Appliance repair billing: crowdsourced opinion, please
December 1, 2017 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Appliance broke, guy came out to fix it. Quoted a non-warranty price, then changed his mind and said it would be under warranty. Appliance is fixed, then weeks later I get a call telling me the work wasn't covered by the warranty and now I need to pay for it. I disagree I need to pay at this point, and would like to get a general consensus on what other think of the situation.

I had a guy out to repair an appliance a few weeks ago. He fixed it, and had to replace a part. He initially thought the part was not under warranty and quoted the price, changed his mind on site and told me it was under warranty and did not charge me for the part, only labor. Appliance is now fixed and working, all is good. I paid for services rendered at the time the work was performed.

Last week he calls me to tell me the warranty claim was rejected and asking me to pay for the part (around $150). I stalled and asked him for documentation the claim was rejected. He still hasn't been able to produce this documentation - I only have his word on this.

I get that mistakes happen, he did initially tell us the non-warranty price which we were fine with and would have paid, had he not changed his mind and gone with the warranty price. They are a small business, I don't want to be a jerk, BUT...

As far as I am concerned, I don't think it's right to come back to me after the work is completed to ask for more compensation. I agreed to the work at a certain price prior to completing it - if I let everyone who does work for me do this, they could just call me up at any time and ask me to pay whatever amount of money they wanted! And on top of that, they can't produce any documentation that this cost has actually been incurred!

My position is that I'm not paying anything until I see some kind of third party verification of the warranty rejection... and if they can come up with that I would be willing to pay half the cost as a courtesy.

But I wanted to get the hive-mind's take before I dig in on this - does this seem reasonable? Would you just pay it? Would you not pay it at all? They will be calling me to discuss Monday, so talking points would be good. I've been trying to get them to go to email, but they tend to respond to my emails with calls. I'm not completely opposed to just paying it, as we can afford it and it's our refrigerator after all, but I'm REALLY not cool with getting called on my commute home with requests for money on things I thought were already closed out, and it's a terrible precedent to pay out a random undocumented request!

They've been generally reasonable and polite so far, so trying to keep things in that space with my negotiations.
posted by annie o to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would require proof in writing that the warrantee claim was rejected, but if the repair-person provided that, I would pay the whole amount. To do otherwise would be to screw over the person who did the repairs, and i think that's unconscionable. However, i would pay nothing without documentation, and if they couldn't provide it, that's their problem.
posted by platitudipus at 5:01 PM on December 1, 2017 [14 favorites]

Is the repair guy an independent shop, or was he sent out by the store or manufacturer? If you called the manufacturer about the error, and they sent him out, he should have had better information about whether this was under warranty.

If he is an independent shop, then I think that him getting the part covered under warranty is more of a courtesy to you. You could pay him in full then make the warranty claim yourself.

I agree that he owes you the paperwork to verify that the warranty claim was rejected, but if indeed it was rejected, then you should pay the whole price of the piece.

If I were in your position, I would be talking directly to the manufacturer about this and determining whether this was a legitimate warrantied part replacement.
posted by hydra77 at 5:02 PM on December 1, 2017

Would you have declined to have the appliance fixed if he had unreservedly quoted the out-of-warranty price? I would agree that you'd ethically be in the right to not even have to pay anything at all beyond the previous settled price if he wasn't explicit that this outcome was a possibility, but refusing to do so seems a bit Ebenezer Scrooge.

Technically, I suppose, he ought to have a lawyer involved in his business and should have required you to sign a contract spelling out all eventualities and how they would be handled, and he should not have made any statement about how the manufacturer would respond to the warranty claim regardless of how certain he felt about it. So technically it seems like his fault that he didn't convey the business risk to you and contractually obligate you to be responsible for the costs of the manufacturer of the product you bought being flaky about warranty claims in comparison to his expectation.

But, if he's just a small business owner who has stumbled mostly because the manufacturer doesn't provide him with a mobile phone app and a process to get immediate feedback on whether they're going to cover a repair under warranty, and it's an expense you were going to incur anyways to get a working appliance, I would argue that you should pay for it despite not being formally obligated to because he didn't or can't afford to go through all of the legal rigmarole to require that.

(I'm not a lawyer or anything, so this is all just my Uninformed Random Internet Guy take.)

On the other hand, if he can't produce proof that the warranty claim was refused, you're totally in the right to not budge on demanding that before any further consideration of the matter.
posted by XMLicious at 5:20 PM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

You don't pay someone who calls to ask for money. You pay an invoice. An invoice is written down, describes exactly what work was performed, who did it and when, how much it cost, and who to write the check to. Even the sketchy-as-hell unlicensed plumber who I stupidly hired to do some work on my house did that much. If he calls, ask for an invoice. That said, if he can provide an invoice and you can check it with the warranty provider, you should pay it -- sometimes unexpected costs come up.
posted by miyabo at 5:58 PM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

If he can provide documentation that it’s not under warranty, I say you should pay the whole thing. Unless you want to return the part to him. There was a question of whether this particular part was under warranty. Your extrapolating to the idea that random people can then start asking for more money for work they already did does not make sense.

I also don’t understand why it’s his responsibility and not yours to know whether something is under warranty. You should have a copy of the warranty. (I once had a repair person blatantly lie to me about something not being under warranty, but I looked it up.)
posted by FencingGal at 6:49 PM on December 1, 2017

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