Thursday, June 3, 2010

Everything is Negotiable

I'll confess that I try to keep things as positive as possible when reporting our everyday routines. There's really no point in bellyaching when I'm aware of how lucky we are... We have a roof over our heads, good schools for our daughters, good health and food on the table. During these tough economic times, that's no small feat. I really, really am so thankful that my husband works so hard to provide all these comforts for us.

But this week, my positive attitude has been sorely tested. My encounters with the 'trades' I deal with on a daily basis have left me so frustrated, I want to just scream!

Since we moved here to OC I've come to terms with what I like to call the 'OC Rule of Three'. It's a loosely defined formula that basically involves taking the standard price you would expect to pay for any object or service and times that by 3. The product of the equation equals the OC Price. This pretty much holds true for everything from real estate to groceries.

Our first encounter with the Rule of 3 came when we sought an estimate from a painter. We asked for an estimate of how much it would cost to paint 3 small wrought iron balcony railings on the exterior of our home. The largest railing was 5 feet long x 3 feet wide. We waited 2.5 weeks for the painter to submit his estimate and it came back at $2500. WHAT?!? That estimate held me back from seeking an estimate to have the girls rooms painted until last week.

Our second experience was worse because we actually believed the estimate and got nailed for that naivety. I called around to every rug cleaner in the area to find one who specialized in cleaning silk rugs and also picked-up and delivered. I told the gentleman that I selected I had an 8'x10' silk rug in our dining room that had never been cleaned... This is the rug we purchased in China when we travelled to get our Josie. The rug is a special memento of that trip, and we take care of it accordingly.

The gentleman I spoke to came to pick-up the rug and handed me a receipt with the quoted price for cleaning the rug. It would be delivered back to our home within 3 weeks. It was about double what I had paid to have our Turkish rug cleaned in Virginia, but I figured it was silk so the cost was justified. Well, the rug came back in 3 weeks and I had the check written out to hand to the gentleman. Upon delivery, I was handed another receipt - this one had an additional $230 tacked on for 'treatment of spots'. Umm... isn't that why rugs are cleaned?! I wrote the check and put that outfit on my personal 'Do Not Call' list.

I finally got up the nerve to contract a painter for the girls' rooms. I purchased the paint and two painters showed up at 8AM. They did a great job. They covered the path from the front door, up the steps and the hallway leading to the girls' rooms. They didn't blast music the whole day and they touched up along the ceiling where the previous painters had made mistakes. I was really thrilled with the excellent job the painters did. Until I got a call from the gentleman who prepared the proposal. He had looked over each room before giving us the proposal, so when he called I thought he was contacting me to see if I was happy with the job. No. He was calling me to let me know that the touch ups on the ceiling and two spots on the door frames were going to cost me an extra $80.00. Mind you, they didn't paint the door frames - just touched up the line where the wall and frame meet.

Am I missing something? A price quote is a price quote. I didn't accept a proposal with any kind of wording stating extra charges would apply. And, honestly, doesn't any professional painter provide these services as part of the job? I highly value tradesmen who perform well and believe firmly that one gets what one pays for. But, seriously?!? Those painters were making over $50 Each per hour. I'm sorry, but that's nuts.

Anyway, it was hard to capture the color of each room but here's what we were shooting for:

In Maddie's room, she has a beautiful Ralph Lauren bedding ensemble with incredible colors. We could have picked any from this duvet cover:

Here's a detail of the pattern:

Here's the subtle yellow we selected for Maddie's room: (please ignore the standard teenage messiness!)

Josie's room was much easier. She's 5 and the only color she was willing to consider was PINK. So, I handed her the color chips with all the pinks and let her pick one out. She selected Benjamin Moores 'Candy Stripe'. Of course, this selection was based solely on the name. So I told her, "Okay, Candy Stripe it is!". Then I selected the palest pink I could live with - which ended up being 'Pink Peony'. Josie is thrilled with the new color of her room and will tell everyone "It's Candy Stripe!!" Don't you just wish they could stay 5 forever?! Anyway, here's Josie with her new room color:

Aside from the drama with the painters, the gardener presented me with some challenges. All this, after having my 6th dental appointment in as many weeks. Dentist says I must be stressed... I have been clenching my jaw so tightly that I have cracked 4 molars. Imagine that...

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you, Mich. A proposal is a proposal. That's why you choose to go with a particular company or tradesman - because of their proposal. I'd be fuming too!

    Love the colors you chose - especially Josie's Candy Stripe. Tell her I said she has good taste in colors. :P

    Sorry about your dental issues. I need work done, but I have to go to the Lower 48 to have it done. If I don't I will come out of pocket several thousand dollars due to the high inflation of costs here. I needed a root canal several years ago. An airline ticket to Philly, and a visit to the dentist there was cheaper than having the work done in AK. I hate being taken advantage of. :(