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    How do you handle this customer? (19 Posts)

  • Rich_L Rich_L @ 6:43 PM
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    How do you handle this customer?

    I went to one of my favorite customers homes today. Sweetest elderly couple I know. We put in a new boiler for them this fall and their complaint was that now it wasn't keeping the house warm enough. I checked the t'stat, set to 72 and it was satisfied.They did say that when they turned up the setting that the house warmed nicely but they never had to keep it higher before. They tell me they had the old stat (mercury bulb) set to 70 and were always comfortable. I tried to explain that those old thermostats would easily go out of caliberation and they may have been keeping the house much warmer in the past without knowing it. They may now need to set it at 74 or 75 to stay as comfortable as they were before. I told them to not worry about the numbers on the stat and just set it where they're comfortable. They looked at me like they thought I was feeding them a line of bull! I was trying to think of a good anology to explain it (I love a good story!) but come up empty handed. How would you handle/ explain this concern? 

    Thanks, Rich
  • Roland Roland @ 7:14 PM
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    Perception

    It sounds to me like you gave them the an entirely plausible scenario. The hard part is hoping it changes their perception.

    Just out of curiosity, what was the old heating system you took out? What did you install?
  • R Mannino R Mannino @ 7:34 PM
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    Perception

    is reality for most people. A convincing story for most reasonable people (I'm including myself in that group). I just hope he saved the old thermostat, it's the only way I can think of to get out of the situation.
  • Slimpickins Slimpickins @ 8:03 PM
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    reinstall old stat

    I've had the same issue with an older couple as well and replaced the digital stat I installed with a new Honeywell T87 mercury stat like they had. They didn't like the new fancy programmable stat and it was hard for them to read. I then re-calibrated it so that is was a couple degrees above what it read. If you don't have the calibration wrench you need to order one. I know it could be considered dishonest but it sure made them them happy.
  • Long Beach Ed Long Beach Ed @ 8:21 PM
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    Reinstall...

    Was just thinking the same thing that Slimpickin' wrote. 

    Mr. Nice Guy replaces a mercury 'stat that would have outlived this whole darn human race with an electronic one.  No good deed goes unpunished, right? 

    Put the old one back -- I know you saved it.  No one throws out those things.

    Or hopefully the electronic one can be calibrated to lie.  Many of the Honeywells can be set to display a temp higher or lower than the actual setting.  

    And smile a big smile for the folks!
  • Jean-David Beyer Jean-David Beyer @ 8:42 PM
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    Many of the Honeywells can be set to display a temp higher or lower than the actual setting.

    I have two digital Honeywell thermostats. I could probably mount them upside down and they would still work as they do now. I do not believe I can "calibrate" them, but I do not care. They indicate two temperatures: one is the desired set point, and the other is presumably the temperature it detects for the room.

    But it lies. There is a dead zone in the indicated temperature so it does not "buzz" when the temperature is right on the edge of the line between, say 69F and 70F. It seems to round the indicated temperature in the direction of the set point. It seems to me if the room temperature is between 68F and 70F, and it is set for 69F, it says 69F. I have a calibrated laboratory (mercury) thermometer that can be easily read to 1/4F and it seems to be that good. But I hate having it say 69F when it is only 68F or when it goes up to 70F. I have learned to live with it. But it is interesting when the thermostat says 70F when it is set to 69F and the boiler and the circulators are running. Someday, I will stick an LED and suitable resistor and perhaps a diode, so I can tell when it is actually calling for heat. My other Honeywell says when it is calling for heat on the display, but not the one downstairs. I have to get it so it does not draw too much current and send a call for heat to the boiler.
  • gerry gill gerry gill @ 8:32 PM
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    yes, like Long Beach Ed says

    see if the digital one you put in lets you have it lie and set it to be 2 to 3 degrees warmer than what it displays.
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.
  • Jamie Hall Jamie Hall @ 8:47 PM
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    If you can...

    reinstall the old mercury thermostat, that might work --   But... it probably was off level, throwing its calibration off.  As several people have noticed.

    Myself I think I would rejigger the calibration of the new one, if I could -- or if I were reinstalling the old one, deliberately set it off level so that it does what they want it to do, at the numbers they want it to do it at.  If you follow me.

    Deception?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps not.  Keep in mind that there is a lot of psychology involved, and the perceived comfort or discomfort may include a certain pride that they are comfortable at 70 -- when they really need to be at 75 to be comfortable.  The numbers are, after all, arbitrary.  What counts is the comfort...
    Jamie

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Big Ed Big Ed @ 9:32 PM
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    Old Folksdon'tlike change

    I been here before ...Next time ask old folfs if you want a new thermostat ..... But at this point , I would bring in a another thermometer and show them the new one is with in range ...I would also ease their minds and explain ,that in our older age with all the medications taken we may need higher temperstures to be comfortable ... Put the temperature up as needed , why leave it for the kids , they know how to spend it , with a smile on my face ... just to break the ice... show Facts, then give reason but also ease the pain...
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
    This post was edited by an admin on December 30, 2011 9:35 PM.
  • furnacefigher15 furnacefigher15 @ 9:14 PM
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    Boiler reset?

