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  • To warranty or not warranty

    I got a call from a customer (franchisee of a major hotel chain) for whom I did a service call about a year ago. A thermostat failed in a 100 gallon, 450,000 btuh water heater. (They were ready to replace the heater and wanted a quote. I saved them about $6000 by just fixing the actual problem.)

    I installed the Thermostat (aquastat with a wet bulb sensor) on September 18, of last year. The manager calls me at 4:19 pm today, Sept 24 informing that the water heater is overheating. He wants to know if I can fix it, and if it's under warranty. The supply house closed at 4:30, and the sales person on the phone said he couldn't get warranty info till Monday.

    I'm positive the manufacturer's warranty is 12 months. Not 12 months and a week. (It's either a White Rogers or Honeywell) I'll push for a warranty because as far as I'm concerned the aquastat failed far too soon.

    I'm going to see if I can convert this thing to a dry well aquastat.

    So my question is should I warranty my labor even though it's over a year? Should I warranty the aquastat even if the manufacturer won't?

    I've already made my decision. I'm curious what the majority would do.

    FYI: In case it's pertinent to some: I never did a job before for this customer, and haven't done any since. I think they have a fairly capable handyman contractor person who does their plumbing.
    Time flies like an arrow.

    Fruit flies like a banana.

  • #2
    Re: To warranty or not warranty

    it would really depend on the customers attitude for me.
    the part they can pay for if it won't be covered under the mfg warranty, but whether or not they pay labor depends on their interaction with me
    No, it's not rocket science, it's plumbing and unlike rocket science it requires a license.

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    • #3
      Re: To warranty or not warranty

      Based on your information of the situation, I say charge them. They wouldn't have and never will call you if the "handyman" could do it.

      J.C.

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      • #4
        Re: To warranty or not warranty

        I would charge them. Labor is never free.
        Ron Hasil Lic #058-160417
        A-Archer Sewer & Plumbing specializing in:
        Tankless Water Heaters | Drain and Sewer Cleaning
        Sump and Ejector Pumps | Backflow RPZ Testing

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        • #5
          Re: To warranty or not warranty

          I agree 12 months and one week and not one call out of them ? what about referrals did you get any new customers from them ? If not I would not think twice about billing them its not like you are there a couple of times a month and if I have not gotten any jobs from them then you know where you stand you are their emergency guy and they should not expect any good deal from you and why should they ?

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          • #6
            Re: To warranty or not warranty

            A 12 month warranty is a 12 months warranty and not one minute more so charge him if it was me and seeing he has only got you for one job and users a handyman I tell to get stuffed as I don`t want clients like that.

            Tony

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            • #7
              Re: To warranty or not warranty

              I agree with the prev posters. You should charge for the work that you are going to do.

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              • #8
                Re: To warranty or not warranty

                I give a 90 day warranty for all commercial jobs, nothing more. I would charge them.

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                • #9
                  Re: To warranty or not warranty

                  Thanks for all understandable and reasoned responses. I appreciate them! The fact that the response was unanimous strongly suggests to me that I'm looking at this the wrong way. Your responses changed my mind but then it changed back again.

                  You guys are absolutely right, it would OK to charge the customer. In fact, I really don't have a written warranty program. So technically maybe nothing I do is under warranty. However, I'm inclined to do the repair as warranty work if there's no obvious external cause for the failure. At the moment, the way I see it, whether or not the job should be warranty isn't about any issue other than the spirit of the plumbing service my company offers. I made a profit on the part, and I installed it. If the part failed sooner than it reasonably should have the ethical thing to do is to back up the work. That's how I would want to be treated if I were the customer. Just one the risks of doing business.
                  Time flies like an arrow.

                  Fruit flies like a banana.

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                  • #10
                    Re: To warranty or not warranty

                    Although I'm sure that I'll be in the minority here, I applaud you for the way you value your customers. Service after the sale can make or break a company. Having to eat a job every now and then is never a good thing but usually comes back as a good thing. Even though you have not had a call back at that hotel you may have already gotten or will get future business because of they way you treated this account. You have no way of knowing if the franchisee has or has not recommended you to others but chances are pretty good that they have or will.
                    ================================================== ====
                    ~~Don't worry about old age; it doesn't last that long.

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                    • #11
                      Re: To warranty or not warranty

                      charge them until you get a credit from the supply house. if you don't get credit, then they pay for it. you didn' t make the parts and unless you damaged it installing the well and thermostat, 1 year is very fair.

                      the labor is something you can charge or split.

                      i think they will understand if you explain things throughly.

                      rick.
                      phoebe it is

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                      • #12
                        Re: To warranty or not warranty

                        Manufacturers of many products these days warranty parts separately from labor, i.e., parts 12 months, labor 90 days.

