(Topic ID: 300948)

Reasonable price to charge a family friend for pin shop job?

By Knxwledge

22 days ago


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    #1 22 days ago

    A friend of my dad's bought a Barb Wire from the Banning museum auction. He told me it's mostly working except for a sluggish flipper and sling. I haven't looked at it but I'm gonna assume it needs a full shop job, flipper rebuild, disassembly and cleaning of coil mechs, etc etc. He wants to put LEDs in it as well. Trying to figure a reasonable price to charge him. I'm not the most experienced repairman but a shopjob shouldn't be a problem for me. This will be the newest game I've worked on, I'm more used to early SS and a bit of EM repair. I was thinking of charging him ~$200 + cost of parts. Also wondering if I need to bring it to my garage; it would be a lot more convenient.

    Any advice appreciated!

    #2 22 days ago

    That sounds reasonable to me.

    #3 22 days ago

    Beware that gottlieb used loctite on most of the playfield posts on system 3 games. Usually you can heat the posts (with a soldering iron cranked to max), then remove, but sometimes they will twist and shear off, requiring you to replace the post and t-nut.

    $200 sounds like it could be on the low side, especially if the shop job takes more than 8-10 hours (which it probably will).

    #4 22 days ago

    I just finished a complete shop of a terminator 2 game for a friend. Remote battery holder, skull mech fixed, new header pins and connectors for lighting. Rubbers all needed changed, the machine was not playable, he hadn'tdone anything to it for 7 years. I had $90 in parts. Since he was a friend, I let him decide what it was worth. He paid $400, so $310 for my time. He brought machine to me and picked up, that's really the only was to do a complete shop out.

    I should add, I had probably 20 to 30+ hours on it. I completely cleaned top and bottom. It was like new when he picked up. And, I play tested probably 100 games, lol. It was fun to do, but couldn't charge a friend what I really should've.

    24
    #5 22 days ago

    If it’s my friend? I’d come over to his place and drink beer while we worked on the game. I wouldn’t charge him shit other than parts

    #6 22 days ago
    Quoted from Knxwledge:

    Also wondering if I need to bring it to my garage;

    100%.

    $200 is ok. If you like working for $10 per hour.

    I’d probably say, look I usually charge $60 an hour but I’ll charge you $30 an hour. (Something like that). And parts at cost.

    Quoted from nicoy3k:

    If it’s my friend? I’d come over to his place and drink beer while we worked on the game. I wouldn’t charge him shit other than parts

    Friend of his dads, he said.

    If it’s your best buddy, of course you don’t charge him. Beers for all!

    rd

    #7 22 days ago
    Quoted from nicoy3k:

    If it’s my friend? I’d come over to his place and drink beer while we worked on the game. I wouldn’t charge him shit other than parts

    I'm in the school of go to him, have some beers, and teach him to do these basics. Teaching someone to work on there own machine keeps the phone from ringing to often.

    #8 22 days ago

    Thanks for all the suggestions so far

    Quoted from nicoy3k:

    If it’s my friend? I’d come over to his place and drink beer while we worked on the game. I wouldn’t charge him shit other than parts

    Quoted from Ericpinballfan:

    I'm in the school of go to him, have some beers, and teach him to do these basics. Teaching someone to work on there own machine keeps the phone from ringing to often.

    Normally I would agree with you guys but I've talked to him a bit recently and he doesn't seem to have the time/interest in learning. I will for sure offer it though, and if he wants to work with me and shoot the shit, then I won't charge him as much/if anything at all. He's also not really my friend personally, if it was a buddy of mine I wouldn't even be asking this question.

    #9 22 days ago
    Quoted from nicoy3k:

    If it’s my friend? I’d come over to his place and drink beer while we worked on the game. I wouldn’t charge him shit other than parts

    It's his Dad's friend and they probably don't want to be getting balls deep in old bulbs and rubbers turning your hands/forearms black and remembering how to put everything back together. I usually end up with a few cuts on my hands and sore fingers after doing one, standing hunched over in one place is hard on the back also.

    #10 22 days ago
    Quoted from manadams:

    It's his Dad's friend and they probably don't want to be getting balls deep in old bulbs and rubbers turning your hands/forearms black and remembering how to put everything back together. I usually end up with a few cuts on my hands and sore fingers after doing one, standing hunched over in one place is hard on the back also.

