07 July 2008

Fork it over and hope for the best

I had the washing machine repair man in this morning, in order to fix our machine's sudden penchant for washing things for so long that they dissolve. He seemed nice enough, and had a poke round inside it, and then decided that it wasn't the control board which had gone (which is expensive) but was instead the heating element. It was quite a quick thing to replace, and would cost £98 for the part and the labour, so I let him do it (only took about half an hour), and then he was off.

Now, was £98 a good price? I just don't know. And that's what I hate about anything to do with tradesmen or car mechanics or anything like that. You just have to take their word for it, hopefully ask a few pertinent questions so it sounds like you're not an idiot, and then you just pay them whatever they ask.

I tried to watch him fairly carefully, and at one point I thought he might be ripping me off. He showed me the heating element after he'd taken it out, and it was all caked in limescale, and he said that because of that the heating element would have been working extra hard to heat the water until finally it burnt out. OK, sounds alright so far. And then when he went outside to get a new one from his van, I looked out the window and saw him banging the old one on the kerb, bashing the limescale off. And I thought fuck, what if he's going to bash some of the limescale off, it'll start working again, and then he'll just put the old one back in? And after that I watched him like a hawk, making him coffee so I could stay in the kitchen, and flitting around doing things so I could keep an eye on what happened. He definitely brought a new element in with the old one, it was silver and shiney and in a packet, and at the end he left me the old one - with some limescale removed from the bashing, but clearly old. So unless he fetched a different old one to give me and put the real old one back in, and brought a new one in as a prop, then I'm probably alright.

The machine works now anyway, so I'm just hoping for the best. He might have overcharged me, as I had a look on the internet and don't think heating elements are massively expensive, but I don't think it was a complete rip off... I'm going to stop thinking about it now, it works and he's gone away, I may as well just live with it.

It does make me want to learn some basis skills though, a bit of plumbing and car mechanics and electricianing, just so you can do some things yourself and not be prey to whatever workman you call from the phonebook and might actually understand what they're talking about. Maybe I will... or maybe I'll just carry on paying and hoping.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


here's something that might be useful next time. But think that they probably charge £50 call out and then their time plus cost of element and it might not be such a bad deal after all.

And remember washing machines live longer with Calgon