    If the new boiler has reset and the old one did not, this is the likely trouble.

    It's not about what the temperature is, but how it feels. If the old boiler maintained a 170 degree radiator, but the new one is maintaining a 140 degree radiator, then it feels different.

    Like ever go into to grocery store and walk around a while? Notice how it feels cooler in the refrigerated isles?

    This is the same phenomenon. Because in reality, every isle in the grocery store is the same temperature. It just feels cooler, because you are loosing heat to the cooler surroundings.

    And the older couple, are just not gaining as much warmth from the cooler radiators.

    If no system temps were changed, then put an offset into the thermostat, or re instal the original.
  • Jean-David Beyer Jean-David Beyer @ 10:19 PM
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    If the new boiler has reset and the old one did not

    Hey, that's right. When I had my new mod-con installed, I used the same thermostat as before in the downstairs zone. I used to have it set to 70F. With the mod-con with outdoor reset, I am equally comfortable with it set to 69F. I would have supposed that as I got older, I would want higher temperatures, if anything, not less. Now the slab is heated to just enough to make up for the heat loss. Before it always went to maximum boiler output for the design day (whatever that was), so it varied a lot.
  • Gordy Gordy @ 11:09 PM
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    Psycolgical threshold

      All plausible posts to your situation. They are probably intimidated by the size of the new boiler (smaller). My Grandma claimed her new boiler (back in 93) was so small compared to the old one, and it just did not heat the house like the old one did. That boiler is over twice the size needed for the heat loss.

     The old boiler theirs, and Grams probably gave them a hot bang bang warm up on a heat call. Now it may be that the heat call is more of a gentle warming do to lower water temps from reset.

     Tstat may have been out of calibration.

     Psych that the 70* was comfortable, and now its not, and turning up the thermostat will only lead to higher fuel bills, and the boiler just does not heat like the old one . Not really though.

    I think I would let them see a few fuel bills. Maybe the money they will hopefully be saving will change their mind.

    Recalibrate the new tstat. Really your not deceiving just mimicking the old system.

    The only hind sight to all this would have been preliminary temp readings before the change out. At least then you could have determined the old tstat was out of whack, and the house was really 75, and not 70 degrees. Bring it to their attention.

    Gordy
  • Gordy Gordy @ 11:09 PM
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    Psycolgical threshold

      All plausible posts to your situation. They are probably intimidated by the size of the new boiler (smaller). My Grandma claimed her new boiler (back in 93) was so small compared to the old one, and it just did not heat the house like the old one did. That boiler is over twice the size needed for the heat loss.

     The old boiler theirs, and Grams probably gave them a hot bang bang warm up on a heat call. Now it may be that the heat call is more of a gentle warming do to lower water temps from reset.

     Tstat may have been out of calibration.

     Psych that the 70* was comfortable, and now its not, and turning up the thermostat will only lead to higher fuel bills, and the boiler just does not heat like the old one . Not really though.

    I think I would let them see a few fuel bills. Maybe the money they will hopefully be saving will change their mind.

    Recalibrate the new tstat. Really your not deceiving just mimicking the old system.

    The only hind sight to all this would have been preliminary temp readings before the change out. At least then you could have determined the old tstat was out of whack, and the house was really 75, and not 70 degrees. Bring it to their attention.

    Gordy
  • GW GW @ 3:41 PM
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    us too

    we swapped a warm air system a year ago for a retied couple. 40 year old gas furnace (high delta, hot air), to a 95% (lower delta warm air). They complained but they took my story, pretty much exactly what was described here. They did have a modern stat though.

    I am curious how someone could object to plain logic. if the temp is the same the only other item is humidity. or possibly they moved their chairs around and their old bodies are picking up a rouge draft which would chill their bodies down.

