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Old 04-29-2015, 11:07 AM   #41
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But if the mechanic was just sitting in his car waiting for the rain to stop, you definitely have something to talk about with the owner/manager.
That's pretty much my point! There is an engine shop in my area that charges unbelievably high prices & lengthy waits for what they do. They can get away with this as they are the only certified shop (for that engine) in town. What is happening now, however, is that a few independent high quality mechanics have jumped in to service those folks that know they are being ripped off. Their prices are reasonable and they find themselves extremely busy!. The "certified shop" must now deal with the loss of business & either respond to the lower rates or lay off good mechanics that will possibly become independents as well. That's the American way.
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Old 04-29-2015, 11:23 AM   #42
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Kevin, you may be "an expert" in your field but you will never get away with your billing practice down here in the lower 48.
That "attitude" is a big part of the reason why so many people can't afford to participate in the cruising life.
Oh now...

Although I am not a marine mechanic, the concepts I tried to share are applicable to highly experienced skilled persons in almost any trade or profession. Alaska or the lower 48 does not matter. Things are no different here in Alaska. I know because I didn't always work in Alaska.

Your professional reputation is your ability to continue working. It is built on happy customers, asking for your services. In my case they tell their collegues, who then call on you, and your base of happy customers grows.

That reputation, yes the reputation of anybody that sells their services, from the good lawyer, to the skilled handyman is all important. That reputation is based on your providing a quality service. It is honestly not from customers who micro manage every minute of your day, or micro analyze the price you charged for every part vs what they could buy the thing on amazon.com. I am fortunate in my field that few of my customers understand what I do, they just see the end results.

The problem is really not the tradesmen and women its honestly boaters in general. I'll just come out and say it... In general recreational boaters are some of the cheapest people walking the planet. They, in general want to pay as little as humanly possible, and again in general, will micro analyze a bill for labor and parts to the minutest detail possible. They apply workplace standards to their service providers that if those standards were applied to them by their employers they would be up in arms with the unfairness of it all.

I do not know why its like that, and its not all boaters. I honestly think that many recreational boaters are in over their heads with their boats and the costs associated with them. Perhaps thats why they are the way they are.
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Old 04-29-2015, 01:19 PM   #43
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Kevin,

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Old 04-29-2015, 04:27 PM   #44
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Had the work been done in your absence would you question the bill? If the answer is no, pay it. My 2 cents

Way back on post 4 was my abbreviated way of stating what Kevin did a good job covering. I've made a comfortable living providing excellent service to my customers. I sold my business 6 years ago for health related reasons but can still recall how I handled customers that squabbled minor points on T&M (time & material) bills.

If it was a major boo boo I'd adjust it and chalk it up to human error, we all make them sometimes. If it was something minor I'd adjust it and make a note to not be as available the next time they called with a service request. The reasoning was I noticed it tended to be the same people calling for an adjustment no matter how diligent my record keeping. Eventually I separated the wheat from the chaff.

Like Kevin, I was always booked solid because everyone felt they received excellent value. I had plenty of local competition and my rates where near the very top of the scale for the area and my field.
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Old 04-29-2015, 04:41 PM   #45
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Way back on post 4 was my abbreviated way of stating what Kevin did a good job covering. I've made a comfortable living providing excellent service to my customers. I sold my business 6 years ago for health related reasons but can still recall how I handled customers that squabbled minor points on T&M (time & material) bills.

If it was a major boo boo I'd adjust it and chalk it up to human error, we all make them sometimes. If it was something minor I'd adjust it and make a note to not be as available the next time they called with a service request. The reasoning was I noticed it tended to be the same people calling for an adjustment no matter how diligent my record keeping. Eventually I separated the wheat from the chaff.

Like Kevin, I was always booked solid because everyone felt they received excellent value. I had plenty of local competition and my rates where near the very top of the scale for the area and my field.
Good point!
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Old 04-29-2015, 06:19 PM   #46
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Daddy used to say never to quibble with a man about his price. If he said it was $40 and you talked him down to $30, he'd (the service provider) would not give you the $40 job...

