What's included in a service call?

tn_gardeningMarch 13, 2014

I'm about to call my HVAC folks n ask em, but thought I'd see if I'm being unreasonable about my invoice.

1. Service call $97 (cleaned coil and adjusted freon)
2. Labor $97.50
3. parts, Coil cleaner $40

Total = $234.50

I guess my biggest issue is with paying for 1 AND 2.

That adjustment stuff was simply reading the gauges and letting some coolant out (can't say i saw them capture it).

And $40 for some cleaner? WTF?

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tn_gardening

OK

I'm processing this and cooling down a bit.

Maybe, just maybe, they consider the diagnosis of dirty coils to be in item #1, but the actual cleaning of the coil is item 2 (and 3).

Nonetheless, I'm still going to call em and see if they will adjust the bill. $40 for some cleaning solution is ridiculous.

And shame on me for not asking them how much they would charge for spraying down my coils (damn I feel silly for not asking for clarity).

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 6:28PM
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NHBabs z4b-5a NH

I know that my local appliance repair person charges $80 or $85 just to show up at my house. What he does beyond that is charged separately as labor and parts. Since he has to pay for the time to drive to me as well as for his truck, gas, insurance, etc. I guess that doesn't seem unreasonable to me. It may vary a lot according to location, though.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 6:34PM
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saltidawg

nhbabs,

Pretty much the same in my area here in MD. I tend to opt for the service contract for oil furnace each year, which will include Annual Maintenance. For my A/C (Heat pump) I have it serviced every other year and runs about the same as the OP Service visit - coil cleaning would be extra parts and labor as would adding "freon" were it required.

I'd rather pay the $40 for "cleaner" than researching it and amassing whatever tools and knowledge would be required to DIY.

YMMV

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 7:03PM
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dapoppa

"Service call" can also be itemized as "Diagnostic charge" and usually runs around $100.00. If billing is by flat rate the service tech can tell you what the actual charge will be based on the diagnosis. Many times the homeowner already knows what the problem is but there is still a separate fee.

A few years ago my daughter ran out of oil. She knew it, I knew it, but after oil was delivered the tech came to start the burner. She was charged a diagnostic fee to tell her she had run out of oil.

More recently we needed a new oven element. I thought, "Let's call our appliance repair company." My wife called, gave them the make of the stove and told them we just needed the oven element. Tech shows up, asks wife what the problem is. She explained the element was burned out. He said he wasn't told that, he'd have to order one and come back - for a separate charge. Oh, and here's the bill for today, that's $75 please. If I don't get paid for it, our office will file a complaint for non-payment.

My wife let her fingers do the walking on the internet and a few days later we had a new element for half the price of the service call. I used to change elements in a former life so it was no big deal. However, next time we need appliance service we'll let our fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 9:28AM
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tn_gardening

nhbabs....i get the $97 service call fee (although i'm confident that covers "basic" diagnosis...then again anything is possible).

I'm just going to calmly give them a call and request a discount based on a couple things:
1. they did NOT spend 1.5 hours cleaning the coil (the invoice indicated 1.5 hours labor @ $65/hr)
2. $40 for a few ounces of cleaning fluid is ridiculous (liquid gold hardly fetches that). Home depot has a can of the stuff for $6, so I'm not worried about "researching" the product. $40 for the entire cleaning would be very reasonable. Heck, I wouldn't mind paying twice that price. I just don't think $137.50 is reasonable (item 2+3).

Can't hurt me to ask for a discount.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 9:51AM
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mike_home

Why did the tech have to remove refrigerant? Did he say someone had overcharged the system? Did he hose down the condenser itself? That you should be part of typical AC condenser maintenance.

Did you ask for the coil to be cleaned? Was it dirty? Have the filters been changed on a regular basis?

I sense some double charging on this bill. I think a fair question would be how much is the labor rate and how many hours were charged for this service.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 10:04AM
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saltidawg

" I just don't think $137.50 is reasonable (item 2+3)"

Now that you have a $6 source for the cleaner, I trust in the future you will be doing the cleaning yourself?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 10:22AM
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cindywhitall

For most services I have ever hired, the service call fee covers the first hour of the service (labor) even if it's under an hour. Anything over the first hour would be at some hourly rate. I would question it, but I wish you had asked before you had them out. I believe they should have told you before they set the appt even if you didn't ask. Was it a routine check-up?

I am trying to decide if I MUST have the yearly check-up for my warranty (10 yr Carrier p+L). If so, does it have to be done my original installer? Many places run specials in the beginning of each season. I NEVER had my original one serviced but did change the filter on schedule. It went 17 years with the only trouble being control board issues (twice). When it was removed it was clear that the coils had very little dirt on them. I am hesitant to have my system "fixed" when it's not "broken" because often when people start messing with something that's been just fine, it causes a problem.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 12:30PM
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tn_gardening

saltidog...$40 is waaaay over the top for cleaning fluid...and 1.5 hours of labor is also a bit of a stretch.

These folks deserve to get paid, but as mike_home also stated..."I sense some double charging on this bill."

Guess I should have asked for an estimate when they said they were going to spray down the coils.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 12:36PM
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saltidawg

"saltidog...$40 is waaaay over the top for cleaning fluid...and 1.5 hours of labor is also a bit of a stretch."

