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What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637880 10/14/07 05:06 PM
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...when you go to a tuning at a new customer's and the piano is damaged, untunable, and not worth fixing?


Anne Francis
Piano Tuner-Technician

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

1906 Heintzman upright (rebuilt)
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Re: What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637881 10/14/07 05:49 PM
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If it's hopeless, I usually don't charge anything. I recommend that they save their money and buy a better piano.

I try to put pianos that may need to go to the "glue factory" at the end of the day so that I can at least be spared from having to wait somewhere for a couple of hours until my next job....


Promote Harmony in the Universe...Tune your piano!

Dave Stahl, RPT
Piano Technician's Guild
San Jose, CA
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Re: What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637882 10/14/07 05:55 PM
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Base your fee on the situation at hand. 1.You can charge for a service call, after all you came prepared to work, found problems and rendered a professional opinion. This was time you might have used productively elsewhere. 2. Considering the situation, you could make a token charge for your time, hoping they would call you back in the future. 3. You could charge nothing seeing as they will probably have to replace the piano and again hoping they will have you back. I prefer #2 as a reasonable compromise. Chalk it up to customer goodwill.
Mike Kurta, RPT

Re: What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637883 10/14/07 06:15 PM
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Hi Anne,

According to The Piano Technician's Guide, available through the PTG, author Newton Hunt suggests charging 75% of your hourly rate for service calls.

Some technicians charge 2/3 of their tuning fee for a service call.

Either way, I believe you should always be compensated for your time.


Stay tuned.

Tom Seay, Recovering Piano Technician
Bastrop, Texas
Re: What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637884 10/14/07 06:26 PM
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It depends on the circumstances that the appointment was booked under. If the customer tells you over the phone that they don't know if the piano is tunable then I think that it is reasonable that they pay a service call if it turns out that it can't be tuned. In this case they knew that they were taking time out of your schedule for what might be a wild goose chase. Maybe they had already been told that the piano wasn't tunable by another tech and were looking for another opinion.

I find that a significant number of customers with an old neglected piano will suggest over the phone that their piano may not be tunable. I usually tell them that I will show up ready to tune but if it turns out to be a write off I will charge them a reduced rate for the service call. Most of them seem to be OK with that. I don't see why I should be expected to show up for nothing. My schedule is usually full and I would have put someone else in that time slot if I hadn’t booked them.

If on the other hand I run into a piano in the field that can't be tuned and it comes a total surprise to the owner, I may not charge anything or just ask for $20 for gas. It depends on the situation.


Piano Technician
www.pianotech.ca
Piano tuners make the world a better place, one string at a time.
Re: What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637885 10/14/07 07:15 PM
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In thinking it over and reading the other posts from my esteemed colleagues, I will add that it's often hard to figure out exactly what you're getting into when speaking with a potential customer over the phone. The customer often has no idea what they have. "The antique store guy just said the piano needs a little tuning...." You certainly shouldn't have to bear that burden without some kind of compensation.

A minimum service charge would certainly be a good idea if you were led to believe that the piano was serviceable and and you found out that it wasn't.

I will often try to stop by "in transit" between jobs to assess whether or not the piano is salvageable. As I stated before, I try to put pianos heretofore unseen at the end of the day.


Promote Harmony in the Universe...Tune your piano!

Dave Stahl, RPT
Piano Technician's Guild
San Jose, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAniw3m7L2I
http://dstahlpiano.net
Re: What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637886 10/15/07 08:47 AM
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Estabish some sort of basic "trip fee". This is for those situations where you just are dropping something off or picking it up, or the customer is a no show, etc.

Imagine this....you go to the doctor's office. He checks you out and tells you there is nothing wrong. Does he charge you? You bet he does. Most places where I take either an electronic component or my car charge a fee up front to even look at it. Most businesses charge whether they do anything or not. You are getting informaton.

I do very few freebies anymore. We are professionals, and should be compensated for our time. Of course, we are our own bosses, and are free to create exceptions to whatever rules we create.


Roy Peters, RPT
Cincinnati, Ohio
www.cincypiano.com
Re: What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637887 10/15/07 01:39 PM
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Thank you all for the good advice. I knew it was reasonable to charge something, I just wasn't sure how much. I see now that I may tailor things to individual situations, as several people suggested. I'm just starting out, so I've never seen any of these pianos before, but already I can see that in a lot of situations it's clear the piano hasn't been tuned in eons and I could let people know on the phone that it may not be tunable and how much I'll charge in that case.


Anne Francis
Piano Tuner-Technician

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

1906 Heintzman upright (rebuilt)
Re: What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637888 10/15/07 09:04 PM
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Service call charges should be based on the cost of driving to someone's house plus the time spent in the home. It's important to know your average cost of driving to someones home. You can't price a piano tuning (or anything else, for that matter), without knowing your costs.

How much does it cost you, on average to drive to someone's home and ring the doorbell? Car payment, insurance, gas, oil changes/service costs, tolls, parking, not to mention your time behind the wheel. It's not free to ring someone's doorbell. That's why I charge the customer for a service call.



Re: What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637889 10/15/07 11:02 PM
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If it's on the way or passing by to another client, i'd not charge, hoping to get the next tuning.

I encounter once when it was raining n i had to wear rain coat on my scooter. When i got there the pitch was low and owner wanted and pitch raise. When i turn the pin, my hammer nearly broke!!

The tuning was jammed, i tried harder the hammer rotate, but the string pitch didn't increase. Did someone CAed the pin?? As i look around i saw 3 more pins that broke off at the slot. The string coil was still there but the tuning portion isn't. I told owner that it's untunable and didn't charge as i sympathize the poor piano, just got a pack of lemon juice drink .. hehehe n yee hah to the next appointment. Thankfully the next piano was quite workable. laugh


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Re: What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637890 10/17/07 08:02 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by snoopycar:
If it's on the way or passing by to another client, i'd not charge, hoping to get the next tuning.

I assume you mean the next tuning from this customer. I'm referring to cases where the customer has no interest in having the piano repaired to the point that it can be tuned, will not likely be buying another piano anytime soon, and I'm never going to see them again. I agree that if there was a chance I might eventually get some business out of them, I might not be inclined to charge for this call.


Anne Francis
Piano Tuner-Technician

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

1906 Heintzman upright (rebuilt)
Re: What's an appropriate service call fee...?
#637891 10/17/07 11:11 AM
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It cost you money. If they called you, you get money for your time too. The gov't here says it costs you almost 50 cent a mile to drive your vehicle. It has a life span so insurance and tires and oil and gas and brakes all are costs you don't think about. All you see is what goes in at the pump. At 30mpg and $3 a gallon it costs 10 cents a mile. If someone offers to pay for the gas if you will drive is getting a great deal. You are footing 80% of the trip and doing the driving to boot.
So don't hesitate to add up the mileage and charge a minimun 1/2 hour or hour charge for your time. It's work and not something you would be doing if the time slot had been open.

I charge 2 to 3 hours to CA glue the pins and $20 for the glue. Usually it takes about an hour with the tilter to put the glue on the pins and then you go away so you don't breathe the fumes. A fan helps. Come back after lunch or another tuning and tune it. As far as I know I haven't had any failures to make a piano tunable this way and they still are not having problems though one I have may need a second treatment on just a few of the pins.


Keith Roberts
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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