Hiring folks by the hour is fraught with opportunities for dissatisfaction -- on both sides. Best in my view to pay by the job.
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Old 04-29-2015, 06:26 PM   #47
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Some folks are genetically predisposed to quibble over bills. It's like they can't sleep unless they get their "goodnight kiss"!!

Next time they call for work, seems the tech is all of the sudden super busy!!!
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Old 04-29-2015, 08:09 PM   #48
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Computerized time costing should not be treated as holy writ. It provides a good basis for charging, but a human needs to look at the result before the bill goes out. Unintended or unexpected extraordinary results no one envisaged, like 2.5 hours sheltering from rain, merit review. Loyalty and repeat business, is a 2 way street.
I find the best way to a good servicing relationship is paying the bill, fast, but that would not stop me inquiring if I had concerns.
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Old 04-29-2015, 09:31 PM   #49
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Several things occur to me,
First - I don't find boaters (in general) to be cheap. It cost to own, operate and enjoy our boats. But then I usually tend to look at the glass half full and surround myself with positive people.

I recently had a non functioning generator well beyond my skill set. I called the authorized dealer and asked that they diagnose the problem. I agreed to pay for travel time and time to fix the problem. Months later, the generator still didn't work. Many parts later the generator still didn't work. My contract with the shop was for proper diagnoses of the problem and apply the fix. They did not fulfill their end of the contract. Now in all fairness one of the parts they replaced did actually need to be replaced it just wasn't the problem. So - I offered to pay them for the initial travel time, labor to removed and install the part replaced. About a quarter of the bill received. The shop knew they didn't follow through with proper diagnoses they accepted the funds and adjusted the remaining portion of the bill.

Some of us are capable of many things, some don't have the skills, time or care to even change the oil on their boat. These are all choices we make - we all have the same amount of time in the day and we make choices with that time.

When we enter into an agreement all parties should be clear of their commitments. This is usually where the breakdown occurs. One party or both make assumptions or are not clear when communicating. This would be true in boat, car, house repairs,etc. When in doubt - get it in writing, in fact prior to any major work performed I would always suggest getting it in writing. Make sure to read the scope of work and what is promised or not promised. If you are in doubt, move on, usually there is a reason why you have doubt. Get a second opinion/estimate.

In the end ask yourself is it worth the aggravation, effort, and time? I usually will spend more time on principal than anything else. Sitting in your car and waiting for the rain is not travel time - that is something else entirely. (Which I won't comment on)
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Old 04-29-2015, 11:29 PM   #50
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Like Kevin, I was always booked solid because everyone felt they received excellent value. I had plenty of local competition and my rates where near the very top of the scale for the area and my field.
I have a great relationship with my mechanic, even though most of my friends would never pay his very high rates. I pay them because I know that I'm getting excellent value. What does that mean? To me it means that I'm getting a professional, reliable job done the most efficient way possible. Yes, there are quicker ways to do shoddier work, but I'm convinced that he gives me the quickest way to get quality work.

That said, I have to take exception with Kevin's statement: "If I have to run and get parts because its my mistake I'm still billable." See, I don't consider that to be excellent value. I'm paying you a premium not to make those mistakes. If I wanted someone figuring it out as they go, I'd hire the cheap guy. Now everyone makes mistakes to be sure, but THEY need to take accountability for them as a professional, not pass that cost on to their customer.

Just my two cents.
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Old 04-29-2015, 11:36 PM   #51
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I probably should leave this alone and just continue to stay in the background here but I just can't help myself.....
Travel time is just that, travel time. I feel you and no one else for that matter should be paying someone to sit in the car. You also should no be charged because of incorrect parts or defective parts brought by the mechanic (unless the parts are supplied by the customer). You have paid for a job to be done, if the wrong parts are ordered or shipped that is between the mechanic, his staff, and or his supplier. He should eats the loss or charge the person making the mistake for the lost time/money.

