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Samurai Appliance Repair Man's Blog

Things customers say while you're in their home on a service call...

customers, appliance repair and 1 more...
Every day, professional Appliantologists have the unique privilege of going into people's homes on appliance repair service calls. And it really is a privilege... most of the time.

We meet all kinds of people and every professional Appliantologist has fond memories of those "special" customers because of some of the things those customers say to brighten our day while we're in their homes and working on their appliance.

Here's a slice-of-life collection of some of these memorable pearls from our customers. These are all from real-life service calls and uttered by real-life customers. Could've been your neighbor, aunt, brother-in-law, or even YOU.

"Do you want me to hold that?"

"Do you need a flashlight?"

"Do you mind if I clean this?"

"How do you know that's the problem?"

"What if it doesn't work when you're done?"

"I think that goes there."

"I left it apart to make it easier for you."

"My brother in law said it's the glow plug."

"No, the refrigerator door has never been left open."

"My lawyer doesn't even charge that much."

"My dad used to do appliance repair for Sears and he says.....
"My husband took it apart to try and fix it but he's not very handy"
"My sons friend tried to fix it and I think he lost a piece"

This one is becoming more common: "The internet said....


"How long will it work after you repair it"?

Uh, forever. Or until something else breaks. By the way, here's the winning Powerball numbers for next Saturday. And don't take that flight next month. Trust me.

"Can you come over right now? You can? Great! I have to run to the store, can you wait 45 minutes for me?"

I offer a $25 discount if they pay the entire bill in cash.

"Oh! I don't have enough cash on me. Can you follow me to the bank and I'll get it for you?"

Have you ever worked on one of these before?

1) No, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night

2) No, but I watched someone work on one of these. It was kinda boring so I didn't watch the whole thing.

"Are you going to be able to get that back together?"

"Will it be cheaper if my husband helps you take the oven out of the wall?"

"How did that get in there?"

"I don't know what is wrong with it, the wife/mother/owner made the service call"

"What do you mean it's not covered by the warranty, the salesman said it would be?"

" My husband in an engineer"

"I'll be watching to make sure there are no screws left over"

"will this take long? I have another appointment in 10 minutes..."

"I left the door open, but my daughter is home, she's 16"

"some guy from another company ordered these parts, but never came back..."

You need some tools? Here I have mine.

What did you do to fix it?

Where did you learn this stuff?

& the winner is "I think it's the timer."

Can you fix my (appliance), I already bought the part.

I bought my (appliance) from Home Depot, don't they sell replacement parts ?

my old fridge was 20 years old and never had a thing go wrong with it
ok so where is that fridge ??
oh it died

you know i do charge extra to reassemble before i can diagnose whats wrng with it

so who removed the dishwasher from the cavity ?
my husband
thats great he gets to put it back in tonight after i have fixed it :)

do you know whats wrong with it yet ?
yeh its not cold

who installed the dishwasher ?
my husband he is an engineer
oh yes i can see that he is

yes no one left the door open on the fridge
ok here look at the ice here and look at this data see someone left the door open
oh that must have been my husband getting icecream

no we didnt put the wrong detergent in the dishwasher

pulling out a pile of rubbish from washing machine
you do realise that i cant put this through extended warranty
oh ok runs off and yells at kids

ok mate i'll tell you why your freezer isnt freezing food
thats because your freezer is actually a fridge :D

"My son is handy, do you need a helper?"

"Will you take your shoes off?"

"My freezer is warm, but the refrigerator side is working perfectly."

"Will that fix the refrigerator too?"

"They told me at the store that I could put chicken bones in the dishwasher."

"Do you fix ceiling fans?"

"Oh, I thought you were a plumber...so what are you?"

"I can get the part for $4 on Amazon."

"It looked so easy on YouTube."

"Company X doesn't have a service charge, why do you?"

"I work at a bank consulting for small business, your service is too high, it should be $35."

Two more, after quoting the price from book or experience.


Why so much, I only paid this much for it.

Why so much, 1)you did not do anything. or 2)you did not spend much time on it,

It looked easy to repair, why so much.

Your crazy that's too much (after spending an hour tracing down a short in a hot garage with no ventilation)

Joe on Craigs list has a $20 service charge. (Why do you call me then) I'm not to sure about Joe. (( Really I had this conversation))

I love to hear this one, I won't bother you while you are working, then every couple of minutes "how is it going?" "Is it fixed yet?"

