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Do Companies Think I Am Stupid?

Do Companies Think I am stupid?Well, it is Friday and time for another story time with Grayson.  So, sit back, grab a cup of your favorite morning beverage and let me tell you a new tale.  If you are a long time reader, then you know my luck with companies.  I have talked about getting bamboozled by a door-to-door salesman, screwed by an A/C repair company, and lied to by Empire Today.  These are just the ones that I have written about.  So, it should be no surprise that it happened again.

The Back Story

I have spoken back in July that my A/C was on the fritz.  It finally went out in August.  I was able to get it to start once a day when we needed to cool down the house.  I had to go in the attic and manually start the blower fan with a stick.  I have to thank the internet for that little tip!

Once Fall hit, we didn’t have to use our A/C for anything and it was kind of nice.  Unfortunately for us, we have a single A/C and Heating unit that uses the same blower fan.  So, if the A/C doesn’t work, neither does the heat.  While my wife and I could last many more weeks with the current temperatures, my son cannot.  He is only ten months old and I am not even going to try.  So, getting the A/C unit fixed became a priority.

I have had three repairmen come out to attempt to fix the unit.  They started with the lower priced items first and then worked up to higher priced fixes.  After all failures, it was determined that my blower motor bit the dust.  What really sucks is that the same motor died two years prior and there was only a one year warranty on the product.  Damn!

Since I knew exactly the part I needed, I called my go-to repair company and asked them to replace the blower motor.  They came out the next day and checked to make sure it was in fact the motor.  After agreeing that it was, the repairman went to the part store to pick up the motor.

He was back to the house in about 20 minutes with the motor in hand.  The installation took him about 15 minutes and then we had working heat.  I was happy that we did, because it was going to be in the low 30’s that night.  The house would have been too cold for my son and that was not an option.

The Head Scratcher

As the repairman was putting in the blower motor, I took some time to pull up my email from two years prior.  I had the price quote for the same service that was done by the same company.  I just wanted to use that quote as a baseline.  It makes it much easier to be prepared when you get the quote.

After the install was complete, the repairman went to his van to put together the invoice.  This company calls their manager to get all of the pricing for the services, so the repair people don’t come up with the pricing.  They just tell their manager what service was done.

He came back into the house with the news.

The repair job was going to cost me $1170!

WHAT??

I was a little astonished.  I am sure you want to know why.  Two years prior, the same exact service cost me $850.  Now, I am confused.

Do Companies Think I Am Stupid?

I just don’t get it. Why do companies think they can pull crap like this?  I am not an uneducated consumer.  In fact, more and more consumers are getting educated on the products and services they want to purchase.  That is the power of the internet and social media.  There is more information at our fingertips than ever and we can use it to our advantage.

With regards to my current A/C repair, I don’t get why they can justify a close to $300 increase in two years. So, I decided to ask the repairman.

He told me that he doesn’t come up with the prices, but he gave me his manager’s direct phone number.  You can be your ass that I called!

I spoke politely to the manager about my concern with the price. I told him that I had received the same service two years prior and paid $850, but now he wanted to charge me $1170.

While we were talking on the phone, I was able to find pricing for the blower motor online.  I love the power of the internet and since I am around computers all day long, I have no problem finding the information that I need.

The manager told me that the price increased because manufacturer price increases, a warranty, and gas prices.  Wait, did he just say GAS PRICES?

What….the…..hell?  Are you really going to blame a $300 price increase on gas prices?  I had to break the news to him that gas is actually cheaper now than it was the same time in 2011.  I looked it up and it made him go “uh, oh….ok”.  Yeah, that is what I thought.

Now, onto the warranty.  The sad thing is that I had a warranty on the service and product from two years ago. It was only good for one year.  He was offering me the same thing, but it was $175.  So, if I had one last time, then the one this time shouldn’t add to the price.

Armed With Information

You can see now that I was armed with enough information to make this negotiation go into my favor.  It just didn’t make any sense for the increase.  I did give them the manufacturer price increase because that makes sense.  Many of the A/C part manufacturers like to do annual price increase on their parts.  Just padding the pockets.

Even armed with the information that I had, the manager was battling with me.  Then I had to pull out the big guns.  Here it goes.

I am not happy with the price increase and how you aren’t explaining it to me.  Since you are not taking care of my problem, I am just going to reach out to the general manager.  I play hockey with him every Sunday and he helped me out last time.

Yep, I pulled out that card.

