Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

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Amskeptic
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Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by Amskeptic » Wed May 16, 2018 8:43 am

I have spent some serious free phone time with people over the winter, helping them get their VWs running. Sometimes this has involved several calls over the space of a day as we painstakingly attempt to communicate a very specific trouble-shooting path through the limitations of phone signals and words that mean one thing to one person and another to another.

In ALL cases, we got their VWs running. In each case, I requested a brief comment on the Buyer/Seller feedback forum on theSamba.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewt ... highlight=


Yet, as of today, the last comment on the Buyer/Seller feedback page was posted:
Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:20 pm Post subject: Re: Amskeptic - 78vw2000@earthlink.net


What happens is, familiarity breeds indifference or even contempt. Thus, this service is at risk for disappearing.
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .111,130 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,787 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 91 414 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,510 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 72,113 miles

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by TrollFromDownBelow » Thu May 17, 2018 6:11 pm

I am assuming by free, that you means you did not charge for your time, knowledge, experience, and intellect. My friend, that is a mistake. You should charge for this service.

In today's day and age, you can easily google and youtube the 'how' but the diagnosing part....yeah, not so much. In my pea brained mind, when I have to hire out a job - any job (HVAC, automotive, plumbing, etc) , I feel like I'm paying 75% for their diagnostics and expertise, and 25% for the actual 'doing' part. Except for roofing jobs, you can flip that percentage around...roofing is HARD WORK.... and I'm not a strapping 20 y/o any more.

As an example, A few years ago, I called my regular HVAC guy (so Colin, you should be able to relate :) ) to check out my wall unit heater in my family room; couldn't keep the pilot light lit (or I couldn't get it lit...can't remember). He told me I had to clean out the exhaust, and all would be fine. I started to write him a check for his standard service call, and he told me not to worry about it, because I was a regular customer. I told him that he diagnosed my problem; something I was not able to do, and that he earned that service call. He looked so appreciative I thought we was going to hug me (and no, he still didn't accept the check) and spent 20 minutes telling me various stories of how people did not appreciate this....

So yeah, you need to charge for that service.....
1976 VW Bus aka tripod
FI ...8 completely solid lifters.... now it's both kinda noisy and leaky, but she sure runs good!
hambone wrote: There are those out there with no other aim but to bunch panties. It's like arguing with a pretzel.
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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by Amskeptic » Fri May 18, 2018 6:53 am

TrollFromDownBelow wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 6:11 pm
I am assuming by free, that you means you did not charge for your time, knowledge, experience, and intellect. My friend, that is a mistake. You should charge for this service.
So yeah, you need to charge for that service.....

I thought I could maybe build the model by starting with some reviews for people to read of how these phone consultations worked. Then they could see for themselves that it is a viable offering. But seriously, these were long-standing customers, they had other reasons to post feedback . . .
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .111,130 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,787 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 91 414 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,510 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 72,113 miles

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by MonoCone » Fri May 18, 2018 9:16 am

Be direct with callers. After about 5 minutes of diagnosis you say: "..enjoy hearing from you but this is how we will continue. My hourly rate is $ ______ per hour. Please PayPal me $ (one hour's worth of time) and we can continue this conversation. Once I see the money in my account I will call you right back." Then keep track of the time!
This is the way every attorney works. Time is money.
My wife is a former classroom teacher and has a very successful business as a Math tutor. She charges her hourly rate for working one-on-one with her students. However, many send her texts with problems or questions about homework, upcoming tests, etc. She never charges for that time. I wish she would charge them. It is not the money, it is that the kids feel they can use her time for free.
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69 Westfalia 1600 DP; 67 Single Cab 1600 DP

Formerly posted as OB Bus on this forum - many years ago....

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by MonoCone » Fri May 18, 2018 9:20 am

Continuing....we had a check engine light on the Toyota 4Runner. Had it cleared and it reappeared. I took it into the dealer for diagnosis. They found the problem (faulty gas cap, typical) and since their minimum shop charge is 1 hour, the tech went through the rest of the diagnostic system and found everything was fine. I was HAPPY to pay the $183 (labor + part) since the problem was solved and I got a complete "scan" of the car.
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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by hippiewannabe » Fri May 18, 2018 8:19 pm

I love you, man. :flower:

We've been talking about this basic issue for 14 years.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewt ... ht=#494205
Zeen in 2004 wrote:
bajorek wrote:He put in a little over twelve hours
Well Colin, glad to see you've addressed that discipline issue you talked about! For God's sake, at least keep the meter running when you work overtime. Your services are wonderful and unique, we want you to be fairly compensated so you keep doing it.
Here's what comes to mind this time:
- We all do favors for friends, and help strangers in need. We also get paid for our work. Most of us can count our friends without taking off our shoes, and help a stranger a couple times a year. We get paid the rest of the time. You're in an entirely different space, and the line between friends/fellow travelers/community members and paying clients is very blurry.
- Public feedback should be voluntary. Offering free help in return for positive feedback is a slippery slope. Charge for your services, and if people want to leave feedback, it's their choice.
- As was clear in your "Maryland" post, time is our most precious resource. You must spend your time in the way that gives you the most joy. Perhaps 10 minutes to catch up with a friend/client and discuss their current VW problems is joy in itself. After that, it's work, and money is required to balance the joy equation. I think $.50 per minute after the first 10 is fair.
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is today.

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by wcfvw69 » Sat May 19, 2018 10:40 am

I agree that folks need to pay for your for phone consultation time. If it's a 5 minute, "Hey Colin, got a question for ya" and it's a long term customer, that's one thing. If it's going to be a long diagnostic call, they should pay up.

