Oven Repairs

What are the important factors when choosing the best repairer for your oven or stove?

The following list should be a good start:

  • Do you need an electrician or gas fitter?
  • Does the technician have the proper certification?
  • Does the organisation have the proper Licenses i.e. electrical contractors license?
  • What are their charges?
  • What Brands do they service?
  • How do their warranties compare?
  • Do they have the rights parts on board?
  • Are they members of a peak body association?
  • Do they have published policies and procedures?

Well, seems simple enough, or at the minimum if you read enough blogs etc. you will find many variations on the above list stating their method/list/tips are the panacea for your dilemma; how to choose the right repairer!

The reality is greatly different. Most people needing their oven or stove repaired don’t have time to make a list and methodically check it off before making a booking. Worse nevertheless, in little Adelaide you are limited to a handful of truly specialized repairers who repair ovens and stoves for a living, where their skills, resources, stock, parts etc match your requirements.

So what can you do that is quick and easy while nevertheless improving your chances of getting a good repairer? If you don’t have time to read the complete article, you can jump to the summary at the end of the article, meanwhile the advice I can give in one sentence is two things: Remember a) most major appliance repairers will tell you what you want to hear, and b) you only get what you pay for… If you’re lucky!

However, If you’re interested in the pictureque version, great, we will revisit some of the bullet points above and hopefully fine tune on your bull-dust radar.

Q. Does the technician have the right certification?

A. Yes Remember most will tell you what you want to hear. But the real answer lies in a lengthy discussion. For example; is your appliance electric or gas. Then we need to decide if the problem is electrical or gas. Most gas ovens or stoves have electrical systems within them, which, if the oven or stove is hardwired, requires a registered electrician to carry out the repair. If the oven or stove has an electrical fault and the unit is not hard wired, then the chances are the average refrigeration mechanic can attempt the repair legitimately. But and isn’t there always a but, how do you know if the unit is hardwired? And how do you know if the unit has an electrical or gas fault. Most customers won’t know! The reason these clever lists are often not all that helpful is that you have no way of knowing if the repairer has told a white lie or not. In truth, they don’t either. They need to see the job before making that judgement. And here is the reason they told you what you want to hear; because most will collect a minimum payment at the first visit in spite of of whether they can complete the repair or not. The more specialized repairer will tell you who you need to call, but for them, the payoff has already been achieved; that being payment for the first visit.

Q. What are your charges?

A. Various. Many will state a call out fee, plus a rate. Most call out fees include some maximum time limit i.e. 1/4 or 1/2 an hour. Some will qualify a fixed charge. Many will exclude the GST. But you, being a switched on individual, googled for a repairer that doesn’t charge a call out fee. Well, before you pat yourself on the back too hard, make sure you ask “what the minimum charge will be”. Many repairers are responding to the pressures of what we refer to as the “Deal Shoppers” who ring around town and compare prices and select the cheapest price. Those who book a call with the cheapest deal rarely end up getting the best repair. And if they do get a cheap job, there are generally good reasons underpinning that ability, i.e. cutting corners, fitting cheap or second hand parts, not paying insurances, not paying correct wages, not using qualified tradespeople, not being careful to refit covers and alike with all their screws and safety harnesses and the list goes on. Remember, you only get what you pay for.

Q. What brands do they service?

A. Your brand! – Because it’s what you want to hear! Most will tell you they can service your brand, and for the most part that’s true. On the other end of the extent are the brand specific repairers who are generally proud of the brands they service as it reflects their position in the industry. They keep up it out like a badge of honour and will tell toot sweet if they don’t service your brand. Specialists will carry more parts for a given brand, so their chances of completing a job during the first visit is higher than someone who repairs everything and anything. The compromise for brand specific repairer is the list of appliances that brand covers i.e. ovens, stoves, washing machines, dishwashers, range-hoods, microwaves, dryers and others. Which method the space for oven or stove parts compete with pumps, and motors and seals and timers of the other appliances. Look for the repairer who specialises in your brand oven or stove.

Q. What is your warranty?

A. 12 months! Or at the minimum that is the most likely answer, because it’s what you want to hear. But this is a complicate piece of consumer legislation. There are two aspects of warranty, labour and materials. The normal warranty for Labour is 3 months. Both of which the court will throw out the window if it is a matter before them. But these periods serve as a reasonable guide. The catch is in the judgement. If a repairer has to return to a job to repair a ingemination, how do you estimate if the work that was done is the cause or if the cause is a different fault altogether. There is a better than good chance the latter is the case. Those companies that offer longer warranties know that the chances they will have to cover the cost of repairs under the terms of warranty are very low. In fact, it has the additional assistance of acting like a loyalty program. If the warranty extends to say 5 years or 10 years or already a lifetime warranty remember you are doubtful to be able to estimate if the warranty fault is what was before repaired. So, for the period of the extended warranty you will call the warranting company first in the misguided belief the work will be done for free, which is true for very few, if any of those return visits. Remember, if it seems too good to be true… it probably is.

