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Thread: VBM Domobar Jr issue

  1. #1
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    VBM Domobar Jr issue

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I have been really stupid and slack (have never had the machine serviced etc.) Unsurprisingly after a few years I now have an issue. Previously when I pulled a shot there was like a 5 second delay, then the machine would quickly build pressure, pull the shot, then get the satisfying pfffsssshhhht sound out of the part that goes into the drip tray (outlet?).

    Now I pull the lever, get the same delay, then it moves up to 4 or 5 bar, sits there for a few seconds, then jumps up to the correct pressure. When I finish there is no pfffsssshhht noise. Instead that area seems to have developed a leak, the top of the grouphead also gets much hotter to touch after you've pulled a shot (actually burnt my hand on it). The crema also seems kind of oily in consistency.

    I actually found someone who services coffee machines near me but through some of our interactions I'm not so certain they're great/knowledgeable. I was charged up front for them to look at it which I had no issue with, but the justification of "loads of people abandon their machines rather than paying for the quote" kind of threw me when it was basically a token amount compared to the machine's value (which makes me think they mistook it for like a $200 machine).

    He's saying there is nothing wrong with the machine besides some leak between the boiler and something? For $200 he can repair it. He did say he never checked for scaling though as that is difficult and time consuming so that could also be an issue.

    Normally I'd have zero issue with this quote (I was budgeting $500) but just some of the stuff he said has made me a bit worried about everything.

    I guess I'm just after some reassurance, either that or for someone to tell me to get a second opinion.

  2. #2
    TC
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    Your machine needs more than a repair.

    It requires a service which should involve pulling the group, valves and wands down and repair of any faults.

    If the repairer needed to charge up front to diagnose what is a common group piston issue, I'd be looking for a company which knows what it's doing.

    Now for the rap on the knuckles. I am continually perplexed that people will spend thousands on a great espresso machine and then abuse it for years without service.

    Yesterday, we released a Giotto back into the wild. It came to us filthy, inoperable and ultimately required a major descale, new control board and wiring, full rebuild of group, wands and steam and hot water valve plus a whole heap of other stuff. 4 hours labour plus an additional 45 minutes of cleaning (it looked like the bottom of a deep fryer) and a heap of parts led to a very large account for a machine which is now worth about $1200 on the 2nd hand market. Had the owner maintained the machine, a good proportion of this work would not have been required.

    We service our cars and our espresso machines need regular service as well.

  3. #3
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    I know I've been really silly, my only defence (and it's a poor one) is that I'm living in the country and couldn't find anywhere that seems reputable and services machines less than a 2 hour drive away. In retrospect the freight charges would likely be nothing in comparison to the cost of getting my machine back up to scratch.

    So I take it he was talking out his bum when he told me the machine is fine to keep using until the leak gets bad enough that I want it repaired?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quomby View Post
    So I take it he was talking out his bum when he told me the machine is fine to keep using until the leak gets bad enough that I want it repaired?
    Translation: "We can't be bothered doing it".

    Your machine requires service.

  5. #5
    TOK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quomby View Post
    ...I actually found someone who services coffee machines near me but through some of our interactions I'm not so certain they're great/knowledgeable. I was charged up front for them to look at it which I had no issue with, but the justification of "loads of people abandon their machines rather than paying for the quote" kind of threw me when it was basically a token amount compared to the machine's value (which makes me think they mistook it for like a $200 machine)...
    If I may make a slightly tangential (to the primary point of the topic), but relevant to workshop practices, comment.

    Most workshops these days, and not just those in the coffee machine repair biz, now charge a "Quote Fee". Its quite legit and the reasoning you were given is very real. Workshops have been taught to charge quote fees, by their clients. Once the client's been advised what the workshop has found to service or repair, the clients come up with 4 possible scenarios:

    1) Ok repair as you see fit
    2) Ok but only do part of the repairs or service quoted
    3) Thanks but no thanks I'll take the machine away (and fix it myself now that you told me what needs doing OR I'll take it elsewhere) and
    4) Thanks but you can keep the machine i dont want it...

    The cost of the Quote Fee which has been paid up front to cover time spent for diagnosis, is in most cases deducted from the cost of the repair.

    That is, the quote fee is not necessarily additional to the cost of repair, it is used as a deposit on the cost of the repair, but is non returnable in the event the client does not go ahead. Otherwise, who pays for the workshops legitimate time spent / billable hours, to make the diagnosis, if the client does not go ahead?

    This is a prefectly legitimate and widespread workshop practice, and is a direct result of some clients practices, particularly those that use repairers to tell them what is wrong with a machine but dont go ahead with the repairer.

    Afraid the "good old days" are long gone in this regard.

    One need not be concerned of paying a legitimate Quote Fee to a well established professional workshop.

    Hope that helps.

  6. #6
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    I get all of that and had no issue paying for it upfront. It was more the 'yeah I need it upfront because you might not collect the machine' that threw me, are there really people who would rather let someone keep their $2000 machine rather than pay the $75? I mean to me your option 4 seems like a pretty decent deal for the repairer. If he'd just said 'yeah, we always get the money for the quote upfront' it wouldn't have been an issue or made me feel uncomfortable.

    I can't put it into words why I was put off, it just felt like he had no idea about the machine. Like when I turned up to collect the machine he explained he'd googled to get the schematic (fair enough) and my boiler was the wrong way since it should be horizontal, a quick google makes me think the schematic he pulled was for the SuperHX. Just stuff like that. Plus me saying my machine needed a service and him instead turning it into 'what's the problem with it' and seemingly only worrying about that.

