How To Know If An Appliance Repair Pro Is Taking Advantage Of You

Hiring an appliance repair professional is often necessary, especially when it's a major appliance you use often. Yet, for many, it's the last thing they want to do because it can be expensive and time-consuming.

Sears Home Services says the cost of many appliance repairs can range from $150 to $900 or more, depending on the type of appliance. Most often, repairs for the dishwasher, washer, dryer, or fridge will range from $150 to $300. Typically, costs range based on the type of appliance, your location, and the repair process. Sometimes, when major repairs are necessary, costs could be much higher.

There's also the unknown. Will the repair professional you call actually do a good job and be fair to you? Should you just replace the appliance instead of repairing it?

It helps to know what to look for in an unfair or deceptive appliance repair technician. Before you hire, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Final charge higher than quote

Requesting a quote for repair is always a good first step. It lets you know what to expect so you can plan for those costs. However, what if what you expect to happen doesn't? Instead, the tech comes to your home, does the work, and the final bill is much higher.

While it's always possible there could be unexpected, higher costs, the appliance tech shouldn't charge a significant amount more than the quote without warning you before they start on the repair.

In Michigan, there's a law called the Joe Gagnon Appliance Repair Act that, in part, requires technicians to not charge more than 110% of the quote without first getting permission from the client before doing the work.

Before you approve work, be sure to clarify with the technician what happens if the work is above their quoted price. That way, the technician knows you will not just pay a higher price without first approving the work at the higher price.

2. The work was done, but not really

Consider this scenario. You call a repair technician to your home to get the oven working again. You get a quote, approve it, and assume all is well. A few days later, when you try to use it, the oven doesn't work. The technician will not refund your money or come back out. What do you do?

The repair technician didn't provide you with a warranty for the work. While they showed you that it worked at the time of the repair, it may not really have been fixed properly.

The only way to avoid this scam is to make sure you know upfront what their warranty policies are. Appliances are not always easy to fix, but you don't want to pay for a service that doesn't fix your problem. Ask about their workmanship and parts warranty before they get started.

New Star Appliance Repair says that if the company offers a warranty on their parts and workmanship, that's a good sign they're confident in the work they do.

3. Your card was charged for no service

The Better Business Bureau warns of a scam in which a company requests your credit card information over the phone. They listen to the problem, agree that they can fix it, and set up a time for a technician to arrive. Then, they ask for your credit card information so they can charge a small fee to set up the appointment. Sometimes, they even offer next-day service or super-fast repair times. That helps to sell the service to you.

When the appointment time comes, no one shows up. You have a charge on your card and no one to do the work. When you call the company, there is "no record" of your appointment or call.

In this case, there's really no way to know how to avoid it except by refusing to provide your credit card information before the technician does the work. If this does happen to you, you may be able to refute the charges on your credit card to get your funds back.

4. Advance payment requested for parts and services

Another common repair scam revolves around technicians who require payment upfront for the services they provide. Universal Appliance Repair states that some technicians may say they need payment to purchase back-ordered parts or that the parts are hard to find, requiring an extra-high, upfront payment.

The common concern here is that once you provide the repair business with cash for the parts, they may not come back. That money is gone, and you have no way to get the work you need. Now you must start all over.

Instead of doing this, don't pay for parts until you see them at your home. Be sure to get some idea on the cost of those parts, too. It's typically a good idea to have an estimate in hand first and, if there is an upcharge for parts, find out why. Do some research to verify this.

5. Questions about qualifications

Home-Tech offers some warnings about appliance repair technicians. When comparing companies, look for a company that has a business license for your city. If they don't have one to show you and you can't verify it with your city, move on.

Next, be sure they're local to you. Look at their license plate, for example. Also, consider the vehicle itself. Does it have the company name on it, or is it a plain vehicle that lacks any professional messaging?

Also, be sure they have well-trained and licensed technicians doing the work for them. This is important because if they can't show that their team is certified, there's no way to have confidence in the work they do.

More so, be sure the technicians have experience working on the brand and type of appliance you have. That matters when it comes to high-end models, especially as they may have more complex needs. Whether it's an electrician, plumber, or general repair tech, always watch for scams!