We’ve stumbled upon an interesting article from NY times.
Occasionally, we get complaints from customers on high prices. The article makes a funny point:
Mr. Schmidt, who works out of Indianapolis, likes to tell a story, famous in appliance repair circles, to demonstrate what he means: “A guy comes in to fix something and he hits it with a hammer, and says, ‘That’ll be $250.’ The customer says, ‘What for? You just hit with a hammer.’ The guy says, ‘That’s $50 for hitting it with a hammer, and $200 for knowing where to hit it.’ ”
It takes a lot to run a business:
“At least twice a year, I travel out of town to attend training on new products and service pointers,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that he is responsible for all his travel costs and hotel stays, if necessary. In addition, “I’m sometimes in my office until 9, 10, 11 at night trying to track a problem down.”
Also, of course, there is insurance, liability, truck maintenance, office equipment and other fixed costs that people don’t think about when the serviceman arrives at their door.
Our regular diagnostic fee is usually $65-$150:
Most service technicians charge a flat rate to diagnose a problem, and if they can’t fix it on the first visit, will not charge for a second visit. You will still, however, have to pay for any parts and labor.
Mr. Schmidt, who usually works with high-end appliances, charges $119 for a visit. He said the national average is about $70 to $80 for the initial visit for the most common (not high-end) appliances. He said he would be suspicious of the work quality of anyone who asked for substantially less and also suggested reading the fine print carefully if anyone is offering free service calls. There is usually a catch.
And on parts cost as well as why it does not make sense to order a part that a consumer asks us to over the phone.
The reason many parts seem awfully costly these days is because they are, said Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor of Consumer Reports. “Appliances have many more electronic parts and circuit boards than in the past, and these parts can be more expensive than mechanical parts.”
Repair people can’t carry every possible part. And they can’t be expected to order something based on the description a customer gives over the phone because it may turn out to be the wrong thing.
Then “we can’t send it back, or if we do, we have to pay a 25 to 50 percent restocking fee,” Mr. Schmidt said.
A good rule of 50%.
Ms. Lehrman said Consumer Reports suggests that if something costs more than half the price of the appliance to fix then you shouldn’t fix it. The trouble, of course, is that you don’t always know how much it’s going to be before the technician comes over. The price could be just the flat fee or it could be hundreds of dollars more for a part.
6 good advises when calling for an appliance repair service:
¶Know if you’re in or out of warranty and what your warranty covers. Ms. Lehman suggests keeping copies of your warranties in one folder or going online to download them and store them in one electronic file. Even if you haven’t sent in your warranty registration, you should be all right if you have the receipt or, lacking that, if you charged the item you can obtain the information from your credit card company.
¶Have the brand, model and serial number available when you call for service. Those details can usually be found on the paperwork that came with the item. Otherwise you will waste everyone’s time searching for it. Although these numbers are usually on the appliances, in some cases — like a frost-bound refrigerator — they are difficult to see.
¶Try to be there when you say you will. We all know that it’s maddening to be given a three- or four-hour window, but all too often jobs take longer than expected. Or there’s the customer who, after the initial repair is finished, says, “as long as you’re here,” and trots out other broken machines. It’s worth asking if the service company will call you five or 10 minutes before arrival, so you can run nearby errands while waiting.
¶Get help sooner rather than later. “One of my biggest frustrations is having someone says, ‘Oh yeah, the dryer has been acting goofy for three to four months,’ ” Mr. Schmidt said, because it’s likely that bad part has caused something else to wear out.
¶It’s fine to observe the technician working. You certainly don’t have to disappear. But keep pets and children away. “I don’t need your inquisitive 4-year-old going through my toolbox,” Mr. Johnson said.
¶And finally, be honest. If you don’t have the money available to pay the fee, tell the repair person ahead of time. Maybe you can work something out. Mr. Johnson said he has one “dear heart” on a fixed income who pays off her bill when she can. “But,” he said, “don’t tell me when I give you the bill, ‘Oh my wife took the checkbook.’ ”
Nothing is new under the sun:
Perhaps this advice will help us all get along a little better. And remember, complaining about appliance repairs is nothing new. Doesn’t this sound familiar? “There are two basic reasons for today’s service problems and those big bills: They just don’t build appliances like they used to, and they don’t sell them like they used to, either.”
That was from an article that appeared in Popular Mechanics in November 1961. The outrageous charge for a service visit in Chicago? $3.95.
Smith Brothers Appliance Repair provides appliance repair services in Orange County and Los Angeles.