    Gary
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
  • icesailor icesailor @ 4:31 PM
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    New Thermostat/Controls:

    Some of you guys need to spend more time listening to your customers and less time listening to "experts" telling you/us the latest great idea that was already tried before. You need to look at your experiences and apply them to present situations.
    The problem is that the system temperature is too cool. It may heat the house perfectly with 140 degree water on a 30 degree day. I do work in a nursing home. They keep the temperature at 73 degrees because old folks don't regulate their body temperature as well as younger folks do. If the system high temperature was 180 degrees, and you had it set at 180, the customer would KNOW that the system was running because they can "feel" and hear when the system is running, If it is running at 140 degrees, the circulator is running much more and sending out cooler water/air. The temperature may be more even at 140, but folks like the feeling of that warmer air starting out. Why the heck do you always hear old folks raving about their old cast iron radiators "holding the heat"?
    My thermostat is set at 70 degrees because my wife wants it like that. When I take her to Florida, I will set it back to 68 degrees on and 58 degrees, off.  I can tell when it is at 71 degrees, and I know when it is at 69 degrees. At 69.3, she complains that she is cold. Moments later, the zone comes on.
    If you charge $100.00+ for a service call, and the only thing wrong is that the thermostat needs to be set higher by the customer, raise the system temperature. They will be happy and tell them it's "FM". Freakin' Magic.
    I hate to charge for such foolishness. I hate the blow back. If I have to go again, I REALLY can't charge twice. That's two service calls for free. That's two round trips on the plane to work.
    Its a loose, loose situation.
  • Jean-David Beyer Jean-David Beyer @ 5:37 PM
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    Getting old.

    I suppose I must be getting old. I did not realize it in a way that meant anything to me until a coupla years ago I had a stroke. Must have been very mild. I notice my typing is not quite as accurate as it used to be. I do know how to spell, but sometimes the characters come out in the wrong order. That's it. Then I had a heart attack about 2 months ago. These seem to be reminders of aging.

    However, I have not gotten to the point of raising the temperaturs in my house. When I replaced the old oil burner with no reset, with a mod-con with outdoor reset, I found I had to turn the thermostat down one degree. This is not a big deal, but it was the same thermostat. And the temperatures were a lot more even.

    If I am going to be wanting more heat as I get even older, I better do it before I forget how to adjust the reset curves on this boiler because they are now so close, I bet it will not put out hot enough water on very cold days. And when I die, a friend will inherit it, and she cannot manage to set a programmable thermostat. And it is not a sex problem: her husband cannot do it either. So they will never be able to adjust the resets. I just hope they do not buy a new boiler when all they need is the reset curve raised a degree or two.

    Actually, it will be worse than that. The downstairs zone is a radiant slab. They turn their boiler completely off when they go to work in the morning, and turn it on when they get back from work. Using the red switch at the top of the basement stairs. Can you imagine what that will do with a slab that takes 4 to 8 hours to change temperature significantly?

    They do not know how to do the busywork of keeping their computer running. You know: deleting unnecessary files, do defragmentation, have up to date virus scanners. When their machine goes to slowly, they replace it. What a waste of money. They just do not think the way I do. Luckily, I am not in charge of how they live their lives.
  • icesailor icesailor @ 7:52 PM
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    Old Cold:

    Many older folks, especially women have thyroid issues. The Thyroid controls metabolism and the ability to control body temperature and comfort.
     
  • Jack Jack @ 9:12 PM
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    Exasperating, eh?

    What you have to do is to tell them to have a bit of faith for a couple months and let the gas usage tell the story. I went thru this countless times with the Rinnai Energysavers that were sold in New England. With them, the stat was on the unit, which was in the living space, and the sensor is located 2" off the floor. As well, there was a room set-point number on the display too. In some cases it was as you describe, where a different setting from the original system drove them crazy. My favorite was when they would have a $3 pocket dial thermometer across the room and that would be their benchmark. I cannot tell you how many times I would cover the temp indicator with black tape and tell the customer that all I wanted them to do for a week was use the up/down arrows until they found the place where they were comfortable. Then and only then could they pull the tape. Whatever it read was their new benchmark. I did not care what it read. I only cared that they were comfortable, economically! The gas bills bore out the logic.

    Net/net, you just have to get across that it is a new "system" and while it will keep them comfortable, it may do some things differently. The driving analogy works pretty well. Ask him what he drove at 65 mph in 1955. Then ask him what he drives at 65 today. Are they different? Good luck! Keep us posted on this please. I'm always interested to hear what works in these situations.
  • Rich_L Rich_L @ 8:07 AM
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    The New System

    Thanks so much for all the replies. The new system is an 83%er, Weil McLain CGa, no outdoor reset, boiler temp set to 180, copper fin tube base board. Replaced a 40+ year old gas fired boiler, twice the size of the new one.

    I had the same idea with the thermostat offset. Unfortunately the simple, non-programmable stat I installed doesn't have that option. I mounted a couple of Honeywell TH511 FocusPRO series stats (2 zones). These customers didn't want a "fancy, complicated" programmable stat and I like this one for an application like this. I didn't keep the old ones, mercury bulbs that were no doubt out of level.

    I like the idea of bringing in a new stat to show them before replacing the old. We replaced this system before the heating season began so it would not have been possible to compare setting to actual room temp though. I'm going to try the driving analogy Jack.

    Thanks again for all the input, Rich
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