Recently I had to replace my back door. It’s an odd size so it had to be special ordered. It came without the locks, nobs or hinges. It’s a heavy steel storm door and I didn’t want to screw up the installation so I decided to hire a professional.
The guy I chose had done odd jobs for me before. I called him up, asked for a quote, and he told me 70 dollars an hour plus a 20 dollar travel fee. I asked him how long he thought it would take, and he said about an hour. In outrageously overpriced Seattle, 90 bucks seemed like a pretty good deal to me, so I scheduled him to come on Wednesday.
Wednesday came and I rushed home to get there before he did. I needn’t have worried, because when I arrived I was greeted by a message on my answering machine that said his sister was in the hospital and he was taking care of her children and could he please reschedule. Well, life does happen, so I rescheduled for Saturday.
On Saturday he showed up with his 8 year old niece in tow. Awkward. The first thing he said was, “I think I quoted you the wrong price. It’s 90 dollars an hour.” Not wanting to get into it in front of the little girl, I said, “What a pity. I wish you had told me that before you drove all this way.” We stared at each other for a couple beats and he said, “Seventy it is, then.” This little bit of tension set the tone for the entire job.
Predictably, he started moving like a snail through molasses. He acted confused by the lock instructions. He made great effort to clean up after himself, until I told him that I would do that. Twice. Then he started showing his niece what he was doing, step by step by… step. Finally I had to say, “Will your insurance cover her if she gets hurt?” And then he sent her into the living room to play with my dogs.
(I cannot stand adults who are over-the-top nice to kids, because it makes me think they’re probably not very nice to them at all when there are no witnesses. And the girl did, indeed, look very uncomfortable around him. It gave me the creeps.)
An hour and a half later, once he figured out I wasn’t going to let him milk the job any further, he declared that his work was done. I gritted my teeth and paid up, and he left me a stack of business cards which I promptly threw away.
I will never accept another hourly quote from anyone as long as I live. Lesson learned. But in the end he’s the one who will lose out, because there’s a lot to do around here, and I can guarantee you it won’t be done by him.