What is the right and fair way to handle this?
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  1. #1
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    Default What is the right and fair way to handle this?

    I was in the market for a VMC. I already own one of the same brand that I considered buying.

    The older model of the same brand had a problem with the tool arm dropping when powered down or if E-stopped. It threw the arm into the spindle (actual machine malfunction) about a year or so ago and broke a small steel tab in the mechanism. We've just "worked with it" with it rather than spend $2000+ or so on the MTB techs to come in and fix it as its a minor inconvenience (we block it up with wood blocks before power-down) and it's otherwise changing tools fine. I asked the salesman if they would be willing to offer reduced labor on fixing the old machine as part of the deal for buying the new one. They took down my s/n and sent me back a quote reading the below on one of the line items:

    NO CHARGE LABOR for existing [I redacted brand and model to be fair to them as its currently being "worked out"] that is having problem with the tool changer arm dropping after he powers the machine
    down.
    (Capitalized emphasis is theirs).

    A tech came in to fix it this past Tuesday. He pulled the ATC off the machine and he installed the new part (small steel part I could have made, but cost $80 or so). The ytech reinstalled the ATC and it would not drop the arm. It would throw the arm for the tool, but wouldn't drop to pull the tool from the spindle. He said he had to leave for other obligations but returned Friday. We pulled the ATC off again. He looked at it, made some phone calls, and asked me if we had ever removed the arm or transmission components. I explained that we had not, that after the malfunction a while back we called into tech support and they walked us through the procedure to use the machine in spite of the issue and it's made thousands of tool changes since then. He worked on it a while and decided that the transmission was out of time, that it only worked previously out of time because that part was broken, and that now he's messed with it enough that it is so out of time that he would never be able to personally repair it. He sent emails to the dealer and to his bosses letting them know it must go to a higher echelon of repair. The tech left and apologized that he wasn't able to fix it. The tool changer now sits on a work bench and the older machine is now down 100%.

    The salesman called and said he got an email from the tech and asked what was up. I explained. He was bit shocked and said "Well, that's going to have to go in to so and so and will probably be around $4000 or more in labor." I politely told him that they just sold me a machine conditioned on fixing this other one for free, they came in and busted a machine we were otherwise able to use every day, and that I hated the negative surprise but I wasn't about to eat thousands in repair because the situation is worse than they thought when they made the commitment.

    I'm a pretty nice guy and I respect this dealer. I think it's one of those situations where they over-promised and got in deeper than they should have, but I'm not sure that I should eat thousands in repair because it is now worse than they anticipated.

    What is actually fair here? Should I stick them to the letter of the agreement? Should I "accept" that its worse than previously anticipated and offer to pay half of the "additional" repairs? Should I "accept" all that extra repair? For what it's worth, I will incur overtime expense and other PITA for having this older machine down right now (remember, it was making parts before they touched it and now they say they can't even get it back how it was without $$$ repairs).

    Thanks in advance for your opinions.

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    They said they'd repair it if you bought the machine. You have in writing this agreement. They get to fix it on their dime.

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    They said it would be fixed, it should be fixed. Not your problem they sent an under qualified tech. Frustrating...

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    Yep, Hold their feet to the fire with the written agreement.

    Sounds about like what Absolute Machine Tool / Flint Machine Tool did to me in Savannah GA. Sold me a VTL and a Gantry Mill that the tool changers didn't work on either machine (both new). Then tried to sue us for holding up final payment. If it wasn't for keeping good records of communication they probably would have gotten away with it.

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    Agree with everybody else. Depending on the company all factory techs are not created equal. Some companies send out marginally skilled techs that constantly are calling back to the home office for help. I have a feeling the guy was in over his head and made the situation worse. They can hold up their promise or you buy a new machine from someone else. They gambled and lost, they need to pay up.

