If you were a pro-mechanic, how would you handle this situation?

Customer comes in, says the AC is blowing hot air. You ask them to show you the car in the parking lot. Sure enough, hot air from the AC. You pop the hood, notice a brand new alternator has recently been installed. Looking more carefully, you notice the connector to the AC compressor is off. You re-connect the compressor, thinking whoever did the alternator removed the connector to make room and forgot. Upon reconnection plenty of cold AC.

Here’s the question: What fee do you charge the customer?

No charge. a happy customer is a returning customer. just my thoughts, but I am not a Pro.


as a pro- no charge.
I may ask if they knew it was unhooked, as perhaps someone unhooked it to keep the compressor from exploding/imploding. But otherwise, smile and send them on their way.


Was had starting trouble in Naples FL, car intermittent no crank. Had IL plates, so he knew he would never see me again. Found loose connection for the positive on the starting motor. Tightened it up, and no charge. I try to pass good karma along, thank him so much as we were on vacation buying gas from the coin jar. Sure had a credit card if needed, I think. I guess the payoff of just seeing my girlfriend was payment enough.

All the free great advice here and no charge, some times people do nice things.


I am grateful, but embarrassed when a pro doesn’t charge for services. Last year, I was trying to put the new license plate on one of our vehicles. We had had the same license plates for at least five years. I couldn’t get one of the bolts out. I thought about using my Dremmel.tool to grind s new slot, but decided I would save time by taking my vehicle to the Buick dealer’s body shop about a half mile away. I had had work done in the past by this shop. The technician did what I had planned to do, bit had a pneumatic grinder. He had the bolt out and put on the license plate in less than five minutes. The shop wouldn’t let me pay for the work or even let me contribute to its coffee fund jar. I always believed that a person deserved to be paid for his or her labor.
The shoe was once on the other foot when I was a graduate student. I had a doctoral student from another area that had a problem. He had drawn a random sample from the population he was investigating and had a committee member that kept insisting that he needed a bigger sample. I was able to prove in less than 5 minutes that his sample was sufficiently large. He immediately started to write a check. I tried to wave him off, but he insisted on giving me $35. He said he had a job waiting for him at another institution for $32,000 if he could complete his dissertation. In 1970, $32,000 was big bucks. The next year I saw him on campus. I knew he had graduated the year before. I asked why he was still around. “I was given more money to stay here”, he replied.
I had to have a water pump replaced on the 2011 Toyota Sienna I used to own. I was quoted a price of $1215 to which I agreed. I got a call later in the day that the service department at the dealership had a short cut and would do the job for $978. A couple of days later when checking the oil, I found that the technician had left a ratcheting box end wrench under the hood. I immediately took it back to the dealer’s: service department. A couple months later, Mrs. Triedaq broke her right ankle and wasn’t driving. Three weeks after that, I tried to start the 4Runnet which she drives and the engine wouldn’t turn over. I hooked the battery charger up and two hours later I was able to start the 4Runner. I didn’t think the battery should have run down in only two weeks. I realized that Mrs. Triedaq would be out of cast and driving in a week, so I took the 4Runner to the dealer for an electrical system check. All was o.k. I then realized that Mrs. Triedaq had only been making short around town trips before she broke her foot. The service department advised me to take the 4Runner out for a half hour drive on the interstate. There was no charge even though I ate several cookies and drank 2 cups of their coffee in the waiting room. I think returning the wrench got me a free electrical system check.


HA beats my last license plate experience, salesman could not get the bolt out of our trade in, rips license plate off, stomps on it to straighten it and screws it on to our new car, still holding!

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Yeah a good will gesture. You don’t get paid for everything in life.

It was about 20 below out and the wife had the car at the grocery store and the battery was dead. I bought a new battery and with frozen fingers put it in in the parking lot. Then I discovered that when I had put a new alternator on a few days before, I forgot to plug it in. Never took the battery back and never got paid for my work, and don’t think I told many people.

Sort of like how my brother found the shop he’s used for almost 20yrs now, had a vacum hose that just needed to be re connected and a simple fix to the ignition switch. Now they’re looking after a fleet of 3 vehicles, 2 of them since the cars were brand new.

I am a pro mechanic. A customer calls and says the A/C is blowing hot air. We say an initial evaluation and basic system inspection will cost $62 and we have an opening next week. Customer agrees.

At drop-off the customer is re-quoted the $62 inspection fee, and asked if they want to authorize up to $200 if we find that the system just needs a recharge (or up to $400 if it uses R-1234).

