Maybe it’s my aging home, my aging car or my aging office building, but as the days go by, it seems every repair or improvement that is quoted to me is really expensive.
It doesn’t matter if it is for electrical work, a piece of kitchen equipment or car repair—the quotes are significant, and the devil, as they say, is in the details.
Take my recent car service appointment. I love my car. It has upward of 108,000 miles on it and has served me well.
When I need to buy a new car, I almost certainly will buy the same make and model.
I have been faithful with my scheduled maintenance appointments, using the dealership for the work. It works for me because I have one record of all the work done and I get a free loaner to use.
On a recent scheduled maintenance appointment, I received a call from a new service rep telling me that while my tires still had good tread on them, the sidewalls were cracking. He told me my tires were dated 2009.
He proceeded to quote me pricing for four new tires by three different manufacturers from highest cost to lowest, and then waited for my response.
Now, if I had not been on my game, this could have cost me a lot of money. But I had a vague recollection that less than two years ago I’d purchased four new tires from that same dealership.
I asked the service rep to check my records and sure enough, I had bought four new tires in 2019.
Now, most tires have a warranty for anywhere from four to six years, and I have, of course, barely driven the car during COVID times.
The service rep was most confused, as he was prepared to sell me four new tires and I was expecting an explanation as to why my tires installed in 2019 were dated 2009. He was new to his job. He told me he would uncover what was going on and call me back.
A half-hour later he called with the following explanation. He said he was mistaken, the 2009 tire with the cracked sidewall was the spare, and did I want to buy a new one?
I explained that with my AAA membership, I could wait to see if the flat could be fixed or be towed to a tire retailer or the dealership. It made more sense to wait and see rather than spend the money now.
He agreed with my logic, and we went forward with the scheduled maintenance.
I was pleased with myself that I had my wits about me to navigate this situation. And it helps to keep good records, too.
A few weeks ago I was confronted with another situation, this time at the Senior Concerns office.
We have a piece of commercial kitchen equipment that needs to be fixed. As it turns out, the equipment is at the end of its useful life and the cost to replace it is $5,000. The individual doing the quoting mentioned the make and model of the part that was needed.
I did a bit of internet research and found the cost of the actual part runs about $1,400. Now, I am not sure if the labor runs $3,600, if there is a markup, a disposal fee for the old unit or if special equipment, like a jack, is required to bring in the part.
However, it certainly made sense for me to seek a second opinion, which is what I am doing.
Things like equipment, car parts and building systems all have a shelf life. I am often amazed at how much of my nonprofit leadership life is spent on repairing and replacing systems in a 30-year-old building.
And it seems the older the item, the more expensive the repair or replacement.
I am realizing how vital proper maintenance, good homework and a second opinion are. And now that I think about it, this advice applies to our aging bodies too.