Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Service & Repair

Well, I finally took my serger in for service on the weekend. I always hesitate to do this because it's so expensive. (How much does it cost in your part of the world? Around here it's about $80-$90, unless I'm being ripped off and don't know it.) I was a bit nervous because I thought there was something wrong with one of the tension knobs. That price above doesn't include parts and repair.

Well, I got a phone call today letting me know that something is indeed in need of replacing. Not the tension knob, though. Apparently, that bit that holds your needles on. Or something. I'm not really clear on that, actually. Which is part of the problem. It's a bit like taking your car to the shop when you don't have any clue how cars work, and they know you don't have any clue how cars work. So I just sort of have to trust that this part that I didn't notice anything wrong with is indeed broken... and pay an additional $70 to have it fixed. Dammit.

Here's the thing that got me about the phone call, though. She had phoned to get my approval, which I appreciate, because of the high cost of repair. But as part of that spiel, she immediately launched into advising me that the cost of the repair and service together is about equal to their valuation of my machine "5 years ago." Essentially, she was trying to get me to thinking about how my machine isn't worth fixing, and then conveniently started to tell me about my "options" for purchasing a new machine from them, while again reminding me that my machine is now essentially "worthless."

My serger isn't a young machine, and every time I look at needing a part for it, it does cost an arm and a leg. (edit: this is the first time it's ever needed a repair. The other parts I looked at were optional accessories.) But, here's the thing - it's a good, sturdy, mechanical machine. Provided it gets fixed, there's no reason it shouldn't keep on working. And, frankly, her logic about the cost is totally skewed - because A) I'm already on the hook for that $80-$90 service fee either way and B) a new machine needs servicing just as much as an older machine, so I'd be paying that regardless and C) just because they think my machine doesn't have resale value, that doesn't mean it doesn't have value for me if it still does a perfectly fine job of the work I need it to do.

In addition to feeling like my intelligence was insulted, my inner environmentalist is a little riled as well. I'm so tired of this disposable culture we live in, where we might as well chuck something rather than fixing it. Especially when it's an item like this - that was designed to be fixed rather than disposed of.

Ugh. It's possible I'm over-reacting, absolutely. But I think I might look into my other options for machine service next time around.


  1. I realize you're responding to an irritating sales pitch but it might be time to consider a new machine, esp if it's needing regular, expensive fixes. Or maybe you just need a diff repair shop? Give another vendor a chance and see if you hear a similar story...

  2. Perhaps I was unclear - it's not needing regular fixes. This is the first repair it's ever needed. The other expensive part I looked into buying wasn't a repair, it was an accessory that went missing years ago (probably before my Mom bought it). Turns out there's nothing wrong with the tension knob, it just came loose. The annual service is expensive, but that's optional and a flat rate, regardless.

    What I was reacting to was the idea that the machine was "worthless," while also assuring me that it's a "great machine?" And the suggestion that I should spend $400-$900 on a newer one, rather than $70 to fix the one I already have that's otherwise in good working order.

  3. ... also, re: "especially" - if the machine wasn't needing regular fixes, why else would I consider a newer one?

  4. I recently got a new sewing machine, because the expected fix price of the broken one was equal to the cost of a new one (ended up being a cheaper fix, but hey, now I have 2 machines, so I'm not complaining!!). To me, that makes sense. But to buy a new machine because the cost of the repair is more than its RESALE value, well, who cares?? If fixing it will make it work, and is cheaper than buying a NEW machine, I'd go for fix every single time. Especially since newer machine seem to break more often than older ones.

  5. @Sarah - yeah, that's pretty much in-line with my thinking. I agree with K-Line that if it needs multiple repairs in a short timeframe, it's time to start thinking about retiring it. But when the replacement cost is 5-10 times the cost of the repair? No way. I think it's important to distinguish between market value and worth - I might not be able to sell it for anything, but if it does the job I need it to then it's worth something to me to keep it.

  6. Yeah, I think that was a pretty unintelligent sales pitch. I'd be just as frustrated with that experience as you were. I'd probably find somewhere else to go. If a place like that can't do business in a way that gains your trust, they're not doing something right.

  7. It was unexpected because I've gone to them a few times previously and had a good experience, but then, this is the first time any of my machines have needed a repair. Maybe it was a one-off? I've also taken a class through them and it was great. I did make a few calls and it seems that the service cost is fairly standard. I don't know, I'll have to think about it. I'll also see what they say when I pick the machine up!