Sunday, August 9, 2009

Frugal Flummox

Well, today was not exactly what I expected. I made an error that seriously interrupted my day and wasted a whole day's worth of income. Yet, there is a little bit of pride in myself and my ability to stand up for myself. Read on...

The error: I locked my keys in my car. Again.

Please understand, we only have one key to my car. And I was getting ready to go to work when I discovered it. Double-whammy. Sad thing is, I had been thinking just the other day that we should get some more keys made, just in case. Would have been more frugal to spend the extra few bucks to save the ordeal I just had. Where did I put that Murphy repellent...

So, I spend the next two hours calling my student to reschedule tutoring and calling around to locksmiths trying to find a deal. Finally find one, about $10 more than the cheapest guy, but seemed a lot less shady on the phone. Or not...

Mr. (lock)Smith finally finds the place, pulls up, and looks in my car window. "It will be $40 for the service and $80 for me to unlock it." (Did I forget to mention I've done this before? I know how easy it is to break into my car...).

I look at Mr. Smith, dumbfounded, and finally inform him that I don't have it, thank you, I'll call someone else. (I do have it, but there is no way on God's green earth I am paying him $120 to put a hanger in my window, thank you very much!)

Mr. Smith doesn't like that idea. He wants to know how much I expected. I told him the dispatcher said it would be about $40 for the service and $15 for the labor. (She told me $15+, but since I know there is pretty much no labor involved, I expect to only have to pay $15).

He calls, talks on the phone for a little bit, then calls me back and says he can do it for $80. I shrug and tell him I don't have it.

"How much do you have?" (I think this is the most unprofessional thing you can ask a customer!)


"Cash? OK, but I just won't give you a receipt."

What do I care if he gives me a receipt? It's not like I'm going to pay him before I get my keys out! He pulls out what amounts to a small blood pressure cuff and a thick coat hanger, jams the cuff in the door to separate the seal enough to put the coat hanger in, and uses the bent end to pull my manual lock. The whole thing takes about 90 seconds. I retrieve the cash and pay the man.

Outside, he has the receipt (I thought there would be no receipt?) with $40 for the service and $15 for the break in and asks me to sign it and gives me the carbon copy. I ask for a card, but he won't give me one. When I get inside, I discover that the carbon had been altered underneath so that the copy I have says that I spent $80. Quite suspicious, but I can't think of any reason why that could negatively impact me. After all, I paid in cash and since he left how would he prove I didn't pay him $80?

After a quick call to my dad for some semi-legal advice (can this false carbon copy bite me in the butt?), I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, $55 is a huge amount of money for us at the moment. On the other hand, I feel somewhat proud and confident in myself, having stood up for myself and "haggling" down the price. I tend to be a "just pay the man" kind of person. Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of a more assertive me.

Now, I'm off to get some keys made for my car...

How about you? Anyone try to royally rip you off lately? Did you succumb? Did you stand up for yourself? I want to hear about it!

1 comment:

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