Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

prices

Options
Hollis
Hollis Member Posts: 105
OK,..I KNOW, we don't discuss specific prices here for a number of reasons, I'm NOT talking any specifics,.. but how do you know what is fair and what is excessive?  I was recently floored on how much it cost to change out a high limit switch (Honeywell) on a system 2000.



I told the tech I was pretty sure that it was faulty as the boiler wouldn't shut off when it was way over the limit and the water was boiling and blowing off the safety valve, setting it back made no difference,..so he had to do a "diagnostic " trip then a fixit trip.  The price of both could buy a lot of groceries or a Walmart canoe.  Now , I know what the Honeywell switch costs and I understand that the cost of doing business is a lot more than people think (I'm in business too) but how you you know that you are being charged a fair price?



In other areas I have a clue.,.. being a Landlord with a number of units I know  that sometimes I'm sized up and qualified for a big bill (he can afford it,..ah,.well..not always true,..) I have had tradesmen  friends tell me they do this qualifying  with other people. That a little old lady gets quite a different bill than the doctor they work for



Have been down this road with car mechanics and come from a auto racing family and I have built several competitive cars.  In traveling I have acted like I don't know a thing about cars and have had some mechanics, even at big centers where the guys come out in white lab coats,..give me the most incredible story/and price on what needs to be done. Ie:just one example ,.. pinion gears that had to be replaced and I shouldn't leave the shop,..this was 100000+ miles ago w/o this being done.



So maybe I'm a bit paranoid but I deal with 8 different oil companies all spread out over 3 states and have had several of them charge what I think may be excessive. Hard to  say don't fix it when they have a lot of parts on the floor and say "so whatdaya want me to do about this? " and the tenants are yelling for heat or they are going to call the building inspector, Mayor and their lawyer.



 

Comments

  • TomM
    TomM Posts: 233
    Options
    inelasticity

    from an economics viewpoint:

    -

    pricing in this case is determined by the 'inelasticity' of the consumer.

    -

    your boiler is down.  Its going to blow up.  You don't have heat.  The seller of the service (contractor) knows that you won't shop around, so he prices the job up.  That's not immoral or unfair, its capitalism.  Supply and demand.

    -

    Same deal with the car.  If they say it's unsafe, or needs urgent repairs.  Most people would probably say, " ok, just fix it".  I need this car to go to work, etc. 

    -

    Now, marking up the job price and adding services because you know that the customer doesn't know jack about what you are talking about, that's probably immoral and unfair.  That ventures into the realm of price discrimination, but it happens all the time.   Some schools say that these consumers should be protected, others say that the consumer should have done their homework.   I say, do your homework.  

    -

    That's why Dan printed all those fancy books.  

    -

    (He also knows that there are no other good heating books on the market, so he prices them up. (just kidding))

    -

    There are a ton of other factors too, but these are some major ones with service oriented business.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Hollis
    Hollis Member Posts: 105
    Options
    Unfair?

    Ummmmm Tom ,..I don't agree that "its not immoral or unfair, its capitalism" . Not sure there is any definition of capitalism that supports this.  Where is the limit?  What if your ER Dr says the same thing to you or someone you care about?

     

    Do your homework? Well, thats easy to say but are you going to do your homework on all areas of technology? Fix your LED TV?  All aspects of  your computer? Do your homework  enough on an operation to tell your surgeon what direction and structures he can cut /tie off or not too. Open up the hood of your car lately? What can you work on these days?  Because you can't, should you pay whatever the mechanic wants short of buying  a new car/truck because you need it?

    Maybe charge many times what you generally do to the little old lady because she is freezing and needs heat tonite?  Or charge her very little and the guy you THINK is well off much more playing Robin Hood?

    Yeah I would call it immoral or unfair.



    You wonder why people then use street mechanics common in many cities that might do substandard and maybe dangerous work.



    People hire handymen to do electrical work, plumbing, roofing?  Well I guess thats capitalism too?  We have seen some terrible work and even dangerous work from them. Yes there are laws to have things done safely but we know that they are often circumvented. 

    Just a few days ago I had a roofer tell me I needed a new roof. He didn't realize that his company had put that one on 6 years earlier. I would argue that an expensive roof should last more than 6 years and the fact that this roof was no where near needed to replaced.



    As A Landlord I have seen some LL's do things that are unfair/immoral (I have to say a relatively very few) I have also seen that the government has moved in and now we are restricted and I would say hamstrung in some cases. Ever hear of rent control? In one part of my state LLs have waled away from their buildings and let the bank or the city take them.



    I love capitalism, but I don't think it means you can hold a gun on people.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    Options
    No guns being held.

