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Old 13-10-2011, 15:03   #16
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Re: Please allow me to vent

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But he did do something - he diagnosed the problem. Diagnoses are not that easy, and the OP needed one. He didn't fix the problem because the shop could not do that type of work. Nothing wrong with that in concept.

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Old 13-10-2011, 15:05   #17
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

I've had jobs done that were more than I expected. I, too, had failed to ask what the hourly rate was. I paid without comment.

Ultimately, one of the things we also need to understand is that along with the work, we're paying for their knowledge and time. When your guy went to work that morning he was figuring on working a full day. So, should he not have been paid for his travel time? You could have paid less (or nothing) for someone else but if they weren't skilled, you'd still likely not have a diagnosis. That knowledge has to be worth something.

I suspect that the biggest issue is the size of the bill and the breakdown of that bill (mileage for instance). If so, refer again to my first comment.
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Old 13-10-2011, 15:23   #18
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

I have had shops charge me 1/2 hour travel time to walk down the dock and back, at the same cost as the Tech. actually working on my unit. They did perform, however, I will endeavor a little harder to resolve the problem myself next time. My only excuse was it was a new to me boat and the techs. had worked on the same system before, I did watch carefully and ask a lot of questions.
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Old 13-10-2011, 15:51   #19
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

Time is money. I still don't charge for travel time within a certain distance as many others do. Here in Florida it is true most Marine service companies prefer the larger yacht work. Sailors don't have the best of reputations. Though I would never take advantage of either, I do spend far more time with sail boats than the bigger power boats doing the same job. It's not cheap to operate a marine business, especially one that moves from marina to marina each day. It is frustrating to spend a lot of time explaining to owners what's wrong, the solutions, and the costs involved to fix what's needed just to have them say "I'll let you know". Then they call you several times after that wanting more advice which I gladly give just to find out they found some other guy to do the work $35 cheaper with the parts they found cheaper on the Internet. I'm old school, my business is built on repeat business. I have to treat all customers fair and give them the best service I can. Previous customers always get preferential treatment because it's getting harder to find loyal customers. But I am in business to pay my bills and hopefully have a few dollars left over so I can go sailing too. Thanks for allowing me to vent a bit as well.
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Old 13-10-2011, 16:19   #20
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

That's why I do my own maintenance.
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Old 13-10-2011, 16:33   #21
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired. Several years later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multimillion dollar machines.

They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine to work but to no avail. In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who had solved so many of their problems in the past.

The engineer reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine. At the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and stated, "This is where your problem is".

The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again.

The company received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for his service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges.

The engineer responded briefly: One chalk mark $1 Knowing where to put it $49,999 It was paid in full and the engineer retired again in peace.

Fortunately, you didn't hire a Lawyer:
A man phones a lawyer and asks, "How much would you charge for just answering three simple questions?"
The lawyer replies, "A thousand dollars."
"A thousand dollars!" exclaims the man. "That's very expensive isn't it?"
"It certainly is," says the lawyer. "Now, what's your third question?"

Notwithstanding, $2/mile is MUCH too much for travel expenses, under a portal to portal billing scheme. Should be well under $0.50/mile, as previously noted.
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Old 13-10-2011, 16:37   #22
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

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I called a reputable dealer to send a maintenance tech out to look at my generator. He was here for 1/2 hour, told me the problem (didn't fix a thing) and drove off.

The bill was for $350!! Apparently, they charge by the hour from when they leave the shop to when they return to the shop, PLUS $2 per mile!! By my calculations, they are charging me $220 per hour while DRIVING!!! Please tell me that this is nuts, or that I should just bend over and take it.

Whatever hourly rate a person charges, he or she will charge it for travel time. It's the same with Boat US -- here, $170 an hour, which includes the time it takes for the towboat to get to you. Really important to find out the hourly rate ahead of time.
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Old 13-10-2011, 16:46   #23
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

I have a min. that I charge for my work and a mileage zone (10)..my friend has a tree buisness his min. is 250.00 but that is for a bucket truck...if all the guy did was show up and look and then told you what the problem was seems like he could cut ya a little slack and charge time plus travel ie a min. charge ...try to nego. a better price all they can say is NO...DVC
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Old 13-10-2011, 16:55   #24
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Some outfits are up front. They say a technician is on the way we are charging you x for the visit. Some the ones I only call because they are specialists bill by the minute. Now if your head hurt and you called a doctor. Doctor you say my head hurts. I'll be right there says doc. He finds that you need water and aspirin suggests you need water and aspirin but gives you none. Can he bill you? Just because you called a mechanic not a doctor doesn't mean they should nit get some pay.
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Old 14-10-2011, 05:50   #25
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

Thanks everyone for sulking with me!

