Expensive capacitor

Page 1 of 4  
This morning my heat pump outside unit was not running. Not having any parts and the parts stores closed I called an Air condition service company. Fellow came out and found the trouble as soon as he took off the cover plate. A bad dual section capacitor.
While talking to him I mentioned I knew a lot about electrical work being an electrician in a large company. He asked me to guess the cost of the capacitor. I guessed about $ 50 thinking I was allowing for a good a markup.
Turned out it was $ 369. The call to just come out was $ 89. He did check the refrigerant pressures and temperatures after he go the unit running. That made the call around $ 468. Everything was OK.
His explination for the high cost of the capacitor is that most people don't know about parts cost and they use the cost of parts to offset the service call. Beats charging $ 200 to come out in most peoples thinking.
He did give me a few hints about some things on the unit and said I may want to get online and order a capacitor and contactor so I will have them as that is what fails the most.
I did not mind that charge too much as he had to drive about an hour to get here. I did let him talk me into an extra $ 100 cleaning of the coils and checking out of the unit as I had not cleaned the coils . I put in the system about 9 years ago. Altogether he spent about 3 hours here and probably 2 hours driving, so I don't feel ripped off and have some education on the unit also.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Here it's $17.50 https://www.appliancezone.com/ShowProduct.aspx?ID 201&gclid=Cj0KEQjw58ytBRDMg-HVn4LuqasBEiQAhPkhuhHVV0DFYNd40efkni-AZUUsw-yzhCYkW7YsH_RMGdAaAkDT8P8HAQ
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 07/25/2015 10:45 PM, bob_villa wrote:

No problem marking up parts a bit but $369 for the capacitor is absurd.
OTOH: If the guy did not itemize the bill and got it running and just told me "parts and labor" $468...I'd probably say "fine".
Assuming the $89 was both travel and labor though...that on the other hand is on the low side.
I know that when I used to repair industrial equipment...no matter what...if the bill came out to less than $500 no one much cared... just so long as I got them up and running ASAP.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Appliance and HVAC repair ppl can be quite the rip artists.
We had a person sent out from our local Sears mail order center to look at my mom's 5-6 yr old failed Maytag refrigerator. I'd been doing my own appliance repair for yrs, so knew the approx value of many components. This guy wanted to charge $350+ for a evaporator fan motor. He then pitched a deal where we'd only pay $75 for the fan mtr, but slip him a check for another $100.
It was my mom's fridge and repair so I deferredy to her wish to go for the deal. If it had been up to me, Ida had the guy's job! Sounds like the OP stumbled upon yet another douche-bag repairman. 8|
nb
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It does not matter if he have Itemize or not, what does matter is bottom line. if he have spent 5 hour there you got way chip. Good Tech. Register with State as contractor will charge $100/our plus material plus user tax then you figure out the cost. Don't forget his expanses Vehicle and cost of insurances etc. etc.
"philo" wrote in message
On 07/25/2015 10:45 PM, bob_villa wrote:

No problem marking up parts a bit but $369 for the capacitor is absurd.
OTOH: If the guy did not itemize the bill and got it running and just told me "parts and labor" $468...I'd probably say "fine".
Assuming the $89 was both travel and labor though...that on the other hand is on the low side.
I know that when I used to repair industrial equipment...no matter what...if the bill came out to less than $500 no one much cared... just so long as I got them up and running ASAP.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sunday, July 26, 2015 at 1:31:37 PM UTC-4, tony944 wrote:

I see the $89 advertised here a lot in NJ, for an AC "tuneup". I agree, that doesn't seem to be a profitable number. So, either they are honest and know that for X people that take that offer they will find enough real problems that need fixing to increase the bill, or they are scammers and find problems that don't exist. I guess the real problems could start with people who don't change their own filter, they tell you that you need a new one and it's jacked up. But a lot of systems I see here now have electronic, so there is no filter.
The AC thing is really, really bad. They can show up, tell you the system was low, needed 2 pounds added, charge you whatever they please, and almost no homeowners could know otherwise. So, the $89 special becomes $250 or worse.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In alt.home.repair, on Sun, 26 Jul 2015 07:39:00 -0500, philo