I have known the general manager for the service company for years.  He has always made sure I was taken care of.  I don’t like to bring him into things like this because he is very busy.  I thought I had enough ammunition for the current battle, but I was wrong.  That is why I ended up pulling out my secret weapon.  Well, when the manager on the phone heard about this, he was super quick to change his tune.

Quickly, my bill went from $1170 back down to $900.  This was a price that I was going to accept.  I gave them the $50 due to the price increase on the parts  and for just general inflation.  It amazed me how quickly the tone of the conversation changed.  I was happy that my price was back down to an acceptable range (though $900 is not anything to be happy with, but I was prepared for it).

I am still upset to this day that companies continue to try and take advantage of me.  I will try my hardest to give a company the chance to make the right impression.  I don’t like giving companies other chances.  It amazes me that they think I am that stupid that I can’t do research and understand what is going on.  The sad thing is that they get away with this crap on a daily basis. They come across someone that is desperate to what the company is selling and then they take advantage of them in order to increase profits.  It really turns me red.

To all companies out there: We are not stupid consumers.  In fact, we are holding all the information we need in our hand.  If you don’t change the way you treat customers, then you will become obsolete.  It is the companies that treat their customers with respect and do what is right that will be rewarded in the end.

So, when was the last time you were getting the shaft from a company?  Is there any excuse for these companies to treat their customers like they are stupid?

Note: I will still be using this repair company because my friend, the general manager, took care of everything and made sure it wouldn’t happen again.  I appreciate him making things right.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About Grayson Bell

I am an average Joe, who built up over $50,000 worth of credit card debt and had to learn how to break it back down. It took 4 years of learning budgets, secrets, and many other personal finance tricks in order to cut the debt to $0. Now, I push to teach others not only how to get out of debt, but how to use credit wisely and how to start growing their wealth. You can view my other site, Sprout Wealth for ways to grow your money. I am also a freelance personal finance writer who provides staff writing and ghost writing services.

30 comments

  1. Nice work Grayson. Information is by far the most powerful tool we have when dealing with these kinds of situations. You can’t just ask for things (well, you can, but it’s much less effective). You have to have facts that show WHY you deserve whatever it is you’re asking for. Glad you were able to get this straightened out.

    By the way, that was a $270 saving for not more than an hour of work? Big win in a short period of time. Sounds good to me.
    Matt Becker recently posted..What I Did With My Old Car After Buying a New OneMy Profile

  2. Good for you! In your case, it was what you know AND who you know. :-)
    FI Pilgrim recently posted..October In Review – Income/Expense and Net WorthMy Profile

  3. Consumers have become much more informed these days. Angie’s List is a Godsend, in my opinion, because there is such a wealth of information (including how much people paid for services). The company definitely thought you were stupid or else he would not have lowered it so quickly when you said you knew the general manager. Glad you got the bill down!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..The Weekly Quick Hits RoundupMy Profile

  4. Good for you Grayson! I hate it when companies pull crap like this and would’ve done the same thing as you did – which, that’s awesome you could use that connection. I think many companies just expect that we’ll take whatever blindly and not challenge them on things like this. Thankfully, the age of the internet has made that much easier to challenge.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Priceline Rewards Visa Review: A Good Option for Free TravelMy Profile

  5. Nice work! I had a similar experience with an auto shop. We had just bought a car and the muffler had a crack in it. They told me they’d have to replace the whole thing for about $750 and they wouldn’t pass the emission test until then. I called around and found a guy who could weld it for $40. I called the first place back and was told it was a federal offense to do that because it had a catalytic converter attached, so I had to pay the $750. I ended up having to call the Highway Patrol to have them force the schmucks to pass the car. I asked the officer about the catalytic converter deal and he said there was nothing wrong with what I had done. I ended up writing a nasty review on their Google Places site and they offered me a full refund on the safety and emissions tests, but also asked me to take my review down. I graciously accepted the refund but told the guy the review is going nowhere.
    Ben @ The Wealth Gospel recently posted..October Net Worth Update: Up 2.1%My Profile

    • Wow, Ben, they were really trying to screw you over. Who in their right mind would tell someone it is illegal to weld the muffler back? That is crazy. Nice work on getting it all solved, but I am sure that you are in the minority.

  6. I definitely think knowing your stuff is important when dealing with companies because they will try to pull a fast one on you if you let them. I see it all the time.
    Romona @Monasez recently posted..Wholesaling Real Estate: Here’s What You DoMy Profile

  7. When my Husband and I were getting married, we picked a catering company that gave us a quote early on (about 21 months until our wedding). We communicated with them throughout our long engagement. When the date got closer, I asked for our invoice and was alarmed to see it was over 5k more than the original quote!

