It may be surprising to some, but quite a few of the plumbing contractors that advertise in the local phone directory are not really "local plumbers". More and more of the premium ads (i.e. double page, color, front cover etc.) are companies that are out of the area.
While there is nothing wrong with a company advertising in as many publications as they can afford, as well as in areas they think they can service properly. However, some of the advertisements can be misleading to the consumer.
One of the ways in which a plumbing service company can be misleading is to advertise in every directory in a metropolitan area, even if they themselves do not have the resources or reach to reasonably service the area.
What the consumer ends up with is a plumbing dispatch service. You may call ABC Plumbing, but then XYZ Plumbing shows up at your door! Sometimes, ABC Plumbing doesn't even have a single service vehicle of it's own and will just have "independent servicemen" do all of the plumbing repairs.
There are some ways for the consumer to avoid these tactics and eliminate the confusion before the plumbing repairs are performed.
If you do call ABC Plumbing, and a truck with XYZ Plumbing printed on their truck shows up, you have the right to ask (any absolutely should ask) why.
Plumbing service contractors are usually required to publish their license numbers in their advertisements, if there is no license number in the ad, they are probably not licensed.
Which brings up a whole other problem for you, the consumer, to ponder. If the service contractor does publish their license number, but dispatches an "independent serviceman", who has the license? The plumbing technician or the dispatcher?
What about the workman's compensation insurance? Who is guaranteeing the work and the product? Who is supervising the plumbing technician's work and conduct?
Here are a few questions you can ask the person on the phone before they send out a service technician. If the company only shows a toll free number, ask if they have a physical location. If the company prints a license number, ask if all of their service technicians are licensed as well.
If the company you call is in fact a dispatch type of service company, who carries the insurance? The ad may say that the company is licensed, bonded, and insured. But in fact their independent service technicians are the ones required to carry the insurance, workers comp, and general liability.
No one wants the hassle of calling one company to perform service, get someone completely different on the job, and then have to worry about who is responsible for any problems that may arise.
So don't forget to use your local plumbing companies that serve your areas. They add value to your local commerce as well as provide an essential service.