What About This…? 9.29.2016

By Wayne William Cipriano

Recently I was price shopping on the telephone. I am not going to be specific about what I was pricing because I do not want to offend anyone who charged too much and I don’t want to cause anyone who paid too much any disappointment.  Let’s say I was looking to buy a Sky Widget, or perhaps looking to have a Sky Widget done for me.  I was Widget price shopping.

In this particular case I assumed, with some justification, that all the bids I received were from competent individuals, and I was very, very specific in relating my requirements so that the prices I collected were apples-to-apples comparisons with no confusions nor misunderstand-ings.

I was very pleased with my efforts price-wise and there was an extra added bonus in that I learned a lot more about Widgets than I knew –– and I thought I knew a lot to start with.

I’m lucky that our telephone plan allows as many local, local long distance, and long distance (domestic) calls as we wish to make for one flat monthly fee (we found this plan by calling around as well).  Even if we had to pay long distance charges it would have been worth-while to shop by phone in this case.

I’m not going to discuss the obsessive-compulsive tendencies that drove me to make so many calls, but there were a lot of possibilities and I called them all.  If I hadn’t, would I have lucked into the low price of $192.50, or been stuck with the high price of $859 (!)?  Who can tell?  By my calculations I saved myself somewhere around $150 to $180 for every hour I spent on the phone.  Math weenies, go to it!

Some people say to throw out the high and the low bids, I’m not sure why but I always question both to be sure I understand what I am getting for what I am paying.  There is always the chance that some are so busy that they can charge a lot, and my business won’t mean much to them.  High prices don’t always signify quality. Some who charge a little may be wanting to build up a business and/or assure repeat customers and maybe cop some free word-of-mouth advertising due to customer-friendly pricing structures.  Low prices do not always mean shoddy goods or services.

I’m always a bit surprised that many, not all, but many that I call understand the utility of price shopping and how often I’ve heard a note of respect in the voice answering my questions and quoting a price.

There are those who have so much money or whose time is so valuable that calling around for prices and details is inexpedient. But that ain’t me.  You may be one of those, or just not that interested in having a few dollars left after you Widget.  Some say money is not all that important because, for example, it cannot buy happiness.  To these consumers I offer these two quotes:

“Those who say money can’t buy happiness have never had any real money.”                  My Cousin Billy

“Those who say money can’t buy happiness don’t know where to shop.”                                  Rosalie