My washing machine went wonky back in December, deciding not to go through the spin cycle. I could make it spin if I set it to that cycle manually and pressed down hard on the lid until the thing started up. Sometimes it would “catch” and begin spinning on the first try. Over time, it took more and more tries for it to “catch.” Eventually, I knew we could no longer go down that path. The machine needed fixed. And as a nerdy high school social studies teacher, I figured I would only make the problem worse.
Unfortunately, I assumed that, since the other cycles worked, my washer only needed a simple fix and that any seemingly reputable washing machine repair company could do it quickly and for a fair price. Boy, was I wrong! Not only did it take them multiple tries to get it right, for which I apparently paid, the sticker shock was jaw-dropping. My biggest home repair mistake, thus far, was not being more diligent about asking for a price estimate. I wrongly assumed that, even if the news was bad and made me want to gasp, it would be cheaper to fix the washer than buy a new one.
When all was said and done, the bill was about the price of a brand-new washing machine. And, unfortunately, I was not in a good position to haggle due to the oil-driven economic boom in my fair city. With so much cash around, though not necessarily for us public-sector employees, sellers have the upper hand in the market. In addition, I’ve learned the hard way that businesses around here are pretty quick to threaten to report you for felony theft of service…with the first bill they send. Wherever you live, make sure you are aware of the business climate when seeking expensive home repairs: If demand is high you will have less “wiggle room” to negotiate and contractors and vendors will be quicker to report you to credit bureaus and the sheriff’s department if you balk at paying for overpriced or shoddy service.
The lesson? With any expensive repair, shop around first, even if you’re desperate to get the repairs started. Had I done more research about the problem, or even gotten an honest estimate from the repair company, I would have opted to buy a brand-new washing machine and get more for my dollar!