    He's big into cars so he isn't afraid of getting his hands dirty, but I think he just doesn't have the time

    #11 22 days ago

    Pick an hourly rate and go with that. Complete LED kit and flipper rebuild will take hours.

    As suggested above, teach them how to do basic things, like removing the glass, raising the playfield and proper cleaning techniques.

    #12 22 days ago
    Quoted from Knxwledge:

    A friend of my dad's bought a Barb Wire from the Banning museum auction. He told me it's mostly working except for a sluggish flipper and sling. I haven't looked at it but I'm gonna assume it needs a full shop job, flipper rebuild, disassembly and cleaning of coil mechs, etc etc. He wants to put LEDs in it as well. Trying to figure a reasonable price to charge him. I'm not the most experienced repairman but a shopjob shouldn't be a problem for me. This will be the newest game I've worked on, I'm more used to early SS and a bit of EM repair. I was thinking of charging him ~$200 + cost of parts. Also wondering if I need to bring it to my garage; it would be a lot more convenient.
    Any advice appreciated!

    He bought a 4500 Barb Wire, and he’s a friend’s father, so charge him a fair hourly rate. He can afford it. Shops are a pain in the ass, and you don’t want people thinking you’re the ball boy who will come running for any issues

    #13 22 days ago

    All I know is that if anyone in Dallas is paying 60/hour for shop jobs, you can feel free to drop off your games at my place along with the parts, and I'll get you taken care of.

    #14 22 days ago

    Then Im thinking $25 an hour, and I will estimate 15-20 hours work. That seems about right. Im gonna work on his Ms. Pac at his house for the same hourly rate, and I will be able to look at the Barb Wire then. I will also charge a bit for the drive down there. I'll bring it back to my garage. I will also show him the basics of upkeep

    #15 22 days ago
    Quoted from nicoy3k:

    If it’s my friend? I’d come over to his place and drink beer while we worked on the game. I wouldn’t charge him shit other than parts

    I got plenty of beer if you wanna help me work through my backlog. I'll even throw in some BBQ, ha!

    I absolutely hate working on Gottlieb DMD games. Personally I wouldn't touch it for less than $400. To do it properly it's an 8-12 hour job at least.

    15 years ago before I had a lot of games I would have jumped at the chance. Learn a new system and play a cool DMD game in my home when it's done for awhile.

    I guess it depends how much time you have, and how you value your time.

    #16 22 days ago

    It's the Kobayashi Maru scenario. It's a no-win situation accepting payments from friends. You charge too much or too less. It never works evenly.

    I would at least have him pay for parts and give them this one for free. Then walk away.

    Otherwise you get to be their car mechanic for life.

    #17 22 days ago
    Quoted from jbovenzi:

    It's the Kobayashi Maru scenario. It's a no-win situation accepting payments from friends. You charge too much or too less. It never works evenly.
    I would at least have him pay for parts and give them this one for free. Then walk away.
    Otherwise you get to be their car mechanic for life.

    Not my friend, a friend of my dad, if that makes any difference. He said he had no problem paying me but I had told him I was still unsure how much I wanted to charge

    #18 22 days ago
    Quoted from jbovenzi:

    It's the Kobayashi Maru scenario. It's a no-win situation accepting payments from friends. You charge too much or too less. It never works evenly

    Not always. My day job is fixing pins and when friends ask for in person help, I generally charge them half my regular hourly rate (which still ain't cheap). I remind them that I much more enjoy playing pins than I do fixing them and I make them do most of the hands on work. If you're not going to watch or help (learn), I charge my full rate.

    It was a problem early until I settled on the half rate. I also advise people to buy games within their repair grasp. Never soldered, never used a meter? Buy a brand new game.

    #19 21 days ago

    I remember when I shopped my barb wire the plastic rivets drove me crazy. It was a little more time consuming than most.

    #20 21 days ago

    My vote is that a friend of you dad is just a referral and charge your standard rates.

    #21 21 days ago

    Well, it was said that the Banning auction would creat a bunch of work for pin techs. It's already started. I agree with regular rates unless you feel some need to hook the guy up.