So after I calmed down, I called the manager. He stated that I was billed for 2.5 hours when I should have only been billed for 2. Then I asked if they really charge $220 per hour for driving, and he said that was correct. Wowee....I'm in the wrong business.

I told him that I completely understand that his workers should be compensated for the drive as well as the advice, but that $350 for what was done was ludicrous. He simply asked me what I thought was fair, so I said that I would pay $200, even though that was still steep, in my opinion. He agreed to that.

So I have officially joined the ranks of the cheap sailors. But I'd much rather be a cheap sailor than a complete sucker, paying whatever someone bills me.
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Old 14-10-2011, 06:32   #26
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

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Thanks everyone for sulking with me!

So after I calmed down, I called the manager. He stated that I was billed for 2.5 hours when I should have only been billed for 2. Then I asked if they really charge $220 per hour for driving, and he said that was correct. Wowee....I'm in the wrong business.

I told him that I completely understand that his workers should be compensated for the drive as well as the advice, but that $350 for what was done was ludicrous. He simply asked me what I thought was fair, so I said that I would pay $200, even though that was still steep, in my opinion. He agreed to that.

So I have officially joined the ranks of the cheap sailors. But I'd much rather be a cheap sailor than a complete sucker, paying whatever someone bills me.
You might as well try. The worst that can happen is that you'll hear "no." Many years ago my husband and I bought a low-mileage used car from a Chevrolet dealership. The warranty at the time was not transferable, and we knew that.

Nevertheless, when the engine threw a rod at 37,000, my husband wrote to protest. Chevrolet agreed. They paid for the new engine and we paid for the labor, essentially a 50/50 deal.
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Old 14-10-2011, 06:51   #27
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

i have mechanic I use regularly. A semi retired heavy duty mechanic who likes boats. I've been told he turns down a lot of work. I always pay cash and I've always been happy with his work. I've never felt like I'm being overcharged.

I bet there's a guy just like him near you
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Old 14-10-2011, 07:00   #28
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

Last week, I had a customer call and schedule us to come out and connect a PC to their network. So I make the 35 minute drive and show up and discover the issue is not that the PC needs to be connected to their network, but that they couldn't get Quickbooks on that PC to work.

It took about 10 seconds tell them how to fix it.

After they got the bill, (for only 1 hour labor, no mileage) I got a phone call complaining that I hadn't done anything and they didn't want to pay.

I asked that if it wasn't working when I got there, and it was working when I left, how can they say I didn't do anything? Just because I didn't pull out the toolbox or dig into the guts of the PC doesn't mean they didn't receive any value from me being there.

If I had known what the real issue was, I could have fixed the issue for them over the phone , and I probably wouldn't have billed them at all.
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Old 14-10-2011, 07:22   #29
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

It is normal to charge someone gate to gate. Most of my jobs were in the field and it would have been costly to not charge for travel. Think of it this way, I could sit in my shop and move between jobs and always stay on the money. Why would I want to drive out and fix your stuff and not get paid for going there? Consider the cost of fuel and other cost to running a truck and it is darn right expensive to make house calls. And if the bill adds up to be correct he is protected by mechanics liens in most state. It was not up to me to give an estimate to customers and I just about refused to do so. I was fare in my billing and until you get into something you just don’t know. Now if he ripped you off you should tear him a new A-hole!!
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Old 14-10-2011, 07:37   #30
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Re: Please Allow Me to Vent

There's two problems here:
1) the OP didn't ask up front what it was going to cost
2) most people simply won't pay for knowledge work

I've written off more hours than I care to remember before ever sending out a bill to a customer and still some of them complain when they receive the bill. The story about the retired engineer is spot on except for the part where they paid without further complaint.
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