Once you find a good repair service, you’ll need to know how to deal with it. Here are some guidelines:

  • When you call for an appointment, ask how the company calculates charges—especially what its minimum charge covers. Also find out the company’s policy on travel charges if the technician has to return to the shop for parts. Repair services usually don’t charge for travel time for the second visit, but make sure. If the company charges on a time-and-materials basis, find out how it calculates time charges—by what time unit (per 15 minutes or per 30 minutes, for example) and the cost per unit.
  • During this initial call, describe your appliance’s woes as accurately as possible: when the problem occurs, what it sounds like, how the appliance responds to different settings, etc. This will help the company send the right technician, put necessary parts on the truck, and schedule enough time for the job.
  • Before the technician arrives, clear everything away from the appliance so that work can start at once.
  • Note what time the technician arrives.
  • Describe the appliance’s problem to the technician just as you did over the phone. But avoid offering your own diagnosis or the pro may make the repair you request instead of fixing the machine.
  • After the diagnosis is complete, request a final price to fix it. If the estimate seems too high, ask the technician how long the estimate is good for and whether coming back will incur an additional travel charge—many companies will give you a few days to think it over and not charge for travel a second time. Then call a few other repair services for price quotes, to make sure you don’t overpay.
  • Ask about any warranties on parts and labor.
  • If you go ahead with the repair, ask to keep, or at least see, any replaced parts.
  • Ask the technician to explain what he or she will be doing. Observe the process, but don’t distract the technician with needless chitchat. You could be charged for the time you waste.
  • Before paying obtain an invoice that includes your name and address; the company’s name and address; a description of appliance repaired, including make and model; date of service; itemized charges; and any warranty on parts, labor, or both.
  • If you can, pay by credit card. If there is a problem, you can dispute the transaction with your credit card issuer.