Not sure this is the best discussion section to post this but it seemed better than the other choices.

So my espresso machine was recently fried by a bad voltage connection in my shop. I'm using a Mirage. The most local repairman wanted 3-4k to overhaul the machine. A company in NY, who has a lot of experience working on Mirages, wants only $1700. Needless to say I'm going with NY. However, I had to pay for an empty Mirage crate to be shipped to me, now have to ship it back with the machine, then the machine back and finally the empty crate back to them. Yeah, it has me shaking my head as well. So I just received a quote from Freightquote.com and they want $400 (316lbs total) to ship it just to NY. Another company wanted $936 one way!! My repairman says it should be $250 but doesn't tell me where to find this hard to believe quote.

So my question to you guys is, for any of you that ship heavyweight items to your customers, where do you find the best quotes?

Sincerely,

"Frustrated Using My POS Backup Machine"

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you have probably gotten the best quote . $400.  not so long ago i sent an espresso machine LA to Miami. the shipping comp wanted overwhelming $900. so i used a moving company for $500.

It's pretty hard to settle on $400 when my repairman says it should be $250. Guess I'll keep looking. But yeah this is almost the same distance as yours.

Ask him who he would use they sometime"s get a better rate.

 

Companies that ship lots of stuff get better rates. Those numbers don't look out of bounds, though. I would expect something around the $400 mark. You should also try calling some freight forwarding and logistics companies. They sometimes can cut a pretty good deal if they think they can get your business.

What happened to the Mirage? Why does it need a total overhaul? A Mirage should be happy with anything between 208 and 240. Did someone hook a hot leg to the ground terminal or something?

Why not buy the parts from the New York guys and then have the local guy put them in for a previously agreed upon price, not the inflated "overhaul" price he quoted. It'll probably take about two hours of labor. I'm guessing you need to replace the CPU and button pads.

I'm going to take a step back for a second, since your main question has already been addressed pretty well.

I don't know who you're using for a tech, what sort of relationship you have with them, how good they are, etc. For purposes of discussion, I'll assume that they are reasonably competent and reputable. I'll also assume that you've used this tech in the past and will likely want to continue to use this tech for smaller repairs in the future. If any of that's an error then some of these points may not apply.

That's a pretty large difference in repair estimates. Too large for me to chalk up to "lack of familiarity with the machine and stock of parts". I don't know what the actual condition your machine is in, aside from the probably fried controls, and the NY shop probably doesn't either. $1700 is pretty consistent with a controller replacement and some additional light maintenance, not much else. Is that really all that this machine needs?

If said local tech has actually worked on this machine before and/or has had a chance to look at it in its current condition, I'd bet that his estimate is closer to reality. If that is the case, you stand a pretty good chance of sending that machine clear across the country only to get a phone call with a substantially revised repair estimate as soon as it hits the bench in NY.

If you haven't already, I would have a conversation with your tech about this. Consider other things to bring that bill down. Are there multiple travel charges involved? If so, could you deliver the machine to their shop and have him re-install it? Are there any "optional" repairs being proposed that could be trimmed? Try to figure out the exact differences between these two estimates. Is a "full overhaul" necessary or recommended, or is it just being suggested "since it's already in the shop anyway"?

I'm also going to disagree with Mike a little here. Unless your local tech indicates that parts access is a big problem, I would not suggests buying the parts for him to use. As a tech, I would be pretty pissed off if a customer tried this, and would probably not do the repair (or any future work for this customer). This is for practical reasons as well as revenue - I buy the parts I buy to do a repair for a very good reason, and sometimes the parts I choose to use are different than another tech would choose. Also, you're going to want him to have responsibility if there's an issue with this repair, and if you bought the parts this really muddies the waters.

Hope that helps. Please let us know what happens.

I totally agree with what Brady said.  Even the reason he disagrees with what I said.  :)

 

I did not make the same assumptions Brady did, however.  But I hope Brady is right.

 

I just thought it was strange that the local guy was so much higher than the experienced company, for theoretically doing the same work.  Although, to Brady's point we don't know if they were indeed talking about doing the same work.  And that needs to be found out.  What I do know is that espresso machines do not like to be shipped.  And shipping an expensive machine back and forth across the country just to replace the CPU and some button pads is really wacky.  So my point in suggesting that you buy the parts from the New York guys and have the local fellow instal them was more to suggest that there are other alternatives to doing the shipping you are talking about.  Which, in my opinion, is inviting unkown and expensive trouble.

 

In my role as a Service Manager for a roaster that had accounts all over the country I routinely sent parts to a client location and simply asked the local tech to install them.  In my opinion your local vendor needs to understand that he is losing business because he quoted high and rather than lose all the business he might be willing to only lose some.  Now if the fellow is as competent and honest as Brady, then Brady's remarks on that transaction hold true.  But my experience tells me that few techs in the field are of such a caliber and it actually takes a little more pushing from your, the customers, perspective to get things to work out the way you need them too.  Don't forget, YOU are the customer, and I don't think asking a service vendor to replace specific supplied parts is out of the question if it gets you where YOU need to be.  You just can't complain to the vendor that the parts you supplied did not fix the problem, if that ends up being the case.  My experience also has taught me that you can almost always "get there from here", when dealing with issues like this.  Although the route through might not be the most obvious or common.