Q. Do they have the right parts on board?

A. Yes – Because it’s what you want to hear! Service vehicles have limited space, as such high turnover/high profit parts represent the largest quantity held. Repairers often qualify the part(s) are typically held in stock. But that does not average it is in the van that is designated for your job. No repair company doing major appliance service work is able to continue an accurate up to date van stock. Which method more likely than not, staff taking the booking have no idea what’s in the van. Stock held in the van is only one problem, the second is the quality of the part. Elements, thermostats, hinges, door seals, etc. are not made by the brand manufacturer. Elements for example are made by dozens of manufacturers, but they generally only make elements. Brand manufacturers buy their elements from the more reputable suppliers, unprotected to a contract. However those same elements are also made by copy manufacturers. Some are good quality, some are dubious. But the difference is the price. Cheaper elements can be bought for up to 50% cheaper than the higher quality elements.

Q. Is the repairer a member of an Association.

A. Yes – you guessed it, because that is what you want to hear. Electricians are often members of NECA the National Electrical Contractors Association. The question is, how does that help you qualify the repairer is a bonafide, quality operator? Simple, it doesn’t! This group are really about electrical contractors who wire building – big and small. AIA Appliance Industry Australia is probably the main applicable association. Sadly in South Australia that will limit you to one repairer, Electrolux. My experience is that the Major Appliance Repair industry is just too small to sustain the real work necessary to validate a repairer as a bona fide quality operator. Just because the repairer is a member of an association doesn’t average they will be held to a higher standard of repair.

Q. Do they have published policy and procedure.

A. Hopefully yes, but more likely no. However, this is a valid method of improving your chances of getting a quality repairer. But really who wants to or has time to read a companies policy and procedure before making a booking. No one. And then there is always the probability that the written documents, if they are made obtainable are marketing tools instead of the method and method by which the repairer operates. Having access to a repairers policy and procedure is helpful, but only if a) you have time to read and understand them and b) if you can verify they conform to them.

SUMMARY

If you can’t be bothered reading the long version above, here’s the abbreviated version.

  • Make sure you qualify the minimum payable charge at the outset. No call out fee, does not average “Free”.
  • Fixed price repairs is a valid advantage for simple repairs. Because these repairers need to complete the work within a limited period of time and visits to keep profitable. They generally limit their time to half an hour on the first job. Generally they do not attempt complicate diagnostics or repairs.
  • When engaging a repairer who qualifies “Free quotes” make sure the quote is obligation free and that your appliance remains in your care. Most repairers who offer free quotes recoup their quotation costs via a margin built into the repair work. However, if you don’t proceed with the repairs, a fee is typically forth coming.
  • Ask if there is additional costs if a return visit to fit parts is required. Most repairers have a margin built into the parts, but others don’t and add a charge for travel.
  • Cheap or second hand parts are impossible for you to screen for. Here you rely on your gut feel and experience. If they excursion a beat up old van, use greasy – torn clothes, look unkempt you can probably expect to get ripped off. But that doesn’t average, just because they come in a clean van all dressed to impress that they are honest quality operators, but generally your chances enhance.
  • One of the ways technicians shorten their time on the job is to bend covers, leave screws out and generally damage panels that can’t be seen. They fail to re-clip or obtain cables etc. Again this is difficult to screen for, but can generally be measured by the number of jobs they book a day. 8 calls a day is a fairly busy day. If they do more than 10 jobs a day or complete jobs in 15 minutes or less you can safely assume they are taking short cuts.
  • Long waiting times for parts are shared in this industry. Some are valid and some are not. Some repairers use parts as a method to enhance their scheduling efficiency. These repairers know you won’t wait very long for the initial visit, but when they have collected money for the initial visit you are committed to wait for the return visit. Try to get a gauge for how long parts will take before making the initial booking. This wont conquer the problem, but might help manage your expectations.

Remember… you only get what you pay for and only if you’re lucky. That is a basic law of business, as rock substantial as the law of gravity. Make sure you know why the differences exist; only then are you ready to make an informed decision on repairs.

Finally, being a deal shopper doesn’t average you will get the “best repair”. The ‘best repair’ is buried in the fine detail and only those people with lots of time to diligently check of their list of do’s and dont’s can be confident of getting the best deal. Deal shopping is shortsighted and ultimately the most likely method to getting a shonky repair instead of a quality one. For those of us who are time poor and have better things to do with their life than trawl the internet for hours and hours, the best way to be confident of getting a good repairer is to look for those repairers who specialise in your brand product, be prepared to pay a fair price and if you are happy with their results tell your friends and hang onto their business card.

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