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Old 01-14-2013, 09:34 PM   #15
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Although you may consider the cost to be high and the times to be excessive, look at it from a different perspective...

a '5 second job' implies that a normal employee could be expected, on a normal day, to replace the little rubber part on 2,880 trailers in a single day (no breaks). That also includes the paperwork for each one. Im pretty sure that my old tired bones couldn't walk past 2,880 trailers in one shift (i tried to add a laughing smily here but no luck, dang computer...)

Also the $109 rate has very little to do with how much the employee makes, its how much it costs to run a business divided by the number of folks who are performing the task (roughly). In the case of $109/hr, that equates to a store with 10 employees having only $2M in sales, having to cover the cost of the facility, utilities, benefits, liability insurance, workmans comp...if i could find a way to bill everyone at 100% utilization...

Oh well...the good part is you got a Quote...not a Bill...
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:43 PM   #16
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All shops typically charge by the FLAT RATE hour. Flat rates are typically broken down 1/4 hrs. Labor times include going to the parts window and pulling your parts. Were you charged for the estimate? Typically a good comprehensive estimate ANYWHERE which includes making a parts list will take two hours. That's labor rates are so high.

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Old 01-14-2013, 09:44 PM   #17
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OP: To me the simple solution would be to have them do the jobs that you cannot do and you take care of the rest of it yourself. There seems to be lots of very simple to complete projects. Replacing rivets or lens covers is a do it yourself project. Personally I cannot stand to pay someone to do a job that I can do myself. If you want to have a shop full of experienced technicians do all the work you have to willing to except the cost. Just like any garage that $109 gets split between a number of people. Least of which is generally the mechanic himself. I certainly donít see any indication of ďgougingĒ by looking at the breakdown of charges. I would suppose that like any garage they are based on a flat rate charge book.
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:16 PM   #18
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Nine hours for wash & wax & checking & sealing roof? After tax thats $1050; I mean... Check sealants. Reseal roof area and various spots exterior & Wash and wax? Those have got to be the funnest chores when owning an Airstream!!

It's all a process, those pesky chores will need to be rechecked & redone continually if every three or six months seems to blur together...
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:38 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
OP: To me the simple solution would be to have them do the jobs that you cannot do and you take care of the rest of it yourself. There seems to be lots of very simple to complete projects. Replacing rivets or lens covers is a do it yourself project. Personally I cannot stand to pay someone to do a job that I can do myself. If you want to have a shop full of experienced technicians do all the work you have to willing to except the cost. Just like any garage that $109 gets split between a number of people. Least of which is generally the mechanic himself. I certainly donít see any indication of ďgougingĒ by looking at the breakdown of charges. I would suppose that like any garage they are based on a flat rate charge book.
I completely agree with AWChief. There is no gouging going on. Either pay the price or do it yourself. I do all my own work because I can and I am not willing to pay somebody else $109/hr to do it. I prefer to go camping and buy gas with my money. Remember that the tech may make 25-30% of the hourly charge rate.

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Old 01-14-2013, 11:01 PM   #20
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Hi, as someone who was a commissioned mechanic at new car dealers, I can see both sides of the story. Looks like you gave them a huge laundry list. I would let them do what you can't or don't feel like doing yourself; The rubber bumper and the step light lens for examples. Also I see a lot of check this and check that; unless there is a known problem with those items, I would leave them alone. They may have quoted for replacing the step light assembly instead of the lens, this can and does happen. I personally wouldn't have them reseal everything and then wash and wax it before the sealer has time to cure. It takes me a few hours just to wash my trailer and I don't do the roof. [can't get up there safely at home] And I have never waxed my trailer. [doesn't need it] I think $400.00 for this wash & wax job is a bargain. I won't say this is true for them, but my service advisor would write estimates just like that one that you have, and I would do most or all of the little things, like the lens and rubber bumper for free. I personally liked to bring the bill under the estimate and make my customers happy. [and return, and ask for my service again]
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:08 AM   #21
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While most repairs of this nature seem costly to the 'customer', obviously the 'shop' must enjoy enough profit to keep the doors open for business...

