Yikes....calm down classical. No one is attacking you personally, just having a lively discussion. I appreciate all the comments here, even the ones I don't agree with. Bottom line, I wouldn't mind paying a "diagnostic" or "trip" fee if that were clearly spelled out up front in the contract I purchased. Since it wasn't it's my opinion that the contract should be followed as it was written. To address your other questions:
Not my situation, my problem was a starter cap that probably took all of 3 minutes to figure out. If the scenario above was my situation I would have appreciated if the contractor presented his findings and asked which option I prefer including what the diagnostic charge will be if I choose option 1 (maybe that fee would even be higher than the flat diagnostic fee or just charge me by the hour until you find the root cause). Bottom line, I should have a choice and I would accept the consequences of that choice.
For all those trying to sound all superior and the OP answer this, you go on a service call (not your install) that turns out to be covered by an extended warranty. The compressor is shorted to ground, do you charge a diagnostic fee to determine why the compressor failed, determine why at no charge or just replace the compressor blindly without determining the underlying problem.
Maybe you are right about me being penny wise and pound foolish, but contractor 1 gave me no option for repair. Contractor 2 gave me the choice and fully explained the potential consequences. If the evaporator develops a leak in 6 months, oh well it didn't work out too well for me but I will accept the consequences. My gut feel on contractor 1 is they were trying to extract more $$ for a replacement. Contractor 1 did get their diagnostic fee for that job so they did OK, but it still was a SIGNIFICANT savings even though I used contractor 2. By the way, the unit is 7 years old and the capillary developed a leak because they were rubbing together, had nothing to do with the evaporator itself. Next time the unit develops a leak, I'll just replace the R22 unit with an R410 unit anyway (but it won't be contractor 1 that gets the biz). Hopefully that is longer the 6 mos from now but if it is only 6 months I made the choice and I'll accept the consequences.
To the OP you seem like a person the old adage penny wise and pound foolish might apply. You had a contractor come out that you have used and admitted they have performed well and did a quality install on your systems. Now you have a unit that is appears from your comments to be over ten years old develop a leak. They recommend you install a new condenser but you choose to have another contractor repair the leak for half the price.
Don't know what to tell you about that except that I am a good customer that pays my bill, but I won't roll over and play dead if I'm getting ripped off.
I will also say this in thirty years I have never had a customer question or complain about the policy of charging a trip charge on a warranty call.
Yes, I do, but that's not the point. My failure was a starter cap and had nothing to do with routine maintenance. It was clearly a failure that should be fully covered under the warranty I purchased.
One more question to the OP and the techs here, OP have you had annual service performed on either or both of your systems
I know you probably don't want to hear that some on this forum do not agree with your policy of charging diagnostic fees on warranty repairs, but that's what makes this board so interesting....lively discussions and not everyone is going to agree. No one is going to hold a gun to your head and tell you to stop charging diagnostics, even if we don't agree that it's OK. If its working for you, please continue. I don't have to do business with you as a customer, but it sounds like you have plenty of customers that do.....