All of us will be in this situation… an appliance in our home breaks and we need it fixed as soon as possible. If we are able to buy the part and install it ourselves we wouldn’t need to hire someone to do the work for us and we would save about half the cost just due to labor fees but when we can’t do the work or when it is just a better idea to have someone else do the work how do we know that we are getting a decent price?
The first thing to understand is that you will pay more for out of normal hours calls to your home.
If you have a water heater that is leaking all over your basement you may need to call someone in the middle of the night. Unfortunately calling someone and getting them to come out is two different things.. you have to consider that they.. just like you are working all day long and a night time call means they are probably sleeping.
If you really need to call for emergency services and you can not get the problem under control yourself by turning off water or electric supplies then expect to pay about an hour and a half extra labor costs for the service call.
Normal Service Calls and Wait Times
When you can wait until the next day you should begin calling your service technicians as early as possible. Figure that they will be getting ready for the day in their shop around 7:30am so call around 8 am to arrange a service call. If they are a dedicated business with more then a few workers they may have an answering service or recorded message that lets you know when they are open. Phone book or website listings should also offer hours of operation.
If you need the appointment for that day it is important that you get your request in as early as possible so they can reschedule time to come out. This may mean that you wait until 3pm for them to show up but if you wait until later in the morning you may end up waiting another day.
Getting Information about the Company from their Website
Most companies will have an internet site that describes their services and their business.
When considering the size of the company take into consideration your location and the services they provide. Many companies do not need to be large to fill their quota of work. If you live in a rural location you should take this into consideration because even if there are a few thousand people in your town the likelihood that more then a handful of homes will need immediate service will be small.
What should you look for?
Its important that the technician or business is certified by the manufacturer to perform warranty work. Even if your appliance is past its warranty date you want to make sure that they have certification which means minimum requirements have been met to service appliance that you own.
You may want to see if they sell new appliances along with servicing. This means that the business has a retail space where items are in inventory. If they sell to the public then you are more likely to have parts available for your appliance in stock and not have to wait. Depending on the cost of the repair you will also have the option to purchase new if the cost is reasonable.
Note any costs of removing old equipment if you do decide to purchase a new appliance.
Licensing and Insurance
Every business must be state and/or local licensed to perform work.. this applies to the local sandwich shop and to a repair technician so saying their business is state licensed is not a very big deal.
On the other hand if you are calling a local handyman listed on Craigslist … well they may not be licensed and you are risking the repair and any additional problems that might occur if you decide to hire them.
Insurance is something that most small businesses carry and a licensed contractor / repair technician should always carry insurance. This allows the contractor to cover any damage they may cause due to their work. Normally a contractor will carry from 250,000 to 1 million in insurance.. Again this is not a huge deal and should be part of every contracting business that is legally allowed to do work in your area.
Price for Parts and Labor
Most of the contractors in your area will charge similar prices for parts and labor however it is worth it making a few calls to different companies to evaluate all of your considerations.
If the cost of one contractor is only a few more dollars but they can come out immediately or within the day then you should probably not worry about paying $20 more for that service.
The same is true if one contractor is Certified by the Manufacturer.
It is always a good thing to work with businesses that provide the total package..
You want service times, licensing, certification and Pricing to be considered as a package.