    The cost is also due to the fact System 2000's are not the average boiler with off the shelf parts. The high limit was likely made for the system and no other system. The job is done and the system is working. If you are not happy you can get a list of installers from System 2000 from your area and try another company. You can also try another shop not on their list but be ready to have to wait a couple days as they order in each part. Different states also have different requirements for techs and some I can say are pretty lax as to what they want to require for qualifications to do work and others protect the consumer much more and require more training and insurance. This is why we do not talk specifics about price here. Also Monday morning quarter backs always have the right plays.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • KeithC
    KeithC Member Posts: 38
    edited October 2010
    Options
    price

    A lot of things influence price. Most of those things are the overwhelming costs that a contractor incurs before he is ever able to even set foot in your buildings. Remember that he has to take a top of the line machine shop, tens of thousands of dollars of tools, maybe $40,000 worth of material, and a top notch technician. . . and bring them to your building, so that your unique installation can function with a minimum of downtime.



    Next time you have a problem with your unit, you should ask your repair company if they'll give you a discount to bring the boiler to them, so they can take a look at it in their shop. I'm sure they'll be willing to cut the price significantly.



    Keith
  • Hollis
    Hollis Member Posts: 105
    Options
    parts

    Well Charlie, Maybe I'm wrong but I believe the high limit switch is off the shelf at F.W. Weebs. in Northampton,.It was only a cursory look so I'll have to check. 

    Not sure what you mean about the Monday morning quart backing though.  I was one of John Marren's earliest customers at another location.and spent a fair amount of time with him. I wish he still was around.
  • Hollis
    Hollis Member Posts: 105
    Options
    OK

    Next time you have a problem with your unit, you should ask your repair

    company if they'll give you a discount to bring the boiler to them, so

    they can take a look at it in their shop. I'm sure they'll be willing

    to cut the price significantly.







    Keith



    OK Keith, I see where you are coming from,...
  • Jim Hankinson
    Jim Hankinson Member Posts: 99
    Options
    Pricing

    Hollis, you said the high limit is a Honeywell which to me indicates you have a Frontier at that location. If that's the case it's a standard, off the shelf aquastat. The only aquastat we've ever used that is rather unique is the direct immersion limit and that's not made specifically for EK. The only system components made specifically for EK are the manager and digital temp sensor. If the manager fails it can be bypassed temporarily with a service board. If the sensor fails the manager automatically goes into service board mode.

    As far as what you were charged, I can't comment specifically on that. Does that company use flat rate pricing? If so, then what you're charged is based on averages as far as time and materials. Sometimes that job takes 10 minutes, sometimes 2 hrs, so the labor charge is somewhere in the middle. If the limit that had to be replaced was the direct immersion type, that can take awile depending on how old the system is.

    Some companies charge commercial accounts on the heavy side because they figure it's a tax write off so it's not out of pocket. They go easy on retirees, low income, etc because they know that what ever they charge is going to be a hardship. In the end it evens out. Not saying it's right but it happens. When I was in business for myself I had a few customers that I knew might never pay me but I slept well at night.

    You may want to shop around now while you have no problems. Ask about their billing practice, etc.
  • Hollis
    Hollis Member Posts: 105
    Options
    thank you

    Thank You Jim,



    Yea I think they use a combo of flat rate (the diagnostic trip) but different charge structure for service.



    Up in the hills where this building is located there are mainly  two oil companies that serve many people.  a service truck goes by many times a day as its on a busy (the) main  road.

    Thats just an aside, again I'm in business (actually more than one)and  again,I know that it costs a lot to be in business,..however I have two old oil service people that work for me, in an adjacent state and although they haven't had all the information about the switch, both thought the charge was probably out of line. These guys have only been out of the business for just a few years and as sharp as anyone that I've seen.

    .Again they don't have all the information and today I plan on calling the oil company to discus this. Maybe there is more to it than I realize, If not they may lose a customer that buys about 11,000 gal of oil a year in there servive area.



    I don't like this attidude of what the traffic will bear esp if you are in a jamb, and the Robin Hood mentality. I don't run my bussiness that way I and don't want to be treated that way. Some of the sevice  people are shooting themselves in the foot with that.



    Ya know, more and more I go to Landlord meetings and i hear LL's saying rip out the oil heat and put money into insulation , blower door checks and air sealing ETC, and put in electric base boards.

    Again, Thank You for your post.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    Options
    I service there Hollis

    I am not cheap but I do service the pioneer valley.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Hollis
    Hollis Member Posts: 105
    Options
    Well I called them

    and after a while was able to talk to the service manager @ Rice co. who said "yeah that seems high,..let me check I'll call you back,..He had his secretary leave me a message that yes,..someone put in the wrong code for the switch or service (unclear),..they were reducing the bill a bit over 70%.

