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I have an appliance service business with online scheduling.

Sometimes, I would like to give customers a little information about their repair and have them actually read and understand it. The problem is that they don't do either.

This information is entirely for their benefit and will save them $110-$140 in actual cash. I lose money when I do this, but I'd like to do it anyway.

Microwave ovens (except for the built-in drawer-types, and some really expensive brands) and some other appliances like garbage disposers and dehumidifiers, are throwaways. Repairing always costs more than a new replacement.

I tried telling them this on the website when they schedule a service call, but they ignore it, setup a call anyway. We go out and diagnose the problem, look up the parts, give them a repair quote and then they don't fix it, but now have to pay the diagnostic fee.

They could have saved $110 - $140 if they would have taken my advice and just replaced it in the first place.

Is there any way to get users to actually read and understand two sentences without annoying them, or should I just forget the whole thing and let them schedule the call, then go out and give them a quote?

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  • Can you add a screenshot of what you're showing them now?
    – Izquierdo
    Sep 13, 2023 at 23:13
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    Also, how do you know that the problem is a lack of comprehension? Are customers surprised and claiming that they didn't see what you wrote?
    – Izquierdo
    Sep 13, 2023 at 23:16
  • @Izquierdo I took the text down, so I don't have a screenshot, but it was bold black on white that said "Unless this is an undercounter microwave oven or part of a built-in wall oven, the repair costs will exceed the replacement cost and you should not schedule a service call." Sep 14, 2023 at 2:31
  • @Izquierdo They're not exactly surprised, more like annoyed at the estimate. Maybe you're right, and they read it, and just don't believe it, in which case I should just stop worrying about it. It's probably just a case of Magical Thinking where they figure that somehow it will be cheap. If you want to post your thoughts as an answer, that would be fine. Sep 14, 2023 at 2:33
  • Buying new instead of repairing harms the environment and fragile societies. We need more offers like yours. In some countries support payments are available for repairing old devices. That might solve the issue on a larger scale. Why are you giving them a repair quote? When on the line with them, can’t you explain the issue to them?
    – Andy
    Sep 14, 2023 at 14:47

2 Answers 2

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First of all, huge respect for doing this, especially with the obvious conflict of interests. You're doing an amazing thing.

Now in terms of UX - the sentence that you quoted is indeed on the long side, and it's no surprise people don't read it. You need to get their attention. Fortunately, this is an easy thing to do in your situation. If you add a prominent button or a link that just says "Save money" or "Save $100" or something along those lines (super concise, 1-2 words), and the link will pop that message, they will read it. Just make sure it doesn't look too cheesy, so they don't think it's some kind of scam or phishing.

Another way is to have them mark a mandatory checkbox saying something like "I understand that the repair might cost over $100 more than buying a new appliance". Or something more properly phrased, but it's important to have that "$100" in there, because it's a huge attention grabber. Without it they might just mark the checkbox without reading.

There's one other consideration to think about - it's called survivor bias. Meaning that maybe lots of people do read it and decide to get a new microwave, and you never find out about them because you've just sent them away, so you don't really have a way of finding out about this. So you only find out about those who "survived" the process and didn't leave.

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    +1 for survivor bias! Good call out.
    – Izquierdo
    Sep 14, 2023 at 14:17
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    this is a great answer and will clearly solve the OP's issue. But I wonder if this won't play against his own business. Of course this falls on the OP's side, but the sole mention of survivor bias got me thinking: how much is he actually losing and he doesn't know?
    – Devin
    Sep 14, 2023 at 16:37
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    Thanks! Great points! Sep 15, 2023 at 3:08
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    I like that a lot! A "Save more than $110" link that goes to an explanation would absolutely help. I think I'll work on that this weekend. Sep 15, 2023 at 3:14
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    @Devin I'm probably losing a lot of business, but the volume doesn't matter. I feel bad taking money from people who generally can't afford to lose it, in exchange for a service they shouldn't have selected. I know this is weird in the business world, but I try to "do right" by people as much as I can. I think I will however implement some tracking on how many people read the message and do not continue scheduling a call. It would be good data to have. Sep 15, 2023 at 12:55
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I think your comment above about magical thinking might be on the right track. Along with Vitaly Mijiritsky's answer about never hearing from the folks who read your advice and choose to replace the microwave, there are a couple of other psychological principles that might be in play here:

  • Loss aversion / endowment effect: Once people own something, it's harder to convince them of the value of getting rid of it. "I don't want a new microwave, I want my microwave to work."
  • The cost of making a decision on purchasing a new microwave might feel staggeringly high for some people, even if that's not really the case. Some people have a really hard time making consumer choices, and they're terrified of choosing the wrong option. Analysis paralysis.

What can you do to help that? Well, I think you can continue to offer clear language about your service fee, be upfront about how replacing might be a cheaper option than repairing... and then, if you care to, you might help some customers get a new microwave that's the best value in your expert opinion. Do you have a few microwaves that you could bring with you in your truck? Could your service fee include a discount on the new model, setting it up, and hauling away the old one? It might be worth testing that once or twice and seeing if it ends with a great experience for the customer.

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    Loss aversion does not apply in my opinion, since the devices is already broken. They already lost it. The rest is quite a hypothesis. Judging by the environmental problems caused by the consumption societies we have in the west, the opposite is the case. People wait for an excuse like a phone or computer getting slow, to finally get a new one. The unboxing experience of buying new stuff is carefully crafted by designers, while simply recovering your old device from the repair shop is very boring.
    – Andy
    Sep 14, 2023 at 14:53
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    I disagree - a broken product isn't a lost product. While many people will look for an opportunity to upgrade appliances, OP's customers would seem to be a group that is willing to spend money on not having to learn a new system, and there are a lot of people like that. They Googled "mircowave repair" vs. going to Best Buy.
    – Izquierdo
    Sep 14, 2023 at 15:11
  • I agree. Just a couple weeks ago my home's frame door got broken. We had 4 budgets, all of them to replace the whole door (plus the frame) because it would be very difficult to "find a frame that fitted the door" (??). I asked my best friend who is a contractor and he told me it was a lie. Most "fixers" don't want to fix anything, just to sell you new parts. In this case, it wasn't a new model, but a WAY WORSE model. My door is a high security door that weighs a ton, and the door they offered me was one of those new plywood crap you can break with a fist. I finally found someone that fixed it.
    – Devin
    Sep 14, 2023 at 16:34
  • please note I'm not referring to the OP's case, which is clearly different
    – Devin
    Sep 14, 2023 at 16:34

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