    #22 20 days ago
    Quoted from RyanStl:

    Well, it was said that the Banning auction would creat a bunch of work for pin techs. It's already started. I agree with regular rates unless you feel some need to hook the guy up.

    It's funny, I don't have "standard rates", I just work on my own stuff

    #23 20 days ago

    Just be clear with him on what was done vs not done. Sometimes when you do a favor and help someone repair on a game, car, house etc. they automatically call you about any future problems. With someone inexperienced or uninterested in maintaining pins they may get frustrated and expect you to do free work on things outside the scope of a shop job.

    #24 20 days ago

    Have him give you lots of beer plus buy parts. He can repay with a favor in the future. Helping you or your kids move or something like that where you could use some help.

    #25 20 days ago
    Quoted from Knxwledge:

    Trying to figure a reasonable price to charge him.

    I’d do it for free.

    #26 20 days ago

    I like playing new (to me) games. I'd recommend telling him you'll do it for cost of parts if he brings it to your house and gives you 3 weeks. This will give you time to order parts, shop it out, and play every little bit of Barbed Wire there is. I've never even seen one. This will allow you to do it on your schedule at home while having a new toy to play with for a little bit. When he comes to pick it up, walk through what you did for him, and share your love of pinball with him. Its good to have pinball buddies. The easiest way to get frustrated and not have a good time is to associated a your hobby with a job.

    Good luck!

    #27 20 days ago
    Quoted from chuckwurt:

    I’d do it for free.

    Then you’re buying yourself a free job for life.

    Every time it breaks down, “oh he’ll come over and fix that for me!”

    That’s not going to end well.

    rd

    #28 20 days ago

    I'd charge at the very least $400 plus parts. I'm leery of people that "don't have time" to
    learn how to do basics like changing bulbs, waxing the PF and replacing rubbers.
    Once you work on it the first time, guess who he'll be calling every time something
    minor breaks? If you don't mind, thats great. But it can become a problem.
    You can get in a position where you're fixing things for others (for peanuts) while your
    projects don't get done. Been there, done that.

    Also do the work at your place so you don't have to rush. My $.02

    #29 20 days ago

    I would get the sluggish flipper working better. Sling too. Half the time there are loose coil stops and or dirty plunger and sleeve. Show him how to install the bulbs and turn him on to pinside.

    If you really want to shop it out and hand the guy a clean, great playing game after a full top teardown done and issues corrected, 200 bucks is slave wages for that.

    #30 20 days ago

    Well here is my humble two cents. I love fixing games. I’m not the best tech out there by any means. I charge people that hear I work on stuff 25 to 50 an hour plus parts. Considering that the local Burger King has a sign out says 15 an hour... For anything other than very basic maintenance I always just take the game. Otherwise I have to make a 100 trips between tear down, order parts, clean up all the parts I’m keeping, reassembly. It also a gives me a chance to play it after I finish it. This way I know it plays correctly and has had a chance to hang out and mess up before going back. I have tore down games on site and unless it’s playing perfectly out of the gate every 20 games or so I get a text, Oh hey.... then you go have to fix a 15 min issue. Do you ask them for 5 bucks? You also do take on a certain amount of risk working on people’s games. I have made bone headed stupid and very simple mistakes that have cost me more than I was going to charge for the repair to fix.

    #31 20 days ago

    if you're just cleaning playfield, changing posts and rubbers and led's 3-400. If flame polishing ramps, flipper rebuild, reflowing/repinning boards/connectors, then around 6-750

    #32 19 days ago
    Quoted from rotordave:

    Then you’re buying yourself a free job for life.
    Every time it breaks down, “oh he’ll come over and fix that for me!”
    That’s not going to end well.

    It has already ended well. Countless times over.

    #33 19 days ago

    I do not see it ending well in any case.

    Charge too much, they expect the 30 year old game to be new again= you marry them.
    Charge too little and they see your time has little value= you marry them.

    I had my own service business for 18 years(not pinball repair ,though i have done some pinball repairs for others). I always avoided these situations whenever possible based on previous experiences.

