Repair Scenerio

ILENGINE

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I would like your thoughts on this repair.

Guy drops a rider off at the shop, and due to normal shop flow, you determine that the rider needs a new battery, new drive belt, new bearings installed in the right spindle, and due to the engine stopping on the compression stroke when cranked with a boost charger determine the valves need adjusted which is typical of the OHV single briggs engine.

While you are working up what needs to be done to repair the mower, the customer calls and insist on a rough estimate right at that moment in time, and won't let you complete the estimate of repairs. With the knowledge that you have at that time you toss the customer an estimate of $175. Which he agrees to, and ask is the mower repairable, and your answer is yes. OK, so you install a new battery, and still won't crank correctly even after adjusting the valves, You start diagnosing the starting issue, and determine that you are loosing voltage through the solenoid. You determine that the solenoid needs replaced to to internal corrosion. and the mower starts and runs like a new mower.

Now shortly after shutting off the mower, the carb starts leaking and fills the crankcase with gas. After removing and cleaning the carb, and installing new gaskets, the carb continues to leak, only after starting and shutting off. Carb can set for over 24 hours without leaking after repair, but will leak shortly after starting the mower, multiple times. Which leads to having to replace the carb.

Now the question is, do you stop the repair at the $175 estimate and leave the owner with a bill, and a mower that they can't use, or complete the repair which comes to $300 but leaves the owner with a mower he can use.
 

Mad Mackie

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You are between a small rock and a small hard place, but at least you don't have $1,750 into it and $3,000 would make it run. More than likely the machine in good working order isn't worth much more than $300!!!
You gotta think this over some and call the customer and let him decide. The possibility of you owning it are high and the customer bad mouthing you are high also!!! In the service business, these situations come along and in time one gets to the point where the red flag goes up quickly in one's mind when the circumstances on a service job just don't look right.
My neighbor had a Husqvarna weed trimmer that needed a carb. He took it to a large local power equipment dealer and they supposedly fiddled with it and charged him $50. He never did get it to run and wasn't happy with the servicing dealer. The service manager should have told my neighbor the trimmer need a $65 carb plus labor and the trimmer wasn't worth the servicing costs. I softened my neighbor in time and he has since bought several attachments for his Kubota Diesel tractor from this dealer and is very happy with their service and communication.
I have a friend that thinks nothing of spending $40,000+ for a vehicle every 3 years, but goes crazy over spending $1,700 on a riding mower, go figure!!!

Mad Mackie in CT Retired Mechanic:laughing::biggrin::smile:
 
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ILENGINE

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The thing about by scenerio is you are in the middle of making the necessary repairs, when you start finding the other defects, but you couldn't of found them without starting the repair. So you get stuck between charging the customer for a non complete repair, or completing the repair, but risk having to sell the mower outright to recover the repair. Either way you have an unhappy customer.

I started the repair with installing the battery, which resulted in the typical needs valves adjusted flywheel stopping on compression stroke. After that didn't fix the start problem, starting cleaning electric terminals, and test voltage drops, which lead to the solenoid. The carb leak problem started after running for over half an hour, removed and cleaned the carb, with new gaskets, and it would not leak a drop even after setting overnight, but if you started the mower, it still wouldn't leak, but within minutes of shutting the mower off would leak like the needle valve was not installed. Attempted 4 times of recleaning, and reinstalling, with the above happening each time. By this time you are either in a just complete the repair, and hope the customer isn't too upset, or stiff the customer with a bill on a mower that doesn't work.

This is one of those cases where you just have to finish the repair, and hope the customer goes along with it. If I have to sell the mower to recover the repair, I can sell the mower for around $400-450. It is a White rider with a 14.5 hp briggs, and 38 inch cut. Doesn't smoke, even at startup.
 

Rivets

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Been there, done that. I think we all wish giving estimates was easy, but we are not perfect. The same thing happens on this forum all the time. A DIY asks for help, but then does not listen to what is posted. Or the DIY does not have enough knowledge or skill to complete a project, but thinks he can do anything. We as Tech's on this site are also frustrated when we see wannabes post band aid repairs (which OP's listen to) instead of helping to solve the problem. Members and customers do not realize that the Techs here have thousands of hours of experience and between all of us, there are very few problems we have not seen before. That being said, not every problem has the same solution, that's where estimating gets very tricky. You can only suggest solutions on this forum and provide estimates to your customers, based on your past reference work. On top of that the good dealers and techs must over come the stigmatism left by bad techs and dealers. For every bad experience, for every bad tech, for every bad dealer, it takes 20 good ones to make people happy. IL, I hope this is one of your good customers and understands what it takes to solve the entire problem. If not not do what the rest of us do, take the better half out to dinner, have a couple of drinks and start over tomorrow. As I said, been there done that, good luck.
 