So, again, you'll be doing this yourself in the future?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 1:04PM
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pbx2_gw

saltidawg
Now that you have a $6 source for the cleaner, I trust in the future you will be doing the cleaning yourself?

So, again, you'll be doing this yourself in the future?

I love these questions & ask it of myself often.

If my time & experience is same rate as the pros - does it make me still want to do it? - Yes.

But 99% of the time - my time is worth more & my experience is zero esp. with HVAC's.

Laughable that people would question charges in a field they know nothing about & go on gut feel?

I guess this is why you take bids or shop around.

Of course that takes time also...which is valuable.

Yes to educated consumer but no to DIY with no experience & complaining about Pro pricing.

Like the old saying: if you are good at something, don't do it for free.

This post was edited by pbx2 on Fri, Mar 14, 14 at 13:32

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 1:29PM
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tn_gardening

saltidawg...

I certainly won't pay anybody $137.50 to do it (maybe when i get older). It ain't a difficult task.

A more precise answer will be based on how they handle my request to adjust the bill. They may have made a mistake. I'd like to give them the chance to provide some more service to their customer.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 3:29PM
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saltidawg

"I certainly won't pay anybody $137.50 to do it (maybe when i get older). It ain't a difficult task. "

Thanks for the reply.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 3:39PM
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saltidawg

I know you said, "I certainly won't pay anybody $137.50 to do it (maybe when i get older). It ain't a difficult task. " so ...

I googled a few "cost to clean A/C condenser" sites and got a few representative prices to clean the outside heat exchanger ABOVE AND BEYOND the service call, if any.

I also would add that there are plenty of DIY instructions for doing it yourself. Maybe older is now? lol

$175
http://www.shaggybevo.com/board/showthread.php/87382-Dirty-Evaporator-Coil

$150 - $240
http://commercial-air-conditioning-refrigeration.com/clean-condenser-coils-during-ac-preventive-maintenance/

$120
http://www.familyhandyman.com/heating-cooling/air-conditioner-repair/clean-your-air-conditioner-condenser-unit/view-all

Doesn't appear your $137.50 is out of line at all.

YMMV

Here is a link that might be useful: Lots of DIY Help

This post was edited by saltidawg on Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 12:19

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 4:01PM
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saltidawg

tn_gardening,

"A more precise answer will be based on how they handle my request to adjust the bill."

So what did they say? ;-)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 6:52PM
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chickadee4

tN-gardeing,

I paid 220, 240 and about 280 for the last three service calls on the furnace . All three were done by three different companies.
I budget and ask for an estimates prior to any work performed but feel pinched once receiving the final bill.
I wish it was off by only a few tens but the last three bills are off by hundreds.
Service charge covers the contractor's gas , advertisement and office overhead. No one mentions this during the scheduling call.

Over the last five years I have grown cojones. I have been brow beaten by the roofer, plumber, electrician , gas repair and the gas range repair service.
They all yell at me when I tell them I am balking at their final bills. I document their arrival with cell phone pictures and forward them to my husband or even their text number. I just had an intense telephone conversation with the electrician whose billable hours were grossly overinflated.

It is always worth a try to get the bill adjusted but be prepared for no adjustment.

All technicians in my area charge a fee to cover gas cost.
I do not have an issue with paying this fee.
I do have an issue when the final bill is grossly inflated.
The electrician charged me 2996 for the air handler installation. He had five men arrive billing me for 7.5 hours. Three men left within minutes . The job was completed in two hours by two men but my final bill was calculated for five men for 7.5 hours. I also had a second day charge for a look and see to make sure the HVAC completed the job correctly.

Each section of the United States has different living costs.
Now that I know I pay travel time, I take cell phone photos of arrival time and departure. I e mail or text the photos to have the photos dated.
I pay my bills . I have been schooled.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 1:24PM
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saltidawg

"I certainly won't pay anybody $137.50 to do it (maybe when i get older). It ain't a difficult task."

"A more precise answer will be based on how they handle my request to adjust the bill. They may have made a mistake. I'd like to give them the chance to provide some more service to their customer. "

And once again, what did they say? ;-)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 1:31PM
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tn_gardening

saltidawg.

Sorry for the delay in the response.

They/we agreed on a total charge of $169.50

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 2:37PM
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saltidawg

Cool.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 2:50PM
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tn_gardening

Yes. They were very business-like in how they dealt with my inquiry. I am satisfied.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 4:11PM
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pbx2_gw

Hmmm... 234.50 > $164.50 137.50

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 4:59PM
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tn_gardening

Posted by pbx2 (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 19, 14 at 16:59

Hmmm... 234.50 > $164.50 137.50

===================================

I don't think I understand your post.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 8:44AM
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pbx2_gw

Posted by tn_gardening (My Page) on Thu, Mar 20, 14 at 8:44
I don't think I understand your post.

You were complaining about not paying $137.50 but yet ended up paying $164.50.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 4:20PM
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saltidawg

"You were complaining about not paying $137.50 but yet ended up paying $164.50."

Ah, the New Math. lol

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 4:40PM
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tn_gardening

Maybe I was unclear with my comment of: I just don't think $137.50 is reasonable (item 2+3).

Gotta pay for #1 (service call), regardless of what they do. I just didn't think paying $137.50 for the cleaning + fluid, is reasonable, they agreed.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 2:14PM
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