    #34 19 days ago
    Quoted from Knxwledge:

    Thanks for all the suggestions so far

    Normally I would agree with you guys but I've talked to him a bit recently and he doesn't seem to have the time/interest in learning. I will for sure offer it though, and if he wants to work with me and shoot the shit, then I won't charge him as much/if anything at all. He's also not really my friend personally, if it was a buddy of mine I wouldn't even be asking this question.

    You may want to consider setting expectations that a machine of this era will likely need periodic repair and maintenance, so that it may be in his best interest to try to learn a bit or budget for having you work your magic every so often.

    #35 19 days ago

    You doom and gloom guys are funny. Regardless of how much you charge them for the job, there's always the possibility that they'll ask you for help again.

    But if they ask you for help again and you don't feel like it, or don't want to come out again, you can always just say....wait for it...no! Some of you guys act like you can't just decline to work on their pin again. People in general seem to have a hard time saying no, or saying sorry can't help you. Plenty of techs out there looking for jobs, that'll be happy to take on the work if you don't feel like it.

    #36 19 days ago

    There is always the implicaton that it is somehow a call back.
    People who have no clue how the machine works or fail to take into account how old the machine is,can confuse having a display failure the next day with a shop job completed the day before.
    Saying no is not always so easy.

    #37 19 days ago
    Quoted from rotordave:

    Then you’re buying yourself a free job for life.
    Every time it breaks down, “oh he’ll come over and fix that for me!”
    That’s not going to end well.
    rd

    This is true. Just over ten years ago I helped an acquaintance with a game repair. It wasn't a big deal and the repair was minor. He had another problem a few months after that and it was more complex and took up nearly an hour to diagnose and fix. I had asked him to buy a manual the first time I came over and after the second repair--which would have been easier had a manual and schematic been on site, I told him that until he starts to help himself and me by buying a manual, that I wouldn't come over and fix the game again. Both repairs were no charge. Fast forward eight years and it is the middle of December and he texts me asking to fix his game as he has people coming over for the holidays. Haven't heard from him in all that time. I asked him if he bought a manual, and he answers no so I give him the names of a couple of techs in the area that might be able to fix the game. Manual available or not, I wasn't going back over to fix his game. I still do repairs for friends all the time and don't mind doing it, but as in the above example, you just have to realize when someone is simply taking advantage of you being helpful.

    I think in the OPs example, I would treat it as a business transaction and leave it at that.

    #38 19 days ago

    The thing with in home pinball service is unique things are failing more. Brackets, connectors, caps etc etc.. So if you fix the one issue such as a broken flipper the game will get played very heavy again. What about other things? On any home service call a tech has to be proactive in replacing worn parts or at least mentioning potential future issues to clients.
    Pinballs in home currently are getting triple or more of play in years past. This is pandemic related as well as the surge in pinball popularity. I've seen some games in homes get 500 plus plays monthly. I now get 8 year olds wondering if their Funhouse has the latest code. Its crazy how popular home pinball is becoming.
    Technicians must suggest replacing worn flippers etc when on a call.
    Not doing so is asking for trouble as you were the last person to work on the game and it's broken again due to other worn parts manifesting
    These games were not meant to go 30 plus years. Now you have mods and led displays being added. Adding these without rebuilding the power supply can cause lock ups and fried coils particularly on older games.
    If you fix this friends game for free he may buy more games assuming you will do it in the future as well.
    Sorry for long rant!

    #39 18 days ago

    Sheeit, when I work on pins for other people that are nearby I give free estimates. But I charge $125 for the first hour and $100 an hour after that. I overestimate the time a little bit and when there's extra time I do extra stuff. A shop job could really mean anything, I would itemize the work in an estimate. And I always try to buy the pin I'm working on lol

    1 week later
    #40 8 days ago

    An update on this, I went over to his house to work on some other games and looked at the pin, overall it's in pretty good shape. It's a German reimport, there's no real hackage. Definitely needs a flipper rebuild, and what I understood as him describing a weak sling was actually him saying he couldn't make the ramp skill shot every time lol. I told him that's a feature not a bug. It plays okay as-is but needs new rubbers/playfield cleaning/LEDs. I was watching him playing it and noticed some plungers were slow to return so I think the whole underside needs to be taken apart and properly cleaned.

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