Diagnosis? What’s that? That’s two non-functional appliances in a row that the repair techs have told us can’t or shouldn’t be repaired and need replacement. Both of them merely needed to be cleaned. People keep telling me to quit trying to fix things myself and hire experts. Specialization is the lifeblood of the economy!

The dishwasher pump was dead, they said, and we should buy a new dishwasher. They hadn’t bothered to pull the pump and find that the screen was clogged. (With paper mostly, our fault for putting jars with paper labels on them in the dishwasher).

The vacuum cleaner, well, didn’t… One shop said the motor was dead and couldn’t be repaired. (Even if they had been correct, a new motor/impeller unit is $100-$130 and used go for $20-$30 on eBay.) The next said it was just some junk in the hose and cleaned it up. Well, why was there junk in the hose? Even with the hose cleaned, there wasn’t much suction. Why? Because someone some time ago had installed the bag wrong, and the filters and motor were full of dust and the impeller had larger detritus half-clogging it. Just taking it apart, cleaning out the dust and detritus, and re-assembling it made it work again.

So I guess that faux specialization is the lifeblood of the economy because the soi-disant experts have given up actually knowing or doing anything and just tell you to go buy new things whenever anything breaks.

Galen Johnson September 27, 2014 19:35

This is especially true in auto body repair.  When I left off to get a new job closer to home, the “technician” role of auto body technician was just ordering a new part…also, insurance companies will write off a car as totaled if it takes more than about 1/3 of the total value to repair it…this has become a throw-away society.

Darren Hart September 27, 2014 23:54

Seems to me this has a lot to do with the hourly rate of a qualified service tech. At what point is it cheaper to simply replace it. As the owner, a repair makes more sense as you get some satisfaction at fixing it, even if your time is still probably more valuable than the repair. I often feel the same way though.

Edward Morbius September 28, 2014 03:23

Principle-agent problem.


Michael K Johnson September 28, 2014 07:07

+Edward Morbius In neither case were they vendors. In fact, in the dishwasher case, they waived their fees and left empty-handed when if they had fixed it and charged me their usual rates I would have paid $160 for about 30 minutes of work. And a new unit would presumably not bring them additional work for a while at least. So it’s not clear to me that they were driven by financial self-interest.

Which leads to +Darren Hart’s point. I know that’s not the tech’s rate but they seemed busy and fully employed; on one of the visits he brought along an apprentice. The rates are similar to what I pay for HVAC repairs to someone who is self-employed and seems to be doing well and seems to actually know what he’s doing. So it is likely true as a general problem but doesn’t seem like it has to be true.

I wonder if part of the problem is societal; the relatively recent drop in respect for trades. Perhaps computerization shares blame—lots more folks who like to figure out a problem are driving keyboards now? I wonder how many people staring at yet another pile of spaghetti PHP would have been happier actually fixing something? ☺

Edward Morbius September 28, 2014 07:34

+Michael K Johnson Interesting, as well as your additional speculation on where the problem-solvers are (I suspect a few are in banking as well, or in off-balance sheet pharmaceutical manufacturing).

The fact that they’re not vendors doesn’t mean that there’s not a referral or kickback, or just that someone saw no percentage in putting in the work to fix something rather than order new parts or replacement units.

It does seem pretty wasteful though.

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