So in the situation I described you'd without question pay $550 for the job?
got it exactly right. I don't expect a discount price but I don't like the feeling I'm being bent over just because.
As far as HVAC tech shortages locally they had the guy here the morning after I called.
I paid a vet clinic $350 yesterday to look at a cat, diagnose her with some sort of skin allergy, give her an anti-biotic and clip her claws. Because my wife nor I are vicenarians. We didn't have the means nor knowledge nor experience to do any of that. The anti-biotic was probably $5, syringe $1.50 and they put a disposable pad in the crate after our cat messed on the towel in there. They provided a nice facility, three skilled/experience people, etc.
I've had to pay what I thought was large amounts of money to have people fix things for me. As I've aged, I've realized that I need to educate myself about some things, develop relationships with people about things and try my best to research situations in order to receive the best solution for the minimum amount of outlay.
I'm not saying everyone should sign up for the $135 annual HVAC program. But maybe pay attention to who might be the better servicing contractor in your area and deal with them. Maybe get them out once every 24-36 months to perform a check. I don't know.
My 2015-era Lennox iComfort Wifi thermostat recently lost it's screen. I called the local Lennox dealer, who I have a relationship with, probably more than anyone else could due to some unique business circumstances and talked to them about it. "We've had a slew of calls in the last 90 days about these." I asked them what they were doing about them, they said they were installing EcoBee thermostats.
So I order one myself. Turns out I needed to replace the current 5-conductor Tstat wire with 7-conductor. I educated myself about this over a period of three days, on and off messing with it. I spent 1-1/2 hours last Saturday morning on this and 3 hours on Monday....crawling under the house, crawling out, crawling in, crawling out. Me and the wife, pulling some new wire. Stripping wire ends, terminating them. After about 5 hours, we had a new functioning thermostat. Yes, a service tech would have had it done in about an hour (with my help on pulling the wire) and instead of a $155 Tstat and $40 roll of wire, I would have had a $350 bill.
But I learned something and know more about this stuff. I also used several tools, probably would have cost over $250 to go buy tools/tool sets of what I used from screwdrivers, drill, large diameter bit, wire strippers, flashlights, etc.
Ever stop to take into account the tools these people have to have on hand?