Sherrie S

by Sherrie S


Asked on Jan 25, 2012

Generator - do I need a maintenance contract.

Sherrie SDan's of Central Florida, Inc.Woodbridge Environmental


It is a 7 year old 20GGDB Onan generator. I bought it because of 4 hurricanes in a year.
For 7 years it has been under contract and the only work it has done is excercise itself automatically every week. Well it broke the excercise board $805.50 + labor and tax. I found out that my contract only covers preventative maintenance once a year.
Kevin M - I know I should have read the small print. I found out this excercise board is proprietary equipment (Onan) so I can't just call another company and make a deal.
15 answers
  • Without seeing the fine print of the contract it is tough to say. However, if you do cancel the maintenance program then you may be SOL the next time it breaks down. they might say "Well, you had no maintenance so we won't fix it" or "since you cancelled it will cost double." I'd look into what happens if the maintenance contract is cancelled.

  • Sherrie S
    on Jan 25, 2012

    I'll be seeing them on Friday. This is a big and very responsive company. In fact I was told they normally only sell to big companies not individuals.

  • Let me know how it goes for you there Sherrie, I'm interested to hear how they value their warranty.

  • It is such a big investment to purchase a generator, it will always be tough to justify the costs of the program while the generator doesn't get much use. The true value comes when you need it to run and it just works. If they do a good job i would keep it the savings is not worth the downside of no power when you need it most......good luck

  • Sherrie, without knowing what the proprietary claims are it would be difficult to know what they are saying. First, let's discuss the maintenance contract. If they are only doing preventative maintenance then the question is the cost worth it and what is involved. Does that mean in the event of a lengthy loss of power if their preventative maintenance fails to prevent a failure, what is their guarantee? Does this maintenance contract really provide any value and if there is a guarantee, what is it and how is it backed up? If all they are doing is checking periodically to see if things are working and to look over the equipment to be sure it is lubed and no wires cracked, etc., that value is a lot less than promising replacement etc. Of course, even if they offer replacement after a hurricane, can they carry that out? As for replacing the part, they may claim it is proprietary. That may not be accurate and that may not mean that there are not other boards that can be connected that will perform the timer work. If it is accurate, and its a small part of, say, a timer, can you replace the entire timer at a lower cost rather than the "board". A quick net search suggested there may be alternatives and replacement parts available. Whether those are used, other manufacturers who parts work with a connection modification or otherwise, I can't tell you. (Dangit Jim, I am a medical doctor not a magician to paraphase a popular line from an old TV show.) However the use of alternative parts may void any warranty on other parts and of course, because this is a critical emergency system you want to be careful. If you have a trusted electrician, you may want to ask for a second opinion since you seem to have lost some "trust" in the "maintenance" guys.

  • Sherrie S
    on Jan 26, 2012

    Well the one good thing is: Since I bought it we have not had another hurricane. I will get all the information about my contract on Friday. I do have a very good electrician who did install the connections so I'll talk to him. He had a few problems during the install but the were resolved quickly. This equipment was a little different than others he had installed.

  • Compare the cost of what this part cost, and then compare this to the cost of a service agreement that would cover this part. And realistically how long do you think the new part will last? Do the math and figure out what will cost you less. As a mechanic I pretty much do all my own repairs on equipment when they break. As a result my costs for parts alone is way cheaper then having a contract to fix this item when it breaks. So that works for me. If your not handy or do not understand how this part works or gets installed. Then I would suggest a service agreement to keep you comfortable should the lights go out!

  • Sherrie S
    on Jan 26, 2012

    Good idea Woodbridge. Handy? I'd say not yet. I am the one who only recently learned the difference between caulk & grout from helpful Hometalk people.

  • Sherrie S
    on Jan 30, 2012

    I've requested my contract and am waiting for the company's response.

  • Sherrie S
    on Jan 31, 2012

    Below is the whole contract except for the 10% off of labor/materials if I have their maintenance agreement. Currently I pay $434.78 a year. "Services will be provided only on the equipment identified in this agreement. The services included are defined in the Service Events section of this agreement. The full service event price includes materials, labor, travel time and mileage. Materials consist of lubricating oil, filers, fuel oil filters, coolant filters and up to two gallons of coolant. No other work, materials or activities are included in this agreement. If additional work is required, our technicians will advise the customer of these requirements before any work is initiated. Additional repairs will be billed at our current field service rates"

  • Sounds a bit high, but have to spoke to other companies that offer this service or are there none around? I could see around $350 or so. Does the price included emergency service if the system failed? As these units get older they are more prone to breakdown. What happens if parts that are expensive fail? electronics etc?

  • Sherrie S
    on Jan 31, 2012

    Well Woodbridge if something fails they will give me 10% off time & materials. They answer the phone immediately & provide phone service at no cost under the contract. The cost begins when they dispatch their people. The response time is excellent as they normally service big industrial systems. If 350 a year is a good price I am willing to pay $434.78 because they installed & service this equipment and know what they are doing.

  • Peace of mind knowing they will be there is a good thing. So sometimes its worth it. From where I stand as a contractor who can do this service its difficult sometimes to put service costs into prospective as I know I can always do it for less at my own home. That is why I am sill working on it. Had I bit the bullet and paid outside companies to do the work I would have my weekends free to do the things I enjoy instead of working on my home.

  • @ Woodbridge, we all know that a contractor's personal home is always slow to get finished with a project. After working 8 - 10 + hours at somebody else's' home all week, the last thing you want to do with your weekends and evenings is more work! LOL!

  • Sherrie S
    on Jan 31, 2012

    Thank you all. You helped me decide I need this contract. I would be too afraid of such complex equipment to think I can call the cheapest company. They really do respond quickly and know how to solve any problem. They only handle Onan & are not guessing what is wrong.

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