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Why Service Calls Can Be So Expensive

Posted By Doane Advisory Services | May 20, 2017 8:03 PM CDT

Source by  Dan Anderson

As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.



Why Service Calls Can Be So Expensive

May 18, 2017

Customers sometimes comment that the bill for a particular service call was more expensive than they expected. I've had customers keep close track of what time I arrive and what time I left their farm, then were upset when they were charged for an hour or two longer than they expected. Here are a few behind-the-scenes issues that sometimes "enhance" the final bill:

-Even though most dealerships have a basic "trip fee" anytime a tech leaves the shop on a service call, the customer often pays for the time a mechanic spends driving to and from the job. Just because you can make the trip to the dealership  in 20 minutes when you desperately need parts, the dealership will bill you for the 45 minutes it takes the mechanic to get to your place driving the legal speed limit.

-Depending on the needs of an upcoming service call, techs sometimes include "prep time" on their time card. Prep time can be the few minutes it takes to look up and pull any parts that might be needed on the call, or it can be an hour or more of time spent in tech books/computers looking up and printing out schematics or diagnostic information. To be frank, sometimes it's easier for the mechanic to look up detailed information at the dealership rather than in the field, with a frantic customer pacing in the background.

-The backside of service calls can also increase bills for service calls. Unloading unused parts, unloading broken parts, or simply writing up an explanation of what repairs were made, has to be billed "somewhere," and bosses prefer that the customer pay for it.

-Poor directions are another hidden cost associated with service calls. If a customer says he'll be, "two miles south of town," but ends of moving to a farm four miles north of town before the mechanic gets there, well, there's a cost associated with the mechanic wandering around the countryside looking for the machine.

-And here's a personal favorite: during a rainy spell, a mechanic gets sent out to work on a machine in the middle of a muddy field. There's no way to get the service truck to the machine, and the farmer doesn't want his freshly planted field torn up by driving the machine closer to the road. Repairs under those conditions might be a little more expensive, simply because it's just human nature to walk slower when your boots are carrying 15 pounds of mud.