The other day I had a friend refer someone to me who was having a fan error on his laptop. Pretty typical break/fix, easy enough. His friend lived and worked in the next county. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, so I took the job, called the customer, and set-up an appointment to pick up his system.
On the day of service I put his address into my GPS and the device reports back to me that the trip is going to take 45 minutes.
I gasped at the time, but I had already made the appointment so I decided to bite the bullet and go with it.
In my head, I though I knew how far away this customer is. If you draw a straight line from where I am to where he is it’s about 20 miles. The problem is the best way to get there takes you quite a distance out of the way, there’s no straight way to get there.
For a hardware break/fix of this type, I don’t charge a whole lot. I charge about 2 hours labor and whatever the part costs. For this particular job I was also spending an hour and a half on the road, not to mention the cost of gas. I specify on my website that I will charge a trip fee for any travel done outside of my home county, but I didn’t think this job was going to be too far out of my way so I didn’t enforce that rule.
I obviously made a mistake here. It’s clear that I should have charged this person a trip fee of some sort to compensate me for the distance traveled to see him. The problem is, I didn’t realize just how far out of my area he was until it was too late. I had already quoted my price to him on the phone and I would feel sleezey calling him back on the day of the appointment to tack on a trip fee. I figure I’ll take this hit and use it as an opportunity to learn and adapt.
With that I’d like to offer some tips for techs who do in-home or pick-up service on how you can better handle repairs that are out of your service area.