What Does No Call Out Charge Mean?

No call out charge 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

3 Charges 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.

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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?


Summary

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.

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3 thoughts on “What Does No Call Out Charge Mean?”

  1. Elizabeth Stone

    Hello Engineer,
    We had an engineer in to look at our Bosch fridge/freezer that has partly stopped working. Both areas work half time, and there is an alarm sound when the fridge is opened. It is an integral, 50/50, frost-free,16-year-old appliance. The man did not know what the matter was and gave a lot of explanation on how the frost-free works, and we nodded a few times to show we understood. My husband, a retired electronics engineer, said he thought he knew what he meant, and the man carried on talking. He ended up saying that it might right itself and we should wait and see what happens. I then asked if we should replace the appliance and buy another one and he said it might be best due to the age of it. I asked him if he knew a trusted dealer who would remove the old one and install the new one, then he told us a story about the service he used to recommend and that it was no longer there, before he finally gave us a contact. I then thanked him for his advice and asked him what we owed him. In my ignorance, I had not known at that time that his advert stated, “No Call Out Fee”. He told me the cost and I paid him £49. I am asking you this since I found your help site, (very useful), why did he charge for not doing a repair? My husband had contacted him and when they spoke on the phone the man said that there would be a charge, but, however, my hubby did not tell me about it. Not the man’s fault, of course, but after he left us, I then found out about the advertisement and what he had told my husband. I am now left wondering about that claim in the advertisement – the no call out fee. Can you enlighten me please?

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Elizabeth. As I describe in my article, a callout charge is literally just a charge to cover the costs of an engineer travelling to your house. In other words, the costs of you calling him out. But once inside the house, an engineer will charge for the time spent inspecting the appliance, and giving advice on what the fault is etc.

      This is the problem with the phrase no callout fee, and exactly why I wrote the article. The other side of this issue is when someone advertises, “free estimates”, which is why I wrote another article – are free estimates really free?

      The practice of advertising no callout charges, and free estimates, used to be rife, and used by many cowboys to con people. As far as I know, it is much less common these days. At the end of the day, no one can come to people’s houses, and spend time there for nothing. If they claim that they will, it is often not true.

      So the charge that they made will not be for calling out, which, as advertised is, “free”. The charge will be for the time that they spent once they had walked through your door, and the advice that they gave. If they were only there for several minutes and couldn’t find a fault, then arguably £45 seems a lot. But if they spent a reasonable amount of time longer than that and gave advice, then that is what they will be charging for.

      1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

        Hello Elizabeth. I’ve been thinking about my reply, and I have assumed that the engineer tried their best to find a fault, which took some time, and then spent some time explaining and advising. But if by any chance he didn’t really investigate the appliance much, and just said he couldn’t see anything wrong and essentially advised you to buy a new one, then I would not expect them to charge.

        But the problem with the phrase “no call out charges”, and the reason it was used so deceptively by so many in the past, is that it gives people the impression there will be no charge, when it only specifically says they won’t charge for knocking on the door.

        So essentially, there is nothing technically wrong with advertising no call out charges, and then charging £50 to walk into the house and look at the appliance. It’s deceptive, and arguably it should be illegal, but technically, that’s what they can do. If you read my article above, you will see that I describe how repairing an appliance can be broken into 3 separate phases. So it’s perfectly possible to charge separately for all 3 phases, or give one of them for free.

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