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    I've been balls deep in some pretty complicated toolchangers and I've never felt like I needed to "send it off to a higher level". It's just a basic mechanical deal. Might have to stare it down for 15 minutes to figure out how it works, but it it's not an antikythera mechanism. That tech is not very good and they need to make it right, not you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    I've been balls deep in some pretty complicated toolchangers and I've never felt like I needed to "send it off to a higher level". It's just a basic mechanical deal. Might have to stare it down for 15 minutes to figure out how it works, but it it's not an antikythera mechanism. That tech is not very good and they need to make it right, not you.
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. My inclination was to hold them to it, but I try to be very fair.

    I actually looked at it as the tech had it on the table and told him it wasn't necessarily simple, but it didn't look all that complicated either. Interestingly, they talked like they always send their ATCs off if it needs timing work.

    Overall I like their tech team as they are much, much more accessible than the tech teams for the other two brands of machine tool I have in the shop. This situation sucks though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRobs86 View Post
    I think it's one of those situations where they over-promised and got in deeper than they should have, but I'm not sure that I should eat thousands in repair because it is now worse than they anticipated.
    I agree with others that you should not eat any of the cost. Either they inspected the machine before making this deal, and wrongly thought they could do it so should hold themselves accountable for that. More likely sounds like a salesman who just said what you wanted to hear to get your money, and now doesn't want to stand by his deal. They never do the second it costs them money, but you better believe they would be in your a** if you were taking $4k from them in this deal.

    Based on the info you provided I would be very upset. If they showed up, and tried to fix it but realized that it was much more involved than both parties thought it was, then left with the machine *in the same condition as before they came* I would maybe have some wiggle room for that. The fact that they made the machine inoperable, and then left you sitting there down the machine just passing it off as oh well guess you need to send it out now...that would get me heated.

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    Tell them you'll pay the $4k if they pay for all your downtime/overtime/schedule recovery costs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    I've been balls deep in some pretty complicated toolchangers and I've never felt like I needed to "send it off to a higher level". It's just a basic mechanical deal. Might have to stare it down for 15 minutes to figure out how it works, but it it's not an antikythera mechanism. That tech is not very good and they need to make it right, not you.
    Seconded.

    Besides. they said the four large was "labour". Not parts, bought from a third-party out-of pocket.

    Yazz "a" tech has to be paid. Fully-burdened, even. But "labour" any outfit of any size CAN "finesse" in their operating environment.

    It's all an averaged-out exercise in any case, by end of the financial year. Win some. Lose some, play the countervailing hands dealt and BFD.

    Never was a solid guarantee in advance what ANY repair or new commissioning might end-up needing.

    I'd have had ZERO problem putting staff onto that sort of one-off need, any of many industries, even when they were hired-guns.

    Mind, there WERE times the Director was in the field on the tip and ring with a butt-in set, or the CO was running a forklift. But if yah don't know how, how'd yah get that job over those who DO?

    That's a Management issue even more than a field-tech issue.

    Theirs. Not yours.

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    If it's in writing...breach of contract is all you need to worry about. Might have to spend some coin to get a lawyer to write a letter.

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    IMO the very least they could get away with is putting it back the way it was for no charge, and even that's pushing it.

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    If I am reading this correctly, here is where you are stuck. They told you "no charge labor" However, if they are sending the tool changer out to a 3rd party vendor for rebuild, then is really not what there intent of "labor" was.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toolmaker96 View Post
    If I am reading this correctly, here is where you are stuck. They told you "no charge labor" However, if they are sending the tool changer out to a 3rd party vendor for rebuild, then is really not what there intent of "labor" was.
    Without seeing your entire correspondence, and fine print of any paperwork...they could have very well protected themselves with a clause about third party work like this I might suspect.

    Though if the entire correspondence regarding the repair is what you quoted them as saying in the first post then I stand by that they are on the hook for it, and will have to honor it when pressed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by plastikdreams View Post
    If it's in writing...breach of contract is all you need to worry about. Might have to spend some coin to get a lawyer to write a letter.
    Get along to get along going forward if yah can "negotiate" a tech's time[1] as part of THEIR training & QC upgrade though.

