Tradesmen or “Tradies” – Lucky Dip

A Story Full of Hot Air

I like a laugh just as much as the next man. But not when it is at my expense, literally.

Like many Australian homes our house has air conditioning. Being as we are new(ish) to Australia, we are rarely put it on. We prefer to open all the windows, catch the breeze and feel the warmth. But now that winter is here, that warmth quickly disappears around four or five o’clock in the evening. During the night, the temperature can drop to around 10°C.

Luckily, we have air conditioning that can go in reverse. It can heat up our house. This is very useful for those winter evenings, but unfortunately ours wasn’t working properly. So I found a local air conditioning company and asked them to send an engineer round. “What’s the problem”, they asked.

“I’m pretty sure it’s a duff thermostat” I said. “Everything else works fine but the thermo just doesn’t click in and out. So it is always on or always off, unless I get up off my butt to manually flick the switch”.

A few days later the engineer turned up to check it out. He was a pleasant enough lad but I didn’t think he really knew what he was doing. When he asked to borrow a hairdryer, my worst fears were confirmed.

Testing the Thermostat

Testing the Thermostat

He was in the house for almost 3 hours (@ $90 an hour) and for much of that time was pointing a hairdryer at the thermometer waiting to see if it would click off. I wasn’t much impressed. At the end of his thorough investigation he said to me “the problem is your thermometer is not clicking in and out”.

“Amazing”. I said. “That’s exactly what I telephoned your office to tell you about three days ago”. He said he couldn’t fix it, he needed a second opinion from his boss. I wasn’t surprised he did, I wanted a second opinion from his boss too!

I had several conversations with his company’s head office about the $266 bill that I was contesting. They just wanted paying and I just wanted his boss to come round and have a look and a chat. In the end, they gave up on chasing me for the money and I gave up on them as an air conditioning company.

Last week I got someone to look at it who did know what he was doing. It took him less than 20 minutes, and only the use of one small screwdriver, to tell me the problem was the thermostat. He said he would order one and return within a few days to fix it. Which he did.

He couldn’t get an exact replacement for the thermostat, they don’t make them any more. I wasn’t surprised, it looked just like the thermostat my nan used to have in her flat back in England in 1969. So he just attached a small thermo to over-ride the defunct one. It now works like a charm.

Parts $120. Labour $70. Total $190.

Tradies, there’s good and there’s bad. But I guess that’s the same the world over. Elsewhere though, I am sure that the cowboys are a lot cheaper. But here, even the bad tradesmen charge an arm and a leg.

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