The Customer is Always Wrong

A typical customer these days thinks they know a lot more than they do, but you can’t tell them that!  They have access to the internet just like you do, which means DIY forums, manufacturer’s websites, and online parts, suppliers.

They honestly start out thinking they don’t need an appliance repairman at all, and that they can fix their appliance themselves.  Sometimes this is true, but more often it is not.

By the time I get a phone call, the customer has usually tried the obvious things, replacing a few snap-in parts, cleaning out the dryer vent, etc.  It hasn’t worked, so they have called someone who knows what they are doing.  That’s the best case scenario.

In the worst case scenario, the customer imagines themselves to be far more mechanically and electrically inclined, and dismantles the entire appliance, or worse, busts it to pieces trying to get to the part they think is broken.

I’m sure in the back of their head they are thinking, “It’s worth a try, and if I screw it up, I can always call a service technician!”

By the time I get that call, the appliance is a mangle of bent metal and scrambled parts that take me an extra half hour to put back together.

But the fact that the customer has finally broken down and called me to ride to the rescue doesn’t mean they have been humbled.  Oh no.  They are still going to help me do my job.

They know all the things that aren’t wrong with the appliance, because they’ve tried all of those, and they definitely know what is wrong with it because they’ve narrowed it down with troubleshooting tips from fix-it answer sites.

If there is one thing I’ve learned in appliance repair, the customer is always wrong.

In fact, their misleading “help” can actually cause delays in the repair by requiring extra proof that the problem isn’t the issue they think it is.

You can also spend extra time explaining the operating theory to these junior repair technicians in order to give good customer service, which also slows down the repair process.

Also, their misdiagnosis can cause them to omit important information that would help you with what the appliance is really doing wrong because they have “eliminated” it as a possibility.

And finally, their inquisitive interference can ultimately distract you from your standard troubleshooting routine.

But, it’s all part of the job.  Appliance repair is not necessarily conducted in a clean, well lit, whisper quiet environment where you have all the time in the world to get your work done.

I consider it a challenge of my skill to go in after a do-it-yourselfer.  I don’t prefer it, of course, but I am always a little prouder when I get those jobs done.

And smart customers keep me on my toes with my technical knowledge.  If I can explain it to them, I have to know it myself first.

Of course, they are more impressed with my expertise if they have tried to do it themselves, which makes for a lasting impression and often repeat business.

So if your customer knows it’s the motor, or the belt, or the pump, remember they are calling you because you are the real expert.  Just be sure to take what they say with a grain of salt.

3 Replies to “The Customer is Always Wrong”

  1. I could not agree more. I hate how customers will sometimes dictate to you how to do your job…. Well if they know how to handle the repair, do it themselves! Obviously I would never say this out loud. I should get tongue in cheek compensation while on the job! 😀

  2. Great article! I was laughing while I was reading because it reminded me of all the junior techs I’ve rescued over the past 30 years. One time I arrived at a call to find that the do-it-yourselfer had a Whirlpool direct-drive machine in his living room on a blanket in pieces. Not just a few parts but the entire machine dis-assmebled. He quickly said “I’ve got it apart for you so it would be easier”. I’m smiling on the outside but thinking a few choice words on the inside. I asked him what the problem was and he replied “My wife said it wasn’t working”. That’s all he could offer. Nothing was obvious so I put the machine all back together so I could test it. It was the timer. He realized that he didn’t make it easier for me and understood why the labor was a little higher. I can laugh about it now. I really enjoy reading your articles. Great job with this site.
    -Bob Meadows/B&D Appliance Repair Service/Lancaster,CA

    1. Hey Bob – Wow, I laughed and cried at the same time reading this! It’s nice to know experienced techs like you are getting value out of the blog – thanks for the great comment.

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