I agree with you 100% after the first major tuneup on a neglected unit, I don't see any difference when the owner asks for a service the following year. You are correct in saying that the home owner is buying peace of mind. We do a lot of gas furnace PM work, most of the repeats are little old ladies scared to death of gas. Often the news reports and CO detector advertisers scare these people into having their equipment checked. It certainly reassures them when you check it out and report that they will not die in their beds from the furnace, but as far as improving performance, I don't see it.
Well at least there are two level headed techs out there.
In case my exclamation point wasn't convincing enough for potential detractors, I have no problem with performing work whose primary goal is peace of mind. But unlike the hustlers out there I'll be up front with granny and tell her when that's the case. And if she still wants me back year after year then God bless. I'm more than happy to listen to all the stories about gout, the grandchildren and the good old days.
Respectful of my colleages opinion a Preventative Maintenance Agreement affords my customers discounts to service parts in the unlikely event they need them and help prevent unseen failing contactors, belts, refrigerants leaks and the like....
My PM Agreements don't giv eme alicense to steal.
Our trades biggest profits come from neglected systems, lack of maintenance causes equipment failures you cannot argue that....
Proper maintenance provides HVACR equiment a longer life...
But I guess you could argue Black is White if you want too..
It is true that proper maintenance will extend the life of a system, but in all honesty how often is "proper maintenance". I think once a year is overkill. I tell my furnace customers that once every 2 to 3 years is plenty providing they are willing to change filters themselves. If they are not willing to do that then even once a year is not often enough if only to change filters.
"Preventative Maintenance Agreement affords my customers discounts to service parts"
No argument there. While I don't pretend to speak for your shop specifically, it's undeniable that the vast majority of shops price their flat rates high enough to cover the discount and more. If McDonalds openly and suddenly raised their prices by 30% but offered everyone who paid into their plan a 15% discount there would be outrage. The plan wouldn't be called a discount. It would be called coercion. In general when companies go flat rate prices go way up and then a discount that's smaller than the increase is offered to plan members. Woopetydoo! They should feel honored.
Don't misunderstand. Prices often NEED to go up. There's nothing immoral about raising prices. In fact, not charging enough to pay your employees well and stay in business to back your product IS the immoral choice. But at the same time raising prices enough to cover discounts to certain services and then offering that discount to people who buy other services is not much of a deal. It may be smart. It's certainly legal. It's been done forever and it's done by almost everyone in our industry and beyond. But a deal? It's more like Two-Card Monty.
"My PM Agreements don't giv eme alicense to steal."
No one said anything about theft.
"Our trades biggest profits come from neglected systems"
No one said otherwise. I said that the business trainers almost uniformly teach that YEARLY maintenance agreements are the single greatest factor in determining an HVAC shop's success. Hence my point was that most shops push YEARLY agreements religiously for their own benefit. There’s nothing wrong with self-interest. But I refuse to blow smoke up my customer’s rears telling them that yearly tune-ups are likely to benefit them in the second and third year.
"Proper maintenance provides HVACR equiment a longer life."
No one said otherwise. You're debating a point no one made or even implied. Over and over the point was concerning dogmatically pushing maintenance YEARLY. There is no proof whatsoever that it benefits the customer more than every two or three. And there are plenty of common sense observations to prove just the opposite. Any tech that's seen the same residential gas furnace year after year after year knows this.
Suggesting that YEARLY maintenance for years on end (beyond that of the filter) is an absolute must on all residential equipment... THAT'S calling black white.
Originally posted by Irascible Does the equipment run better? On year after year maintenances (as opposed to doing them every two or three years)
Do you really think they improve system performance year after year Waxer? It's not likely.
Yes there are exceptions. I can't speak to oil burners here in natural gas land. I suspect they need more attention than our stuff. But other than that and a few other exceptions year after year maintenance (as opposed to every two or three years) usually produces peace of mind for the homeowner and not much else.
Great post. But as I recall I cant get the year to year extended warranty on the furnace (I dont have it on the AC) unless I agree to the yearly maintenance. And that does make sense doesnt it? How can they provide a parts and labour ext warranty unless the furnace/AC is properly maintained?
And isnt a yearly tuneup more worthwhile...for the consumer.. for the furnace than rather than the AC? And so when I do finally speak to the service manager maybe I should request a free furnace 'tuneup' in the fall/winter rather than having them return to check the AC?
I am unfamiliar with the concept of the "year to year extended warranty". When I sell a system the customer may buy a 5, 10 or in some rare cases a 15 year extended warranty. That warranty is through the manufacturer and is bought once, not year to year. Some large contractors will self-insure. So perhaps this year to year thing you speak of is their unique offering. If not then they're engaging in coercion. You emphatically do not have to be on their maintenance program to buy an extended warranty from the manufacturer or to even keep one valid.
