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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 there wil be someone to profit from it.

The Crooked Contractor comes in two flavors, the Criminally Lazy, and the Plain Criminal. The criminally lazy, being paid by the hour 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" leaving so large holes 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 of Crooked Contractor include:

Comic Books

  • Tintin - The Castafiore Emerald has Mr Bolt taking several weeks to get around to fixing Cptn. Haddock's steps out of apathy. He isn't paid by the hour during this time, however.


  • 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.


  • 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 It's Great to Be Back! had a plumber who wasn't a crook but did refuse 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 a corrupt roofing contractors who gets targetted by the main villain, in part to demonstrate 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.

Live Action TV

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The 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 disgrunteled client's unfinished project.

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.

Web Comics


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.

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.