Source: Things customers say while you're working...

Appliance Repair Pricing Systems: Comparing Flat Rate vs. Time and Materials

appliance service calls and 3 more...
After reading a lively and long-lived discussion about flat-rate vs. time and materials pricing at another blog that Brother Durham brought to my attention, Mrs. Samurai felt The Calling to weigh in and write up her own opus magnum on the topic. We decided to post it here at my blog since she wants hers to be mostly about food, home, and health-related topics. So I'm posting it here under her by-line. It's a great read! Whether you're a professional appliantologist or a client of a professional appliantologist, I think you'll find it a thoughtful, informative, and fun read.

Appliance Repair Pricing Systems: Comparing Flat Rate vs. Time and Materials

by Mrs. Samurai, www.MrsSamurai.com

Most people are familiar with the “time and materials” method (TMM) of calculating the fees for in-home appliance repair, but a method called the “flat-rate system” (FRS) is gaining in popularity around the country. Many folks wonder how exactly the FRS works, and if one of these systems is better than the other. I’m gonna break it down for you, and go over the pros and cons of these systems.

Disclosure: Our service company, The Appliance Guru, uses the FRS. However, we don’t sell a flat-rate book or anything like that, so we don’t stand to gain one way or another with any particular recommendation. But since we researched this ourselves to arrive at our decision, I can share what we found out about both systems.

A summary of the Time and Materials method

The usual TMM fee for an in-home appliance service call is calculated by adding 3 basic pieces of information together: the service fee, the part(s) cost, and the labor charge.

The service fee is a set amount that is charged to cover the trip to the house and the effort and expertise it takes to diagnose the problem. (Some people refer to this as the fee to “come and look at it”, but that’s an absurdly simplistic way to describe the troubleshooting process!) Service fees for coming to diagnose most standard residential appliances may range from about $55 to $95, depending on the area.

The labor charge will be based on the actual time spent doing the repair multiplied by the hourly rate. This rate will also vary according to area, and should be disclosed up front. Also, there may be a minimum time that will be charged, such as a half hour. The part(s) cost will be a retail price, not the actual wholesale price that the servicer paid for the part.

Some experienced servicers are able to give a “not to exceed” quote on a repair beforehand, so the customer has an understanding of the upper limit of the cost of the repair and has some protection against unexpected time delays. Others do not do this and will just charge based on how long the repair actually takes.

What is the Flat-rate system?

Although the FRS is fairly new to the appliance repair scene, many other trades have used a similar system for a long time. Auto mechanics usually have standard “book rates” for certain tasks, rather than charging each customer the actual time (labor) it takes to do a repair.

The FRS is pretty straightforward. When the appliance servicer diagnoses the machine and determines what repair is needed, he will look up the fee for the particular repair in a book and then quote the customer that price for the repair. For example, if a widget on an ACME washer needs to be replaced, the servicer would look in the section for ACME washers, find the task “replace widget”, and the total cost for the completed repair will be listed beside it. There occasionally can be some add-ons if, for example, the washer is located in such a tight little closet that either it will take a lot more effort or a second man is required to help maneuver it so that it can be serviced, in which case a “difficult access” or “second man” charge will be added. There are also discounts that will be made if more than one task is performed during the same service call.

The main point of the FRS is that the exact cost of the repair is quoted up front to the customer, so that they can make a fully-informed decision about going forward with the repair. If a customer decides not to do the repair, then typically the servicer will charge a diagnostic or service fee of some amount that was disclosed up-front, similar to the service fee I mentioned in the TMM description.

How are the Flat Rates calculated?

The most common appliance repair flat-rate book on the market is called The Original Blue Book Major Appliance Job Rate Guide. According to the publisher’s website, the primary elements that comprise the rates in the guide are: “parts, time & labor, equipment, predictable and unpredictable circumstances surrounding specific jobs, inventory management, education/training, office staff, advertising, insurances, travel time to and from the customers home, and all service vehicle expenses.” (appliancebluebook.com)

Essentially, the FRS is similar to TMM in that the labor, time, and parts are all factored into the price for the repair. Similarly, an accurately determined labor rate for a TMM servicer will factor in all of the additional costs of doing business listed above. Obviously, in order to stay in business, any company needs to adequately price their services in order to cover all of the expenses involved, and since this can be a complicated calculation to make, the FRS is an attractive and easy pricing solution for repair companies.

