Hello all, John here.
I wanted to update you on the Refer Recall before I forget the details.
Getting this recall done has been a bit of an obstacle, I suspect one that many full-timers have to deal with. We can’t just drop our unit off, and leave it sit on someone’s lot until they get around to feeling like taking care of it. We have also found many if not most dealers simply won’t provide you service unless you have purchased from them. I know, you are thinking that would cause them problems with the manufacturers, but really, they just don’t care, and I don’t want people who don’t care working on my rig, especially as I have a difficult enough time letting anyone else work on it. Finally we found a repair service that would do it on-site, and we are in the area long enough for them to schedule it, so I was all happy to find “Blue Moon RV Repair” http://www.bluemoonrv.com/.
A couple weeks ago, I phoned up Blue Moon, and spoke to Jeff about the service, and he and I agreed that they would come here to do it for a fee of $50.00 (The service charge they usually charge) and bill Norcold the balance for the recall. We scheduled it for last Friday (3/20/2009), and all seemed well. The Technician called first thing Friday AM, and arrived shortly afterword. At first glance the outfit seemed professional enough, they had a nice service vehicle, and the tech introduced himself, etc. All that aside, I just got a vibe off this guy that he was someone I’d have to watch, and indeed it turned out to be the case.
He went straight to work, asking me to turn off water and gas, and empty the refer out. On the phone, I was told that they wouldn’t have to pull the unit, that they were just adding a switch, so I was a little annoyed to have to rush around, as I would have had it empty if I knew. In any case, he got it disconnected, and we removed it. The picture from yesterday shows it on the floor with the tech installing the switch. Basically it is a thermal cut out switch that is installed in the burner tube, when it gets to hot it shuts down the unit so it doesn’t burn down the camper. The Recall also replaces some insulation along the burner tube, which is the main reason it needed to be pulled out.
After we got it reinstalled, the tech tested it on gas, and it wouldn’t light. I told him to hang on a second as the gas line most likely needed to be purged of air, so I lit the stove and turned on the water heater to get the air out. After the stove lit, I shut it all down and before I could get outside, he called out that he found the problem. The tech had the wire for the electrode that ignites the burner in his hand. He said this wire came loose. I looked at the unit, and told him to reconnect it. He went and got a new electrode and installed it. I didn’t say anything. The burner fired, and we finished up the job.
Now here is where I am not such a happy camper… The tech handed me the bill for $109.89. I looked at him, and said “Jeff and I agreed to $50.00 on the phone.” He replied “It’s for the electrode.” Judging by his body language and other indicators I saw over the past couple hours, I wasn’t going to argue, just paid the bill.
After closely examining the electrode, and doing some research after he left, I found that the electrode really isn’t physically connected to the wire, as it is what one would call a “Jam” connection. The end of the electrode that slips into the ceramic insulator is tapered, and the wire, a special thick silicone coated wire, is designed to fit snugly into the other end of the insulator and it is held on to the electrode similar to how one of the “Chinese Finger Traps” hold your fingers together. The part was designed this way for a reason, so it can be adjusted, and also removed to be cleaned, and that came right from Norcold. I also looked at the pricing of this electrode, as I was charged $59.89 for it. You can buy it at most any dealer or direct from Norcold for a Suggest Retail Price of $13.95, for the OEM part, not the cheap knock off he installed.
So, to sum this up, I am glad to get the service done, but, I am a bit bitter about this electrode for a few reasons. 1) my refer worked fine before he started, where I come from, you break it when your working on it, you fix it. If there was an additional charge involved, he should have said something before he replaced it. 2) Either the tech didn’t know, or he purposely replaced a part that wasn’t bad, in essence, either he was padding the bill or he was ill-trained. I am not sure which is worse. 3) I was charged 4.3 times what an OEM part retails for, and got an aftermarket knock off. 4) The tech was here on a NORCOLD RECALL, being billed to NORCOLD, I expect that Norcold wouldn’t be happy either with a Non-OEM part installed when they are paying the majority of the bill.
The rest of Friday I stewed over basically being taken for $60.00, and wasn’t sure what to do about it. I talked with several of my “inner circle” and got mixed responses from all of them. About half basically said don’t fret over it, take your licks and move on, next time watch them closer, and the other half said I should complain. It really isn’t about the $60.00, it is the point of the situation. Late Friday I decided that no matter what I owed the business feedback on the service, and it would not be responsible to not tell them how I felt. I sent a very polite email to them, and stated basically what I have said above. I told them I wasn’t after anything other than a response, and I just really felt they need to know how I feel about it. I’ll update you if they do respond, I sort of doubt they will, especially if the aim of the electrode replacement was to do as I suspected, to pad the bill.
Anyway, I did what I thought was right…