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#28187 - 08/12/03 07:11 PM $250 contactor bill, $3000 A/C motors...A/C is a racket!  
Spark Master Flash  Offline
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 141
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
The air conditioner quit pumping cold air the other night, my rommate shut it off and called the A/C guys the next day. I came home when they were just getting finished. They showed us the problem. The contacts on the contactor were fried.

It took them 30 minutes from start to finish, and all they did was change the contactor. I could have found the problem myself, but I was busy and on the weekend I didn't know where to find A/C parts anyway.

The bill to change the contactor? $250! They charged $190 for the contactor alone!

I find it awfully strange that an alternator for a car can be under $100, but a motor on a home air conditioner can cost the owner $3,000. They're not THAT different. What's going on with this A/C racket?

If anybody wants to get rich, come to Las Vegas and do heating and air conditioning! I know it's hot out there, but DAMN! This is ridiculous!

"When in doubt, short it out"

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#28188 - 08/12/03 07:17 PM Re: $250 contactor bill, $3000 A/C motors...A/C is a racket!  
sparky  Offline
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,311
having been a new englander all my life, on visiting pheonix my first thought was it would be a ghost town save for freon's magic

from 10am to 2 pm the streets were as baren in the 108deg heat as it is here in the dead of winter

btw~Furnace's better contactors go for $400 and up for nema size 2, and that's my cost.

#28189 - 08/12/03 07:38 PM Re: $250 contactor bill, $3000 A/C motors...A/C is a racket!  
electure  Offline

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,262
Fullerton, CA USA
I know of an A/C service company that charges $28.00 for a relay "installation kit." It consists of 4 orange wire nuts.

#28190 - 08/12/03 08:03 PM Re: $250 contactor bill, $3000 A/C motors...A/C is a racket!  
Spark Master Flash  Offline
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 141
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Here are some things a person could buy with the money they would spend on a cheap contactor, which is just a switch, when it comes right down to it:

2 color television sets
3 color computer printers
2 or more cellular phones
2 bicycles
A used motorcycle
1 large boom box
2 or more 2.4 GHz cordless phones
2 pairs of high-end running shoes
1 Greenlee 1000v multi-tester
1 window air conditioner
1/3 of a new computer
1 sewing machine

It's just criminal that anybody can charge $190 for a cheap switch when you can get 1,000 times the technology, convenience and performance for the same price! Somebody is making money hand over fist, and they're really taking advantage of us.

If you question the pricing, they might say something like this:

"We'll get back up there and put it back in if you want." (In 108 degrees, you have no choice.)

"Air conditioner parts cost a lot." (It's a racket.)

"It's a hard job up there on the roof in this heat, and we get all the work we can do. Supply and demand." (It's a racket.)

The U.S. military has a program called Fraud, Waste and Abuse, where they root out suppliers who charge $250 for a nut and $175 for a bolt. Evidently some of the guilty parties moved to greener pastures and took over vast portions of the A/C business, where nobody questions their activities. Maybe some of the mobsters who used to run Las Vegas took over the entire air conditioning industry, from manufacturing the parts to installing them.

"When in doubt, short it out"

#28191 - 08/12/03 08:07 PM Re: $250 contactor bill, $3000 A/C motors...A/C is a racket!  
Bjarney  Offline
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 2,527
West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...
In the southwest, heat is simply our version of severe weather.

#28192 - 08/12/03 08:45 PM Re: $250 contactor bill, $3000 A/C motors...A/C is a racket!  
targetshootr  Offline
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 55
i know from whence you speak. i have done a lot of work for heating/cooling contractors.

they see nothing unusual about requiring $1000 a day for 2 men. meaning, if they change out a gaspack that costs them, say $800, the customer will probably pay at least $1800 and thats if the contractor isnt out to screw 'em. lol.

the other day my brother in law told me he made $1000 for an hour of his time on such a job after paying temp help.

it seems we have to take a vow of poverty to ply our trade.

#28193 - 08/12/03 10:59 PM Re: $250 contactor bill, $3000 A/C motors...A/C is a racket!  
amp-man  Offline
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 141
Sacto, California US of A

Yes, it was so simple, and the part shouldn't cost that much. Yea man, what a rip-off. You could have done it easy, except you didn't have the part. Sure.