    I have to say though after reading several comments here that my eyes have been opened.

    Prior to this I would have written this off as a clerical error but now not so sure. Maybe its made me a bit paranoid/jaded. At least disappointed.  I don't think anyone has called me cheap, but I 'm thinking that there are a lot of attitude of  "Hes in a bind and I THINK he can afford it so soak him"

    Maybe I'm wrong but I think I need perhaps and old oil man as a guy to run things by in this state too, or to do basic work when its journeyman stuff.

    Or maybe put in electric when apts turn over."

    Anyway this new bill still is high but closer to reality.
  • rlaggren
    rlaggren Member Posts: 160
    Options
    I saw a lot of this... (a long rant)

    Running a service plumbing truck. While I was with the company I billed T&M and that worked OK. But in my last year the owner got sucked into a MrRooter franchise with a big investment and high monthlies for new trucks, ads, etc. It didn't break him but it was not a nice experience and he has since sold out.



    What I saw was serious pressure from the top down to bring home the big green. The owner had his wallet in a crack that was closing so he had to see lots of revenue. It was a flat rate system and the techs got paid a marginal stipend and anything more they wanted had to come from commisions on the job and materials. The craftsman types didn't have the attitude or the moves to "sell up"; the hot sales guys never seemed to have the skills or any real interest in the actual job. The only training available to the techs was the sales promotion seminars. The pressure flowed to the bottom layer, the tech, and it got intense; there was nothing to balance the single requirement to get money off the customer - no perspective, no checks and balances, nothing. The tech was expected to deal with any complaints himself and make it go away by selling _more_ work to the customer. A tech who allowed complaints to land in the office was sent off to remedial sales seminars.



    This is not a pretty picture. It's like a pyramid in which a skillful few collect big from numerous techs and customers who struggle for a short time and don't last long. However it's a "technical" service (plumbing) which most people don't understand well but which they absolutely must have sometimes. It's very troublesome and difficult for Ordinary Joe to bring any effective complaint or action.in those circumstance.



    Because a great percentage of plumbing service calls are for jobs that _must_ get done soon and because most people only see a plumber once every 2 or 3 years, if this type of business can saturate the usual marketing channels so that they pick off most of "once in a while" customers, they flourish at the expense of both techs and customers. This they have done - in most large cities today there are 4-8 different companies with one or more full page ads in the phone book; every single one of these companies is a commission based sales company. In the SF area one individual is doing business under at least four different company names, each of which has a full page ad; each company runs 3 or more trucks but customers may be routed to any of the companies on their first call. This guy is not stupid, in fact he is extremely personable, a truly excellent salesman.



    Not all flat rate companies are hussle shops - I know one or two that are running "white gloves" services aimed only at the high end who want it done yesterday, instantly, invisibly and with a sweet smell. And flat rate is in some ways an excellent way to bill. It can avoid a lot of time and grief trying to explain things at the end and it can allow you get a go/no-go answer up front and not spend 30 min explaining the job to a guy who needs to know what to tell the handyman to do. But in most flat rate shops there is no provision for training, no allowance for supporting a tech on the job and a large effective penalty if the tech doesn't sell fast and high from the get-go.



    There _are_ good craftsman and good tradesman out there who can and will do a good job for a (relatively) fair price. The only way I know to find them is to go looking with your eyes and ears open and when you find one, get to know them and maintain the relationship. Get and save the name of the tech who does a job you like; other guys in the company may not give you the same results and anyway it's a good starting point for both sides to have you ask for a particular person. The office (boss) always gives you the line that you're hiring a company and all his joes are good; that's kinda true (we hope) but there's more to it so stick to your guns about who you want to see, especially if you know they did a really bang-up good job.



    I have to say that, in my personal experience, if you know what you want, a contractor who does what they say, when they say and does it moderately well is worth almost anything they ask. No-shows, unhandled screwups, confusion eat so much time and impact so much else that's already in the channel that reliability takes first place in my book.



    Well, I'd better quit. Hope anyone got this far isn't too bummed.



    Cheers, Rufus
    disclaimer - I'm a plumber, not a heating pro.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    Options
    For some people electric heat is what is best for them.

    I mean why install environmentally efficient comfortable heat that is cost effective per therm to heat with? If a system is in proper working order and is properly maintained and controlled you should earn from the added value of including heat and hot water. If you allow the tenants to dictate temperatures and water usage is not controlled separate out utilities and let them bare the costs. I never called anyone cheap. I simply said I was not cheap. Having the person who benefits most from that 11,000 gallons of oil control how that oil is burnt is not always the most cost effective thing to do.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
This discussion has been closed.