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Old 11-26-2007, 09:46 PM   #16
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


Chris,

One last example of someone trying to rip me off. Someone from Empire today gave me a quote for Hunter Douglas Cellular shades. The price he gave was $750 or $765. When I said that was kind of high, he pretended he was calling someone and then quoted me $450. This happened in less than a minute. When I noticed this, I told him I needed to think about it.

Well, thanks to the internet, I googled for the exact size, color and brand. The price was $138.

Is this considered a rip off or what? A quote of $750, then $450 when I can buy it for $138. He was a salesman for Empire today. If I were a guy in my mid thirties or fourties, do you think he would give such a high quote? I doubt it.

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Old 11-26-2007, 11:08 PM   #17
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


A 42% decrease seems excessive yes, I wasn't there and am not familar with the circumstances or the products. Realize there are different qualities of the same product, I know this sounds like a sales pitch, but truth be known I can talk power tools and what we as contractors pay at our wholesalers is either the same or more than what the general public pays at a box store! Why? The tool looks the same, but it's not, the insides are different, cheaper parts at the box store, why? The general public sees us as contractors using say a Milwaukee 18v cordless drill, they see it at the box store and say 'good enough for the contractor, good enough for me' and pay less, but that box store tool won't last me a year.

Now the internet has blinds for $ 138.00, did they come to your house and measure? Will they come and install? What is their service policy if there is a problem? Will they come and investigate and replace it (all materials and labor)? Is your window covering need to be custom sized? if so does this include customizing the size? If it is customized and it fails is there still a warranty?

The internet is a dangerous place, people get blinders on and believe everything the read without looking at the whole picture. You need to know what you are buying and the FULL details that involve it. I admit I have used it many times, I built a subdivision in Napa and we needed 58 complete appliance set ups (Fridge, Stove, DW, W/D) I bought from the internet, some guy in Boston, never met once, he had no overhead, I literally saved over 50k buying this way, or did I, I had to do all the leg work, there was no rep in the area, so I got what I paid for, appliances with no service, oh and by the way, appliances have a failure rate of about 4% and the local who we did not buy from won't service them, purchasers have to go through the corporate channel and wait in line, I really saved nothing.

I would call Empire tomorrow and inquire though as to how the price quoted changed by 42% in mere minutes.
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Old 11-27-2007, 10:01 AM   #18
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


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...


You hired a guy out of the newspaper and it turned out bad, I can say that he was part of a small percentage of licensed contractors that prey on people calling them, doing damage and hope that nothing comes from it. I hope you also reported him to the CSLB and had some penelty towards him (license revoked?)
Actually - experience has taught me that it is the contractors who advertize the most, and have the largest ads in the papers and in the yellow pages, and have expensive, large professional "billboards" on every side & back of every truck, that typically are the biggest ripoffs. The contractors who depend heavily on advertizing, do so because they get few personal recommendations. Their overhead is so extreme they have to spend a large % of every job just to keep the ads floating around. A full page yellowpages ad costs $25,000 a MONTH.

I had some estimates for tree work this summer. 4 contractors came in for the same work at $2500, $5000, $5500, or $6,500, and $9000.00. Now I KNOW the 2500 guy was going to show up with 4 illegal immigrants and destroy my yard. I KNOW he had no insurance, and lived at home rent free. But the $9000.00 guy who showed up in a suit and tie, a leather briefcase, driving an H2 HumVee didn't get the job either.

The $5000.00 guy got the job, because unlike the next higher bid (I forgot if it was 500 or 1500 more) when I asked for proof of insurance, and if his employees were on the books, he had a package of all that pertainant info READY, including the business card of his insurance agent and instructions on how to get the information verified without a hassle. The other guy acted like I had 2 heads when I asked for his agent's name and policy number, as if nobody ever asked him that before.

Earlier this year, a roofer hired 4 illegals and one fell off the roof, paralizied from the neck down. None were on the books, and the contractor had no insurance. Guess who is liable in this situation - YOU the homeowner.

There is a lot to discuss on this subject, I'll revisit this thread when I have more time.
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Old 11-27-2007, 10:15 AM   #19
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


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Chris,

One last example of someone trying to rip me off. Someone from Empire today gave me a quote for Hunter Douglas Cellular shades. The price he gave was $750 or $765. When I said that was kind of high, he pretended he was calling someone and then quoted me $450. This happened in less than a minute. When I noticed this, I told him I needed to think about it.