Mad Mackie

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Amen to that Rivets!!!
You can't please them all, but you need to please yourself and move onto the next page.
I'm almost 70 and started in the 50s as a bicycle mech and retired as an aircraft mech a few years ago. Did boats, cars, trucks, power equipment and 24 years in two different branches of the military. I was a service manager for just a short time, but always tried to work with the service managers that I worked under. Most were great, several were OK, several were bad!!! Most customers are comfortable to deal with, but we all know the rest of this line!!!!:confused2:
As for forums of this nature, probably the widest range of skill, talent, machines, and experience come together here.
I still get a chuckle from a poster on another forum!! "Mower quit, what should I do?" When asked what make, model, engine, HP, and deck size it was, his response was, "Green and I sit on it, but right now it don't run"!!!!:rolleyes:
Mad Mackie in CT:laughing::biggrin::smile:
 

ILENGINE

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Spoke to the customer that I have done repairs for over 10 years, and he understands that there can be surprises. The repair was more than he was expecting, and asked me to hold it till the 10th of July, when he gets his next paycheck. the mower actually belongs to his 94 year young father in Indiana, He hauled it all the way to me for repairs.
 

Mad Mackie

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Spoke to the customer that I have done repairs for over 10 years, and he understands that there can be surprises. The repair was more than he was expecting, and asked me to hold it till the 10th of July, when he gets his next paycheck. the mower actually belongs to his 94 year young father in Indiana, He hauled it all the way to me for repairs.
This is good!!!
Mad Mackie in CT
 

briggs

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When i price a job (as i have burnt myself a few times also )i give them my rate plus parts ..I also tell them if i find anything else i will call them and let them know so its there choice to fix it or not most times they say fix it ..But u do have a few that will not want u to go any further with the repair .....But sometimes also i have had people say that i caused these probs because i want to charge them more money ...Its a bad spot to be in dude hope it all works out for u
 

pugaltitude

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I always charge an hour + vat labour to estimate mowers for customers.
If the customer wants it done then usually i will take the hour off as diagnosing can sometimes be quick.
If not to be done then i charge the hour and get paid on uplift of mower.
Yes some do get left but money can be made on resale or cannibalising for parts.
 

DaveTN

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Go to any small engine shop and you'll find lots of riding and push mowers that the owner's didn't pick up in rows out back either for sale or parts. Most shops want $40 or $60 up front just to do initial troubleshooting. That amount is gone for the customer if they decide not to go for the repairs needed. As a customer I like to have a dialogue w/ any mechanic as to what the most bottom line necessary repairs would be to keep the mower going. I may not in fact need a new plug, new filter, tune-up at the time. I've seen shops lose customers on account of padding the bill with non-essentials. When I worked for Sears in the shop we always called the customer and did a run-down on diagnosis and what they wanted done etc before turning a wrench. As a tech, I didn't care whether they wanted something specific done, or not done, just whether they were happy with the work about to be done. Some customers expect the mechanic to mentally know w/o diagnosis what's wrong with a mower because it won't start. Someone is going to eat the diagnosis bill no matter what. Then if the customer doesn't want any further labor / parts invested in the machine, then fine... pay the diagnosis and haul the machine away! This initial $175 for battery and carburetor etc. put the repair fairly high for my tastes anyway, considering it an old mower, but some customers don't mind shelling out twice that if they feel it necessary. I think you did the right thing asking the customer if they wanted to go the $300, complete-the-job routine. Many shop owners will eat a repair that's not their fault just to keep a happy customer and avoid bad-mouthing. This would be one of my "Classic $20 Cases" where in retro I would GLADLY have given the customer $20... even $30 and have them take the mower somewhere else and never roll it in my door. This case would also qualify as being one of those "$20 projects that morphs into a $200 monstrosity!"
 
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