Reputation, good or bad, is not created on just the finished product. Even if you happen to be one of only a hand full in your field just because you can get the job done does not mean you have a good reputation. In fact you just might the arrogant asshat people are forced to call because they have no other option not because you have a stellar reputation.The time between start and finish has a lot to do with creating a persons reputation.

If what the O.P. stated was accurate I would have to assume that either a mistake in billing was made or that the mechanic/shop is just banking on the O.P. not realizing or that he will not question the final bill. If it is anything but a mistake then my gut reaction tells me there are some questionable practices being conducted by the mechanic/shop.

Anyone that thinks the O.P. should stop complaining and pay the bill needs to go back and read his and all of the other posts. All the O.P. did was ask some questions.
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Old 04-30-2015, 12:52 AM   #52
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In general recreational boaters are some of the cheapest people walking the planet. They, in general want to pay as little as humanly possible, and again in general, will micro analyze a bill for labor and parts to the minutest detail possible.....................I do not know why its like that, and its not all boaters. I honestly think that many recreational boaters are in over their heads with their boats and the costs associated with them. Perhaps thats why they are the way they are.
Well, there it is folks! What one expert thinks of his customers...in general, of course!
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Old 04-30-2015, 12:58 AM   #53
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That said, I have to take exception with Kevin's statement: "If I have to run and get parts because its my mistake I'm still billable." See, I don't consider that to be excellent value. I'm paying you a premium not to make those mistakes. If I wanted someone figuring it out as they go, I'd hire the cheap guy. Now everyone makes mistakes to be sure, but THEY need to take accountability for them as a professional, not pass that cost on to their customer.

Just my two cents.
I have to be careful here and try to separate what I do for a living, Vs what people pay for in a tradesperson on their boat.

The only thing I can relate my statement to that has an actual parallel in the boating world is troubleshooting. I am a professional troubleshooter. Been doing it my entire adult life. Yea, pretty good at it. Better than most for sure. I still make mistakes. Yes, less than some others, and way less than when I was young, but I do still make mistakes.

My customers know I am not perfect. They know that if I make a mistake they are going to pay for it. Not only in my time, and materials, but in the loss of functionality of their equipment. The value of my time is insignificant in the sum total of ther cost of a mistake on my part. So much that a mistake can easily exceed the value of my lifetime earnings.

To bring this into focus regarding boats a measure needs to be made. Is it cheaper to pay for the few mistakes of a professional than the many mistakes of a lesser quality tradesperson on your boat. I would argue that the true value is in the professional that makes fewer, less costlly mistakes than the guy that makes more mistakes and or hides them.

When I'm paying a shipyard for work on my boat, all I care about is the outcome. I want quality work, and I'm willing to pay a professional to run back to the shop to get a part he overlooked, or a part that was uncovered to be defective upon close examination. I never get the cheapest price, but I have never had a bad quality job either.

After spending over a hundred and fifty thousand of my own dollars on a major repower and refit of my boat, several years down the road I have yet to uncover a shortcut that my shipyard made on my boat. Thats because they knew that the sun was going to come up in the morning, and they knew that I trusted them to do the right thing, and they knew that I would never second guess them on an invoice.
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Old 04-30-2015, 01:30 AM   #54
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Kevin, you may be "an expert" in your field but you will never get away with your billing practice down here in the lower 48.
That "attitude" is a big part of the reason why so many people can't afford to participate in the cruising life.
I think Walt has an astute understanding of what makes a business succeed. The number one factor (in my opinion) is customer relationships. The company I work for puts more stock in this than anything else and puts a HUGE effort in terms of both personal and financial investments into maintaining and improving our customer relationships. Because without good customer relationships, it doesn't matter how well the planes are designed and built; we might as well, in Bill Boeing's words when he was trying to get the company off the ground in the early 1900s, "...padlock the plant and tell the junk dealers to haul it away."

The companies I give my ongoing business to are the ones who have treated me well. This does not mean giving me "deals" and "breaks" now and then, but simply treating me fairly. For the most part, the transactions are straightforward: I ask them about doing a particular job, they tell me what it will cost, if it's what I'm willing to pay I hire them, they do the work, and I pay them.

