Do I have to wait in all day for an engineer?

A look at the problem of waiting in all day for an engineer

 Most competitive repair companies and local engineers are very good at giving time-slot appointments these days and trying to work around our needs. But some are not, and especially if your appliance is under a guarantee, or covered by a breakdown insurance (where you are in effect a captive customer), you may be asked to wait in all day for an engineer. An all-day call can mean you have to be available from 8am to 6pm, which is extremely inconvenient for many people. Hopefully there may be an AM (8am to 1pm) or PM (12pm to 6pm) slot available, but these are often limited and you may not get one.

Why do they do this?

Accommodating all customers would mean engineers running around all over the place. They will have customers in one area (even on the same road at times) where one is only in between 9 and 11 AM and the other is only in after 3:30. Many engineer’s areas are massive these days and once they leave an area it can be impossible to get back to it on the same day.

To work around everyone's personal availability they would have to employ a lot more engineers, and because of all the doubling back and extra travelling, each engineer would be much less productive. The money just isn’t there to do that. Sole traders and small independent repair companies shouldn't have too much trouble accommodating reasonable requests such as avoiding school pick up times or even giving a 2 or 3 hour slot because they usually cover a smaller area and don't necessarily have as many jobs to complete in a day, but some big repair companies and manufacturers may not.

Captive customer?

A paying customer can choose any repairer, and can vote with their feet by using someone who gives a better service. If you are a captive customer, with an appliance under some type of guarantee or maintenance contract you probably can’t go elsewhere. (Check your extended warranty or maintenance contract to see if you are able to use an in dependant washing machine repairer and claim the cost back). In the past I’ve seen some contracts which allowed you to use an independent repairer and reclaim the cost, though this practice may have died out.

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So can they insist you wait in all day?

If you are forced to use either the retailer you bought the washing machine from or the washing machine's manufacturer, you may have to argue your case with them. Personally I don't think it's reasonable for a customer to have to wait in all day from 8 AM to 6 PM, but the repair company may equally say that it isn't reasonable that they should have to accommodate every customer so that no customer has any inconvenience. As described above, this would be impossible to achieve.

Compromises? Tips? Ask the engineer to ring you

Useful tip

Ultimately, if you can’t go elsewhere, and depending on the area you live in, some companies can be insistent on getting you to wait in for as large an amount of time as possible and you are in a weak position because you have an appliance you desperately need fixing. If they insist on an all day call you may be able to get an AM or PM call if you offer to wait a day or so longer.

Alternatively you may be able to accept an all day appointment as long as someone rings or texts you on the day to advise when it’s likely to be. Some companies may operate a texting or telephone system where they give you half an hour or so’s notice.

Other times you can get them to promise that the engineer will ring you in the morning on the day in question when he has worked out his run. I used to do this a lot, after working out my run I would often ring a customer to let them know for example that it would be likely to be late afternoon to save them waiting in all day. This was good practice not only because it’s a good service, but it ensured the customer was much more friendly to me when I arrived (say after 4 PM) because I’d been thoughtful enough to ring them and as a result they were able to pop out shopping in the morning.

Some engineers may even ring you the day before if they get their jobs a day in advance and can give you a rough idea which section of the day they are likely to be there. This kind of thing is not always done by default but when booking the call they can write a request in the notes for the engineer.

* This is an updated article first published around 2002 on my other site Washerhelp


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