What’s important in choosing a servicer

First of all, the pricing system that a service company uses is NOT the most important consideration the customer should make. Neither system will compensate for a technician who is incompetent, inconvenient, or dishonest. Either system can work well for a technician who runs a good business. The first things you should learn about a prospective appliance repair business is not the pricing, but rather their experience, convenience, guarantees, and the like. If they are a good company with well-trained technicians, then you will likely be charged a fair rate. It may not be the cheapest rate, but as we all know you usually get what you pay for.

Appliance repair - what you need to know about this trade

One other important point before we go into the pros and cons is that you should understand how the appliance repair trade is evolving, and how it is different from other skilled trades such as plumbing and electric.

For one thing, there are hundreds of different models of appliances out there. Having a reasonable inventory of parts along with all the technical bulletins, manuals, and other up-to-date information on all of these requires both time and financial resources to manage. A servicer who does not keep up with inventory and information will be less likely to be able to complete your repair in a timely or competent manner.

Also, the fact that modern appliances are getting increasingly complicated, particularly with all of the electronic control boards and advanced features, makes training and after-hours research a regular part of any technician’s schedule. Gone are the days when a general handyman or tradesman in another specialty can do a lot of appliance repair tasks quickly and effectively.

One other consideration is that the average day for an appliance repair tech involves many more trips between job sites as compared to a plumber or electrician. This extra time driving between jobs decreases the “billable hours” available during a typical weekday.

Because of these unique characteristics of the appliance repair trade, the rates for appliance repair (whether calculated via TMM or the FRS) often run higher than the hourly rates charged by different types of tradesmen such as plumbers or electricians.

Enough already! Which pricing system is better?

If all other qualities of an appliance repair company are equal, is one pricing system better than the other?

First of all, you should understand that in a sense both methods result in some degree of “averaging out” of the cost of jobs. Let me explain what I mean.

For example, the cost of a particular task charged by a company using the FSM will be the same no matter how slow or fast, experienced or inexperienced the technician. So every customer will pay essentially an averaged-out price for that repair. A widget replacement will cost $X regardless of whether it took the tech 10 minutes or an hour to complete it.

Alternatively, a TMM servicer will charge the exact same hourly rate for a repair regardless of the amount of training or expertise that particular repair requires. Hourly rates are calculated to adequately cover all costs of doing business, which includes ongoing training and equipment for increasingly complicated electronics and machines. Yet even the simplest of repair jobs will be charged the same hourly rate as the most complicated, even though plenty of repairs on older machines do not require particularly advanced skills, ongoing training, or expensive test equipment. The FRS is able to take these details into account for each particular job, whereas the TMM is not, because the FRS pricing takes into account the level of skill (training) required for a particular job, not just how long it takes to actually perform the task itself.

Here’s a summary of what customers like about flat-rate pricing:
  • The exact repair cost is quoted up front, which makes the “repair or replace” decision easier to make and gives the customer more of a feeling of being in control of the situation.
  • The standardization of prices prevents a price “penalty” for a slower technician or one who doesn’t have the part on the truck and will need to make a second trip.
  • The knowledge that the price is an accurate reflection of the actual skills, effort, and equipment needed for that particular job is reassuring.
I would also point out something people might not think of - since the flat-rate prices are calculated very carefully to cover all of an appliance repair company’s expenses (including training to stay up-to-date on new appliances) and provide a living wage for the servicers, the businesses that use this system are more likely to stay in business for the long term. That’s important if you have found a company that you like! If your favorite tech throws in the towel because he just can’t make ends meet, then where are you?

Here’s what people like about time and materials pricing:
  • Seeing the cost of the part and the labor itemized gives a feeling of transparency.
  • Knowing how much a technician is charging hourly allows them to judge if they think it is reasonable, often by comparing to other servicers (as I mentioned earlier, this is generally not a valid comparison if you are comparing an appliance tech to someone in a different field, such as a plumber or electrician).
Is one method cheaper than the other?

There is no good reason that - on average - the prices for either method should be cheaper than the other if they are all based on covering all the costs of doing business. We happen to have had the opportunity to compare our “book prices” with those of other appliance repair companies who work in our area and found that the differences were generally not significant and there was no consistent pattern to who was more or less expensive.