You’ll note no one has even opened the hood or been in the car yet.

The repair order is written, dispatched to the appropriate technician. He will document his findings, something like “Verified warm air when A/C set to max, find no compressor operation and compressor unplugged. Connect wiring, install pressure gauges and find normal pressure and vent temp.” He would take a photo of the offending connector for distribution to the customer. He would then turn in the paperwork, flag his half hour of time, and move on to something profitable.


Hmmm. I guess maybe that’s why I like it where I am.

I was heading back to school for the 200 mile trip. Just outside a small town when I put the clutch in, it acted strange and began to slip. I pulled in to the first gas station (probably only one) and the guy had me put it up on the lift. Took a look, determined that the cable was stuck (VW bug), and unstuck it. Total charge $1. No waiting a week for an appointment or a diagnostic fee. About the price of 3 gallons of gas back then. I like it here.

Another reason I like it here, not car related. We were building a cabin 200 miles away and dealing with the local lumber yard and their contractor. We had done a scale model but I was still working on the final blueprints for the place. Wife got a call from her cousin saying they were busy at work on the cabin. We had signed no papers, and the builder just said the weather was so nice they wanted to get a start before winter and were just building it according to the model and the way they thought we wanted it. Never a hitch or misunderstanding in the whole process.

Yeah northwoods stuff. Had a guy do 8k worth of beach rip rap work on a telephone OK. Then there is the other side, where nobody ever gets back to you til 6 months later, Where are ya building? We are in Pequot Lakes, maybe we can do golf sometime, Summer cabins. Would like to build a year round, lake setback etc. a problem, rumor is if you save one wall you are good, but probably will sell out before we do that.

Well I can’t apologize for being booked in advance. My first responsibility is to make the business make money. An empty stall waiting for a job is wasted money. We pay rent on every square foot of the building, not just the ones being used at the moment.

And our current staffing has made scheduling a little difficult, we are not the only industry finding it hard to find qualified workers. We normally run with 6 in the shop and 3 in the office. We currently have 5 and 2. 2 guys in the shop are out on 2 week quarantine and the head guy in the shop (yours truly!) had open heart bypass surgery last week.

Labor rates are over $2/minute. If it really was an easy fix the customer would have found it.


A tough question …

An existing customer, sure no charge but someone just off the street? Maybe, it depends on the customer’s additude.
Grumpy, chip on shoulder. perpetual victim … charge them everytime and hope they go away.
Friendly, willing to pay and some respect for my knowledge … free gratis and hope I’ve got a new customer.



A good mechanic could spend most of his day checking under the hoods of drop ins looking for easy answers and quick free fixes and go broke as he lost his regular customers.


I have a self imposed rule. If I’m giving something away and offered payment, I refuse payment 3 times. If they still insist, I’ll accept it so as not to offend them. Same when I offer money to someone who doesn’t want it. Offer 3 times then a thank you is given.

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That’s pretty standard in Scandinavia land. Covered in How to Talk Minnesotan. Would you like a cup of coffee? Oh, no thanks. Are you sure you don’t want coffee? No that’s OK. Well how about a cup of coffee now? Well OK if you insist.

Guy wanted a cup of coffee from the start but has to be asked three times to be polite. Then there is also the long Minnesota good bye. Sometimes can last for hours or even over night before they finally leave. Just culture.

Hope you are OK but you should be taking some time off to recover.


I once had a pro mechanic not charge me. This was over 20 years ago. I brought my Jeep in with a loping idle. He knew immediately it was a torn diaphragm in the “power valve” (I think I’m remembering all of this correctly, I don’t know squat about carburetors). He replaced it with one he had lying around. No charge. I gave him 20 bucks or so anyway. He didn’t want to even take that, but I stuck it in his shirt pocket.

It took him like maybe 10 minutes total, but I was shocked that he didn’t charge anything at all. But, of course you know which shop I used from then on until the guy passed away.

We will pray for a speedy and successful recovery for you.


Biggest car part I got for no charge. When I was a teenager 76 or 77, my auto trans blew. I went to a scrapyard. They had a literal pile of transmissions. I picked the one I wanted and used long bars to lever it off the pile. Rolled it to my vehicle and loaded it. This was all done by myself. Took me over 6 hours to get it off the pile and into my vehicle. When I went to pay for it the owner just gave me a belly laugh and said “you earned that one boy, now get outta here”. The tranny worked great.