Diagnosing a washing machine I thought it was the belt\idler pulley. They were purchased and installed but did not solve the problem. I have come to understand that it may be the drum bushing, clutch, or transmission. The dolor amount of those items, installed, may come to close to the price of a new unit. I don't really want to get into changing any of those as it basically becomes a tear down.

Now my question is what to do about payment. I have been paid to fix it already, having left it in working order the night before. The next day with a nice heavy load in it, it wouldn't spin and melted the belt. I consider myself handy but this repair would near the scope of my ability. I am considering refunding half the bill(for time spent?) less the price of the parts I purchased and having them call a pro or get a new unit.

I am new to 'contracting' out my skills but have been doing rehab\repair work for years.

How do repairmen bill for time and money spent on something only then to find out it's un-fixable?

  • I'm not sure I follow the full story here. Are you the freelancer? Or the client? – Canadian Luke Jun 24 '14 at 21:41
  • I am the repairman. Client happens to be an old friend, however I'm intrested to know how this is handled 'in the real world'. Is this where the "cost to show up' covers your time for inspection leading to "sry we can't fix that, so I'am only going to chagre you..." – Mazura Jun 24 '14 at 21:59
up vote 4 down vote accepted

In my province, we have lots of mines and mills, and many of these sites generate tens of thousands of dollar per hour. The customers do not want any downtime whatsoever, but rarely want to pay for it. This leads to the hammar story.

Someone was called out to a mine to fix a critical machine. The entire time it was down, the mine was losing over $50,000. It was unacceptable! So the repair guy came, looked at the machine, hit it with a hammer, and left them a $25,000 bill.

Accounting was furious, and asked for a detailed invoice. Here's what they received

Hammer            $25
Knowing where to hit
the machine   $24,975

So knowledge and time have to paid for, no matter what. Materials should always be covered whenever used, as no one will ever purchase a used product. OK, maybe not "no one", but very few people would accept a used part in an industrial machine, unless they are extremely cheap people.

Your time is valuable, and you need two separate cost factors: your time (non-refundable), and supplies used (non-refundable). But, if the client complains, or what you did didn't fix it, what do you do?

This is where the cost of customer service comes in. Parts should always be charged (unless they're cheap enough you can "give them a discount"), but time is always negotiable. There is a reason there are quotes done, and that's to give an estimate as to the total cost of a service or repair.

If the customer asks you to go ahead with the estimate you give them, you do what you can. As soon as you realize it's going to be too much money, STOP! This is when you contact the customer with your new findings, and new recommendations. If you just discovered this, then first step is to call the client, and explain what you found, in plain English. Your recommendation is to scrap it? Fine, tell them what the cost would be anyways, but let them decide.

No one likes a surprise bill, so you need to make sure you are upfront, and tell your client as soon as you realize there's an issue. They will give you more respect, as they see it as you saving them more money, in the end.

Hope this helps!

  • If that didn't work and you broke the hammer, who should pay for the hammer? – Mazura Jul 1 '14 at 0:13
  • 1
    The contractor. But in this story, it's his tool, not the client's – Canadian Luke Jul 1 '14 at 0:24

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