The only reason that some people will find lower prices with a company using the TMM is that they are undercharging for their services (and thus at risk for going out of business) or are skimping in various ways, such as not being insured, not keeping a well-stocked inventory of parts, not staying current on training, not guaranteeing their work, not having a live human answer the phone, not doing same-day scheduling, etc.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately you should choose your appliance tech based on the level of service he provides, not how he charges. If price is your most important consideration, then you will likely have to sacrifice some amount of convenience and quality to get a lower price.

If you have a choice between two equally good repair companies with different pricing structures, then you can use the above comparisons to decide which one would suit your temperament best.

A warning about buying cheap appliance parts from Amazon or Ebay

appliance parts, parts, generic and 1 more...
Like to shop around Amazon or Ebay for cheap stuff, including appliance parts? Did you know that you may be buying either cheap Chinese knock-off parts or used parts? Do these parts come with a one year replacement or refund warranty? No? Hmm... did you know that all parts purchased here at Appliantology.org are new, OEM parts that can be returned for a refund or replacement for 1 year, including electrical parts like circuit boards that have already been installed? Yeah, I know, it's insane! Yet, some people think they're being clever and saving a couple of shekels by purchasing parts through Amazon or Ebay. Here's a typical story of how that works out for people:

This guy comes here to Appliantology and gets free repair help. We link him to the genuine, new, OEM replacement part that comes with the 1 year return/refund policy. Does he buy the part through the link we provided? Noooo! He saved one and a half shekels buying it through some hack shop vendor of cheap Chinese knock-off parts on Amazon. Let's see how that worked out for him...

Sad news... I replaced the door latch assembly and the problem persists.

As soon as it starts draining after the rinse cycle, the "no spin" light comes on. When it's done draining, the washer shuts off.

Any other ideas?

Seems like a bad door latch assembly. Did you buy it through our part link here or somewhere else?

I bought it through Amazon from Carribean Appliance. They have good ratings and it sounds like they will replace the part without issue, but what a pain in the neck.

They sold you either a generic knockoff (did not come in a blue Electrolux bag) or a used door switch.

People give them a good rating because they don't know the difference between new OEM parts and generic knockoffs and don't think it matters. Your experience is one example of why it does matter.

I wouldn't trust any of the parts vendors on Amazon because you don't know what you're getting despite what's written on the product description page. Here's my experience with that: http://ymlp.com/zsTPYA

All the part links on this site are to new, OEM genuine replacement parts and are guaranteed for 1 year.

they will replace the part without issue, but what a pain in the neck.

Precisely. That's why it's false economy to buy generic knock-off parts from vendors on Amazon or Ebay. "Penny-wise and dollar-dumb," and my master taught me. You'll end up fixing it twice and paying in both time and aggra-dollars.

Don't suffer the sad fate of this poor schlep: only buy new, OEM parts, preferably from the people who are helping you troubleshoot and fix your appliance!

Source: washes, tumbles, rinses, drains, but NO final spin.

Reading wiring diagrams: How the Defrost Cycle works in a Danby refrigerator

Danby, defrost, circuit, diagram and 2 more...
Brother Reg elegantly steps us through the circuit diagram for this one.

When the Defrost cycle starts (Timer Motor pauses),
the Neutral goes through the Defrost Heater, Defrost Thermostat, and Thermal Fuse to Line.
Whenever the Defrost Thermostat "opens",
the Neutral still goes through the Defrost Heater, but now travels through the Timer Motor
and "seeks" the Line through the Compressor.(and Overload).
Motor resumes, but since the Motor is of a "high" resistance, the Heater hardly heats anymore,
until the Timer completes it's "Defrost timing", and then it switches the Neutral back to itself and to the Compressor.
If any of those parts aren't working, the Motor may not run at the specific time.

Posted Image

Source: Help Me Read This Wiring Diagram

Summary of the appliance repair search arsenal and capabilities available to you at Appliantology.org

search, site search, google

And as anyone who's spent any time searching this site knows, there's gold in them thar old topics!

That's why it's important to remember to use the site's google search box as well as the standard box. The google box will search and find older stuff as well as newer entries. But the wild card search parameters "*" doesn't work for numbers (this is a google shortcoming probably done to prevent their servers from bogging down searching for all occurences of jpt4* in an alpha string then billions of results if included in a numerical or alpha numerical string)

The main Appliantolgy search box will respect the wild card "*" for alpha-numerical searches but the searches are limited to entries made in the last year or so.

Source: How does a question get marked as answered?

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