I don’t bother to insure against costs I can handle, such as fixing a furnace. However, a recent experience has me re-examining the motives of furnace service companies.
For the first time in about 6 years my furnace stopped working. The house was getting cold fast and I wasn’t inclined to be cost-sensitive. I was prepared to pay double to get it fixed Sunday evening instead of waiting until Monday morning. It’s no fun to get hit with costs at unpredictable times, but at least I had saved plenty of money over the years by not buying a service contract.
Back when I decided not to pay for a furnace service contract, I had reasons. The main reason was that insurance is expected to cost more than just paying as you go. The second was that I figured furnace repair companies would be more responsive to a paying customer who created profits instead of service contract customers who just create costs when they have furnace problems.
My wife picked a furnace repair company and called. She was asked “you don’t have a contract?” and told “we’re really busy.” Apparently all their workers were out doing yearly furnace cleanings. It was clear that taking our money was an inconvenience. She got off the line without a promise that they’d send someone.
This definitely challenged my thinking that the profit motive would have repair people rushing out to my home. Maybe regular furnace cleaning and inspection is a lot more profitable than actually fixing furnaces. Or maybe the working level person who handles the scheduling is paid by the hour and doesn’t care if the business is profitable. Whatever the reason, I thought maybe getting my furnace fixed will be harder than I thought.
At that point, the furnace actually started working again for a half hour or so before quitting again. It was then that we thought of checking the warranty. It turned out it was still under warranty, and we got it fixed for free that night. That’s a happy ending this time, but I still wonder about the motives of the company that didn’t want our money.
I’ve had similar experiences with my pool. It’s tough to find people to do repairs at any price. They all want to do pool openings and closings that pay them well and require little skill. For years I paid a company to do the openings and closings just because they would also do repairs as necessary. When they started dragging their feet on repairs, I dropped them and did the openings and closings myself.
I still have no intention of paying for a furnace service contract, but I have a new challenge. I need to see if there are businesses that actually focus on doing furnace repairs instead of just doing inspections and cleanings. I have a similar need for a pool repair company.