sell it for £75,000. She repeats this trick later when Tracy offers her a car with the number plate X 4 NTHE. Since this reads Xanthe it was worth at least £100,000 to her.
  • The Commish had a contractor who stopped working on his kitchen.
  • Life had an episode revolving around contractors who would take the roof off a house, then demand more payment than was contracted for before replacing it with a new roof.
  • The Leverage episode "The Snow Job" centers around a contracting company that does deliberately shoddy work as part of a scam to repossess houses.
  • In one 80's comedy show, Those Two Bad Guys kidnap some bored heiress but instead of a ransom note she keeps writing suicide notes. So they take her to a baseball game to try to convince her that life is worth living, and she asked them what they did before they got into kidnapping. 'Fake Roofing'. At the end, she is happily helping them rebuild their failed roofing buisness by drumming up new customers.
  • Holmes On Homes. Mike Holmes is a general contractor who goes around and fixes what the other contractors did wrong. And some of what the other guys did wrong is freaking horrifying.
    • Holmes points out that in Real Life, most bad contractors are an aversion, as they are often decent people who got in over their heads—e.g. a carpenter who tried his hand at plumbing—but there are some who really are crooks.
  • In Fawlty Towers, "The Builders," Basil hires O'Reilly, a cheap and unreliable builder who doesn't show up on time. Sybil hires a professional, who successfully repairs the hotel. Basil calls O'Reilly again in order to prove that his original choice was the best. O'Reilly fails miserably. Hilarity ensues.
  • Del Boy in Only Fools And Horses has been known to dabble in this when the market trading isn't going so well. In the episode "Who's A Pretty Boy Then?", after stealing the job of painting Denzil's flat from Brendan O'Shaughnessy, he then offers his services when Mike says the brewery want the pub painted. Mike says Brendan has already put in a bid of a thousand pounds. Del immediately offers a counterbid of two thousand pounds.
    Mike: Hang about, hang about. Why should I turn down an offer of £1000 and accept one of £2000?
    Del Boy: 'Cos of all the advantages it has to offer, like my unique profit-sharing scheme. The two thousand pounds would be disbursed thus: Five hundred pounds for vous, and five hundred pounds for ve.
    Mike: What, you mean I get five hundred quid?
    Del Boy: Oh, yes.
    Mike: And what about the thousand that's left over?
    Del Boy: We give that to the Irishman and let him do the job!
    • Also done in the famous episode 'A Touch of Glass'. Del Boy and co offer to clean some chandeliers at a wealthy lord's mansion, and most obviously don't know a thing about how to do so. Cue Falling Chandelier and hasty retreat.
  • King of Queens but they're not lazy, they're Russian, drinking Vodka before work is a lot more important, and they only get coerced back into actual labour if Doug parties with them, wearing the poor sod out.
  • A few appear in Midsomer Murders, mostly of the scammer variety (one is involved in a Real Estate Scam wherein he claims the house has a lot of problems which he "fixes", allowing his lover at the real estate agency to jack up the price). A lazy variation appears when Barnaby needs something in his house fixed.
  • British reality show Cowboy Builders tracks down various crooked builders, and redoes some disgruntled client's unfinished project.
  • George's jack-of-all-trades mate Jerry from George and Mildred is incredibly shonky, and no supplier will ever take a cheque from him. At least, not twice.
  • British series Rogue Traders (now part of Watchdog) has Matt Allwright going after these and confronting them afterwards.

Newspaper Comics
  • Dilbert has had several strips about this, but the most obvious one is when the contractor promises to come back on Monday, then shows Dilbert the calendar of the service industry's space-time continuum. No Mondays.

Radio
  • One episode of Dragnet revolved around a sting operation to bust crooked television repairmen.

Video Games
  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game:
    Shandor: I...HAVE CHOSEN! I...AM THE DESTRUCTOR! I...AM...THE ARCHITECT!
    Venkman: The Architect?! That's not so bad. The contractor—that's what kills ya!

Webcomics

Western Animation
  • Aside from the roofer Ray, The Simpsons had this in many epsisodes, like the plumber who wouldn't do anything about the family's leaking pipe, until Homer did the Stonecutters secret greeting, after which the plumber just tightens one screw, stopping the leak.
  • In King of the Hill episode "After the Mold Rush", after the Hill residence sustains minor water damage, a man from an insurance company declares the house infested with mold in hopes of turning a profit from the situation.
  • Garfield and Friends: Swindler was the Plain Criminal sort in "Home Sweet Swindler".

Real Life
  • In Louisiana in 1897, a bill was introduced into the state legislature that would have defined pi as four for purpose of determining materials requirements in construction, to end contractors' often outrageous bill padding. It died in the Senate.
  • A similar scheme to the one used by Del Boy in Only Fools And Horses (See Live Action TV) was perpetrated in the 90's and 2000's by Dutch contractors when bidding for government contracts.
  • The military contractors who bill the government $19.99 for a chocolate chip cookie can probably be a trope onto themselves.

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