Well, thanks to the internet, I googled for the exact size, color and brand. The price was $138.

Is this considered a rip off or what? A quote of $750, then $450 when I can buy it for $138. He was a salesman for Empire today. If I were a guy in my mid thirties or fourties, do you think he would give such a high quote? I doubt it.
Yes he would. Do you think 1=800=mattress is the cheapest way to purchase bedding? King size Sealey for 1200? I got it for $575.00 and I'll bet someone else could beat that.

If you purchase one of those sleep-number beds, with a 30 day risk-free gurantee, and call them 15 days after the sale, they WILL offer you 50% refund, rather than lose the sale. So you KNOW at 50% off their advertized price, they're still making money. But if you're happy with the bed at full price, you were not "ripped off."

It's possible a contractor might be more apt to rip off a woman, however, a contractor or business worth it's salt literally will try to rip off EVERYBODY.

Here's another one - my friend bought his sister's house after her divorce. He wanted new wall to wall carpeting - 4 bedrooms, a livingroom, and a den. He brought his sister to the carpet store because they had already carpeted the house before, and kept the measurements on file.

FIRST the salesman trys to convine him they need to measure again, (and charge for measuring, credit on purchase though.) because a house could have been altered, or SETTLED!

When they offer a price of $7,500.00 for a given carpet and good padding - his sister (an expert negotiator) says - You're doing it for 3000.00 cash, or no sale. The salesman has to "go and ask the manager" and then comes back with a "I don't know why, because we're not gonna make anything on this, but he said yes!"

The point is, there are different "business models" and not everyone wants to be the K-Mart contractor, where the only important thing is rockbottom prices. Just because Joe costs more than Larry, doesn't mean Joe is ripping you off.
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Old 11-27-2007, 10:20 AM   #20
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


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Originally Posted by LawnGuyLandSparky View Post
... A full page yellowpages ad costs $25,000 a MONTH....

.

HOLY COW!!! Where are you at LawnGuyLandSparky??? I have an ad in the yellow pages that costs me $25 a month... credit card size. She offered me the full page for $100, but I think that's a little overkill.

Last edited by The Home Doc; 11-27-2007 at 10:21 AM. Reason: typo.... typo's drive me nuts!
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Old 11-27-2007, 06:46 PM   #21
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


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It's possible a contractor might be more apt to rip off a woman, however, a contractor or business worth it's salt literally will try to rip off EVERYBODY.
Unfortunately, this is the way I feel about most people who try to get my business.

Sil, I don't think you should feel bad about being defensive. I think that salesmen will probably do anything they can to separate you from your money. It is very difficult finding meaningful information about some of these things. We are trying to decide on replacement windows. Salesmen are quick to give you references, but when dealing with a product that probably won't fail for 10 years, what good does it do to talk to someone that just had the work done last year? All too often, the information you find online is thinly veiled advertising, or taken directly from the manufacturers press releases. Honestly, I really think that sometimes they don't expect people to do any research at all.

To the salesmen/contractors out there, I'm sorry it takes time to work up a bid. Knowing what goes into it, I may be more willing to pay for that now. However, you have to understand that there are some potential customers that want the nitty gritty details. For you, it may just be another job. For me, it's likely to be a HUGE chunk of money.

Good luck with your project.
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Old 11-27-2007, 08:35 PM   #22
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


A full page ad in The Yellow Pages for $100? Is this in Outer Mongolia? I've had 2 column, 2" ads that were about $160 a month. Now I have 3 lines with bold letters on the top line and a one line listing under another heading and pay $65 a month. I've never priced a full page, but the top half was about $8000 in the cabinetmaking section.
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Old 11-27-2007, 10:58 PM   #23
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


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Do you really think that contractors are TRYING to rip me off by thinking I am a single woman and don't know anything about prices?
Based on my recent experiences I don't think that because you are a single woman has any bearing on the quotes you get. The quotes I have received in the last few months have varied just as wildly as the quotes you mentioned. And I'm a fairly knowledgeable DIYer with a lot of tools. I wanted to add an attached garage to my house and requested quotes from 3 contractors. The quotes varied from $65,000 to $90,000 and I live in a low cost of living area. I was stunned. I decided to build the garage myself, but I still needed to hire contractors for eletrical, plumbing, roofing and the slab. The quotes on these sub-jobs varied just as wildly. I used forums such as this forum to educate myself about the work to be performed so I could select the best contractor not the lowest bidder. The plumbing bids were the wildest ranging from $2,100 to $8,400. In this case, the lowest bid happened to be the best contractor and the only one of four bidders whose bid would meet the plumbing code. I selected the highest bidder for the concrete slab even though I had to wait 45 days for the work to be performed. He was that impressive. I'm in the process of hanging drywall now and it appears the project is going to cost about $24,000, considerably less than $65,000 - $90,000.

