Negotiating services

The government and media can tell us all they want that the economy is getting better, but I know from where I stand… it sure doesn’t feel like it. I’m doing ok right now just because we’ve found ways to cut costs left and right.

But… at what point does cutting costs reach the point of insult?

Where I am working right now, at least once a week it seems someone comes in ready to negotiate their bill down to a lower price. Every time that happens, I’m left with a sick taste in my mouth. (It happened twice in one day recently, and it sent me in to a fit of pure anger… something that VERY rarely happens.) Why? Because I know what goes into doing the service being provided: aka Overhead.

When you receive a bill for a service, what you have to realize is that the bill exists to help cover hundreds of hidden costs.

Let’s take your local plumber. You call him to come unclog a drain, and when you receive the bill you might find yourself asking yourself, “Why so high when he was only here for 10 minutes.”

What you don’t see is:

  • fuel costs to drive over
  • the expense of having the proper tools to do the job
  • training and KNOWLEDGE of how to fix the problem quickly and efficient.
  • taxes paid by the business owner to even be in business.
  • insurance they have to carry.
  • etc.

In my own case, when doing any design work, I often try to figure myself by hours of work… plus a little extra to help me afford the computer I need to do the work. The programs. The hours I’ve spent learning how to do the work.

I’m not just putting food on the table. I’m trying to stay in business. And at the end of the day, the only number that can truly be negotiated down is what you think that individuals time and knowledge are worth. And it is in that moment that negotiating a bill down comes off as insulting. Just as you’re trying to save money, a business it trying to stay in business… and those words, “Why so high!?” can easily be the equivalent of, “You’re just not worth that!”

If everyone were to negotiate their bills down as hard as some people do, businesses would go out of business left and right. Now, I’m not saying you can’t ever negotiate to get a better deal. I’m just saying… sometimes take a step back and realize its not only about you.