 

If you let us know what happened and what the machine was doing, symptoms, etc, when it blew we can at least give you a reality check on what the different tech companies are suggesting the problem is.  The more information you have the better off you'll be in advocating for yourself.

Wow I don't know what to address first. Thanks for the great input. I'll break this situation down as simple as possible.

Any of you that know the Mirage know it's a great piece of machinery and not just to look at (it's such an attention getter by the way). It wasn't very long till it started giving me some trouble....gremlins as I told Kees the builder. I'd push the brew button and the water faucet would come on, I'd push manual brew button and the single short button would light up....sometimes it would just start brewing water when I wasn't even close to it!! It was nuts. And I'll add that this was after changing out the CPU myself now 3 times after frying in 6 years. I'd change the button pad out and it worked good for a little while, then the gremlins were back. So yes I agree it would be wacky to send it across the country for a CPU and button pad problem. Anyway, the first thing both repairmen said was that it sounds like a voltage problem. I have my new electrician check it out and sure enough it was off. The cause of the problem is now fixed but still have to fix the Mirage.

My local repairman, and by local I mean 240+ miles away since I live in a small town, said there were a slew of problems. Wiring fried, the whole inside toasted including the boiler which didn't even look copper anymore. After checking out the boiler he states that there are several points on the welds of the tank that are leaking due to extreme heat and pressure. The boiler needs to be replaced which is of course the most expensive part. Some of these parts, including the boiler, I was told had to come from Kees. My local gave me a list of the parts. At the same time my roaster had been keeping in touch with a NY roaster that also has several cafes and distributes the Mirage to several accounts. Throughout the years and problems I've had with mine I've been in touch with this tech and he's always been very helpful. He should be as he's spent plenty of time on the Mirage. I sent him the list of parts that my tech gave me. He gave me a quote based on changing out all the parts that were on the list including hours, markup for parts, etc. Even with his quote and all the shipping charges he was about the same and even a few hundred cheaper. But for me it was his experience on this machine that sold me. So long story long, I decided to ship it to NY but can't find a reasonable rate. In the meantime I'm using a machine that really makes me miss the Mirage but looks like I'll have to wait awhile.

Good points, Mike, and thanks for the kind words. Your experience working with various agents around the country brings a good perspective to this discussion.

I would echo your comment about espresso machines not liking to be shipped. I'd also add that it is February, and said machine will spend several nights at temperatures well below freezing, both on the way out to NY and on the way back. Any amount of water in that machine will mean burst waterlines, flowmeters, valves, or worse. I've repaired a "freeze", but I've also run across a couple of formerly-frozen machines that were damaged beyond repair. If you do ship, please make sure you drain, suction, and blow every last bit of water out of your machine, and get assurances that the repair company will do the same.

Wow, Rob. That sounds like a worst case scenario if I've ever heard one! It sounds like you've got everything worked out. I appologize for adding any unnecessary noise to your situation.

With you being out in the Boone Docks it makes even more sense that $400 is the price your getting. I would have expected to pay that much if I were shipping a machine to a small town that was off the beaten path. The company I worked for got some killer shipping rates because of the amount of coffee we shipped so my price would have been a little lower, but not by much. If the company you're sending the machine to does a lot of these long distance refurbs they might get a good rate from a shipping company. Perhaps they could arrange the shipping and just add it to the invoice. That could shave a few dollars from the total. Otherwise I think $400 is your number.

It's too bad you can't just send this one back to Kees as a trade-in for a new one and let him exorcise the Gremlins.

Thanks for sharing your story and good luck!!

Hi Rob. Missed your post last night.

Wow, that situation is awful. Compliments on the approach you've taken so far - I think you've done all you should at this point. With that extent of work, I see why you'd want to send it out. I bet your local guy would be able to do a competent job, but it would be really great to get a fresh set of eyes on what has been a service nightmare so far.

I don't pay to ship stuff out very often, most of the time the company I'm contracting service for pays for shipping. This leads me to several thoughts.

Sometimes, shipping location details matter. Whenever I have to pay for truck shipping, I try to partner with a friendly local roaster. Since he has a loading dock and receiving department, I can usually save a couple of bucks. Have you considered doing something like this? Maybe one of your customers has a business that does lots of shipping that may be able to help you get a better deal?

I'm sure you've already asked your NY service friend about this? Perhaps they could get a better deal on shipping and roll it in to the invoice?

On that... would you be willing to share this tech's contact information, either here or in a PM? I'm sure Mike wouldn't mind that info either. I'm sometimes asked to recommend techs in other areas, and this guy sounds reasonable. Plus, I have a customer with a Kees machine and wouldn't mind having a resource like him in my back pocket.

Good luck. Please let us know how things work out.

Mike, no apologies necessary at all. I've enjoyed all the input and everything I've read reassures me that I'm doing things right. And yes....worse case scenario for sure. Sometimes I wonder if anyone has gone through more problems with their machine than I have.

I never thought about using someone with a shipping dock. Through one shipper that would have saved me $130! Great idea.

The deal was that he'd arrange for shipping to me and I'd arrange it to him so I haven't pushed the issue with him hoping that I can figure this out myself.

I'm going through Thom at Gimme Coffee. They use the machines in all their cafes and several accounts so he has a lot of experience on that specific machine. And he's been extremely helpful throughout the years.

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