If you have a heating, air conditioning, or water heating question, you can
also post it in the 'alt.hvac' newsgroup. It's also a public newsgroup, and
is open to anyone, including home owners. A lot of guys there are extremely
knowledgeable and happy to help. There are also a few idiots, just like
other newsgroups. If you find one to be offensive, simply put them in your
'Block Sender' list, and you won't have to read their posts again.
I think it does the industry a great disservice if a home-owner (someone's
potential customer) goes to alt.hvac and comes away with the impression that
everyone in the HVAC field is an asshole. If this happens, they are more
likely to try to fix something themselves. If they ask an intelligent
question, and it's answered intelligently, they'll come away with a
different impression, and will be more likely to call an HVAC contractor.
I understand that it gets tiring answering the same questions over and over,
but you don't have to. You can either ignore the home owner's question, or
(better yet) politely tell them that the question has been asked and
answered many times and they should do a Google newsgroup search.
I see no reason to bring yourself down to another person's level. If
everyone were to block certain senders, it would piss them off, knowing that
their comments were being ignored.
I can understand your frustration. I would also like you to perhaps
look at it from the otherside. For a 1600 sq ft ranch, I am being
quoted over 10,000 dollars. That is a lot of money for me and my
family. I think posters are looking for advice from someone who is a
professional and can be objective as to price and reliability. If your
business is in Texas, and you tell me in Va that what I am paying is a
fair price, that is all I want to hear. You dont see AC units competing
like car dealerships. Yet the price of an AC unit can cost as much as a
car! I think all consumers should do their homework, but with out these
groups, it can be hard to do. It seems as though the guys that know the
least can talk the best game in town. The other thing that is hard to
comprehend is why a goodman unit can be purchased off the internet for
under 3 k, yet a professional shop wants 10k to install the same unit
if they provide it and wont touch it if they dont provide it. I cant
quite understand that concept. I run an automotive repair shop. If a
customer brings me an engine and wants to pay my hourly rate for me to
install it, I have no problem with that. I simply tell him there are no
waranties and I will be paid for my labor regardless of the outcome.
(He could have brought me a bad engine). I think the main reason most
shops wont install a user purchased unit is because they would have to
charge $500 an hour or more to make the same amount as if they provided
the unit. Dr...I would really be interested in hearing your view on
this. I want to get into the HVAC profession when I get back to the
states, and your views could really help to enlighten me.
If we didn't charge markup then we would have to charge a higher hourly
rate. That is the bottom line, and seems that you've already answered
that question. Since our profit margin depends upon markup (that's just
the way it is commonly done), installing a customer supplied unit cuts
into our profits, that is, unless we charge exactly the same as we would
had we provided the unit, minus our cost for the unit of course. IOW,
the homeowner would have been better off letting us sell them the unit.
The added benefit is that for the same final cost we would warranty the
system for 1 year, parts and labor. We can also typically get the
systems at lower cost, thus the customer's total will actually be
greater than it would had we supplied the system. I pulled the same
thing on myself when I put in my own well system. I could have had it
done professionally for what I paid for supplies alone. Lesson learned.
If you would install a motor that some customer brought in for your
standard hourly rate, then you're screwing yourself over. By the time
you count overhead you've probably lost money on the deal, unless of
course you're a shadetree mechanic with no overhead.
Looking for advice on brands is fine, but no one can tell you prices unless
they service that particular area. An employee's hourly wage in some areas
is higher than what some company's entire hourly service charge is.
Companies who only install equipment can do it cheaper because they usually
do a lousy, quick job. The more % of time a company spends on service, the
more overhead they have. There's more travel time, vehicle wear and tear,
parts on the truck, etc. (A customer doesn't want to hear that they have to
pay for you to run for a part.)
People who hire the cheapest installer usually end up calling a good service
company because the installer won't return their calls. These are the same
customers who want a part for free because "the unit is only 6 months old,
and it should be under warranty". They have no idea what's involved in
returning a warranty part.
An auto repair business is different than HVAC. Most repairs are based on
the hours the 'flat rate' book says it should take. Auto repair shops rarely
have a part, and if it isn't delivered right away, they start working on
something else. Almost all of the hours are billable hours.
There's also the liability issue. Insurance companies call this "reasonable
care". You're the 'professional', and should check the system before leaving
the home, no matter who installed it.
Each year, there are thousands of HVAC companies that go out of business
because they have no idea how much to charge to make enough money to live
on. People rarely get rich in the HVAC service business.
I'm going to second that. When all is said and done, without questions
being posted from those not in the field, or from those in the field but
attempting to learn, the group fizzles. From now on I'll answer
homeowner questions in alt.hvac as long as you have:
1) done at least *some* homework
2) don't expect step by step instructions on DYI projects (It isn't a
3) don't lie about your intentions and/or past history of the project or
4) don't ask for name brand comparisons or opinions
I'll add to this list as more courtesies on the homeowner's part become
Come on Bob, it's a well known fact to anyone who bothers to waste time
reading that NG that any "homemoaner" who makes the mistake of posting
there gets attacked by Paul Milligan (the wannabe electrician) and his
band of idiot flexduct boys (because that's the only kind of duct that
they know how to install). Sorry, but you're just setting folks up
for undeserved verbal abuse with your post.
Unsuspecting homeowners are going to go to alt.hvac anyway. There are
hundreds of millions of English speaking people in the world. They should be
made aware of the fact that there are some assholes there, and told how to
ignore them. ""Forewarned is forearmed." The alternative is to say nothing
and let it happen anyway.
Thats like saying you know that sending people to the gas chamber was
bad but you are going to keep sending them there anyways.
It kinda makes you a dickhead for setting them up for that?
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