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

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

If you need to have an appliance engineer to fix your white goods appliance it can be very inconvenient. Most competitive repair companies and local engineers are very good at giving time-slot appointments these days. They try to work around our needs.

But some are not. 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 slot can mean you have to be available from 8am to 6pm. This might be extremely inconvenient for many people. Hopefully there may be an AM (8am to 1pm) or PM (12pm to 6pm) slot available. Sometimes these slots are limited and you may not get one.

Why do appliance repair companies do this?

Accommodating all customers could mean engineers are running around all over the place. This is costly and inefficient. They may have customers in one area (even on the same road at times) where one wants a morning call and the other is only in after 3:30. Many engineer’s areas are massive these days. 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. All the doubling back and extra travelling would make each engineer 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. They usually cover a smaller area and don't necessarily have as many jobs to complete in a day.

Are you a captive customer?

A paying customer can choose any repairer. They 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. In the past I’ve seen some contracts which allowed you to use an independent repairer and reclaim the cost, though this practice may well 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 appliance 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. However, 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

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.

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. Negotiate with them.

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 some notice or a decent idea of a time slot so you can at least get on with doing things without worrying about missing them.

Other times you can get them to promise that if they can’t give an idea of time at the booking stage they can at least get the engineer to 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 when I got there. This would 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 they were able to pop out shopping in the morning or relax.

Some engineers may even ring you the day before if they get their jobs a day in advance. This 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 ask them if they can write a request in the notes for the engineer.

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