The Fix-It Club offers more than 250 Free Fix-It Guides for repairing broken things around the home and garage: free repair help!. Occasionally you won't be able to or won't want to fix it yourself. That's okay. There's probably someone else out there who can perform refrigerator repair, bicycle repair, plaster repair, jewelry repair, or any other repair you need done. When should you consider hiring someone for a local repair?
- When it's something you shouldn't be messing with, such as a microwave's magnetron or a freezer's refrigerant
- When you can't find replacement parts, but think maybe a repair pro may know how to make it work
- When it's quite valuable and you don't want to take the chance of perhaps damaging it during repair
- When you just can't figure out what the heck's wrong with it, but want it fixed.
Who can you get to make a local repair?
Depending on what it is, you can contact the manufacturer or service center. Alternately, check area telephone books for appropriate listings such as Appliances, Major, or Appliances, Parts & Supplies, and Automobile Repairing & Service. Retailers from which you purchased merchandise may be able to direct you to local repairs centers. Also, ask among friends and neighbors because they can give you value judgments on whether specific repair services are customer friendly.
First check to determine if local repair is covered under the manufacturer's warranty. Even if it isn't, ask the manufacturer to recommend a repair service. You'll find many manufacturers have websites that include parts and repair information as well as referrals.
You can make sure you select the best local repair service for the job by asking a few questions:
- What experience do you have repairing this item?
- What training or certification do you have?
- Do you charge a flat rate or an hourly shop rate? What is that rate?
- Do you have a minimum charge?
- Is there a charge if you can't fix it?
- May I see your shop? (You’ll see how your item will be treated.)
Remember to read anything you sign because verbal agreements are not binding. If the repair service says "$49.95" and the service contract you sign says "whatever we want to charge," you may wind up with a $500 repair on a $100 item. Most repair agreements include space for a do-not-exceed price; if not, write it in. And make sure the estimate includes both parts and labor. Ask what could happen to make the estimate go up. Ask if final bills usually come in under or over the estimate. Leave no room for surprises.
What should you tell the local repair person? Indicate the symptoms and list the things you've done to attempt to alleviate them. For example, "The unit won't turn on. I've checked the electrical cord and it works, but I haven't found any fuses." Any information you can provide means less time the technician needs for diagnosing and should mean a smaller final bill.
Should you bring the unit in assembled or unassembled? That depends on whether you feel comfortable assembling the unit once it is fixed. Also, will the unit need assembly before the repair person can test it to make sure it's fixed? The best advice is: Bring it in assembled. A pro may actually charge more if it comes in unassembled. You can also call the shop and ask which is more efficient.
On other option: Get the parts and tools you need to repair it yourself. The Fix-It Club is standing by to offer you free instructions and a wide variety of repair resources for fixing broken things around your home and garage. Visit the Fix-It Club often. It's free!
--Dan "The Fix-It Man" Ramsey