February 2008 Issue
It Costs How Much!? Over-the-Top Invoices
The shop told you a cylinder change would cost $1500, but the invoice came to twice that. Should the owner or the shop eat the difference?
Surrendering your airplane to the shop for maintenance work requires a certain stoicism. You have to steel yourself to expect the worst and enjoy the relief when the news isn’t so bad after all. Then there’s the invoice, which is always higher than you figured. Sometimes a lot higher. Why is that? Can’t a shop provide an accurate estimate and stick to it? Why must opening the invoice envelope be an agita-inducing moment? There’s no easy answer to this, other than to say that’s the nature of airplane ownership—get used to it. But there’s a limit to how much over the estimate an invoice can or should go before something has to give—either the shop gives you a break or, better, you knew the invoice was spiraling upward before the envelope ever arrived.
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