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.
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.
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.
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.
I share everyone's frustration, but I don't honestly share the conspiracy theory. I think it's plain incompetance on the designer's part due to lack of practical experience. A lot of us old timers grew up taking things apart, fixing things, tuning up cars, and making things for the fun of it. A lot of that is now longer practical, and there is no longer a lot of interest in hands on activities. And instead of actually building things in the real world, most new engineers now 'build' things in CAD only, and never really have the experience of putting things together and servicing them.
This problem is made worse by the push to do more with fewer people. As a result, there is no longer the ability of new engineers to be mentored by expereienced engineers in the practical side of things.
Ray: In our case, both contractors, the orginal one who has been servicing our A/C for years, and is a middle-aged fellow, claimed that because the new air handler is more efficient & so, larger, it could not be installed in the attic space. The other fellow, who did the work, was also a middle-aged person with about 30 years experience in A/C systems, both commercial & residential. So, while I DO share yout sentiment in many respects, in our case, age & experience was NOT a factor.
R.J. I did not get a lot of mentoring, although I did collect a good bit of criticism for every mistake that I made. I did have an "advantage??" of working at Chrysler Central engineering for a few years, and seeing just how some large companies work. That really helped motivate me to work at a smaller company, which the ones that I worked at all of the engineers could talk to each other and share ideas. It was a fast learning experience moving from a development department at a huge company to an organization that would routinely go from concept to delivered product in 18 weeks. And every one of those jobs was a custom order. In that environment I chose to learn from the machinists and machine builders as well as from the mechanical engineers. I did make quite a few points with the machinists when I commented that it would not take me any longer to learn their job then it would take them to learn mine. Mutual respect is a great way to interact with other groups in an organization. Way too often engineering and design people don't pay adequate attention to te production side of a business, which is unfortunate, since understanding how your resources function is the best way to know how to utilize them.
I've owned three homes in my life and in each one I've found it necessary to modify the original intent of filter placement on the central HVAC systems.I swear, its like the design engineers (or sometimes just the installers) really have no clue as how difficult monthly replacement is going to be for the resident!
No, I do not believe there is some kind of conspiracy, because the design engineers would not benefit from such a deal in the corporate scheme of conspiracy.I think it more likely is just poor forethought.
It is a serious mistake to say that the typical installation is engineered. They are put in by a sheetmetal installer or an HVACC tech, and generally not a whole lot of consideration is given to servicability. That is true of a whole lot of product installations, that the installation is not designed, but rather that it is simply assembled. There is usually a huge difference between systems that are actually engineered and those just assembled.
John, flex duct is great as a last resort solution, but it should generally be avoided, at least the corrogated type due to the greater pressure drop caused by all of those ridges and valleys. Pressure drop equates to flow reduction and loss of efficiency.
Mfr installation manual on the web shows the unit equipped with round duct collars and recommends flex duct for installation. Appears flex duct is the preferred default installation method and other ducting methods are less desireable. May want to change this one to "installed by monkeys".
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