                        I think you have a great customer service attitude.

                        But I would charge him. If he doesn't like that, give him the part in a box. Assuming of course there was nothing faulty in your work that contributed to the failure.

                        As I see it, the fact that he has a handyman has no bearing on the issue. You were paid for the work you performed and your expertise in diagnosing the problem. If he has another guy, be that guy a plumber, handyman or brother-in-law that can do routine work adequately, that's good for him. I don't see how he owes you anything other than the amount on the invoice you presented.

                        I was in the performance engine business and many customers would go to a lower priced shop or try to assemble it themselves, unless it was an important project (e.g., race motor or vintage performance engine like an old hemi or Ford 427), needed a specialized service that I offered, or was screwed up by someone else. I always felt grateful that the Customer chose us to help him with whatever he needed... as long as he had the $108.50 per hour, that is.

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                        • #13
                          Re: To warranty or not warranty

                          Originally posted by geno gardner View Post
                          Thanks for all understandable and reasoned responses. I appreciate them! The fact that the response was unanimous strongly suggests to me that I'm looking at this the wrong way. Your responses changed my mind but then it changed back again.

                          You guys are absolutely right, it would OK to charge the customer. In fact, I really don't have a written warranty program. So technically maybe nothing I do is under warranty. However, I'm inclined to do the repair as warranty work if there's no obvious external cause for the failure. At the moment, the way I see it, whether or not the job should be warranty isn't about any issue other than the spirit of the plumbing service my company offers. I made a profit on the part, and I installed it. If the part failed sooner than it reasonably should have the ethical thing to do is to back up the work. That's how I would want to be treated if I were the customer. Just one the risks of doing business.
                          So, using this logic. If anything does not survive its manufacturer's warranty or even a time frame that the customer believes the product should've lasted both the material and labor charges should be covered. I'm curious to the way many of you handle water heaters that do not make it six years? What about a tankless water heater with a 15 year warranty on the heat exchanger? Would you really change it out for free after 15 years? Manufacturer's warranty on the part, 30 days on the labor, nothing more, nothing less. I would charge them for the part, plus markup, plus installation. Anything else seems like a good way to put yourself right out of business. They shouldn't expect anything less, and if they do, you really don't need them as a customer.
                          Distractions are everywhere, don't lose sight of your dream.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: To warranty or not warranty

                            Originally posted by Devine Plumbing View Post
                            So, using this logic. If anything does not survive its manufacturer's warranty or even a time frame that the customer believes the product should've lasted both the material and labor charges should be covered. I'm curious to the way many of you handle water heaters that do not make it six years? What about a tankless water heater with a 15 year warranty on the heat exchanger? Would you really change it out for free after 15 years? Manufacturer's warranty on the part, 30 days on the labor, nothing more, nothing less. I would charge them for the part, plus markup, plus installation. Anything else seems like a good way to put yourself right out of business. They shouldn't expect anything less, and if they do, you really don't need them as a customer.
                            Devine,

                            Good question. Slippery slopes abound. The criteria I am considering is how long the aquastat ought to last under normal conditions. I don't know how long an aquastat ought to last as that's going to be determined by the control operating environment, design characteristics, and adherence to manufacturing specs. In this case: The operating environment is a typical mechanical room. Warm and dry. The water in that town is considered hard, but the hotel does use a water softener. The aquastat sensor is exposed to the water, which is how the previous aquastat failed. (That one lasted over 8 years.) So I'm going to see about installing a dry well to accept the sensor.

                            Control elements on water heaters, furnaces, and boilers typically last years. A failure a week after a boiler plate 12 month warranty period is premature imo. Of course the customer would always want warranty work. It just so happens that in this case I'm inclined to agree.

                            Regarding the slippery slope question. I don't have many callbacks or warranty work where it's become a problem. I try to be fair about things and take each case by itself.

                            I'm seriously reconsidering my logic on labor warranty as a result of the responses.
                            Time flies like an arrow.

                            Fruit flies like a banana.

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                            • #15
                              Re: To warranty or not warranty

                              Some good reading in this thread. Some of it blows my mind though. I didn't manufacture the parts, I only install them. I'm not going to warranty them for the most part, that's what the manufacture does.
                              I install Bradford White water heaters, they have a six year warranty. I guarantee it was installed professionally and to code. The warranty is with the company, not me.
                              I do offer a small warranty of a year or less depending on the job mostly for faucets, toilets etc. and I clearly state it on the invoice. Anything more than that forget about it, not my problem. Since some of these faucets are stating a lifetime warranty should I be the one to offer the warranty? I don't think so.

                              He installed the part correctly, it lasted a year. If it was me the customer would pay full labor. If I can get the part for free under warranty then I would pass that on to them. Why should I reduce my labor or do it for free?

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