If an appliance breaks, and you need a repairman to come out to determine what’s wrong, common sense says you have to pay a fee. But do you legally have to pay that fee? Plus, does a gift card expire? Those questions, and more, in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

As we all know, the appliances in your home break. Most of us can’t fix them, which is why people like Daryl Woods stay busy.

Daryl Wood: “All types of appliances, major appliances. I established my own personal company in 2005.”

Daryl owns All Bright Repair and recently got a call from a guy telling him he had a broken dryer at his house.

Daryl and his assistant went over.

Daryl Wood: “I juststart taking the dryer apart like we would on a normal service call, and I made an interpretation of what was wrong and wrote up the invoice.”

The homeowner said forget it. He didn’t want to spend that much to repair the dryer. Daryl said OK.

Daryl Wood: “Well, you still got to pay for diagnostic, for the trip charge and me taking the unit apart to diagnose it. We charge a standard diagnostic fee of $69. That has been our rates since 2005.”

The fellow’s response?

Daryl Wood: “He’s like, ‘Well, you never said this was going to cost me anything.'”

Daryl said everyone charges a fee to come out, and the $69 charge for a home visit was on his website. Adding, it costs Daryl money to make a trip, so he can’t do it for free.

Daryl Wood: “I mean, we have to pay for gas, for our trucks, insurance for our trucks, maintenance. I had a helper with me, so I had to pay their salary.”

The guy didn’t care.

Daryl Wood: “Told me, ‘I’m not going to pay that. I refuse to.’ You got a problem with that? I’ll see you in court.'”

A rude homeowner, daring Daryl to sue him over a $69 fee. Not what Daryl expected for a house call.

Daryl Wood: “It’s just, his level of arrogance is what got me to reach out to you guys.”

Well, if someone comes to your house to check out an appliance, common sense says you have to pay for it. Or do you, Howard?

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes, you do. Legally, it’s called a trip charge, or what we call a house call, and Daryl is entitled to that fee. One note: if the repairman or woman has to take it apart, they can also charge a diagnostic fee, but they have to give you an estimate of that cost ahead of time as well.”

Here is one. Her company got payroll protection money from the feds, and now they are laying her off. Can they do that?

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes. The CARES Act doesn’t guarantee employees keep their jobs; it just requires the company to spend the money on some workers’ salaries, and if they do not, they have to return it to the government.”

Last Christmas, she got a $300 gift card for a salon that had a September expiration date on the card. Of course, with the pandemic, she was afraid to go in, and the salon says, “We’re not honoring the card ’cause it expired.” Can they do that?

Howard Finkelstein: “No. Any expiration date is invalid. They got the money, so they have to provide the service. It’s that simple.”

Daryl Wood: “We deserve to be paid for our services.”

And Daryl might.

Turns out, the man who called him got the house in a divorce from his wife. She said she would pay Daryl if her ex does not. That’s nice of her, Daryl said, but she shouldn’t have to pay her ex’s bills.

Daryl Wood: “I would rather it come from him. He is the one who called for service, so I would rather it come from him.”

Stiffing a small business owner is not right, and if Daryl did take the guy to court, the homeowner would have to pay Daryl’s court costs when he wins.

Need a good honest repairman? Daryl is there.

Howard Finkelstein: “And if you have a problem you can’t get resolved, a legal question you want answered, get in touch with us. We would love to help you out.”

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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