I'm a rookie repairman. If I do something wrong, I'd expect to eat that cost. If I did what I think every other guy would do (a logical repair check list) to diagnose a machine, and then several purchased parts later, only to find that the unit is totaled, do I deserved to be paid for my time and the materials purchased?

I asked a similar question before and was left an interesting comment; someone asked whether I had quoted "replacing the parts" or "fixing the unit". Another answer was about the $25,000 Hammer Fix. Regarding that answer, if hitting it with a hammer doesn't work, who is ethically liable for the $25 hammer?

  • Just to clarify, the difference between this question and your previous question here and this one is that in the former, the repairman determined that the whatsit couldn't be fixed, and in the latter, the repairman had broken the whatsit either accidentally or through negligence. (I'm using hypothetical repairmen). Is that correct? Jun 26, 2014 at 4:03
  • No, it's basically the same question but I'm trying to narrow it down to "I've tried my relatively inexpensive fix, but that wasn't the prob. Turns out your unit is shot." I've never hired a repairman, would you still have to pay them? No, not negligence just plan aint gonna work no more. But it cost my time and money to find that out....The more I learn about it... CONTRACTS! but it's usually small jobs that most wouldn't use one for.
    – Mazura
    Jun 26, 2014 at 4:37
  • Yea that does sound like I broke it. This is not the case. Not sure how to word that it was "not recoverable before I ever touched it"
    – Mazura
    Jun 26, 2014 at 4:41

2 Answers 2


Spending money to find out if an item can be repaired is justifiable if the fee is reasonable compared to the cost of a replacement unit.

For example, I'd probably be willing to spend $100 to find out if a (not too old) $800 washing machine can be fixed. If the inspection and repair fee was $400 or more, I'd be more inclined to just go and buy a new machine.

As a customer, I don't have the skill to repair the washing machine myself so I am relying on the experience and advice of the repairman. If the repairman is telling me there is a good chance that the unit can be repaired for a reasonable cost, then I will be happy to pay the cost.

Of course there are no guarantees and if one part is repaired only to find there is a more serious problem, then I wouldn't hold the repairman responsible for this as I already authorised the initial repair. It would then be time to reassess whether to continue with repairing the machine or to cut my losses and buy a new one.


The repair person has every right to be paid, but it would help to be very clear in the first place. "This could be X or it could be Y. If it is X, it will cost $50 to fix. If X does not fix it, that means it is Y and it is not fixable.

Ethics aside, I think you will build a TON of goodwill by not always charging for such services. If my car mechanic was in the situation you describe, they would not charge me for labor. I recommend them to everyone.

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