I know you're good about answering peoples requests for an opinion on this site via PM or a thread. You've answered my questions when I was new to bays which was always appreciated.

I run into this on The Samba. I get frequent PM's asking about distributors/fuel pumps or other VW stuff. I'm glad to answer a quick email. What gets old though is the guy who peppers me with questions day after day after day that can take time to answer. At some point, I stop answering them so they take a hint. I should probably just tell them I don't mind answering a quick question but repeated questions will require a consultation fee.
1970 Westfalia bus. Stock 1776 dual port type 1 engine. Restored German Solex 34-3. Restored 205Q distributor, restored to factory appearance engine.

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by asiab3 » Sat May 19, 2018 12:30 pm

From a publication I’m reading on legal consultation and attory retainers right now:
...clients who aren’t paying for your advice may not take it at face value if you say they don’t have a case. To some extent, clients only perceive something as being valuable if they have to pay for it. I’ve found that by requiring clients to pay for my time, they’re much more likely to take my advice seriously rather than brush it off and proceed to waste someone else’s time or rely on Google.
I couldn’t figure out how to say it, but I agree 100% with that statement.

Robbie
1969 bus, "Buddy."
100k miles with me.
279k miles on Earth.

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by xyzzy » Mon May 21, 2018 8:32 pm

Also worth noting that if nobody complains about price, you aren't charging enough!!!
---
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Encinitas, California USA

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by chachi » Tue May 22, 2018 9:27 am

at this point in my van problem line i would pay $100 an hour if i could get anyone to do it. if you want to walk me through why my van doesn't start over the phone, name your price. the "free" help on the samba is useful, but at some point everybody just shrugs their shoulders at my repairs and i grasp for more threads (both metaphoric and electronic) that will give me a hope of figuring it out. i have the same problem with this mechanic in beaverton, the only person that would help me with this stupid ass RJE engine but he wouldn't charge me, so helped as much as he wanted to then turned away when we couldn't get it solved. i begged him, dave, charge me, how much do i owe you?? "oh i'll just charge you when we solve the problem." eventually he got a little mad at my requests for further help, "i've got five vanagons in here with ghosty electrical problems, i don't need another one." aiyyy.
1974 transporter panel, 2.0 dual solex
1991 vanagon NAHT, RJE 2.3

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by MonoCone » Tue May 22, 2018 10:12 am

Well Colin, you asked for some opinions and you have received them. It is pretty close to unanimous: charge people for your time.
One person (Chachi) said they would be thrilled to pay $100/hour for diagnosis.
Another (me) was happy to pay $128/hour shop rate for good diagnosis.

My **feeling** is that you would like just to be a nice guy and help people. That is good and noble. Most of us here do not mind helping folks if we can. In your case it is your business and your livelihood.

Another story.....I had the windshield out for paint and a big wind and rain storm came up. I could not keep the tarps on and the dash wiring was soaked. Water and electrons obviously do not mix well. Several of the relays were damaged and it was urgent that I get the car functioning. I called my mechanic at the time who had memorized the entire wiring diagram of early Bay buses. Over the phone he walked me through step-by-step and wire-by-colored wire until we got it fixed. He was on the phone with me for 45 minutes. I knew his shop rate at the time was $65/hour and so I sent him a check for $75. Later he told me that I was the first person **ever** who offered to pay him for phone help. He also said if I need help call him and he'd be delighted to advise.
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The Mountains are Where I Am and What I Am.
69 Westfalia 1600 DP; 67 Single Cab 1600 DP

Formerly posted as OB Bus on this forum - many years ago....

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by tommu » Tue May 22, 2018 3:00 pm

I agree. I would have paid for either phone or text based advise when building up my engine and I would love the option to pay for diagnostic advise if I need it. However - you would also be wise to have a clear Service Level Agreement too. People have sometimes unreasonable expectations without guidance to the contrary.

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by Amskeptic » Tue May 22, 2018 8:32 pm

MonoCone wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 10:12 am
Well Colin, you asked for some opinions and you have received them. It is pretty close to unanimous: charge people for your time.
One person (Chachi) said they would be thrilled to pay $100/hour for diagnosis.
Another (me) was happy to pay $128/hour shop rate for good diagnosis.

My **feeling** is that you would like just to be a nice guy and help people. That is good and noble. Most of us here do not mind helping folks if we can. In your case it is your business and your livelihood.

Another story.....I had the windshield out for paint and a big wind and rain storm came up. I could not keep the tarps on and the dash wiring was soaked. Water and electrons obviously do not mix well. Several of the relays were damaged and it was urgent that I get the car functioning. I called my mechanic at the time who had memorized the entire wiring diagram of early Bay buses. Over the phone he walked me through step-by-step and wire-by-colored wire until we got it fixed. He was on the phone with me for 45 minutes. I knew his shop rate at the time was $65/hour and so I sent him a check for $75. Later he told me that I was the first person **ever** who offered to pay him for phone help. He also said if I need help call him and he'd be delighted to advise.

My my. I shall mull it over.
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .111,130 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,787 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 91 414 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,510 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 72,113 miles

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by Rusty Sub » Sat May 26, 2018 12:53 am

Why do you care?
a.k.a Xevin

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Re: Maybe We Are In Our Death Throes Here . . .

Post by Amskeptic » Wed May 30, 2018 7:37 am

Rusty Sub wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 12:53 am
Why do you care?

It seems that the fewer the words, the greater the confusion. Why does who care? About what?
Colin?
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .111,130 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,787 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 91 414 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,510 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 72,113 miles

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