I attributed some of the really high bids to the fact the bidder just didn't want the job. One electrical bidder had a price book he had to go by. Installing a GFCI outlet cost $375 whether the wire run was 5 ft or 100 ft. Installing a ceiling box had a price. It just didn't make sense to me. In short, ignore the price of the bid, go by your gut feeling.
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Old 11-27-2007, 11:14 PM   #24
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


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Do you realize that between 60-75% of what you pay a contractor goes towards labor, insurance, taxes, licenses, benefits, overhead and profit? And profit is usually a small percentage of those figures.
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I'm in the process of hanging drywall now and it appears the project is going to cost about $24,000, considerably less than $65,000 - $90,000.


$ 65,000.00 - 60% = $ 26,000.00

$ 90,000.00 - 75% = $ 22,500.00

You're somewhere in the middle



I rest my case, contractors are not ALL trying to rip you off

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Old 11-27-2007, 11:46 PM   #25
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


Chris Johnson, I would agree with you if the $24,000 was all material. Most of the $24,000 ($18,000) was paid to sub-contractors (plumber, electrician, roofer, concrete, spray foam insulation, and garage doors) which I would assume would include the 60% for labor, insurance, taxes, permits, etc.

I don't think all contractors are out to rip me off. And I understand the costs of a business, I own one. The fact is $65,000 - $90,000 for an attached garage is way out of line in my area.
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Old 11-28-2007, 12:36 AM   #26
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


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I don't think all contractors are out to rip me off. And I understand the costs of a business, I own one. The fact is $65,000 - $90,000 for an attached garage is way out of line in my area.

Well, we agree on that.

I can't comment on the prices in Oklahoma, I live in CA.

No one here can see what is done or what was quoted on your garage, but usually when people act as there own GC to save money a number of items either get missed or put off until a later date which never comes, this is not factored into the final cost of something that people let everyone know what it costs. If you finish up at 24k - congrats.
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:39 AM   #27
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


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I'm in the process of hanging drywall now and it appears the project is going to cost about $24,000, considerably less than $65,000 - $90,000.
Now, considering the time you spent educating yourself, and getting permits and coordinating the project, add what it would cost you to employ 1 or 2 carpenters with worker's compensation, and own a truck and insure it, and adverize, purchase tools, contractors insurance, add a profit and advertizing costs... what would YOU charge someone ELSE to do for them what you're doing for you?

Quote:
I attributed some of the really high bids to the fact the bidder just didn't want the job. One electrical bidder had a price book he had to go by. Installing a GFCI outlet cost $375 whether the wire run was 5 ft or 100 ft. Installing a ceiling box had a price. It just didn't make sense to me. In short, ignore the price of the bid, go by your gut feeling.
Many contractors have 2 prices - the price for new, large scale work to builders, and the price for old work in existing structures. There is not a lot of small scale new work, and very little of it would be for HOs doing an addition on their own. The prices you were quoted would probably be the guys flat-rate price for installing what you wanted on an a-la-carte basis under old-work circumstances.

When I started in the trade, a contractor wanted $150.00 to install a floodlight on the customer's existing 2nd floor porch light location. He actually wanted another $150.00 to install a second floodlight socket on the same canopy. (Typical double-flood arrangement.) Bulbs NOT included!

His meat & potatoes wasn't little add-on Homewoner extras like this. His plan was quick in, quick out. Additional work outside the scope of the initial reason for being there - new addition, or new kitchen or new bathroom or dormer, was more of a thorn in his side than a moneymaking opportunity. In fact, additions which forced the replacement of existing panels and services wre handled this way: He would install a new heavier service at or near cost. Reason being, he didn't want to waste time negotiating a price with the homeowner for an extra.

He priced new work on a schedule similar to what you got on an a-la-carte basis, so that the contractors he worked for would know how to price the electrical work into each job without involving him, the electrical contractor, or using any of his time reviewing plans or submitting estimates. The electrical costs were known.

