I just want to know how much it'll cost!!!
Do you shout this question when you're getting a quote for your piano tuning or repair? Nailing down an exact amount for your tuner's services can be tough. But no, it isn't because your technician is being shifty or purposefully difficult! There's a definite method to the madness of service pricing.
I try to liken piano services to other industries to illustrate the difficulty in making a firm quote. Let's say you schedule your car for a yearly maintenance at your local dealer. You're expecting a routine oil change and check of your fluids, but, you tell the mechanic, there has been a weird feeling in the steering that they might as well check out while they're in there. You have a good idea of what
the cost of the oil change and fluid check will be, after all, it says on their dealer website what that will cost. But once they get under the hood, they discover the source of your weird steering issue. But the fix is never an easy one, is it? Before you know it, you're having to think about 4 hours of labor plus parts to be included in your total bill.
Sometimes the same is true with pianos. You schedule a routine tuning, but once your tech shows up, you tell him/her that your child has been complaining of a buzzing when they play down low on the keyboard. Your tech should check out any buzzes and bings first before tuning since any repairs they may perform will likely affect the tuning they just performed. Sometimes buzzes are simply a paper clip that's fallen down into the insides of the piano! That kind of "fix" is almost nothing at all and you can probably bet your tech will be happy to retrieve the errant object free of charge. But, like the steering column issue from above, sometimes the source of the buzz is a pernicious broken bridge that will take a few hours to address, thereby increasing the cost of the technician's visit.
Having said all this, your technician does everything they can to address the needs of your piano within your budget. That doesn't mean that they will perform labor-intensive repairs for below their worth and skill. But just as a mechanic often offers repair options for your car, your tech will likely offer you options for your piano's repair as well.