In college around 1965, my clock radio, with tubes and a Telechron clock, with automatic and a 60-minute sleep setting, that was about 6 years old, developed a hum. At the time I didnt' recognize the standard 120cps hum (I think it's twice the 60cps of house current).
I took it to the repair shop at 53rtd and Kimbark, and he told me 15 for a new capactitor and 15 for labor. That was a lot of money then, especially for a college student, so I asked if I could buy the part from him and put it in myself. He could have said No, and I don't know what I would have done then, but instead he got mad at me, raised his voice and talked fast. I think he said I was another college student. So I had little choice but to leave.
I waited until a vacation when I got back home, where I could use my mother's car, and found the part, and it was under a dollar, and soldered it in with my wood-burning iron.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

you could get a new one back then.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In alt.home.repair, on Sun, 26 Jul 2015 16:58:00 -0400, "Ralph Mowery"

I doubt it. Things like that were more expensive then but I don't know how much more. I never went shopping for radios or almost anything.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks Bob. I plan on getting a capacitor and contactor on line to have around as a spare. The origional capacitor lasted about 9 years, but hard telling how long the replacement will last. Could go 20 years or 2 years.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 7/25/2015 10:27 PM, Ralph Mowery wrote:

I'm sure that you know that saying, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)? A month or so back I had to have our Central AC serviced as it would not start up.
Owner of the company came out - same people that installed the now 10 yr old Lennox system. Removed access plates in the air handler unit checked relays there and finally traced the problem to my wife's incessant dusting and cleaning. Seems she had accidentally, slightly displaced the thermostat unit with timer, etc. from the mounting plate. (really weird since it continued to properly control the heating side). A hand removal and replacement of the thermostat and we were back in business.
As long as he'd come out I asked if he'd give the system a check. He did and measured the refrigerant level and found it within specs as I figured it would be. While inside the unit he spied the capacitor of which you speak. "Looks kinda grungy, let me check it." Out comes the test equipment and "It's on its last legs. Might as well replace it and save a service call later this summer or beginning of next year."
Go for it.
He was out at the house for about an hour all told. The total bill was $98.00
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 7/26/2015 7:26 AM, Unquestionably Confused wrote:

unit, I know who you will call.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 7/26/2015 9:06 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Damn straight. When we redid the system ten years ago. His bid for the Lennox was 40% cheaper than the other guy who bid a smaller capacity, less efficient unit.
Other than this and one time when a damn chipmunk got into the compressor housing and gnawed through the 24v control line, it's been trouble free and you can hang meat in the house on the hottest of summer days. Think the chipmunk escapade cost me $65 bucks for the service call, repair and a quick check of the refrigerant charge.
We refer his company (he's running, I think, seven trucks) to all our friends and everyone has the same experience. One of those rarities when you get fast, good AND cheap (well, pretty damn reasonable).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 26 Jul 2015 13:28:53 -0500, Unquestionably Confused

I've kept the phone numbers of all the good contractors I've used. The problem is, I've found by the time you need them again, they're gone. The guy who originally put in my furnace/AC 17 years ago is gone, the roofer who did my roof about 14 years ago, gone. Same with the guys who put in my windows, and the guy who did my electric service. That's how it's been for me personally. Haven't needed most of them but once. But they're gone now. When I needed a furnace motherboard 3 years ago, had to find another guy. Same when my roof when the ridge caps went bad recently. I didn't have a problem finding good men to do those fixes, but it would have been easier to go with the original guys. You don't *really* know they're good until the jobs done. IME you're hitting a window of time with contractors. When that window moves so far, those contractors are gone. The exception was my garage door, put in two years ago. It had trouble going up a few weeks ago. I couldn't figure it out so called the outfit that put it in. One of the guys who installed it came out in a couple hours. After some watching the door struggle to lift up, he got a mainboard for the Genie out his truck and swapped it. He was there about 10 minutes. No charge. Said there'd been a "recall" on the boards. But I'll probably never see that guy again.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In alt.home.repair, on Sun, 26 Jul 2015 22:23:58 -0500, Vic Smith

That's good service.

