Good Deal Or Ripoff?

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 242015

One reason that we don’t have very much advertising from the RV industry in the Gypsy Journal is because I have never made it a secret that a lot of what is being made and sold is junk, and that poor service after the sale seems to be the norm with many companies. In fact, I have been advised to tone it down more than once if I wanted a company’s advertising or to speak at certain RV shows and rallies. But I’m just not a tone it down kind of guy.

That being said, not everybody who builds, sells, or works on RVs is out to take advantage of you. I want to share an e-mail that I got the other day from a woman who feels she got ripped off by a mobile RV repairman who took advantage of her situation and my response.

She complained that the air conditioner in her fifth wheel trailer had stopped working and her husband works in the oil patch and was going to be gone for the next two weeks. It was over 100 degrees inside the trailer with all the windows open and her two little kids were getting sick from the heat, so she called a mobile RV tech. He drove 30 miles to get there, worked on it for an hour, replaced “something” and now the AC is blowing cold, but he charged her $200, which she felt was outrageous. She added, “Doctors don’t make $200 a hour. This is an example of somebody taking advantage of a helpless woman with kids and ripping her off. It should be illegal.”

I replied, “I don’t feel you got ripped off. First of all, he may have worked on it for an hour, but that 30 mile trip to you and then back was another hour or more. That was time he could have been working on someone’s else’s rig. I don’t know what the part he replaced in your air conditioner was or what it cost, but he didn’t get it for free. Not to mention that his truck, tools, and training didn’t come free, nor did the fuel for his 60 mile round trip. Plus, your air conditioning is working and your kids are not getting sick. I think you were treated fairly.”

What are your thoughts? Fair deal or ripoff?

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  39 Responses to “Good Deal Or Ripoff?”

  1. Very fair, an hour travel time and the price of gas and to his work time and parts.

  2. Keep being yourself Nick, That’s why I start my day with this blog.
    The price of the A/C repair was fair as you explained it.

  3. Your response was right on. Not a ripoff – we have always paid a service call fee any where from $50 to $100 same as if a plumber came to our BM home and the we paid anywhere from $80 to $100 / hr for labor plus parts. – Mike 1ZW934V9065630483

  4. Very fair price. I would ask the lady how much it would have cost her to hook up and drive that 60 miles round trip, pay the mechanic for his time and the cost of parts. I highly doubt she could have done it cheaper!

  5. More than fair! Even at twice the price. Some people have no idea of what things cost or are worth nowadays.

  6. That price would have probably been fair if I drove it to the RV Dealer to have it fixed. Having the service brought to you, instead of you having to go get the service, is worth a lot in my book.

  7. I would be thrilled that it is now working. It would be interesting to know what she thinks a “reasonable” price is. It doesn’t sound bad to me.

  8. She definitely was not ripped off. You were spot on in your answer.

  9. I would have been jumping up and down if it only cost $200 to have a nice cool camper. I would probably have gladly given him my first born to have air conditioning! As to why my name hasn’t been picked, I wonder that same thing with the lottery numbers. Why not MINE! People amaze me. Keep plugging along as the majority love to read your blog and do not feel we must win to continue.

  10. As for the comparison to a Dr. getting $100 per hour: The RV tech is NOT under “price controls” like Medicare, or health Ins. plans. Does everyone realize that M.D.’s are contracted to accept what Medicare sets for the price of something and then the Health Ins. looks at that. I predict that we will one day have a major shortage of Dr.’s due to this. Maybe those who would have been a Doctor will become RV tech’s. I also agree that it was most reasonable to charge $200 total….. about $100 of that would be for parts, labor $60 and the rest for a “house call”.

  11. I would have paid double that and been happy that the AC worked just to keep my puppies cool, let alone the children!!!

  12. More than fair! We just paid $700 on the road to get our generator running. They squeezed us in without an appointment in a very busy RV town and gave us a free two night stay w/50amp. Took them minutes to find and fix the “no fuel” problem and hours to get the stripped oil plug out without damage when they started an unscheduled general maintenance on it. The generator is working beautifully now as we boondock across country. Did we get ripped off? Who knows. I don’t think so. Without the gen there would have been no travel. In this case, it wasn’t about the money. In her case, it shouldn’t have been about the money either. That’s my opinion.

  13. So why didn’t she just fix it herself? Oh right, she didn’t know what was wrong or how to find out or how to fix it!

    The techs knowledge and experience are also worth money, as well as his time. Add in the cost of parts, fuel and travel costs (wear, tear, etc.) and the $200.00 looks less and less expensive.

    Yes, I do know how to fix most things and that knowledge and experience has cost me a LOT!


  14. Great Deal !!

    You hit the nail on the head Nick…and never stop stop being a “ain’t gonna tone it down guy” It inspires all of us.

