Home service businesses typically charge a diagnostic fee, or a service call fee, many charge this fee before they even start working, often times customers are displeased with paying this fee, they feel the fee is just a way for the company to charge more for their work, but that could not be further from the truth. Let’s take a look what goes into that diagnostic fee or sometimes in our case our service call fee:
HIDDEN COSTS: Oftentimes that fee barely covers or doesn’t even cover, the costs associated with the technician coming to your home. You may wonder, “How is that possible, all they did is show up at my house?”, but these costs are not typically thought about by customers, they are “hidden” costs so to speak.
TIME: Since each technician is paid by the company for their time, and you may think “the technician was only at my house for 5 or 10 minutes to diagnose my problem”, what may be not thought of is the time the technician spent driving to your location, making calls to you to confirm appointment, driving back to the company or to the next job which may or may not be in the same area as your home, recording information about your job, and providing an estimate or receipt for the work to be done or that was done. On average, the typical diagnostic call (including time spent before and after the actual diagnosis) can take upwards of an hour or more of the technicians time. Please also remember that, though the technician may only spend 10 minutes diagnosing a problem at your home, they can easily spend an hour or more diagnosing more complicated problems at other homes, on top of the time spent driving and logging information about the call. The diagnostic fee is a flat rate, so the company doesn’t charge more when the diagnosis takes longer than normal, occasionally technicians go right from diagnosis to repair and then regular service labor fees are added for the repair time, but if just a diagnostic is done, no additional charges are billed.
VEHICLES: The technician arrived at your home in a service vehicle, which are expenses that need to be covered by each job, diagnostic or service completed, these vehicles are necessary to carry tools, materials, and the technicians themselves from home to home. Vehicle expenses include things like fuel, maintenance and repairs, lease or loan payments, insurance and vehicle depreciation (wear and tear). These expenses may not seem like much per call, but they quickly add up, and the company must have income to cover the expenses.
SKILLS: Even if you ignored the costs associated with a diagnostic service list, companies charge a fee because the diagnosis itself requires skill. It may only take 5-10 minutes for a trained technician to diagnosis the problem, but that is simply because they have the skills necessary to troubleshoot and recognize the issue. Oftentimes, homeowners schedule a service visit because they lack these skills and need assistance. In short, a diagnosis is a service, just like any other service. While it may be frustrating to pay a service fee before an issue is actually fixed, or to be told the company either cannot make the repair necessary or, that no repair is necessary, it’s a necessary part of the home services industry. You’ll also find that diagnostic fees are common in other industries, such as IT and computer repair, automotive repair, etc. It’s a necessary part of doing business that’s meant to cover the company’s time, labor and overhead expenses. Oftentimes, these fees barely cover or do not even cover the expenses incurred diagnosing the issues.
Our diagnostic fee and service call fee is the same charge, it is a flat rate and includes UPTO the first hour labor, if you’re receiving a diagnostic and no repairs are to be made that is the fee you will be billed, should you ask the technician to make the repair after the diagnostic or you are not asking for a diagnostic you just want them to make the repair, then the service call fee is what you’re charged and it is still the flat rate and covers UPTO the first hour of labor, after that you’ll be billed the labor rate for each additional hour technicians are on site (billed by the 1/2 hour), and you’ll be billed for the materials used to make the necessary repairs.
1. You call with a leak from upstairs to downstairs but you’re not sure where it’s originating from. The technician locates the leak in 5 minutes and gives you a ball park estimate of the cost of the repair, you agree with the diagnostic and ask them to make the repair, which they begin right then, the technician finishes the repair and has now spent 2 hours 15 minutes at your home. Your bill might include the following:
2. You call requesting a technician to diagnose a sound from your furnace. The technician arrives and spends 5 minutes manually cycling your furnace, you say “hear that sound” they hear it, they spend another 5 minutes inspecting the operations of your furnace, and determine it is a normal operating sound for the condition of your furnace and give you the options: to leave it because the sound it self is not going to be an immediate issue even though your furnace is aging, and they provide an estimate for a replacement furnace should you decide you don’t want to risk it, or so you have an idea on what it will cost to replace what you have should it become necessary, they have now spent 15-20 minutes at your home.Your bill will likely look like this: