I'm dubious about what I'm being charged.
Weeks ago, when it was very hot, the main circulating fan in my
furnace rattled a lot, and I tried to remove the motor but couldn't
for some reason. I called my oil company and said that the furnace
rattling a lot when it was on. I don't debate that they said my
furnace service plan didn't cover this, because it was the summer
They had me call another number iirc, or maybe they transferred me.
Regardless, when I talked to the next person, I told him that it was
rattling, probably the fan blade, and how much would it be?
He said $79 for an estimate or a diagnosis charge, I don't recall what
he called it.
They came out the next day iirc and the guy turned it on, listened,
and then set to removing the fan moter with the blade (squirrel cage).
After a while, he was ready to leave, to go get the new blade. I said
to him, I could go get the fan blade myself and put it on myself to
save myself money. (Two of my friends each have a business, each with
account at the same supply house he said he was going to.) He said
that it wouldn't cost any more for him to do it.
A different guy returned the next day and he finished the job, handed
me a second invoice that said 222 dollars. His invoice and the one
the previous day each gave arrival and departure times and the
time-spent on each was 45 minutes, 90 minutes total.
When I got the bill, it was 365 dollars, as if the blade (for a common
Carrier furnace) was 143 dollars. That seems like a lot, and retail
it is more like 50, 60 dollars I think.
My big problem is that they never told me anything more than 79
dollars (plus the part), even though I had asked the price. They
assumed I wanted to go through with it at whatever price they charged.
When the first guy said it wouldn't cost any more, he meant any more
than 222 dollars, even though he had never given that number to me.
I found out eventually that they have a flat rate of 222 for this job,
which means they could have told me the price if it was the fan blade,
which I told them it was. When I first asked what the price was. If
not then, when they figured it out. They now call the 79 the
diagnosis charge, and maybe the difference from an estimate is they
think they never had to tell me the price in advance.
How would you react? What is a fair price to pay them? If they had
told me 222 for labor, I would have paid the 79, told them No, and
tried much harder to fix it myself. 222 for 90 minutes work (plus
picking up my part while they get others) seems like an awful lot.
I may have to pay them more, but if it is much more, I'll change oil
companies for the coming year.
I certainly don't feel like they should do any more repairs for me,
and the only reason I don't shop around for the cheapest oil is that
in order to get the service plan, I have to buy all my oil from them.
Thanks a lot.
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Most oil companies exist to sell oil...not parts. Around here, we have ONE
out of several dozen oil supply companies that have a good service crew.
Anyone that can or does give a price over the phone for problems they cant
see on a furnace, or AC unit, is a fool.
Training helps too right?Not being a smartass, but I havent seen a fan
assembly that cant be out in 5 minutes flat in most cases...most Carriers
take about 10 due to control board locations, and Lennox take up to an hour,
due to piss poor design.
And that is where I would have stopped, handed you a bill, gave you the fan
blade, and said, you can put it back on too.
Do you know that the cages are all different? Do you know that the guy
behind the counter is clueless in most cases? Do you realize that even
though the dimensions might be the same, the pitch and air flow will be
For a Totaline blower? Not even...I just looked in several catalogs,
Totaline included, and I cant find a single blower assembly that retails for
and they stated, the seventy nine for diagnostic...did you ask when they
found the problem what the price would be for the REPAIR?
And you didnt stop them, at all...a DIAGNOSTIC FEE is NOT a REPAIR FEE.
What YOU said it was...hold on...I have had more than one person tell me
what he THOUGHT it was, and 99% of the time, its not. Most times, its not
You got lucky, but then again....perhaps, just maybe, all that was wrong was
a set screw was loose. Did they replace the cage, or the motor?
There is NO fan blade in a furnace. There is a fan cage, AKA blower
No one can tell you the price in advance, UNTIL the units problem is located
and a solution found.
Anyone that thinks otherwise, is kiding themselves...and in many cases,
there may be other problems that show themselves when the most obvious is
repaired....most notably when electrical in a unit is fried.
Write the check???
What they asked for in this case...your numbers are not adding up however..
222, + 79, does not come out to your total...flat rate or not.
Ummm....222 isnt just for labor I think..you got a flat rate you stated,
that means part included.
Now..you just stated why so many companies charge a diagnostic fee....or a
truck charge. Those things do not run on air....nor do the employees checks
To most companies, particularly oil suppliers...big deal. Really.
I loose a few customers each year...I gain many more...your loss of a few
hundred a year wont even be noticed by them....really....you can change
companies now, and you MIGHT get a call asking if you want your tanks filled
this fall, but unless your set up on contract with them, you wont.
Thats your choice....there are prob up to 40 more companies in the yellow
pages that charge much more than they did.
There are prob a few hacks out there that might have charged less, but ended
up costing you more. OK..its a simple blower you say...sure...but...was the
pitch right, was the airflow correct, and you ARE set up on a service
contract right? That means, come fall, they are going to go over it and
check things like heat rise, and such, to insure that the airflow is correct
and wont cause a heat exchanger failure.
A hack takes what little he asks for, runs and never looks back...and when
his repair causes other problems, you are stuck...and many times, costs you
much more than you would have paid originally for it done correctly.
That statement alone, says volumes.
You JUST summed it up. You didnt ask questions, you didnt follow through,
and you without realizing it, agreed to whatever they charged.
