How to charge when customer misdiagnosed

Todd Mobile Technician Morinville, Alberta Posted   Latest  

Hi all, I am a mobile programmer and diagnostician.

Case in point,

2005 Ford Escape, 3.0l , used PCM off Ebay installed.

The customer (shop) stated that the module needed to be programmed.

I asked whether the coils had been changed, the response was yes.

I arrive, the vehicle starts and runs but misfires badly, one or more cylinders.

I say, "Why didnt you tell me it started and ran?" 

The response was " I thought programming would correct the misfire"

No worries, get another module I say, call me when you have it.

Next time, I arrive and "new" module is installed.

VIN matches but no crank no start.

WTF? I perform PATS key learn (the guy has about 6 keys lol )

Starts and runs, misfires badly, PCM smoked.

Somehow, the original the original PCM was installed, I guess reinstalled and now we are back to square one.

I do a quick primary test on one of the 3 bad holes and , Voila!!, PCM is bad.


I just have a real hard time charging when nothing got fixed.

I need to establish a dismissal charge or something.

The customer is cool in whatever I deem proper. Problem I have is I need a comprehensive way to deal with this kind of stuff, whether it be from the well meaning guy or the shop that just wants to use you.


Chris Diagnostician
Bryans Road, Maryland
Chris Default

I dont know much about running a mobile buisness but I would think you are correct on needing to establishing some sort of dismissal fee. But I think you also would need to figure out how to get compensateded for your travel time as well.

+1 Default Ð Bounty Awarded
Rio Technician
New Carlisle, Ohio
Rio Default

You are thinking about it from the wrong viewpoint. When it is customer diagnosed you are not getting paid to fix it. You are getting paid to perform a procedure (that has been determined by the customer.) The result of the requested procedure needs to be owned by the one that asked for the procedure to be performed.

+12 Default Ð Bounty Awarded
Dave Mobile Technician
Ironton, Ohio
Dave Default


0 Default Ð Bounty Awarded
Marlin Technician
Estacada, Oregon
Marlin Default

Totally agree!

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Jeff Diagnostician
Cathedral City, California
Jeff Default

For a just a regular flash update I charge 1 fee , for New module installations I charge more , theres always the security and various other procedures that have to be done with new modules. For used or after market modules I charge the same as the new module install and I always tell them theres a fee regardless of whether or programming was successful or not ESPECIALLY with used or aftermarket…

+2 Default Ð Bounty Awarded
Benjamin Diagnostician
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Benjamin Default

I have a minimum service call fee that I charge for instances like this. Are there times that i wave this fee? Absolutely!! I have customers that pay me a lot of money every month (customers that call me multiple times in the same day). If one of them have a whoops moment then I tend to say, “Hey, no worries.” However, if this is a one call a month customer, then they are charged the minimum…

+1 Default Ð Bounty Awarded
Corey Owner/Technician
Staten Island, New York
Corey Default

I believe you should have a default fee(show up) to fall back to when the job goes south. To use your example, you were going to charge $xxx to program but quickly realized that wasnt going to fix it. Give the option to continue with programming as per shop, charge rate #2 @ $xxx for troubleshooting and possibly program or rate #3 to abort completely and justify your time. Option 3 is obviously…

+3 Default Ð Bounty Awarded
Bill Owner/Technician
Jackson, Michigan
Bill Default

Your advice and travel are billable... You did not misdiagnose it. You came per there request.

+2 Default Ð Bounty Awarded
Glen Owner/Technician
Arthur, Illinois
Glen Default

I try to always add value to every job and the repair/service industry, I have mostly had poor success achieving this goal when I give stuff away for Free.

+3 Default Ð Bounty Awarded
Brian Owner
Parma, Ohio
Brian Default

I struggled with situations like this in the beginning of running my mobile business. Do you handle the incoming calls for service request? If not I would call the shop before heading there way and get as much info as you can. I would much rather spend 5 min on the phone and decide to head to a job that would actually help a customer than go out and have to debate with them to get paid due to…

+4 Default Ð Bounty Awarded
Jason Owner/Technician
San Luis Obispo, California
Jason Default

You have to charge for your time as if you fixed it. Your time is valuable and finite. If they could have fixed it they would have. I tell my customers up front, unless its my fault, they are responsible for having everything ready for me to work, or let me bring the materials and charge for them. It may be cold, but we have to do it this way. We are already so under paid in this industry its…

+3 Default Ð Bounty Awarded
Rex Technical Support Specialist
Alliance, Ohio
Rex Default

I keep thinking about doctors. You or yours heirs (oops) pay for EVERY visit every time and for every test regardless of outcome.

0 Default Ð Bounty Awarded
Glen Owner/Technician
Arthur, Illinois
Glen Default

I know several doctors and other industry professionals that stand behind their work even to the point of a loss, this also helps keep me accountable.

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Sam Mobile Technician
Flint, Michigan
Sam Default

I also run a mobile programming and diagnostics business. I see this as a daily struggle. This is how we handle it today and it seems to work. Customer calls for programming, we arrive, charge a fee no matter the outcome. No comm, bad module whatever. There are always judgement calls. Yesterday had a good customer installed the wrong part. I did not charge for the trip. Anytime we program a…

+1 Default Ð Bounty Awarded