When someone advertises, “no call out charge” they usually mean they won’t charge for the time spent travelling to your house. However, that’s not much use if they charge £90 to find out what is wrong. There are multiple ways repair companies and engineers can work regarding charges, and sometimes they can be deliberately misleading. You can get caught out if you don’t understand.
There are three separate actions involved in repairing an appliance –
- Calling out to your house
- Entering the house and inspecting the appliance to find out what’s wrong
- Repairing the appliance
When booking a repair you need to understand exactly what charges they make and what they cover
Splitting charges into the three parts makes the most sense because all costs need paying for and people should pay for what they use, nothing more and nothing less. Sadly, as most people hate paying to be told their appliance is scrap it doesn’t always pay to be honest, so some repairers come up with more palatable schemes to solicit custom.
Games can be played with semantics. Repairers can advertise no call out charges, but then charge for giving an estimate (so the call out costs are just hidden in an estimate charge). Or advertise free estimates but have a call out charge, which covers giving the estimate. It’s just playing with words. You might think the solution is to go for a company advertising no call out charges and free estimates, but there can be big downsides to this as mentioned below.
Examples of how things can be done
Let’s say an engineer wants to charge £75 to repair an appliance. Here are some of the ways they could work it.
1: Charge £75 for a completed repair, but if you don’t have the job done only charge a proportion of it to cover time spent coming out and inspecting the machine
2: Add £10 to make it £85, and advertise no call out charges. The extra £10 everyone pays goes towards covering some of the costs in wasted journeys when people don’t have a repair done
3: Add £20 and advertise no call out and free estimates
4: Keep it at £75 and absorb the cost of giving no call out and free estimates, which can be done, especially by engineers covering small local areas, but most repairers can’t make that pay or may compromise their service as detailed here – Are free estimates really free?
It should be noted that many of the larger repair companies such as national repair companies and manufacturers repair companies have abandoned the old style of repair charges. This is because rising costs have made the price that they need to charge to send an engineer to repair a white goods appliance has become uneconomical for the customer.
So many new schemes have been invented, including fixed-price repairs and repairs with a guarantee on the rest of the appliance for a long time after – and even staggered payment schemes. This is to try and give some feeling of extra value for the prices that they have to charge, which can be £100. It is however just as important – if not more so – to check all of their terms and conditions so that you fully understand exactly what it will cost. This is especially important if your appliance turns out to be beyond economic repair.
So apart from finding out labour charges you need to know what it will cost if they give you a price and you don’t have the repair done. Don’t just ask if they charge a call out, or if they give free estimates, because they may say no, but then try to charge you something later as described above. The important thing is how much do they charge for a normal repair – and how much will they charge if after coming out and giving a price you decide not to have it done.
Don’t assume someone charging a reasonable call out charge, or a reasonable price for giving an estimate is a bad option. They may well be cheaper on repairs and may even be more likely to be straight with you as explained in my other articles on this topic.