    OP has maximum exactly ONE problematic tool-changer. Any tech as knows MORE than he started out knowing has value for better support of MANY tool-changers, other places, and not necessarily even the same ones. Not as if they could easily order-up a CLASSROOM with several types of bustid tool-changers to practice on as to ID'ing each possible fault, then fixing it, is there? Have to take what yah get. There ARE NO "problems". Only opportunities.

    Tech ends up wiser, more cautious/thoughtful and a better problem-solver in general. Or his REPLACEMENT does?

    His employer gains even more than ONE customer ONE machine alone gains. Dealer looks like a hero for facilitating a mutually beneficial outcome, gains references as proof of it, has an easier time selling.

    Dealer may have to be involved in a three-way negotiation with HIS service contractor, but wot the hey.. that's why MANAGERS make more money on AVERAGE - and fewer enemies - than Lawsters do.

    Problems didn't exist?

    We might have to invent them to keep our greedy little minds from rotting.



    [1] $4,000, portal-to-portal (travel cost, travel time, meals and lodging, Starbase Alpha to jobsite and back), fully burdened, is not a lot as such things go, BTW. Would not have covered a single visit, our rates, late 1990's, what with a one-day minimum.

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    Hate to say, but I see both sides here...or at least I think I do.

    From my understanding you told them a widget broke that needed to be replaced for machine to be fully operational. They agreed to replace the widget, labor would be on them.


    Down side is the broken widget was only the tip of the iceberg when they came in to honor their agreement.


    Should they fix more then agreed to based on the information provided.
    Who diagnosed the original problem?

    Your being down now is largely because you had them go in to work on the repair.



    If it was me, I'd try and work with them...it does not sound like they went into fix something but wound up breaking something in the process and now your on the hook for fixing their mistake.

    Maybe I'm reading it wrong.

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    Holding them to their agreement is your right and it may be the right way to go. Nobody could argue with it. Since you say you like their tech team and since you'll surely need them again, it would be hard to argue with meeting them in the middle, too. They will probably have an opportunity to show you how much they appreciate it in the near future if you decide to go that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jobshopblog.com View Post
    Holding them to their agreement is your right and it may be the right way to go. Nobody could argue with it. Since you say you like their tech team and since you'll surely need them again, it would be hard to argue with meeting them in the middle, too. They will probably have an opportunity to show you how much they appreciate it in the near future if you decide to go that way.
    Mindless posting to boost your post count (street cred) or just spamming your way thru PM like a sledgehammer ?

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    Regardless of their intent, the reality is that their tech broke something that wasn't broken before. Unless they have a specific contractual clause - that you have agreed to in writing - that absolves them of any liability of damage that they cause in the course of their work, then I don't see any way that they can shirk off responsibility.

    Although, if the changer is just stopping at a specific point in the tool change cycle, it's probably just a limit switch not being made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregormarwick View Post
    Regardless of their intent, the reality is that their tech broke something that wasn't broken before.
    From what I read the machine was only working due to the combination of the "Broken part and the Work around".

    Remove one of the variables and it no longer works. Removing one of the variables is what the tech was called in to do, that is fix the broken part.


    Quote Originally Posted by gregormarwick View Post
    Although, if the changer is just stopping at a specific point in the tool change cycle, it's probably just a limit switch not being made.
    Quite possible...but maybe not.



    Some years ago my umbrella carousel wasn't going in like it should. Service tech comes out and says the clutch arm is slipping, I need a new clutch. $700 bucks and an hour to install. I say get to it.

    He replaces and now the clutch is not slipping, but the motor can't take the load of an instant start. The clutch slipping a little acted like a soft start. So machine is alarming out. So it was $900 for a new motor plus two hours to replace...and of course being an older machine the new motor was not compatible with the drive so it was a another few hundred for that.


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