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.

Billing dispute - how should I handle this?

skiereric Member Posts: 66
edited February 4 in THE MAIN WALL
Homeowner here with a WM97+ 155, NG. With heating and DHW.
I had a boiler cleaning competed in December.

Shortly after I started hearing an occasional rumble during ignition that vibrates the floor above the boiler room. And increased in frequency from once in a week to every few hours. I would categorize this as delayed ignition. 

From reviewing the manual, it seemed a combustion analysis is needed. I called Weil McLain and explained the issue and they also advised a combustion analysis.

i called up the company who serviced the boiler and explained and requested an combustion analysis as recommended by WM.

the tech shows up a few days later and I also explained the issue and asked for the combustion analysis.

i was in the middle of my workday, so an hour and a half later I come down to see him in the middle of cleaning the heat exchanger.  I asked him, why given it was cleaned 7 weeks ago, and how the combustion results were…he had not tested it.

an hour later, I come back down, and he’s checking gas pressure. 

At that point I flip the manual to the steps given for diagnosing delayed ignition and then go back to work.

i come back down shortly after, and he says he waiting on a call back from WM, I ask him for what, and he’s looking for direction to do a combustion analysis since he doesn’t see the port to insert the tool.  I flip to the section in the manual that shows the flue sensor port in the port that is used, and show him again the section that walks through the correct steps for testing.

at this point, I’m handling the manual and telling him the steps. he makes the adjustments for High Fire, but in low fire the boiler drops out before stabilizing enough to get any meaningful data.

he calls WM again and works with support on further troubleshooting.  

WM recommends replacing the Venturi/gas valve as they believe the reason the boiler cannot remain lit in low fire (low rpm) is a bad mix.

end of the day the tech spent 5 hours at my place, spending over half the time on things I did not ask for, nor is stated in my manual for troubleshooting. 

I called the company explaining this and received a call back pretty much telling me to pound sand and the tech did what he thought was right based on his experience…even though it’s not what WM recommended, I asked for, or what the manual dictates.

Thoughts on it I am being unreasonable asking to reduce the bill?

Mad Dog_2


    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,929
    Hum. Tech seems to be a bit under qualified 
    Mad Dog_2
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,695
    edited February 4
    Finding Qualified techs is getting harder and harder. I give him credit for at least calling tech support, you'd be surprised how many wont! Certain things must be done before making that call but I think this tech was in over his head. Call the contractor and ask for some credit on the bill.

    Whether you want to continue with them is your choice.
    Long Beach Edmattmia2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,711
    edited February 4
    You're paying him to learn on the job. A good business owner will acknowledge this and give you a big break. At one point, I was that kid trying to fix the boiler. We all have different levels of experience, just be honest about it. If I couldn't fix it.I got help with a more experience guy. If you quote T & M, which is a fair way to do these mystery jobs,, a HO is going to catch on when the kid is there 5 hours and still stumped..Its unethical to charge for MY inexperience.

    That being said, this is the exact reason I closed up Triple Crown after 12 years. No Heat calls are very involved, tricky and can be quite enigmatic, even when you're doing them 38 yrs.  Conversely, guys that started out around the same time I did and are still running a full time install & repair outfit, did not follow this LOSING $$ business model. They charge, regardless...failure or not...amazes me.. the gall, but people pay them and keep calling them back...and paying!  

    I recently did a consult & repair, where the otherwise reputable multi generational Company was back 5 times on the same issue in 3 yrs....Charged EVERY TIME...and they paid. HO just shrugs because it's the norm today. These are the contractors that make good $$$, summer homes, boats, new trucks. Whatever, I just can't cross that threshold. Mad Dog 🐕 
    Long Beach Ed
  • What you asked for should not take more than 1.5 hrs. for a trained technician. From what you say, the technician that came to your house didn’t know what he was doing, nor did he listen to what you asked for. 
    I would ask for a bill adjustment and the owner should realize that his technician was not properly trained.
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
  • john123
    john123 Member Posts: 54
    The contractor already said to "pound sand".
    Suggestions: What can OP do?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,563
    edited February 4
    I used to operate "that company" that you wanted to do the work. Sounds like you found "that company" that I sold my business to. If a repair that one of my technicians performed did not solve the problem, then you didn't get charged for it. You only paid for what was successful or in your case, what you asked for. The combustion testing. If that testing showed that you needed a part, and you agreed to pay for that repair, we would order that part and make that repair. So you need only pay for the combustion test and the repair. If I send someone that was not qualified to do that job, I would probably show up myself and make the determination as to what was needed.

    The time spent ro show my rookie how to do a combustion test on your equipment would be charged as if I was not taking extra time to teach. This is easy to do when you use a Flat Rate Pricing system. When a rookie takes 2 hours to do a 40 minute job, You pay that same price as if an excerpt took only 20 minutes to do a 40 minute job. Experience does not get punished for efficiency and inexperience does not over charge a customer. The job costs the same no matter how long it takes.

    Here is the back page of my service invoices. It briefly explains the warranty structure for installation of new equipment, and service repairs. Look at the You Never Pay Twice section in the middle of the page. Perhaps you can use it to justify a lower price for the overcharge you experienced. Also If you already paid by credit card for this work, your credit card provider may be able to charge back the merchant for the unjustified charges. Once you get your refund, you have negotiation power to pay only for what was requested and successful in getting your system to operate properly.

    The owner of the firm that I sold to said "you give too much away" and it took me an hour to get him to honor a warranty on his own customer that called 4 times with "Not Enough Heat" within the first year of operation. Out of the 4 visits, he warrantied only one of the unsuccessful repair visits and charged a lot for the other three unsuccessful visits. Somehow I got involved and found out the elderly woman had a blood circulation condition that made her always feel cold and she needed to set the thermostat at 80° to be comfortable in her own home. (no judgements on the customers medical needs please)

    The ODR on the new very expensive boiler did not let the room temperature get above 72°. I made the adjustment to the ODR Curve to allow 80° indoor temperature and the customer was comfortable. The owner of the company agreed to refund only one of the three unsuccessful visits. …and he was not happy about doing that. His motto ”The Customer is Always Wrong” so charge them as much as you can!

    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,188
    edited February 4
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,929
    I agree with @Long Beach Ed. Nothing really needs to be said. This is all self evident. 
    EdTheHeaterManErin Holohan Haskell
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,695
    I agree with @Long Beach Ed. Nothing really needs to be said. This is all self evident. 
    It’s too the Point !
    STEAM DOCTOREdTheHeaterMan