Are You Getting a Deal?

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Men laying new hardwood flooring

by Bob and RodMan, of The Bob and RodMan Home Show on 920 AM-WGKA

The pitch usually goes something like this: “We were working in the neighborhood and have some leftover paving material. Saw that you needed your driveway repaved and can save you hundreds if we can go ahead and fix that for you today.” A couple of weeks ago I saw the process worked out on three small commercial properties. Potholes were cleaned and filled, compacted with a motorized roller and given a surface coating. Granted, there are cold asphalt products suitable for repairs in low traffic areas but it was pretty evident—after inspection—that these applications were not going to hold up under any traffic at all.

Homeowners are likely to experience a similar result. You can wind up with an inadequate product improperly installed. And that might be only the beginning of the problems. Sometimes the scam degenerates to nothing less than strong-arm robbery. Job done, the price suddenly becomes much higher and intimidation and threats are brought to bear to collect the cash. Naturally, this tactic is saved for the most vulnerable targets.

Maybe the approach is much more up-and-up. The well-turned-out cold caller is there to help you maximize your energy savings, for example. He (or she) presents a business card that looks pretty much like it was issued by some sort of government-connected agency. You are offered the opportunity to take advantage of space-age technology to virtually eliminate your heating and cooling costs with the installation of a permanent energy-loss barrier. Granted, there are new and effective ways to increase the energy effectiveness of your home. The problem here comes in the pricing structure. First you are made aware of the “competitor’s” $12,000 price. Fear not, however, our company can do the job for only $7,000. You are still trying to breathe when it is made clear that—for you—special discounts are in place. A couple of hundred dollars at a time the price falls to $5,000 and then the sign-up-today bonus puts the cost under four grand. Still balking? A call to the district manager might knock off another thousand. You save money all over the place. Sign up and you save more than $8,000 over the competitor’s deal. Guess what? Don’t sign up and you save the whole $12,000.

Bottom line: If you did not request the visit, approach every solicitor with the same caution you would a snake of undetermined venomosity. The “we were working in the neighborhood” line is such a dead giveaway I cannot believe it still works, but it does. The second example should make you just as skeptical. Soon as you get to the discounting schedule you know you are being played. Any legitimate contractor has no need for artificial discounting. “This is what I do, this is what it costs.” Simple! Refreshing! And a lot more likely to result in a happy outcome.

Check out what Bob & RodMan have to say about duct cleaning.

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