Too true, tekochip. I believe sometimes products are designed these days more complex than they have to be, without do-it-yourself features, so people will have to call the company for service. Another way to get even more money from the consumer! Unless customer service is free, of course.
It is oh so true. I have had clients that give devices away or sell them at a loss because they make their money off of service and maintenance. On products with consumables it's not so dishonorable. Much like inkjet printers, or water filters, you have to look at the total cost of ownership.
That's true, tekochip. I suppose in some cases if the product isn't too expensive, paying for its upkeep so it lasts longer is a fine business model. It just depends. If service is costing someone more trouble (and money) than the product is worth, now that would be a problem, and a shady business model, in my opinion.
With MORE of these situations being reported in this blog & others, it has caused me to ponder something very insidious....... Could it be that certain manufacturers "suggest" to their registered installing contractors to do the installation a "certain way" where feasible, hoping to ensure that down-the-road service will always be performed by the factory's "trained" service personnel???? Just askin'
We had a recent event which adds fuel to my fire of discontent. Our A/C air handler coil sprung a leak somewhere last year. The service fellow put some "guck" into the system that worked like the flat-tire goo. At any rate, it lasted all last cooling season (to December, here in FLA!). But, NOT wanting to flirt w/ disaster, I called the service agency in for an estimate to replace the entire system. He came back with some BAD news (NOT the $$ part). He claimed that the new air handler was so big that it wouldn't fit properly in the attic crawlspace, and that he'd have to mount it in the common wall between the garage & the living room. However, that is the long wall in the living room, which meant that the entertainment center & some furniture pieces would have to be relocated. An impossibility, given the design of the house. So, I called someone else..... a private contractor. He took a look at the situation, said, "no problem", and the following week installed the new air handler in the attic area. The ONLY modification was that he moved it a couple of feet over, and reducted the feed & return lines. And, saved us about $800 in the end!
@Old_C, it has become clear to me that there is a HUGE spread in both the skill levels and the integrity levels of service personell. Probably about an 80 Db spread, in fact. In addition, those service organizations that need to be linked to a manufacturer are usually the ones who really need the business, while many of the really good busnisses don't need any "factory referrals", since they are busy all the time.
Besides that, a whole lot of folks are totally devoid of any ability to think creatively. Probably the service company that did the job for you did use some creative arrangement to get the system to fit. Some folks lack that ability completely, and some have such a poor understanding of the equipment that they become paralyzed with fear at the thought of doing anything other than by the book.
Elizabeth, Customer service is NEVER free. You may not pay for each visit, but in those cases the cost is in the sale price. And if you have a pay-as-you-go service arrangement, the quality may not match the price that you pay. But the most expensive way is wih the service contract.
Ah, good points, William K. I guess nothing is free in this world--the old adage is true. I personally don't buy extended service contracts but I'm sure I pay for customer service in the general price of things, as you mention.
William K. I believe your analysis to be 111% accurate!!!!!!! Although I did not specifically mention it in my original post, the fellow who replaced the entire A/C system was a sole contractor. I got him as a referral from someone else. He showed up one Saturday morning about 7 o'clock (it was barely light here then), and started to work immediately by replacing the compressor unit on the side of the house. He had that done in a short time, and then proceeded to tackle the air handler in the attic space. He brought no helper, just his many years of practical experience, good muscles and a friendly, congenial attitude. The day was relatively cool, so he had no problem working up there, and was completely finished, including having some lunch with us by around 2 P.M. He cleaned up ALL the refuse & mess, and left no trace of his presence. So much for all the "professional" contractors in this Tampa Bay area. And, next year when it comes time for an annual service, I will call him to do it.
Friends here have had similar results with some A/C people, in some instances saving several thousands dollars, all with the same great results.
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