  15. that was a very good deal, some folks think things should be fixed for free, we just spent $950 to have our ac fixed, this did not count the labor cost. We are just very thankful to have our AC back. did we get ripped off I do not think so, they could have told us we needed a new unit that would have been over $3k instead they just put in all new parts.

  16. Fair Deal! $200 is what many would have charges if they had just moved from one site to another in an RV park. Don’t know how much the part may have cost … but having the knowledge to figure out WHAT part is needed and then HAVING the part on hand and having the TOOLS to fix it right there and then … that’s what you pay for. Maybe she doesn’t pay her doctor $200 an hour … she would pay him a lot more if her kid broke an arm or became ill. She should cool off and calm down.

  17. The price was more than fair. Two hours of time for the mobile service with parts available on the truck and shop time at over $100.00 per hour at repair shops.
    She got undercharged!!!!!

  18. Wow, two days in a row, maybe Bad Nick is itching to get out and offer his thoughts?


    Nick, as always, you are spot on….

  19. More than fair and DR’s get way more than 100 per hour. An hour surgery will cost 1000.00 for the surgeon alone. And one of the reasons I am not in the fix it business even though I fixed things for a living for over 40 years but always in industry or the military..

    When I was a kid Dr’s usually lived in the neighbor with the rest of us. Now all I know live in Mc Mansions. And when they can fix you up it is well worth it! When they leave ill not so much.. 😉

  20. I’m the woman who wrote to Nick about this and you all are not getting the point. I talked to my husband and he said he could have fixed the AC for about $25 if he was home and it would have taken him all of 30 minutes. That’s the rip off part. I don’t care about his travel time or tools or all of that. That’s the excuse they use to stick it to you. That’s part of his business expense and any business absorbs that to keep the door open.

  21. Patricia, your husband works in the oil patch and your griping about a $200 service call? How much would it cost him in lost wages to come home and fix it? The way businesses “absorb” their expenses is to past it on to the customer. Get real lady!!

  22. I think we are getting the point just fine. I’m curious–considering what you’ve heard here regarding travel, the need to make a living, etc., what do *you* think would have been a fair price to charge?

  23. You don’t care about his travel….would you had rather took it someplace and let it sit for weeks until they fit you in? You don’t care about his tools and “all that”, what if he didn’t have the tool needed to do the repair? Do you have the tools needed? What about the insurance he needs to carry to work on your RV, probably don’t care about that either. I would be greatful to got off with a $200.00 bill to have my AC working in this heat. Business expenses are built into everything you buy or do or that company wouldn’t be in business. I hope my RV Tech husband never gets a call from you!

  24. No matter what you think is fair, Patricia, you were not ripped off. The man brought his expertise, parts and labor to your house and fixed what you need fixed. I owned a service business for 25 years and believe me, your price was more than fair. Write the man a thank you note.
    We as business owners have to keep our prices where they are to stay open. If we don’t price ourselves properly, we will not longer be in business when you need your AC fixed.

  25. Very fair Nick. I was a tech and working foreman at body shop for 11 years before a change in career. Customers would often complain that we over charged them. The fact that we paid rent, taxes, paid for parts, paint, add extra labor and not charge for it. I always asked them if they worked overtime for free. And I don’t mean working at standard pay but, free.

  26. Fair at twice the price. Any repair person or company
    will charge $75 to $125 just to come to your residence
    Not counting a fuel surcharge. Then I wouldn’t mind the
    Charges for their expertise.

  27. There is an easy way to solve this problem. Always get as much information as you can about the price on the phone before the service person comes out. Then you will at least know what they charge for a visit and can decide not to have them come.

    Ask for an estimate again after they look at the item in need of repair. If it is too much, you can decide not to have it done. This is why repair companies charge for visits. If you deciide to have the work done, m
    ake sure you are kept informed of any changes in the estimate as the work proceeds.

    I handle all my repairs this way. There are no surprises and everyone leaves with a smile.

  28. Fair deal.

  29. PB—-next RV-problem,just first call your husband (if they will let him accept on the job calls). HA

    IF he could get off: IF he could find the part(s) where your 5th wheel is located; IF he couldn’t get time off and IF he got fired for leaving to help the “hot kids”; IF he had to drive over 200 miles each way to get back home……….. IF.

    Maybe he should exit “oil field work” and commence “high-paying RV work”.

  30. Sounds pretty fair to me, and I’m a cheapskate. 🙂

    Patricia’s comment makes it clear that she has a lousy attitude towards the service industry and zero knowledge of how business works.

  31. I have fixed major appliances all my life.Being in business for over 32 yers.Service calls just get the tech to the job, we used to itemisize service call parts and labor.People were told what was wrong and what it was going to cost b4 we repaired the item.I think his repair was very reasonable, consider I don’t see a itemised bill.

