We carried out a piece of research in November 2009 that looked at how much repair companies would charge to carry out five common repair tasks. The idea of the research was pretty straightforward: to highlight the potential cost saving that our customers were making by fixing it themselves. The research was carried out fairly. I personally obtained quotes from 3 well-respected national repair firms for the five tasks. They were all given the same make and model of appliance to fix and the same location for the job. I then averaged the quotes and compared this to the cost of buying from eSpares (including delivery) to derive the cost savings. You can see a summary of the findings here.
Since the article was published, I’ve had quite a few emails from repair men, writing to complain about what I’d written. The general theme of these emails has been resentment at what they saw as a suggestion that their service was a rip off. I’ve asked all of the complainers to read the article again. I have not suggested that anyone is ripping anyone off and I genuinely believe that the vast majority of service engineers provide a good service. I certainly didn’t think that the fees I was quoted were in any way excessive. They are comparable with call-out fees in other industries. In short, they completely missed the point: fixing it yourself saves money.
I suppose this reaction shouldn’t come as a surprise. The way in which the Internet has disrupted almost every industry has inevitably led to disgruntlement for some. That’s perfectly understandable. In this case, our customers now have the ability to find exactly what parts they need for their make and model of appliance in a matter of minutes. They can not only have them delivered to their door in a couple of days, but they can go back online and watch videos that show how to fit the part and read reviews and tips from other customers who’ve done the same thing. Just a decade ago, none of this was possible and we had to rely on the service engineer even for simple repair jobs – they were the only ones with the knowledge and the access to the supply chain for parts. Quite a big change.
However, we still recognise that professional repairers that focus on great service are a vital part of this industry. Some consumers will always prefer to “get a man in” rather than fix it themselves. Others will have a go at the simple stuff but leave anything a bit tricky to the professionals. We do recommend that our customers call a professional repair person if they don’t feel comfortable with their own FIY skills. I should also point out, though, that we also encourage customers to check the price of any parts that are being supplied by a service professional against our prices to ensure that they’re getting value for money there. Nobody wants to get ripped off.