Zeiss Ikon Contax Camera Repair

A home for your Zeiss Ikon Contax, Contarex or Super Ikonta camera!

My Fee Structure

Over the years I've received some interesting comments about my fees. It's also come to my attention that they've been talked about on various Internet photo chat room and comment posting sites. In order to "clear the air" and fill any vacuum about my fees that may exist the following are submitted for your consideration.

  1. I have to pay State, Local and Federal taxes on the income (profit) that is derived from the sale and repair of Zeiss cameras, accessories and lenses. Because I am self-employed I have to pay a roughly 12% additional Federal "Self Employment" tax that is intended to take the place of the Social Security taxes that would be paid on my behalf by an employer if I was not self-employed. Last year my combined tax rate was 42%. To put this into perspective let,s look at my fee for a complete body overhaul on a Contax IIa camera body. Currently this is $235.00. Applying the combined tax rate results in observation that of this amount $105.75 goes to my city, the State of California, and the Federal Goverment and $129.75 goes to me.
  2. I buy and use new packaging materials of the highest quality and do not skimp on the quantity. It costs about $4.75 to package each camera for return delivery to you. Subtracting this from the remainder after taxes leaves $125.00.
  3. The total average cost of the oils, greases and disposable consumables, broken and used up tools, and other supplies used in the servicing of each camera is about $15.00. Subtracting this leaves a remainder of $110.00.
  4. The number of hours each Contax IIa camera body requires varies from camera to camera. Some cameras that are sent here are in pristine original condition and others have been "over the falls". Cameras are not charged by the hour, but by the project. But taking an average for and considering the average Contax IIa body, and all of the work that goes into it, I can say that on the average it takes about 18 hours for the average body from start to finish. Dividing $110.00 by eighteen hours results in a hourly wage rate of $6.11.
  5. Please note that in calculating the hours per camera I have not accounted for the time it takes to do the following necessary things which are part and parcel of this business:
    1. Package and take the cameras to the shipper.
    2. Keep up with business recordkeeping.
    3. Engage in correspondence with customers and the merely curious.
    4. Perform necessary maintenance, upkeep and improvements of tools and equipment.
    5. Obtain paints, lubricants and other consumables.
    6. Keep up with Internet auctions to obtain parts source cameras and lenses.

If I was to include these things in the accounting there's no doubt in my mind that my hourly wage would easily be adjusted to well within the $4.00 per hour range or less.

Conclusion: In all of the above all that I have done is to merely state the obvious. What is not obvious is why do I do it? This question will be left unanswered for you to Ponder. Perhaps some time in the future I'll explain things.

Speaking of Pondering. When I was young my Dad used to take me along with him on his camera buyng trips to Los Angeles to all the great camera distrubtors at the time. Among all of them the biggest and best was the lengendary Ponder and Best. Ponder and Best distributed everything that was good. They had a huge catalog that had Rolleiflex, Leica, Bolex, Leica, Zeiss and many other wonders that were the utmost mouth watering in cameraland. The Boss of the L.A. office and my Dad used to chat in his office when we would visit. The Boss had on his desk the most ornately carved wooden motto sitting out on the front of his desk that I have ever seen before or since. On it were engraved words that I committed to memory the first time I saw them. Here they are for you: "The Enduring Pain of Low Quality is Remembered Long After The Sting of Paying a Fair Price for High Quality is Forgotten".

So lets do some more math and see where it leads. Suppose you could have a Contax IIa body "CLA'd or Serviced" for about $120.00 somewhere. Lets assume the total overhead of the hypothetical person or company doing this is about 42% (rent, accounting, utilities, insurance, business taxes, etc.). Accordingly, this would leave a profit of about $69.50. Now, what if shipping was included? Postage alone, with insurance would have to be a minimum of $12.00, leaving a remainder of $57.50. Lets also allow $7.50 for consumables, materials and supplies and $50.00 is left. Further suppose the work is done by a large shop with paid employees who are paid $12.00 per hour. $12.00 per hour to the employee means roughly $18.00 per hour from the employer when disability, social security and other manadatory extras are included. Dividing $50.00 per camera by $18.00 per hour leaves 2.78 hour per camera. This is the best you can do when you send your camera to a regular repair shop and pay about $120.00 for a "CLA". Good luck. Just imagine what the grisly scene must really be like with your camera on a work bench for a CLA that takes 2.78 hours from start to finish. I know if it was my camera I couldn't watch it for very long. It would be like watching someone torturing my dog.

Let me answer a question that has been asked recently: Why do I take the time to individually grease each and every screw hole in the Contax IIa camera body when its overhauled? This is done for two reasons. The first is so that when you return the camera for its regular 5 year touch up adjustment all the screws will come out easily and go back easily. This allows me to work faster without risk of damge so that it is possible to charge much less than for a full overhaul for this service. It also helps to prevent your camera being hacked to death by a poorly paid hourly worker who is in a big hurry because he is required to do the job quickly if, due to bad luck, the camera should wind up on someone else's work bench due to unfortunate circumstance. The second reason is that there is such a thing as maintenance wear out. It is possible to wear out a high precision machine by taking it apart and putting it back together too many times. Screws are moving parts that need lubrication also. Lubricating everything in a camera that moves vastly increases its life, accuracy and relibability.

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