The estimate is important for both parties so that there may be an 'understanding' before the repairs begin - Also, keep in mind that some unforeseen elements of the repair may be uncovered, and unless specifically important to be re-negotiated, will most likely be 'absorbed' within the terms of the estimate...

I'm reminded of my early working experience in the parts dept of a large truck dealer...I was running parts into the shop area, when I noticed one of the older/experienced mechanics taking the time to wipe down, clean and return his wrenches to his tool chest, and return some tools to the tool crib - all the while still 'clocked in' to the customer's repair ticket...

Being young and not knowing any better, I later asked the mechanic why he was 'cleaning up' at the customer's expense, so to speak...'Grasshopper', he said, when that customer arrived, all my wrenches and tools were clean and stored away properly, and the job's not complete till they are again back in that condition! Lesson learned...!

Our truck dealer, however, only charged customers the actual labor hours 'clocked' for the repair, unless it ran 'over', in which case it would revert to the estimate price for the customer's protection...Of course, some things were a bit different, 50 years ago!
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:16 AM   #22
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I had work done at Jackson Center last summer. I have done all of the work on my AS myself until this visit to JC. The scope of the work for this particular job was outside my skill level. The estimate for the job was 6.5 man-hours of labor. It took 8 clock hours (full time for 1 technician) and there were times that 3 technicians were on the job. I was charged for 6.5 man-hours. The tech also added door guards (actual 20 min job), I bought in the parts store, without adding to my charges.

I drove 8 hours each way for the trip to JC. I have an AS dealer, with service department, 3.5 hours from home but prefer JC for AS service. I am a happy Jackson Center customer and will return there again if I need work beyond my ability.
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:35 AM   #23
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Jackson Center has a full time repair shop that is separated from the factory, with full time employees. Not your ordinary assembly plant. Can't take your truck back to the factory for repairs.
I stand corrected. Thank you.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:14 AM   #24
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Most businesses have a minimum charge for a task, usually a half or quarter hour. Tire air check, usually half an hour etc. if you can not do the work yourself and either do not want to or cannot afford to pay someone else, then sell the thing as I did. Bought a cheap slide in camper and put fifteen thousand dollars in the bank. The slidein is not something I need to keep perfect so I do all the work myself. Oh, it does not leak. I figure I can use it for a few years the same way I used the airstream, and then set it out on the curb for the county to pick up. Happy, happy!, jim
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:14 AM   #25
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Have been to JC twice for service. I have never see such a detailed estimate. At least it is straight forward and you can choose to use the service or not. First time we went we had a couple of large items and then my wife made a list somewhat like yours and because she did not want to wait for my slow pace of fix ups and they went to work. I was astounded at the final price. But the work they did was pretty good and the trailer has been a dream for the last 7 years.
The second time I needed a major repair that I decided they were the only people who could do it right (the A frame). The work actually cost less than I was expecting and again was well done. We toughed out the price and now have a sound trailer that does not leak.
I got some estimates from Camping World. Higher than JC (double on the waste valves) plus I am pretty sure CW did not have a clue how to work on an Airstream.
You might find some other dealer who will do the work that you can not do. We had a thermostat replaced while on the road at a Winnebago dealer and they did a good job.
Work on a Airstream, as you may know, is never as simple as similar work on a house. For one thing, just reaching to spot to work on is often difficult. When you do some of these jobs yourself set a timer and see how it comes out. And think about labor unions and paying employee benefits and paying for a heated space to work.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:39 AM   #26
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I appreciate everyone's feedback. I'm a little shocked that everyone thinks the charges for some of these items is "to be expected". Certainly it makes this forum useful, because I definitely feel the opposite, and still do....but at least I feel better about the service department. We definitely declined all of the items we could do ourselves, and agreed to the ones we thought would be better handled by them. I'm happy to hear from those of you who HAVE been to the service center, and I sure hope their work on our trailer is as good as you have described. I will update after service....stay tuned!
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:35 PM   #27
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Something tells me this is not going to have a happy ending.

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Old 01-16-2013, 12:45 PM   #28
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I too am new, no reference with JC, however, I have been up and in my overhead cabinets, working behind myself, while holding mirror and flashlight trying to install LED lights. Right now you could name any price to get that job done and it is a tiny little light! sub
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