So you say two guys spent a half hour. That was at your place. And they spent some time getting there. So say they spent an hour. That's two man-hours.

Thay had a truck full of parts, right? (Or they would've had to go to a parts store, taking more time). And they had someone to answer the phone when your roomie called for help. And they probably had insurance. Maybe they were licensed. And pay workers comp.

Oh, and at least one of the guys was a trained and experienced HVAC mechanic. A few years of either OJT or apprenticeship.

There was the cost of the part, too. Let's say it was $80 wholesale. That means $110 for overhead, pay & benefits, and profit. For two man-hours.

So you're whining about paying a TOTAL of $55/hr for skilled tradesmen? If we back out 30 percent overhead and profit combined, that's about $38/hr average for the two guys for pay and benefits.

That means about $25/man average in pay. The senior guy gets $38 and the helper $12. Does that seems unreasonable?


#28194 - 08/12/03 11:09 PM Re: $250 contactor bill, $3000 A/C motors...A/C is a racket!  
Spark Master Flash  Offline
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 141
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Explain why the motor costs so much.

"When in doubt, short it out"

#28195 - 08/13/03 12:24 AM Re: $250 contactor bill, $3000 A/C motors...A/C is a racket!  
PCBelarge  Offline
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 681
Dobbs Ferry, NY, USA

You sound like a contractor. I like how you explained it, very well done! I used to have a similar line with the customer, but lately I do not believe I need to explain myself. Most people who are not in their own business do not understand the cost of running a business. If you asked them if they would be happy with $30.00 an hour, they would laugh. Exactly my point!!


Pierre Belarge

#28196 - 08/13/03 01:33 PM Re: $250 contactor bill, $3000 A/C motors...A/C is a racket!  
Spark Master Flash  Offline
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 141
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
So you think a small contactor is worth $190.00. I think it's overpriced. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

The A/C electric motors are highly overpriced, I just can't justify it in my mind why they are so expensive. I could buy 3 rebuilt Chevy 350 engines for the price of getting a home A/C electric motor changed. Or I could buy a 2000 model Honda CR250 with the same money. Seems like a lot of money for a little electric motor.

No disrespect to the guys who are up there busting their butts on the rooftops, I'm just having a hard time justifying the price of these parts.

You know as well as I that there is profit in the parts, but those parts just aren't worth what they're charging, not even close. $15.00 is about what the contactor looked like it's worth to me, considering the prices of circuit breakers, etc. An A/C motor like the one on my house might be worth $250 in my opinion, based on other products like car alternators, etc.

Amp man, the nature of the A/C business is to repair the units on the customer's roof. They're not really set up to have people put their A/C in their pickup truck and deliver it to the shop.

Also, in the electrical business around here, service guys don't get paid when they're not working on an actual job. If they're sitting around in the parking lot in the company truck for 2 hours waiting for a call, they don't get paid by their boss, the electrical contractor. So the A/C guys probably have to take the same daily risks of having to work 10 hours to get an 8 hour day. They must be making commission.

I'm sure it's always a shock to the customer when they find out the price of an electric motor for residential A/C. Kind of like the sticker shock you get when a lawyer hits you with a $500/hour bill, or when your wife has a baby and they hit you with a $5,000 bill. The prices are way out of whack with many other fields of work.

A/C seems to be much different than commercial electrical - A/C companies seem to charge a lot more for everything.

I know, they all need to be paid and they deserve to experience all the luxury that life has to offer. Some lines of work are just that way - when the customers are all invariably desperate (they need a lawyer, a doctor or an A/C man in the summer), they get bent over a barrel. Maybe the customer doesn't appear to be gouged on labor, but it's all made up on ridiculously overpriced parts.

End result = poor value. Desperate people should not be taken advantage of to such extremes. Maybe it's the manufacturers, maybe it's the distributors, maybe it's the A/C contractors, but somewhere between the manufacturer and the end user, somebody is awfully greedy.

"When in doubt, short it out"

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