But.... and this is what separates the companies that understand the value of customer relationships from those that don't... on the rare occasions when something doesn't go as planned, the companies that accept responsibility for any problems that are due to their errors or the unrealistic application of a policy are the ones that earn my respect and my repeat business.

It's a two-way street, of course. Sometimes an error is my fault. We are having all new cushions and upholstery made for the main cabin of our PNW boat. The upholsterer we hired to do the work is in Yakima, a two and a half hour drive over the mountains from our home which is another two hours from the boat. We drove over to Yakima last Friday and picked up the new cushions and then took them to the boat on Sunday. Almost all the cushions are off dimensionally. So back to the house with them, and yesterday we took them back over the mountains to Yakima.

But..... the mistakes he made were our fault, mostly mine. We assumed he could simply use the old cushions and patterns for the new ones so that's what we told him to do.

Turned out that the cushions we assumed were all the same width, for example, are not because the seat bases are slightly different from one side of the boat to the other, something I never thought to check. So this time, I provided him with what I should have provided him with in the first place--- drawings with dimensions and photos showing what was off where and by how much.

While he made the physical mistakes with his upholstery sewing machines, he made them because we did not provide him with the right kind of information. So he should be paid for fixing what was our fault.

A company (or an individual professional) which does not make allowances for variables and which applies billing and other policies rigidly across the board no matter what will most likely not have as effective customer relationships as a company or professional who is flexible and takes into account reality as well as policy.
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Old 04-30-2015, 10:38 AM   #55
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I have found that the hardest part of fixing things on my boat is finding the very best person or company in the field. When I manage to find them I make sure to pay them whatever they ask, and I pay them immediately.

Example: when I bought my boat three years ago I had a problem when running the boat on plane. After about ten minutes the voltmeters would swing from 14 to 16 volts, back and forth, like a metronome, then the temps on both engines would quickly run up from 180 degrees to 200 and the red zone. I would immediately throttle back and the temps would gradually drop back to normal and the swinging would stop.

Suspecting an electrical issue, I hired an electrician who spent 8 hours on my boat, billed me for the eight hours, said all was good but the problem was not fixed. When I called him he did not offer to adjust the bill or come back and fix the problem.

A few months later a friend referred me to a great marine electrician. I told him about the issue, he crawled around and found a bad alternator on my starboard engine. He called around, found a rebuilt alternator, and replaced it. I asked him to check for other issues. He found a third of the wiring connections on my electrical breakers were loose and tightened them, found several areas where 12 volt power was spliced incorrectly and repaired them, moved a bundle of added-on wires that prevented the use of my engine room emergency door, and he added fused 12-volt distribution boxes where I planned to add lighting in the future.

The whole thing took three days and the bill was less than what the first guy charged. I handed him cash as he was packing up and I have referred him to several other boaters.

Getting things done right is always cheaper in the long run than getting things done cheaply with corners cut. When I find someone who is excellent I pay them and I try to bring them more business. That makes them happy to work with me in the future.
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Old 04-30-2015, 12:26 PM   #56
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I probably should leave this alone (Me too!) and just continue to stay in the background here but I just can't help myself.....

Reputation, good or bad, is not created on just the finished product. Even if you happen to be one of only a hand full in your field just because you can get the job done does not mean you have a good reputation. In fact you just might the arrogant ass that people are forced to call because they have no other option not because you have a stellar reputation.....

or that the mechanic/shop is just banking on the O.P. not realizing or that he will not question the final bill.....(That happens often in my town.)

Anyone that thinks the O.P. should stop complaining and pay the bill needs to go back and read his and all of the other posts. All the O.P. did was ask some questions.
The above was stated much better than my attempt.
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Old 04-30-2015, 01:00 PM   #57
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I am fortunate to have some very good boat repair facilities near by, a short walk in fact whether rain or shine. What seems to work best is to get an estimate for all jobs whether big or small. This serves two purposes, fixes the price so few if any quibbles occur and gives me the chance to say yea or nay before work begins.