As far as the maintenance required by the warranty goes, I just looked at a Trane warranty. It states that damage caused by a failure to properly maintain the furnace as set forth by the user manual will not be covered. You have to think like a lawyer on this one. It does not say that the lack of yearly maintenance voids the warranty. It states that if the failure is caused by the lack of maintenance then the warranty is void. There's a HUGE distinction there. Precious few warranty claims I've put in for could have been proven to have been caused by lack of maintenance. Proof is a tough thing to come by and make stick. A guy named OJ showed us that. And even if there was proof OEMs rarely give a rat's behind. It would cost them too much money and cost them too much in goodwill to go around proving their customers are negligent. The only time they're known to investigate is when there are repeated warranty claims on expensive items from the same customer. Send in for your third compressor and sure, they'll take notice.
The most realistic way to judge these things is to look at reality and precedent. In ten years I've never had a claim denied. Nor have I ever heard of a claim being denied except on very expensive parts as outlined above and in other very rare circumstances. And in ten years I've had multiple claims go through that should not have. In most cases that was because factory tech support told me to go ahead and submit it for warranty even though we both knew the part failed due to abuse - abuse as in gross negligence, not because the customer dared to skip a year of precious contract maintenance.
Plus there's another way to look at it. If we have to do what the user manual states to maintain the warranty then what does it state? A Trane manual I'm looking at says you should clean your air filter once a month. So the contractor's twice a year visit is already useless in fulfilling the user manual's suggestion. It also says that annual cleaning of the blower wheel and housing is recommended for maximum output. Do they pull the blower assembly out each year? I doubt it. Most contractors don’t do that every year because most of the time it would make no sense. But these user manual requirements are spelled out in fluffy terms. They’re recommendations. The words “you must” don’t appear. It’s possible that another OEM is stricter. But if so then it’s a bluff. They’ll spend way less money giving you a part than they will proving a part failed due to lack of maintenance.
Plus… (I’m rambling because I’m good at it.) New furnaces are low maintenance. The regularity with which they recommend blower and filter cleaning are only suggestions. Beyond that what do they recommend in the manual? Visual inspection! That’s right. The crux of modern day maintenance is visual inspection. The motors are sealed and can’t be oiled and the burners don’t need regular maintenance. They say as much right in the manual.
The bottom line is that most contractors tell a lot of half-truths in selling maintenance. Do your maintenance. Do it yearly if that pleases you. But don’t believe them when they tell you that your OEM warranty depends on their service (you could have anyone do it or you could even just claim it was done) or that your system will deteriorate severely if you skip a year. In the vast majority of cases such claims are lies.
Originally posted by Irascible I am unfamiliar with the concept of the "year to year extended warranty". When I sell a system the customer may buy a 5, 10 or in some rare cases a 15 year extended warranty. That warranty is through the manufacturer and is bought once, not year to year.
You emphatically do not have to be on their maintenance program to buy an extended warranty from the manufacturer or to even keep one valid.
[Edited by Irascible on 06-04-2005 at 05:04 AM]
I am learning lots here. Appreciate it. Some more background. I am in Ontario Canada. 4 years ago I had my 20 year old furnace replaced with a Lennox G32V. The installation company didnt do a good job...had to have them back several times to get it right eg vent piping was too small a diameter; had them redo it. I forget what the basic warranty was but anyways I didnt want to deal with this HVAC company so for the past 3 years or so I had another company do the PM and the year to year parts and labour ext warrany on the furnace. I believe they must be bundled together ("TLC Plus"). So what are my options to have a parts and labour warranty on the G32V without getting the PM? Can I do it directly through Lennox for example? I would like to know my options. What do you recommend? Any Ontario contractors out there that can advise me specifically?
Are you referring to this? If so, that's not a warranty. That's marketing cleverly disguised as a service. That TLC program is a Service Experts invention with no direct connection to Lennox. Sure you'll get phony discounts and preferred service over regular customers (If I have a customer that's proven he'll fall for my tactics and another that just called in, I'd give the first one preference too!) but there's no warranty there.
If that's it and if you thought it was a warranty, don't feel bad. When I use to work for the man and did maintenance contracts, I had a lot of customers who thought the maintenance agreement was a warranty as well. The contractor says nothing that implies that it is. But they do nothing to clarify the matter either until it comes up. Usually it came up on a cold winter day when I told my customer that the repair would be $500. They'd say "But I'm on a maintenance agreement." And then I'd say, "Oh, in that case you get a 10% discount... so it'll be $450.". Lucky them.
Service Experts... ah yes. The same clowns that have scripted literally every part of the service call for maximum manipulation; that tell their techs to suggest new equipment when ten year old furnaces blow their transformers; and that gladly sell you any form of popular snake oil that they think you'll fall for. I love Service Experts.
A typical Lennox warranty would be one year on labor, five years on parts and 20 years or more on the heat exchanger. Your warranty may vary. Your owners manual will spell that out. And if you have an extended warranty you don't need anyone here to tell you that. You'll have a certificate that will be clearly labeled as such.
Originally posted by Irascible Are you referring to this? If so, that's not a warranty. That's marketing cleverly disguised as a service. That TLC program is a Service Experts invention with no direct connection to Lennox.
It is true that I have a TLC Plus agreement with a "Lennox authorized" dealer. This includes one PM for the furnace and AC in the one year period. In addition I have, with the same "Lennox authorized" dealer, a one year parts and labour warranty for the G32V.
What would you suggest I do to minimize my costs and still have a 'peace of mind' by haing an ext warranty for this expensive furnace?