If an existing service was in a condition where there were violations that would have to be corrected if one upgraded it - he would skip the heavy-up entirely and just slap a new second 100a service and meter pan at cost - and use that for the new wrok, so that there would be no wasted time correcting a customer's existing violations.
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Old 11-28-2007, 09:06 AM   #28
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


I am well aware that new construction work is generally priced cheaper than remodeling work for a number of reasons. And I'm aware that a quality contractor is worth paying a higher price. The problem for homeowners is we don't hire a contractor very often. Generally we get bids and have no way of knowing which contractor has the highest quality work. In my experience, the highest bidder (or lowest) is usually not the best contractor so you can't go on price alone. However, when the bids vary wildly it's easy for the homeowner to think they are being ripped off. The plumbing bids I received is a good example. They varied from $2,100 to $8,400. I am quite capable of doing the plumbing myself to code but only a licensed plumber can pull a plumbing permit. Since this is an inspected job I had no choice to but to hire a licensed plumber. My water well is in the new garage and the plumbing job consisted of replacing the supply line to the house and adding a drain for the water softner. Each bidder described a different method for connecting the new supply line to the existing supply line at the house. One was going to use copper and sweat the connection under the new slab, one was going to run pex and have a crimp connection under the slab, and one was going to run copper and braze (silver solder) the connection. Only one of those methods meets code in my area and it happened to be the cheapest bid.

what would YOU charge someone ELSE to do for them what you're doing for you?

I wouldn't build a garage for someone else at any price. I'm too old. I understand what you are saying. Obviously, I can do the work cheaper than if I hire someone for the reasons you state. I have no problem paying a fair price for a job well done. I elected to do the framing, cornice work, siding and sheetrock myself because I have the tools (the only tool I bought was a framing nailer), framers don't need a license in my area and my long time hobby is woodworking. However, setting 2 x 12 x 26' joists and 2 x 6 x 22' rafters and tossing sheating on the roof is a chore for an old man working alone.
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Old 11-28-2007, 09:09 AM   #29
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


this is the reason there are so many DIYers and DIY boards. . . people dont like to get ripped off. In the age of technology, information is power and frankly, the younger generations won't go for the old skool methods of pricing for much longer. I can easily look up the price of lumber in differnt regions, sinks, appliances, etc. If i need something done, I'll pay someone for their time and throw in some profit . . .
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Old 11-28-2007, 09:27 AM   #30
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Why does it seem like contractors want to cheat customers out of their money?


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I am well aware that new construction work is generally priced cheaper than remodeling work for a number of reasons. And I'm aware that a quality contractor is worth paying a higher price. The problem for homeowners is we don't hire a contractor very often. Generally we get bids and have no way of knowing which contractor has the highest quality work. In my experience, the highest bidder (or lowest) is usually not the best contractor so you can't go on price alone. However, when the bids vary wildly it's easy for the homeowner to think they are being ripped off. The plumbing bids I received is a good example. They varied from $2,100 to $8,400. I am quite capable of doing the plumbing myself to code but only a licensed plumber can pull a plumbing permit. Since this is an inspected job I had no choice to but to hire a licensed plumber.
I want to point out that when a person is capable of doing something themselves, but for whatewver reason chooses not to - they tend to feel that any price quoted is a ripoff.

I can clean my own house, but I gladly pay Merry Maids 75 bucks a week to do it for me. I know she isn't getting 75 bucks for 2 hours work. But it's not a ripoff.

Business runs many different ways. A more expensive contractor might make the same money but do less work. It's not a ripoff just because someone else is willing to do it for less.

Quote:
My water well is in the new garage and the plumbing job consisted of replacing the supply line to the house and adding a drain for the water softner. Each bidder described a different method for connecting the new supply line to the existing supply line at the house. One was going to use copper and sweat the connection under the new slab, one was going to run pex and have a crimp connection under the slab, and one was going to run copper and braze (silver solder) the connection. Only one of those methods meets code in my area and it happened to be the cheapest bid.

what would YOU charge someone ELSE to do for them what you're doing for you?

I wouldn't build a garage for someone else at any price. I'm too old. I understand what you are saying. Obviously, I can do the work cheaper than if I hire someone for the reasons you state. I have no problem paying a fair price for a job well done. I elected to do the framing, cornice work, siding and sheetrock myself because I have the tools (the only tool I bought was a framing nailer), framers don't need a license in my area and my long time hobby is woodworking. However, setting 2 x 12 x 26' joists and 2 x 6 x 22' rafters and tossing sheating on the roof is a chore for an old man working alone.
I understand, but you have to understand that a lot of what you did yourself was the simpler, profitable work.

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