Did you pay the bill? If so, consider it done.
If you didnt, you can try to talk to the owner of the company, but I am
gonna tell you something...you got a deal on that replacement...from what I
can tell. You didnt state model numbers, or the EXACT part replaced, but a
blower motor replacement can be much higher on some units, (got a few that
the WHOLESALE price on the motor is over $500) and the cage can be close to
When we show up, people know we charge, and stand behind our work. I never
claim to be the least expensive. On some repairs, we are quite high, but
there are some repairs that only a handful of people in the area can do
correctly. I have been on some jobs where the homeowner was actually happy
to pay the bill ofer the repair, since I hear all the time, Wow, the other
guy was in and out and didnt check ANY of that after.
These are the same people that know service can be had for less, but not
done as well.
I dont know the company you used, I cant say a thing about the quality of
the techs...I can only say, that you seem to be suffering from buyers
remorse, and in that case, there is nothing I can say that will help. You
kept talking about going and buying the part yourself, and thats great if
you can. Around here, no homeowner can buy a part from a supply house,
unless hes state licenced. There was one down the road a couple of years
ago, that did. The EPA came in and bought 4 jugs of R22 and some small parts
from them, and they are now working for someone else, paying off the fines
for selling refrigerant to unlicenced persons...another 30 years and they
might have it paid off.....and as far as parts go...the locals chose not to
sell to untrained persons due to several reasons...Johnstone AINT AutoZone,
where if you make a mistake, you can take it back.
WE cant even take stuff back once its installed....they dont deal with parts
changers, as anyone can do that.
While I understand where you are coming from, I see mistakes on both sides,
but the price....its fair.
The section below was retained, as that's the part I'd like to comment on.
I had forced warm air/oil heat in my house when I bought it in 1987. Went
through 4 oil companies for various reasons like higher prices than my
neighbors and poor service. OK, that's my choice.
I also paid for a service contract, plus a separate oil tank insurance
policy, for the heating system only. I added air conditioning to it in 1988
and can understand why the service contract would not want to cover the
blower motor in the cooling season. I was lucky - when mine burned out, it
was the first week of April, and the heat tried to come on, so the new motor
WAS covered under the contract.
In the 13 years of having annual service performed on the system, every
technician would replace the oil filter at the tank and clean the housing it
sits in. They'd pull the nozzle assembly out, take it to their truck,
perform "magic service" on it, vacuum out the combustion chambers and
chimney line, replace the nozzle, fool around with the electrodes, then
struggle trying to put it back into the burner (a Stewart Warner, and thank
god it's no longer alive). They'd fire things up, look at the flame with a
mirror, put a thermometer into the stack, draw some smoke through the paper
filter, suck some fumes into the CO sensor, fudge some numbers, read a value
on the chart, and come up with a bogus efficiency value, usually 78%. Since
I had an electronic air cleaner, they would occasionally pull that, hose it
down, and put it back. This type of service usually took a bit over an hour.
Often, the next day, I'd start to exhibit delayed ignition, i.e. the burner
would turn on, but the flame wouldn't ignite for up to 10 seconds later, so
I'd have to call them back to come readjust the electrodes so they put the
spark in the path of the flame, not near the grounded support collar.
My point in all of this, incase you didn't notice, is that their main
concern was the oil burner itself. Not once did they offer to check the fan
speed, plenum temperature, safety switches, etc. I adjusted the fan speed
myself for what appeared to be a comfortable setting during heating and
cooling seasons, and also adjusted the fan thermostat to extract the most
heat out of the system. Never had a problem along those lines, and I'm the
first one to admit that I don't know a thing about temp rise, air pressures,
back pressure, volume, etc. Just a homeowner with a pile of tools and a
reasonably logical brain in his head.
I would have been impressed if the technicians knew anything about such
settings. Maybe some companies keep an expert around just for this reason,
but the techs that are sent out to do the dirty work just don't bother.
Up here, my experience may not be typical, but I can recall similar
experiences when still living with my parents. Perhaps the HVAC people down
in Carolina do it a lot better than the ones up in Connecticut, where oil
prices run the business, not the service.
In 1999 I replaced the old unit with a Lennox natural gas unit. No more
service plans. No more tank insurance. I can clean (and just replaced the
power pack two weeks ago) the electronic air filter myself. I adjusted the
fan speed myself which made a world of difference to the cooling system.
I don't have anything else to add regarding the original post except that
some companies will charge a diagnosis fee which might be rolled into the
total bill if they end up doing the repair at the same time. Doesn't seem
like that was the case for this homeowner.
In alt.home.repair on Mon, 21 Jul 2003 12:12:46 -0700 "CBHvac"
Thanks for replying.
Your opinion, as someone in the business, obviously is that I should
I'd like to know what other consumers here think is fair.
I asked them the price over the phone. They could have given me an
hourly rate, but they chose not to bill hourly. The question is still
on the table. What will the price be? I agreed to pay for the
diagnosis, so it is their responsiblity to give me the diagnosis, the
flat price, and ask if I want to have it repaired, at that price.
How do they know I even had 365 dollars to pay them? That's one
reason a buyer is supposed to agree to a purchase in advance.
Do I have to have a lawyer with me when the repair man comes?
If emailing, please let me know whether
or not you are posting the same letter.
Change domain to erols.com, if necessary.
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