    The reasoning: Rental prices went up and they underestimated on services by about 10(!) staffers. The catering head would not budge and it being only two weeks to our wedding, we didn’t have the time, energy or money to find another company. So, like you, I armed myself with consumer info. I talked to other rental companies and got quotes for every single thing we needed to rent through the catering company. I called a friend who works with a different catering company and got her opinion on staffing and estimates for it. And I had her look through our food costs for overcharges.

    Our caterer was dumbfounded when I sent him spreadsheets of comparison costs and staffing needs. And when that only moved him down by about 2k. It wasn’t until I told them that I had talked to other catering companies who were available for that night and had given me set in lower costs that he changed his tune and lowered it by 3k (so 1k under original quote).

    Totally learned my lesson on coming armed with info when big money is being talked about!
    Michelle recently posted..A Look at Husband’s DebtMy Profile

  8. Thank goodness for the internet! I hope consumers are using all the information out there to take back the power from companies like this trying to take advantage.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted..Part Time Work and Unemployment. Is it Worth It?My Profile

  9. Wow! It amazes how many companies try to take advantage of their customers. Some obviously get by with it with no problem but I have to believe that is getting harder and harder to do. Like you said, we have so much information at our fingertips these days. Very smart of you to keep the old price quote. Most people wouldn’t have and would have had a harder time arguing their case.
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted..Blog Round-Up: Week of October 28, 2013My Profile

    • The sad thing is that I use this company regularly, so it pissed me off even more. Luckily for me, I got the price quote over the internet and I don’t usually delete emails like that. It had all of the pertinent information that I needed to argue my point.

  10. Good work Grayson. Apparently, the manager wasn’t aware that you have a rather large megaphone called Debt RoundUp. I doubt you would have been put through this hassle if he had know how many people you can reach with one post.

    • Haha, I have only used DR during one negotiation and that worked out quite well for me. I didn’t put their name on here because I will still use them. Since I am a good friend with the general manager and he fixed it all for me, I will continue to have them work on my HVAC.

  11. Boy does this story hit home. Unfortunately the economy, gas prices, food prices, unemployment etc. has given almost every company the right to steal. They feel they have to make up for the loss of business and cost of living by ripping people off.
    stacy recently posted..101 Paleo Snacks-Paleo Party FoodsMy Profile

    • Yeah, the sad thing is that if they are going to try and use these excuses, then they need to make sure they don’t try it on people that are educated. I saw right through that and was able to give him the price comparisons on gas prices from then until now. Oops.

  12. So typical, Grayson, isn’t it? Then again, so many consumers stay on the side of stupid, don’t ever question anything, and then companies think they can get away with it. Then when one of us PF people come along, they’re not prepared for getting called on their actions.
    Laurie @thefrugalfafmer recently posted..Garden 2013 Review and 2014 PlansMy Profile

  13. Good job. I always ask for the old part. I used to only do that with car repairs. Now I do it for everything. I can’t stand feeling like I’m being taken advantage of.
    Betsy @ ConsumerFu.com recently posted..Cost-efficient Investing: Stocks, Bonds and Mutual FundsMy Profile

    • I am not sure what the old part would have done in this scenario. I know the part was bad, so this was just about the price. I already have the part number, so I wouldn’t need the part.

  14. Fehmeen @ Loans and Lifestyle

    Well, you’re lucky the pushed down the price for you and that was only after you made a reference to the GM, something that most other people could not do. It just goes to show that everyone is trying to fatten their wallets, riding on the general idea that expenses are soaring. This is hardly the way a free market economy should work.
    Fehmeen @ Loans and Lifestyle recently posted..Innovations in Mobile MoneyMy Profile

  15. It’s a sad state of affairs, but I assume any company I interact with is going to try to rip me off in one way or another. The more money involved, the higher the probability that they’ll do so.

    The one benefit of advancing technology is the power shifting to the consumer as businesses realize their reputation is in the hands of their customers. The more people read online reviews on Google, Yelp, the BBB, and alter their business dealings appropriately, the more businesses will have to put customer service back in the spotlight as a critical business advantage.

    Well done!
    Jack @ Enwealthen recently posted..Great Enwealthen Anniversary Giveaway 2013My Profile

    • I am the same way. That is the pessimist in me. I think they are going to take advantage of me, so I make sure that I am on guard. It’s the companies that don’t realize that their customers have so much more power that will eventually go dark.

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