3

I inherited an old fridge a while back that had a broken ice maker. I never had an ice maker before I so started to look into fixing it. I found a parts store and bought a new one for $100 and installed it myself . . . it was surprising easy.

I thought I was king of the DIY world until recently I found out that I could buy a new fan motor for my AC unit for $150 but if a "professional" went to the same supplier he could buy the fan for less than $50. Now I'm starting to think that the $100 ice maker repair from 5 years ago would cost less then $30 if I went to the store in overalls or something.

And don't get me started on the price of a capacitor for an AC unit . . . they'll charge you $200 to install a part that they list on the invoice as $140 and $60 for a service call . . . but it's a freaking capacitor! $10 tops.

How can I get the same price the pros get?

3

I used to buy my appliance parts at Amre Supply, and never bought anywhere else, so this is only one data point. But one time I was flirting with the checkout girl and she said "you know, if you make a business account you'll get about a 40% discount on nearly everything". All it took was an online application and a business card, which I had for my computer software business. I just checked the "other" box on the "what kind of business" question.

After that, I just identified by business name and got the discount.

And lest you think it was my James Bond Socializing Skills that got me a business account, I just printed the application online and brought it in, about a month later, where it was handled by a 67 year old retired plumber.

So maybe you just need to pick one place and ask if they have business accounts. Ya never know.

  • You must have some sort of social skills because you were flirting with the checkout girl! – tooshel Aug 13 '10 at 8:48
1

Just call or e-mail them and ask for a better price. More often than not you'll get a discount. Works on appliances, materials, parts and everything else. Exception: big chain stores.

My better half does this for most of the things we buy for the house. Maybe her voice plays a role here -- hard to say :)

0

You will probably never get the same prices as a professional as you don't buy as much as they do.

However, you can always try to hackle the price down. It's amazing how much you can save when you use some time. You should find the right places though, the all organized places with big catalogs is usually a hard place to get discounts.

  • You think it's only because of volume? I think there is more too it. – tooshel Jul 29 '10 at 21:20
  • @tooshel: volume is the key to low prices. If I'm in the store buying a ton of stuff all the time and not getting a deal, guess what, I'm finding a new place. The stores know this, there is too much competition to loose a high volume customer. – Tester101 Jul 30 '10 at 0:50
  • The thing with high volume customers, is that it often makes it possible for the shop to buy what they sell cheeper. Having many of those can thus raise the profit on all the products they sell. That is why they can afford to sell the stuff with little/no profit. – googletorp Jul 30 '10 at 7:08
  • I get that volume means they can lower the price (not that it's fair or anything . . . if you buy a ton of them you can afford to pay more! Just charge the customer more! :)) but if you have a counter and you sell to people who walk in it seems to me the price could easily be the same for everyone. It's a club and to be a member you gotta jump though some hoops. – tooshel Aug 2 '10 at 16:34
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I buy replacement parts for my appliances online. The best source I've found so far is

http://www.repairclinic.com/

I don't work for them, nor do I get referral fees, etc. Off the top of my head I can remember purchasing a replacement valve for my dishwasher (~$15,) sealed glass cook top for a range (~$110,) and an oven door handle for same range (~$25) All these prices seemed very reasonable.

Just make sure whomever you use has pictures of the parts online so you can match them before ordering, and a good return policy if you do end up ordering the wrong one.

  • I just looked up "ice maker" and the price was $105 so I'm not sure it's much of a discount over getting it from the local supply as a walk in (as opposed to going there as a professional). – tooshel Aug 2 '10 at 16:28
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Online is generally the best way to procure parts, but sometimes going to the supply house is necessary to be sure you're getting the proper part(s), or you're under a time constraint. Plus they have all kinds of neat stuff inside those places - I always end up picking up extra items when I'm at Grainger, et al.

I used to work for a large industrial controls manufacturer, I could walk into just about any industrial supply house, use the account set up for that business and just pay cash. That worked for years, even after I left that place of employment. Unfortunately I moved to a distant city, so that plan is now kaput.

On the flip side you can use your own business, (or create your own "business" - business licenses aren't very expensive) and sign up for commercial accounts wherever you need. The counter people at those supply houses don't care if you work for One Dude Software Corporation or General Electric - only if your business info is in their database!

0

In case of the capacitor, if you knew all the specs of the capacitor (this is not just about capacitance and maximum voltage, but things like safety features, peak and sustained maximum currents, temperature ratings....*) you could have bought a serviceable replacement capacitor at an electronics parts supplier (RS, Digikey...) for a very, very competitive price. If you are lucky, the original manufacturers part number remains on the spare part, so you can try to find an identical one via such a supplier. In rare cases, the part sold as a spare could be a modified or specially selected part - manufacturer buys a lot of part XYZ, tests them all to their own specification and throws away (or uses in another application) the parts that do not meet it.

What you are buying with a manufacturer supplied spare part is their knowledge of which specifications on eg a capacitor matter in that appliance design, and choosing the right parts from the market. Another reason for the markup is that the appliance maker, not the capacitor maker, is responsible for having a supply of spares available, so they might well keep a lot of spares in storage that will be useless once the appliance line becomes obsolete and uncommon. And even "the pros" will pay a huge markup here compared to what they'd pay an electronics supplier for some capacitor.

Price politics "against" DIYers might have to do with the expectations of buyers when it comes to returning "defective" parts - a higher likelyhood that an amateur will want a refund on a spare that they themselves damaged trying to install is probably assumed, and the cost for that included in the price.

*DO NOT DO SO unless you are sure of what you are doing, especially if it is about capacitors in mains-connected circuitry. A Rating "120VAC" without further qualifications, for example, would not by a long shot mean the capacitor is suitable for being used here - and capacitors can fail catastrophically.

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