  32. I am surprised at her. Would she drive 30 miles, get up on the roof, take things apart, probably climb up and down from the roof a number of times, get hot, sweaty, figure out the problem, put the part in, close every thing up and then drive back 30 miles for less than $200? No way. She got a very fair deal. Hey, if you don’t like his price, wait for your husband to come home or do it yourself.

  33. Very fair price for a house call and my doctor gets over 200 bucks for a 5 minute visit with me.

  34. Patricia,

    Just because your husband *says* “I could have fixed it for $25 in 30 minutes” doesn’t make him right. It makes him an armchair quarterback.

    If it was *that* dead simple, why didn’t your husband email a part list and a YouTube video or an article online with pictures showing YOU how to replace it yourself?
    I’ve never encountered a mechanical job that…
    ** Can be completed by a non-professional
    ** With only the basic tools a household typically has
    ** Within 30 minutes
    ** For $25
    … can’t be done by *anyone* that knows (or can be taught) “Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosey”.

    “That’s the rip off part. I don’t care about his travel time or tools or all of that. That’s the excuse they use to stick it to you. **That’s part of his business expense and any business absorbs that to keep the door open.**”

    Nobody “sticks it to you”. You said it yourself. “That’s part of his business expense”
    All businesses have expenses. Guess who pays those expenses?
    Customers pay those expenses. It doesn’t matter whether you had kids sitting in 100* heat, or if you were just pulling your trailer out of storage for the season and discovered that the A/C didn’t work, and you took it to a local place that could fit you in to their schedule in a couple weeks, no hurries…$200 for that service is a VERY fair price.

    My experience in my time on the road is that repairs to major RV systems *start* at $750 and go up from there.

    You could have purchased a new A/C unit off Amazon, had it delivered in 2 days via Prime, and climbed up on the roof yourself and (with the help of a lot of Googling and YouTubing) replaced the whole unit with a brand new one for “free” – less the $600 it would have cost you to buy the new A/C unit…

  35. No idea if it was a fair deal…but it does not sound like she was cheated. These days, estimates and folks checking your stuff out, without fixing even, can cost a fair bit. Sometimes we have to pay quite a lot, in order to have what we need (such as AC when it is so hot!!)

  36. You don’t care about travel time or tools? Then why didn’ you do the travel and go to the shop and hang around until they got to you. And then still pay a 100.00 minimum labor charge plus at least the 25 dollars for the lo part. Then fill the tow vehicle up and drive back to your site. Sixty miles round trip at 8 mpg is 8 gallon at say 2.50 so say 20.0020.00 ft or gas. You could have aaved all of 75 dollars not counting the gasgas And after all towing and hitching as are part of RV living so your time and travel are to be absorbed.

  37. “That’s part of his business expense and any business absorbs that to keep the door open.” Yes, those items are overhead, and a business person must pay those costs to be in business. But Patricia, do you expect this man is in business to make money so that he can feed and provide for his family?? He can only do that by charging his customers enough to pay for the cost of that investment in overhead (bank loan used to purchase tools, truck, training,) along with enough to cover the expenses of that specific visit (fuel, parts, labor.) Would your husband work for free?? Of course not! Neither should the Tech repair your RV for free. And, all that aside, prices are set by what the market will bear. And, if you felt you were being overcharged, why did you hire this Tech? Oh, maybe you didn’t do your research to find competitive bids? If so, that’s on you. Or You could have done it yourself, with the instruction from your husband.
    Bottom line, you were fairly charged, and if you don’t want to pay next time, learn how to do it yourself and invest in the necessary tools and equipment.
    Nick, thank you for remaining rooted in reality. We’ll be on the road soon, and appreciate all that I have learned from reading your blog.

  38. $200 in the oil patch? That was a STEAL! Most of you don’t know that the roads in the oil patch are congested at best. It may have taken him a long time to go that 30 miles. Not to mention chips in his windshield, careless truck drivers and the dirt. She is lucky she even got a guy to come work on it! Most decent workers are working in the patch and not dealing with the public. We cant even find workers for our restaurants or stores. Plus just an average apt in the patch is 12-28 grand a month to rent. She’s a bit off the mark here and may be just feeling the oil patch strain herself.

  39. My hubby was an H VAC Tech, and $200 for service call, repairs, and parts is very reasonable. If you have ever had a residential unit repaired you would be thankful for a $200 service call and repair bill. I had to laugh when she said Doctors don’t make $200 an hour, that is $3.33 a minute, $33 for 10 minutes, 6 patients an hour, yes doctors do make at least $200 an hours. That is ave $150 in just co-payments.

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