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PROBLEM: customer calls about a single lamp, flourescent style light not working above his built-in book case.

I arrived, turn on this light and find that just the ends are glowing red.

With the flourescent 3 ft. lamp connected to its bi-pin lamp sockets
I turn the lamp backwards and forward, and then the full brightness of
this lamp comes on.

I turn on and off the switch, and the lamp is working fine.

A week later, customer calls me, tells me the lamp is doing the same thing
as before.

Back I go back, and repeat what I did on the 1st. service call, the lamp comes back on. Run the on/off switch test, lamp comes back on each
time.

Facts: lamp, new T-12, 3-Ft. , bi-pins ends, no electronic ballast.

Any suggestions, other then selling customer a complete new luminiare.

THANKS.
 

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Estwing magic
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27,560 Posts
PROBLEM: customer calls about a single lamp, flourescent style light not working above his built-in book case.

I arrived, turn on this light and find that just the ends are glowing red.

With the flourescent 3 ft. lamp connected to its bi-pin lamp sockets
I turn the lamp backwards and forward, and then the full brightness of
this lamp comes on.

I turn on and off the switch, and the lamp is working fine.

A week later, customer calls me, tells me the lamp is doing the same thing
as before.

Back I go back, and repeat what I did on the 1st. service call, the lamp comes back on. Run the on/off switch test, lamp comes back on each
time.

Facts: lamp, new T-12, 3-Ft. , bi-pins ends, no electronic ballast.

Any suggestions, other then selling customer a complete new luminiare.

THANKS.
Why is that a problem? You should have done that in the first place rather than screwing around with old crap. Now you have a call back and, guaranteed, you're doing it for free.
 

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I make all the electrons line up for their Flu shots
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I don't change the tombstones when I replace t12 with t8. Educate me why I should.
 

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Estwing magic
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If you're doing fixture maintenance in a library, definitely you're going to be changing components. If you're fixing up an old POS single lamp fixture for a home owner, why bother?

I hate call backs. The next call back would be for an old crumbling tombstone. What does a new fixture cost?
 

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I make all the electrons line up for their Flu shots
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I make more money with ballast and lamps. I like money. Swaping out fixture is nice also, but it actually cuts my profit margin down cause it takes longer to do it.

Unwire ballast , cut leads , strip ends, screw in new ballast, re-attach leads, 6 wire connections total, replace cover and lamp. Total time 10 minutes.

Or,

unwire fixture, loosen clamp, unscrew fixture from support (now start adding all the variables like rusted toggle bolts that you suddenly must cut instead of simple unscrew, ) assemble fixture once you get it out of the stinking box, drill out new knock out to match the custom hole the other guy made prior to cutting the romex so short you have no other option, unscrew ballast and move to different spot on fixture because of item immediately before this one, secure fixture to structure, make only three wire nuts , install cover and lamp.

20 minutes.

during the ten minutes of your wasted time, I sold em on new dimmers and made my $500 minimum upsell goal.
 
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Estwing magic
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I make more money with ballast and lamps. I like money. Swaping out fixture is nice also, but it actually cuts my profit margin down cause it takes longer to do it.

Unwire ballast , cut leads , strip ends, screw in new ballast, re-attach leads, 6 wire connections total, replace cover and lamp. Total time 10 minutes.

Or,

unwire fixture, loosen clamp, unscrew fixture from support (now start adding all the variables like rusted toggle bolts that you suddenly must cut instead of simple unscrew, ) assemble fixture once you get it out of the stinking box, drill out new knock out to match the custom hole the other guy made prior to cutting the romex so short you have no other option, unscrew ballast and move to different spot on fixture because of item immediately before this one, secure fixture to structure, make only three wire nuts , install cover and lamp.

20 minutes.

during the ten minutes of your wasted time, I sold em on new dimmers and made my $500 minimum upsell goal.
Okay, you got me on the word "upsell". I LOVE upsells :) .

Wait a minute. A $500.00 minimum upsell goal? THAT brings a tear to my eye...
 

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If you're doing fixture maintenance in a library, definitely you're going to be changing components. If you're fixing up an old POS single lamp fixture for a home owner, why bother?