Having been in the boat repair business in a previous life, I made sure during the past 35 years of boat ownership that good repair facilities were close by when selecting a marina. Travel time is a nuisance to deal with and poor work, wrong parts, improper tools or broken truck excuses are all too common.
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Old 04-30-2015, 05:51 PM   #58
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It seems that there are several types of people here, those that have no problem handing over their hard earned money regardless of the outcome, those that think people should be paid regardless of the outcome, and those that think it is acceptable to ask questions and withhold handing over money until concerns they have are explained. What you do is your choice. I for one would not pay someone to sit in a car and do nothing. Nor would I pay someone for mistakes that they made that would wind up costing me money. I also would not pay someone that was on my boat for several hours and could not diagnose and or fix a problem.

Curiosity really has gotten the best of me based on some of the responses in this thread so here goes nothing.
ksanders do you truly feel the way your responses sound? I am asking because its hard to read into someone's tone or mindset based on typing. To me it comes across as someone being full of themselves. I say that because you stated your clients should pay you even if you make mistakes regardless of what it costs them. Those are your words not mine. You also say that "I have to be careful here and try to separate what I do for a living, Vs what people pay for in a tradesperson on their boat." What is it that you do for a living? Inquirering minds would like to know.
I would bet a large sum of money that a lot of people reading this thread are thinking what I am.
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Old 04-30-2015, 06:26 PM   #59
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For the first one, $450 in the rain,.....he left the shop drove to the marina(15 min drive) and sat in his car for two hours until the rain stopped.

And for the next line, should I have to pay $150 bucks for him to drive to from the shop to the boat because he ordered the wrong part?

Would you contest these two charges?
To take this back to the original question which has probably become a bit buried in the ensuing dialogue, if it was me, I would do this:

I would talk to the manager or owner of the company, explain my concerns, and see what he (or she) has to say. If the manager or owner is unbending, it won't change anything if I yell at him, as justified as I think that may be.

But if he acknowledges the validity of my concern and agrees to a reasonable compromise, that will tell me a lot about him, his company, and the relationships he wants toward his customers. If he refuses to bend or cannot explain his billing practices in a way that makes them seem reasonable to me, that will also tell me a lot about him and his company and I would probably start thinking about using someone else if I had a choice.
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Old 04-30-2015, 08:07 PM   #60
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It seems that there are several types of people here, those that have no problem handing over their hard earned money regardless of the outcome, those that think people should be paid regardless of the outcome, and those that think it is acceptable to ask questions and withhold handing over money until concerns they have are explained. What you do is your choice. I for one would not pay someone to sit in a car and do nothing. Nor would I pay someone for mistakes that they made that would wind up costing me money. I also would not pay someone that was on my boat for several hours and could not diagnose and or fix a problem.

Curiosity really has gotten the best of me based on some of the responses in this thread so here goes nothing.
ksanders do you truly feel the way your responses sound? I am asking because its hard to read into someone's tone or mindset based on typing. To me it comes across as someone being full of themselves. I say that because you stated your clients should pay you even if you make mistakes regardless of what it costs them. Those are your words not mine. You also say that "I have to be careful here and try to separate what I do for a living, Vs what people pay for in a tradesperson on their boat." What is it that you do for a living? Inquirering minds would like to know.
I would bet a large sum of money that a lot of people reading this thread are thinking what I am.
My friend I an certainly not full of myself. I make mistakes, I've said that. I have made some really expensive mistakes. A couple of times over the course of my very long career mistakes I've made have made the news.

What I do for a living is simple really. I operate and troubleshoot the industrial networks that run the things behind the scenes that the average person never really thinks about. Things like the electrical grid. Things like petroleum processing plants. Pipeline pumping stations. The things you would never think about being an automated network. There are lots of networking guys out there. Not so many that specialize in my field. Fewer still that can go from analog signal to human interface.

Full of myself, no not a chance. I've made some dozie of mistakes. I make much less now because I've been doing this work for an entire lifetime.

If you read my words I am very lenient to honest mistakes. That's because I know they happen. That's why I could never hold a person working on my boat to a higher standard than i have been able to achieve with a lifetime of practice.
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