    Plus he said the $75 was for a report which I never got (besides 'oh there is a leak between a valve and the boiler which is why it's leaking out of the outlet') so it isn't like based on that information I could do anything myself anyway (I mean if I was capable of fixing it I'm sure I'd have had no issue working out that was the problem in the first place). Plus I actually have no idea what my money paid for. I don't know if he did pull everything apart, if he took anything apart or if he just opened it up, had a quick look and said 'that's the issue' and changed the pressure and replaced a few seals (paid an extra $20 for parts when I picked it up). I think that's my main issue. I have no idea what was actually done. For all I know he did give it a full service or whatever and I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth.
    mjoyce likes this.

  7. #7
    TOK
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    Hi there, cant make any observations concerning the rest of your scenario, only regarding the practice of quote fees.

    When a shop has a policy re quote fees, it doesnt matter whether it is a $2000 machine or a $200 machine, the quote fee is chargebale to all "walk in" repairs irrespective of their perceived value, and it is payable up front. I have seen $4000 machines that arent worth $20.00 after they have been used without appropriate water conditioning in bad water areas. Rather than ending up with a machine you can repair and sell, you wnd up with a machine that costs you money to deliver to the tip and pay the tip fees.

    Poeple may not walk away from a $2000 machine, but they will walk away from cheap end machines (which cost the repairer money to throw out), and you will be surprised on occasion. For example I know of a case where an over three thousand dollar machine is still being "stored" in a workshop after nearly 3 years, because of a dispute between a (crazy cat) client and the repairer over the agreed quoted charges. The new parts fitted to the machine during the repair were subsequently stripped out, cant do anything about lost money in labour and time, but the client refuses pick up his machine and also refused an offer by the repairer to deliver it to him. It takes all kinds...

    That is not the windfall you may think it is, because the repairer cant do a thing with it (ie cant resell it) without first doing all the requisite legal things that show the machine has been abandoned by its owner. So it takes up valuable storage space while staff have better things to do like working billable hours....

    Good luck with your machine
    TC and sprezzatura like this.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post

    Now for the rap on the knuckles. I am continually perplexed that people will spend thousands on a great espresso machine and then abuse it for years without service.
    hand market. Had the owner maintained the machine, a good proportion of this work would not have been required.
    We service our cars and our espresso machines need regular service as well.
    You've confused me here Chris. I was told (not sure it was you) and/or read that if you regularly backflush, check the mushroom periodically, use filtered water, lubricate the lever, clean the water tank etc etc and the machine is working perfectly then a service is not necessary. If it is working perfectly then what's involved in service?

    Sorry for hijacking the thread quomby!

  9. #9
    TC
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    Hi Barry,

    All of what you do is great,

    There are seals that require replacement in the group, wands and valves. We pull down group, wands and valves, attend to descale if required, run pressure and electrical checks and perform required repairs.

    In addition, we all too frequently spend lots of time (at the expense of the customer) to remove of years of accumulated filth. Sad, but true.
    TOK and sprezzatura like this.

  10. #10
    TOK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    ...In addition, we all too frequently spend lots of time (at the expense of the customer) to remove years of accumulated filth...
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, we call that "danger money" Enough machines have to go out the back with the high pressure hose first up.
    TC likes this.

  11. #11
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    Hi Chris

    "Had the owner maintained the machine, a good proportion of this work would not have been required."

    So in very general terms, to ensure a high level of performance - a poorly maintained machine requires a professional service at least once or twice a year but a WELL maintained machine requires servicing less possibly less than once a year?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by WantRancilio10 View Post
    Hi Chris

    "Had the owner maintained the machine, a good proportion of this work would not have been required."

    So in very general terms, to ensure a high level of performance - a poorly maintained machine requires a professional service at least once or twice a year but a WELL maintained machine requires servicing less possibly less than once a year?
    What we get told when the phone rings v what we see makes me disinclined to comment on that at all. In general, 12-18 months is a reasonable timeframe.
    Last edited by TC; 15th July 2015 at 03:37 PM.
    Dimal, TOK, sprezzatura and 1 others like this.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quomby View Post
    I have been really stupid and slack (have never had the machine serviced etc.) Unsurprisingly after a few years I now have an issue. Previously when I pulled a shot there was like a 5 second delay, then the machine would quickly build pressure, pull the shot, then get the satisfying pfffsssshhhht sound out of the part that goes into the drip tray (outlet?).

    Now I pull the lever, get the same delay, then it moves up to 4 or 5 bar, sits there for a few seconds, then jumps up to the correct pressure. When I finish there is no pfffsssshhht noise. Instead that area seems to have developed a leak, the top of the grouphead also gets much hotter to touch after you've pulled a shot (actually burnt my hand on it). The crema also seems kind of oily in consistency.

    I actually found someone who services coffee machines near me but through some of our interactions I'm not so certain they're great/knowledgeable. I was charged up front for them to look at it which I had no issue with, but the justification of "loads of people abandon their machines rather than paying for the quote" kind of threw me when it was basically a token amount compared to the machine's value (which makes me think they mistook it for like a $200 machine).

    He's saying there is nothing wrong with the machine besides some leak between the boiler and something? For $200 he can repair it. He did say he never checked for scaling though as that is difficult and time consuming so that could also be an issue.

    Normally I'd have zero issue with this quote (I was budgeting $500) but just some of the stuff he said has made me a bit worried about everything.

    I guess I'm just after some reassurance, either that or for someone to tell me to get a second opinion.
    I can understand your hesitation - this repairer has not made you feel confident in his abilities & you would be right to look elswehere, if you can get your machine to Talk Coffee in Melbourne you will feel different about the whole thing, they know what they're doing - - its too good a machine not to look after.............I miss my VBM Super a bit, even though the Rocket is great.



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