I hate call backs. The next call back would be for an old crumbling tombstone. What does a new fixture cost?

Because another electrician or Internet forum might come along and say all it needed was a 50 cent part. Then you start to look like a greedy electrician especially if the new fixture doesn't match or needed mounting modifications. The tombstones are cheap, and if the fixture is a pre heat the ballast is a simple magnetic chock which was made to last for decades. If moneys an object just up charge for labor. But at least the customer knows they got what they wanted.
 

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RIP 1959-2015
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This sounds like a rapid start fixture that is not grounded properly.

The lamp starts when he touches it then it warms up and starts fine.

Once it cools off it will not start again.

Change the ballast to a t-8 and the same with the lamp.
 

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Estwing magic
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Because another electrician or Internet forum might come along and say all it needed was a 50 cent part. Then you start to look like a greedy electrician especially if the new fixture doesn't match or needed mounting modifications. The tombstones are cheap, and if the fixture is a pre heat the ballast is a simple magnetic chock which was made to last for decades. If moneys an object just up charge for labor. But at least the customer knows they got what they wanted.
I don't live in fear of other electricians or internet forums.

I could buy four of those fixtures for what it costs to gas up the truck. In relation to the cost of the service call, fixture cost is insignificant.
 

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Fond of three phase
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This sounds like a rapid start fixture that is not grounded properly.

The lamp starts when he touches it then it warms up and starts fine.

Once it cools off it will not start again.

Change the ballast to a t-8 and the same with the lamp.
You beat me to it, regarding the grounding issue. I wonder if the ballast is a single lamp, trigger start ballast. They were never too reliable, to begin with.
The best advice is yours, regarding the lamp and ballast change. :rolleyes:
 

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Estwing magic
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But it does change the way the average joe views your business, or electricians in general, especially these days.

If the housing itself is in good shape or esthetics are important why replace it with something new that will most likely fail within 2 years anyways?
Who is average joe? You're dealing with one client at a time, not average joe. You sound like you go into every situation assuming that the customer is cheap. That's a dangerous assumption.

Mac looks at a service call as a business opportunity. You look at it as an opportunity to be Mr. Fixit.

Shunk said that being a good electrician is 20% of being a good contractor. The rest is marketing, sales and business acumen. I might add that greed is also included in that remaining 80%. If you're not at least a little bit greedy, you're not really in business.
 

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Who is average joe? You're dealing with one client at a time, not average joe. You sound like you go into every situation assuming that the customer is cheap. That's a dangerous assumption.

Mac looks at a service call as a business opportunity. You look at it as an opportunity to be Mr. Fixit.

Shunk said that being a good electrician is 20% of being a good contractor. The rest is marketing, sales and business acumen. I might add that greed is also included in that remaining 80%. If you're not at least a little bit greedy, you're not really in business.
The average joe would be the average residential maybe some commercial customers. I look at service calls as giving the customer what he wants. In this case it sounds like he wants the existing fixture repaired and probably for good reason. If the customer wants an economical fix that's what he gets, if he wants a gold house rewire than he will get that. But I will not use the customer's lack of knowledge on the subject to convince him he needs extra parts/labor when the repair can be safely done without them.



These days customers have Google with an abundance of information at their finger tips. Any one can go online and ask (and a lot more people do than you think, look at DIY chat room), hey, I had an electrician over for 1 dead outlet, but he re did the circuit and all the outlets in the house and my panel because of something called back stabbing would burn my house to the ground and kill my family. He then recommended a service upgrade on my 15 year old all gas house. He charged this for parts and this for labor, it was a 12 hour job, is this normal for a dead outlet? Yes the sparky just scored a ton off the customers ignorance, but when he finds out it was all a scam, along with all the other customers, good bye reputation.

"I might add that greed is also included in that remaining 80%."

:eek::eek:

And people wonder why home DIY centers are booming and criag's list exist. Along with the fires and thousands of electrical violations. Because the general public eventually catches on and decides not to take a chance with a trade that's now associated with greed.
 

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Estwing magic
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I bet if you went into that homeowners bathroom, you would find a bottle of product that came from the hair salon that was twice the price of that fixture.

Dammit man, take their money and quit feeling so guilty about it.
 
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