The "Goat or Hero" Gamble
Apr 23, 2010
It was one of those deals where I was going to be either the goat or the hero: a customer's 30-year-old planter was mechanically sound, but its wiring harnesses were in sad shape due to too many winters spent under a snow drift. Right or wrong, the guy never got around to putting the machine in a shed, and all the wires and connectors were badly corroded and/or weather-checked. I told him it needed all new wiring. He only had six or seven hundred acres to plant, and politely asked me to, "fix it as cheap as you can." I started testing circuits, found bad connectors and wires, and methodically began splicing and repairing.
And I kept splicing and repairing, off and on, for three days. I'd get everything working, and he'd call in a couple hours and sadly report some other electrical component was acting up. Finally, my boss stepped in, went to the planter, took a quick look and declared, "we're done patching." He ordered three new wiring harnesses and associated connectors, I installed them, and the planter works like a charm.
Now the customer has a labor bill for the more than 12 hours I spent futilely patching wires and electrical connectors, PLUS nearly $1200 in parts for the new wiring harnesses and the time to install those new harnesses.
If I had told him on my first visit that the only fix was $1200 worth of new wiring harnesses, he would have tossed a fit, called my boss and complained that I was, "selling parts." I tried to be a nice guy and do what the customer asked, and it ended up costing him twice as much
I hope he parks that planter in a shed next winter.