Very good service.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 07/25/2015 11:27 PM, Ralph Mowery wrote:

Almost four years ago I had a local HVAC company check out our furnace. The only thing he could find wrong was that the run capacitor's capacitance was down somewhat: 3.6uF instead of 5uF. I asked how much a replacement was: "$80 if it comes off the truck, but if you go to our office you can probably get one for less." Since I had replaced a dual capacitor on the A/C for only about $20 a couple of years previously, I declined to have the capacitor replaced. The new one I bought online cost $6 + $3 shipping.
Perce
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Saturday, July 25, 2015 at 11:27:37 PM UTC-4, Ralph Mowery wrote:

The problem though is the people who do know the cost of the capacitor, which is inflated 10X+, are going to go nuts. I would have told him no way I'm paying it. And it's also kind of interesting that he freely admits he's taking advantage of people's ignorance. Does this guy change the prices on the fly? Or does he have all the prices on all the parts jacked up 10X? If the latter, what would have happened if you needed 3 parts? It would be a $1000 call that should have been $300? Sorry, but I don't like this guy's business practices. And I'm not swayed by the fact that he had to drive an hour. How do you know where he was? He could have been at another customer 15 mins away and/or the next customer could be 10 mins away. Some customers will be around the corner, some far away. If he chooses to take the call and serve that area, then it should be factored in to the min service charge.

Amazing that could take 3 hours. It does support what I was saying in the thread I posted, that fixing a leak could quickly get very expensive. What would a guy like this do in that case? And IDK how the typical customer can protect themselves from service guys just jacking up prices 10x on all kinds of random parts and screwing them.
Also, you told him you were an electrician up front. I suspect the results here could have been far worse if you were a little old lady.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

heating and air servicing. They seem to have a standard of 5 levels of repair charges from what he said and on the billing paper. Each one goes to a higher price. They list the 5 levels and what is included on the bill but not the prices. He did what they call a level 2 . That would include the capacitor, contactor, or transformer. That is the 2 nd lowest charge range. It would have interisting to see what the breakdown of charges would have been if he replaced the capacitor and contactor.
He did tell me that the company thinks that they should have a billing charge of around $ 200 per hour to make the kind of money they should after expensives.
While talking with him, he told me the area he lived in and I know that is over an hour to my house, but he probably did not come from home. I asked him what roads he was comming down so I could give him good directions.
This is one of the things that happens at the worse times. Found out about the air not working about 9 oclock on a Friday night. Too dark to look at the outside unit that was not running. No parts places open that I know of on Saturday. Temperature in the low 90's. Wife complaining about being hot and did not want to wait 2 days.
One thing about this fellow is that he seemed honest in what he was saying and not BS ing me.
I do plan on taking his advice and ordering a capacitor and contactor on line . Should be able to get both shipped to me for less than $ 50. That way I will be prepaired if it craps out on me again of a Friday night.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Been there, wore out that t-shirt. It's a major problem in the hi-tech industry.
I usta maintain/operate a lotta hi-tech equipment. One unit had a 10 turn 100K pot go bad. I pulled it and noted it was an insanely heavy-duty component. Bakelite casing, machined brass end-caps, ball bearings, etc. This sucker woulda survived a drop from the space shuttle!
I went to our local emergency electronics outlet (Fry's) and found a similar potentiometer, only made entirely of plastic and about 1/5th the size/wt of the original. IOW, realy cheap ($10). I compared this with the price of of a replacement part from the equip mfr ($110). I decided to go with the OEM part, despite the higher price. What I got a week later from the mfr was the cheapo plastic Fry's pot at 1000% mark-up! I sent it back and bought the same part from Fry's and saved $100. Ripoff dirtbags!
nb
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Too bad the OEM part was not really the OEM part.
The best rip off story is one that I read in the paper about 20 years ago. A military electronic unit had a bad diode that could be bought for less than $ 1 anywhere and less if looked around for. As the supply depot did not have any , they went to the manufactor of the equipment. Said they did not have any and the maker of the diodes said they did not have any but would have to make some. I don't recall the price, but it cost them over $ 50,000 to make as this is abatch type process and they can't make just one, but have to make over 1000 of them. Just as wanting a piece of cake, you can't make just one piece, you have to cook the whole thing.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.